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Old 12-02-10, 01:13 PM   #1
stoob82
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is it me or could it be my bike

I have been doing more 20 - 30 mile rides and it has occurred to me that my pace is much slower then i would expect. my cadence is ( to the best i can count) at least 70. my gear set up is 2x6, 53, 40 and 28,24,21,18,17,14. I ride almost exclusively in the 40, 14 gear. in this gear with a cadence of 70 a pace of 16mph ( in florida aka no elevation) does not seem right. My bike is 30 years old and as far as i can tell all original except the seat and brake levers. Centurion Omega steel frame bike. I had it tuned a couple weeks ago and that helped a little. Thank you for any help you can give me.
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Old 12-02-10, 01:16 PM   #2
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Bike riding is pretty much 10% bike and 90% motor.
How old is the motor?
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Old 12-02-10, 01:20 PM   #3
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28 in great working order.
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Old 12-02-10, 01:25 PM   #4
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One problem, unrelated to speed, is your gear choice. 40x14 is "crosschained" meaning the chain's angle is as severe as it can be and that's hard on the chain. A 40x14 is a 77 gear-inch gear. You can get effectively the same gear in your 53x18 (are you sure it's an 18T, not a 19T cog?) or 53x19 (if that's what you really have) and it will be easier on the chain.

And yes, 70 rpm in a 40x14 gear is indeed 16 mph.
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Old 12-02-10, 01:37 PM   #5
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Try using lower gear combinations and higher cadence. This will help you develop more speed. Studies have shown that people are more efficient in a 90 to 105 cadence range.

In addition to excess drivetrain wear the friction caused by cross-chaining decreases power efficiency.

Fully inflate your tires before each ride.
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Old 12-02-10, 01:55 PM   #6
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Studies have shown that people are more efficient in a 90 to 105 cadence range.
Actually, the study results are mixed. Some riders are indeed more efficient and generate more power at high cadence but many don't. Most successful racers are indeed high cadence riders and that has become the ideal.

However, there are a number of riders who are more efficient and more comfortable at lower cadence so high cadence isn't always better for everyone.

I, for one, certainly can't spin a high cadence. About 80 rpm is as good as it gets for me and that's at lower effort on the flats. I've tried and tried to increase it and all I get is winded. As soon as I upshift, my speed goes up and my perceived effort goes down. YCMV.

That said, I certainly agree the OP should indeed try to up his cadence and see if it works better for him. Give it a fair trial and don't give up if it doesn't seem natural immediately.

Incidentally, I've also ridden a fair bit in FL and 16 mph can be a REAL effort if you are against some of the winds down there. Then too, if you are with the wind (which is rare), 16 mph can be maintained without even pedaling!
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Old 12-02-10, 02:07 PM   #7
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a general recommendation is to keep above 80rpm, to save your knees.
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Old 12-02-10, 02:15 PM   #8
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Things to check:

1. Tire pressure. You probably have 27" tires that should be inflated to at least 90psi. Use a good floor pump with a pressure gauge.

2. Bearings - check wheel bearings for play that would indicate they need servicing. Grap the top of the wheel anf firmly shake from side to side int he frame and fork. If you can feel rattling or a clunking then the bearings may need service. Do the same thing with your cranks to check for bottom bracket play. THen take the chain off and sit it on the bottom bracket shell out of the way of the chainrings and see if the cranks can be spun without much effort. If you spin the cranks and let go they should take a few seconds to stop, and you shouldn't feel much resistance at all. If you hold the bike up and spin the wheels they should spin for quite a while unless the brakes are rubbing.

3. Make sure brake pads are clear of both sides of the rim and not rubbing (although this seldom causes any major loss of power).

Otherwise it's all you, buddy.
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Old 12-02-10, 02:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Actually, the study results are mixed. Some riders are indeed more efficient and generate more power at high cadence but many don't. Most successful racers are indeed high cadence riders and that has become the ideal.

However, there are a number of riders who are more efficient and more comfortable at lower cadence so high cadence isn't always better for everyone.

I, for one, certainly can't spin a high cadence. About 80 rpm is as good as it gets for me and that's at lower effort on the flats. I've tried and tried to increase it and all I get is winded. As soon as I upshift, my speed goes up and my perceived effort goes down. YCMV.

That said, I certainly agree the OP should indeed try to up his cadence and see if it works better for him. Give it a fair trial and don't give up if it doesn't seem natural immediately.
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a general recommendation is to keep above 80rpm, to save your knees.
Two excellent pieces of advice about cadence.
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Old 12-02-10, 02:55 PM   #10
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28 in great working order.

I believe that the OP can, over time, learn to maintain a cadence in the 90 to 105 range and gain significant speed.

I've never been an athletic person. I have a long history of joint problems and now at 68 years I have rotten knees with lots of arthritis. I can maintain 90 rpm on hilly 30 to 70 mile rides and I'm faster in the 90 to 105 cadence range. When my wife started riding she was trying to keep up with a 70 rpm cadence. Now she maintains 100 - 110 rpm at higher speeds. She's 67.

