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Thread: Cadence

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    Cadence

    Hope I'm not re-hashing something you guys have done recently. I constantly read about people averaging a cadence of 85-90. I average about 72, but still average 17-18mph. I figured that it is easier for smaller people to pedal faster. While I can pedal slower, maybe with more power, and achieve the same average speed. Anyway, just curious what kind of cadence you guys average.


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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    I'm a big guy, and my cadence is 80-90 when riding, sometimes up to 100. When I ride the trainer, I get up to 151.

    A lot of folks believe that when you pedal slower you put more pressure on your knees and may do damage. I don't know of any scientific studies proving that, but, hey, why take chances?

    Also, I just find it easier and more fun to have a higher cadence.

    And, both big and little folks can have high cadences.

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    Spelling Snob Hobartlemagne's Avatar
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    My computer usually reads about: Avg 80 high 130 at the end of most rides

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    I don't have a comp to measure cadence, but ever so often I count it up myself and avg. around 80-90, and I'm 6'2", 230lbs. It took practice to get my cadence up and a real consciences effort to get above 100. I've never tried on a trainer...
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    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    The biggest guys in cycling, track sprinters, regularly hit 160rpm+. It's about efficiency and not putting too much pressure on your knees. Yes, it's harder at first if you're used to grinding out the big gears but your knees and joints will thank you in the long run. That and your overall fitness should improve (high reps and low weight, basically). Either concentrate on spinning or buy a cadence function computer and try and keep it 90-100rpm all the time.
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    For recreational riding, versus racing, I've always heard that the range is 80-100. For faster riding, the range I've seen cited is 90-110. Every time I measure my cadence it's in the 80-90 range, although it sometimes goes higher. When I drop below 80 I can feel additional pressure on my knees.
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    Before I bought a cadence computer for my road bike, I thought I was riding with a decent cadence, but found out I was closer to 70. Then I change to and 85-100 cadence and my knee pain had reduced. I am 6'3" and 235 and dropping. I will work my cadence up to increase my heart rate and I will hit 125 on the cadence to get my heart rate up when I am doing some interval training. Whether it is on my rollers when the roads are terrible, or when I am on the street working hard.
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    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    I'm around 72ish now. I was around 60 with 175MM cranks. I went to 170's and it helped THAT much. I thought I had some 165's located (110 BC), but that fell through.
    I realize my cadence is still slow, but I've got bad knees and about to turn 60.
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    I was riding my old mountain bike around the neighborhood bike trails, which have a few small rises here and there. When I first started, those really slowed me down and I was going up in lowish gears and puffing and panting. As I got more used to riding, I started trying to ride in higher gears and wound being able to make my whole route in high gear.

    Then that bike was stolen and I got my new bike, a single speed with 42:21 gearing (which is "low"). So I went from slow-and-strong to fast-and-furious.

    The funny thing was that my overall speed didn't change much. With the slow-and-strong approach, you have to watch it on unfamiliar routes or you can just kill your legs on one hill. It seems to me that the strong-and-slow approach gives your legs more of a workout than it does your cardiovascular system (sure works 'em both, though). It's sort of the difference between jogging and weight lifting.

    Anyway, on the new bike, I'm averaging 15 mph give or take a mph depending on the route. If I did the math right, 15 mph on that bike is about 97 rpm on pedal speed. I can sustain 17 mph with no headwind, which would be about 110 rpm. Fastest I've pedaled it is about 22 mph, which would be about 140 rpm, but that was a very brief time. Note that at the 17 mph, I'm not pedalling continuously- pedal briefly and coast & repeat. I don't normally pay any attention to cadence, and hadn't ever figured or measured it before.

    Oh, one thing I noticed is that whatever you get used to seems right and anything else just seems wrong. So just because your cadence seems right, don't assume that it couldn't be changed. Do some other cadence for a couple of months and that'll seem right.
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    Member bindibadgi's Avatar
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    I don't want to hijack the thread, but what's the best way to train myself up to a good cadence? I have a very bad habit of coasting a lot, and although it's basically because I've just started cycling again after many years, I'm afraid it's causing me to not get fit very well, if that makes sense. That and I've got pretty bad knees; sometimes one nearly collapses if I'm climbing stairs for instance. So I really need some knee saving high cadence.

    I thought about a fixed gear but can't afford it. I don't think I could afford a computer with cadence either. So what can I do to improve my cadence? My max at the moment is probably about 90 but I'm sure my average is waay below that. I just can't keep it up!

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    Cadence match to 100bpm music is one good method. Here's a database of songs with the beatcount

    http://www.thebpmbook.com/bpm/a/a28.php


    Quote Originally Posted by bindibadgi View Post
    I don't want to hijack the thread, but what's the best way to train myself up to a good cadence? I have a very bad habit of coasting a lot, and although it's basically because I've just started cycling again after many years, I'm afraid it's causing me to not get fit very well, if that makes sense. That and I've got pretty bad knees; sometimes one nearly collapses if I'm climbing stairs for instance. So I really need some knee saving high cadence.

    I thought about a fixed gear but can't afford it. I don't think I could afford a computer with cadence either. So what can I do to improve my cadence? My max at the moment is probably about 90 but I'm sure my average is waay below that. I just can't keep it up!
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    Quote Originally Posted by bindibadgi View Post
    I don't want to hijack the thread, but what's the best way to train myself up to a good cadence? I have a very bad habit of coasting a lot,
    Well there are really two parts to this question. First the pedal and coast issue which is different than cadence. For me riding indoors on a trainer really helped me with this. You can't coast on a trainer and I've learned to pedal for hours on end without stopping to coast. I solved my low cadence problem with a cheap cadence computer. You can pick them up for $40 and it made all the difference in the world for me.
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    If you like to coast a lot, then you would have to change your riding plan and change the gearing to keep pedalling and not coasting. Then you can spend $30 - $500 on a cyclometer that includes cadence to see where you are. It is mostly a mental thing. You have to want to change and once you do that, it is easy to get your cadence where you want it.
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    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bindibadgi View Post
    I don't want to hijack the thread, but what's the best way to train myself up to a good cadence? I have a very bad habit of coasting a lot, and although it's basically because I've just started cycling again after many years, I'm afraid it's causing me to not get fit very well, if that makes sense. That and I've got pretty bad knees; sometimes one nearly collapses if I'm climbing stairs for instance. So I really need some knee saving high cadence.

    I thought about a fixed gear but can't afford it. I don't think I could afford a computer with cadence either. So what can I do to improve my cadence? My max at the moment is probably about 90 but I'm sure my average is waay below that. I just can't keep it up!
    The Cateye Atrale 8 is a good, cheap computer with cadence. The sensor is also mounted on the rear wheel and will keep working on a trainer if that matters to you.

    Turning a higher cadence effectively takes the load off of you legs a bit and puts it on your cardiovascular system. That is a good thing for both fitness and for your endurance on a bike as your fitness improves. The fun part is once you have become comfortable spinning at a higher RPM for a while, try shifting a cog or two higher in your gearing than what is customary for your route. It is like picking up free speed.

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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Here is a cadence computer for $24.99

    http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...slisearch=true

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    Triathlon in my future??? flip18436572's Avatar
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    Go to your LBS and buy a cadence computer to help support the LBS that has been good to you. The are not making a lot of money on cyclometers, but every bit helps them out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bindibadgi View Post
    I don't want to hijack the thread, but what's the best way to train myself up to a good cadence? I have a very bad habit of coasting a lot, and although it's basically because I've just started cycling again after many years, I'm afraid it's causing me to not get fit very well, if that makes sense. That and I've got pretty bad knees; sometimes one nearly collapses if I'm climbing stairs for instance. So I really need some knee saving high cadence.

    I thought about a fixed gear but can't afford it. I don't think I could afford a computer with cadence either. So what can I do to improve my cadence? My max at the moment is probably about 90 but I'm sure my average is waay below that. I just can't keep it up!
    Avoiding pedal/coast cycles is a combination of discipline and finding the right cadence/intensity level. If you pedal too fast or hard, you'll get tired and coast to take a break. Once you're rested, you pedal hard again, which will lead to another period of coasting. Instead of doing this, find a cadence and intensity level that you can comfortably sustain. As you're riding, if you begin to feel that you are working too hard, instead of coasting, reduce the pressure on the pedals a bit, shift down a gear and go a bit slower. When you are going down a slight hill, shift up to maintain the same intensity and cadence. When you go down a steeper hill, reduce the urge to coast. Even if you're at or above a speed that you're comfortable riding, at least keep spinning, even if you're just freewheeling.

    A heart rate monitor is actually a great tool for monitoring intensity level. Once you've determined a target target heart rate range for a ride, adjust your intensity level and gearing to stay in the target range, and at your desired cadence.
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    It takes time and practice. I used to run around the mid 70's then have pushed it up into the 90's. Anything over that and I start bouncing in the saddle.

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    It seems to me that the pedal/coast effect has more to do with the gearing of the bike. Say I want to go 17 mph, and it's not uphill, not into the wind. That doesn't take a lot of effort, and I can pedal about 1/4 of the time and maintain that speed. If I try to pedal continuously, it's a lot of effort with little resistance and basically no point to it. If it was a multi-speed bike, I could upshift, pedal slower and continuously, and go somewhat faster, which I assume is what most people do.
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    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    As pointed out by most people in this thread spinning is pedalling continuosly with light resistance and high reps (90-100rpm or higher if road racing). Grinding big gears for short periods then coasting isn't doing anything for your fitness and it's definitely not saving your knees.

    Like a number of people have said buy a bike computer with a cadence function and keep it 90-100rpm all the time. It's the gym equivalent of low weight, high reps and will do wonders for your overall level of fitness not to mention keeping the strain off the joints. You should be able to spin high rpm continuosly almost indefinitely.
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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markhr View Post
    As pointed out by most people in this thread spinning is pedalling continuosly with light resistance and high reps (90-100rpm or higher if road racing).
    Some folks also add a continuous smooth circular motion with lifting provided by the raising foot/leg in the definition of spinning. IOW, you are both pushing down and pulling up. Your choice as to the definition.

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    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    Some folks also add a continuous smooth circular motion with lifting provided by the raising foot/leg in the definition of spinning. IOW, you are both pushing down and pulling up. Your choice as to the definition.
    no way - and there I was thinking spinning was something the Sufis did

    yes, it is subjective - if you're feeling really bored you could check out all the "best way to pedal" arguments. The only place they tend to converge is the speed of pedalling, i.e., faster (to a point) is better.
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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markhr View Post
    no way - and there I was thinking spinning was something the Sufis did

    yes, it is subjective - if you're feeling really bored you could check out all the "best way to pedal" arguments. The only place they tend to converge is the speed of pedalling, i.e., faster (to a point) is better.
    I have seen some rather heated debates on this definition!

    Silly, yes!

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