On club rides and group rides I've noticed that the people up front are spinning high rpm. Most of these people are 60 plus and making 17 - 20+ mph.

If I turn into a stiff headwind and see my speed drop 2 or 3 mph I can downshift a gear or two, bring my cadence back up where it should be and pick up some of the lost speed and start feeling better.

Simply put horsepower is torque multiplied by rpm.

Last edited by Al1943; 12-02-10 at 09:08 PM.
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Old 12-02-10, 05:09 PM   #11
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I must agree that some people have a harder time with high cadence than others. That is particularly true with heavier legs. However 70 does seem too low. It's not just efficiency, either. The higher cadence is better at encouraging aerobic exertion and increased blood supply to the muscles. You have to have a good fuel delivery system for an engine to run well, and in the case of muscles, to increase horsepower.

It is sadly not unusual for a "tune-up to be done with no wheel removal, which means if you have not checked them t hat the wheel bearings could be running tight. Don't just check for play - they need to be removed. You should be able to turn the axle with very little resistance, no catching, and if q/r there should be a little up/down play when not mounted. If they are tight return to the shop and ask the head mechanic to go back over the entire bike. Anyone who would skip hubs probably left other items improperly done as well.
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Old 12-02-10, 05:28 PM   #12
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It's probably you. Ride with faster people. It's hard to keep up a fast pace in a flat area riding alone if you're not used to it.
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Old 12-02-10, 08:22 PM   #13
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If you're riding on your own and pushing against 16 mph of air that's actually not a bad recreational pace for anyone that's not into running, sprint riding or other serious aerobic training. I've seen folks around here blow by my similar pace but they all look like they are basketball or football players in far better condition than me. We'd all like to be more fit than we think we are but sometimes we need a reality check. If you're puffing along at 16 mph and the bike isn't producing any significant mechanical drag then I'd say you just got yours.

If your bicycle riding is what you're doing for a primary source of exercise then you need to look more into using it as a more effective training tool that makes you breath hard and work up some heartbeat but do it all under some control so that you work harder but not so hard that you hurt yourself. Some testing for your present fitness and aerobic level will need to be done and then plot a plan to better it by using the bike as your training tool. This'll likely mean setting yourself up with a speedometer that has a cadence meter and heart rate monitor or some collection of stuff that does all this. Then go out and run sprints and cruise cycles to work up and back down repeatedly as per your plan.

Only one other thing comes to mind if your bike is in good condition with low rolling friction. If you're riding in a very upright position then you're presenting more frontal area to the air. That'll load you down a bit. Adjusting the fit of the bike and getting more into a tuck will reduce your frontal area. But we're only talking about a single mph or two at the most for the same power input. As someone said up higher it's 10% bike and 90% motor.
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Old 12-02-10, 09:25 PM   #14
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rode with a guy some time back began to slow. ultimately he discovered his seat had dropped about an inch or more. question is the bike set up properly for you?
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Old 12-02-10, 09:49 PM   #15
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I believe that the OP can, over time, learn to maintain a cadence in the 90 to 105 range and gain significant speed.
Perhaps he can and, at his age, it's certainly worth the effort to learn. I don't doubt that higher cadence is better and easier on the knees IF you can do it.

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I've never been an athletic person. I have a long history of joint problems and now at 68 years I have rotten knees with lots of arthritis. I can maintain 90 rpm on hilly 30 to 70 mile rides and I'm faster in the 90 to 105 cadence range......
I'm your age (actually 1942 so I'm probably a few months older) and have never been a particularly good athlete either but fortunately I don't have the problems you describe.

I've been riding since 1985 and have ridden over 150,000, miles and tons of hills, and as I mentioned above, I cannot train myself to spin and heaven knows I've tried. I'd try going for days riding in a much lower gear and forcing my self to spin and all I got was slower and frustrated. I've found that even 85 rpm is uncomfortable and unproductive. I mash big gears even on the hills (a typical 35 mile ride in my area gives me 2500 to 3000 feet of climbing) and typically outclimb my contemporaries and even many younger riders. So far, I have no knee or joint problems despite all of the dire warnings.

So, my point is that while fast cadences are indeed desirable, they aren't universally applicable and I'm a sample of one that can't do it.
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Old 12-02-10, 10:21 PM   #16
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So, my point is that while fast cadences are indeed desirable, they aren't universally applicable and I'm a sample of one that can't do it.
Understood, and I have met a few other riders who could happily grind away while leaving me in their dust. And I'm sure you are a very strong rider. I'm familiar with your area and your hills are probably more challenging than mine. And with your experience, which is more than mine, I'm sure you know your capabilities better than anyone else.

But I am a firm believer in riding in a 90+ rpm cadence, more efficient and better for the engine. And I believe that most people can do it.
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