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  1. #1
    Senior Member mrodgers's Avatar
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    Gearing, Cadence, and speed question

    I don't know exactly where to put any threads I have questions with, but since I'm just a fat guy trying to get some exercise and reduce weight and cholesterol, I like this section. The amount of sections and information in this forum overall is overwhelming and I have a hard time sorting through the racer info vs. just exercise info.

    So, last night I was curious and counted the teeth on my junk Walmart mountain bike job. Here's what I have...

    25 / 33 / 42
    13 / 15 / 17 / 19 / 21 / 24 / 28
    26x1.95 tire

    Not sure what the standard is on rear cassette and how gearing is spaced on "good" bikes.

    So I was curious about cadence and started googling around. Everything I read says to ride 85-90 rpm. Most of what I find googling seems to pertain to the "serious" cyclists. I'm not interested in being the fastest I can or how much distance I cycle, I'm just trying to get an hour of biking in a day for exercise. I'm perfectly happy riding my 12-14 mph for an hour every night.

    Next I looked for information on calculating cadence from your gear ratios. I found a calculation and made a table in Excel to plug all my gears in and get a cadence at various speeds. When I'm on the relatively flat Allegheny River Trail I find myself generally between 12 and 13 mph for 6 miles out and 13-14 mph for 6 miles back. I ride in my highest gear. Trying to get higher than 14 mph, I'm pushing too hard and tire out, though I do sprint my final quarter to half mile and run 18-19 mph as long as I can for that last span.

    From my calculation, between 12, 13, and 14 mph my cadence is 49 - 53 - 57 rpm. That feels right and pretty comfortable for me.

    So reading about cadence, like I said, I see everything saying that you should aim for 85-90 rpm. What?!? That calculated on my top gear that I should be aiming for 21 mph! That is an absolute impossibility for me. I can hardly hit 19 mph for a quarter mile. The only time I've hit 21 mph was coasting downhill behind my house on around 11% grades. I tried to keep up with pedaling and couldn't catch that kind of spinning at 21 mph.

    So, I look at my next gear down, 42/15. 85 rpm calculates to running 18 mph. Ok, so this was last night after my ride I was looking all this up so haven't tried going faster on a lower gear. I will try next time just going with the 42/15 and see what kind of speed I get out of it, but I feel like 85 rpm my legs will be flailing about uncontrollable. Also, again, no way I'm going to be doing 18 mph.

    Ok, then I'll look at a 65 rpm cadence, perhaps for me that is a more realistic goal to achieve. When I have to slow down to get through the barriers that block motor vehicles, I generally down to 4th on the rear and move back up through the gears until I'm back in top gear. As I'm accelerating back up when I'm on the 42/15 (6th) I hit 12 mph when I move to the top gear. At 12 mph my cadence calculates at 56 rpm and I think I'm pedaling pretty darn fast and need to jump up to the top gear.

    14 mph in that 42/15 6th gear calculates to 65 rpm. Times that I've done that before moving to top gear feels like the legs are flailing around way too much.

    I'm just trying to learn and understand a bit about the techniques of pedaling a bike. I've read last night that lower cadence you will put more effort with your legs and that would be good for muscle building in the legs but faster pedaling at a given speed will be a better cardio workout. Also I read that the lower cadence and more effort would tire you out faster. Since losing weight and lowering cholesterol is my goal, seems that I want to pedal a higher cadence than I have been now for 3 weeks today. Feeling wise, the tiring out with lower cadence doesn't make sense to me. I will try out different gearing and pedaling faster my next ride, but my thinking right now is pedaling faster will be more tiring.

    Like I said, just trying to gain some knowledge here and hope that some folks can shed some light for me thinking in a Clyde way rather than a 140 lb racer way, but maybe I'm thinking all wrong on the fact that I'm on a junk heavy mountain bike. I'm picking up a new bike next year, but I don't think I want the slung down low stance of riding a road bike and I'm researching some different hybrid bikes for later purchase (something like Specialized Crosstrain is what I'm thinking as I do have a ride I go on that is gravel road and a possible trail to ride that is cinder or hard pack gravel rather than paved, thus the not wanting a road bike.)

  2. #2
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    One ... don't over think this

    Two ... yes, spinning (riding with a higher cadence is ultimately what you're looking for). For a couple of reasons ... better cardio for sure, but it also places less strain on your joints.

    Three ... it's best to think of cadence independent from speed, at least at the beginning. In other words, worry less about your speed and more about your form and cadence. Find a gear that allows you to pedal at 80-95 rpms and focus on a smooth pedaling stroke. You don't want to pedal so fast that you're bouncing up and down on the saddle. Your speed will waver, that's to be expected, but again, we're looking long-term here. Higher cadence = better cardio health = longer sustained efforts. Once you get comfortable spinning, and you get in better shape, you'll find you're pushing the bigger gears at a higher cadence.

    And you'll be constantly fiddling with shifting. I shift constantly so that I'm able to maintain the cadence I want.

    And eventually you'll see that spinning doesn't make you more tired. In fact, I find that spinning after a big effort (going uphill, sprinting off the line, etc) helps you recover on the bike

    All of this said, understand, when you're on a newer bike this will become MUCH easier also.

    But as I said earlier ... don't overthink this, go somewhat by feel and you'll get there.

  3. #3
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Good question!

    Using a bike computer with a cadence feature makes all this easier.
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  4. #4
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    my head hurts thinking about calculated cadence per gear... its a bike, shift when the load get to easy or hard

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    my head hurts thinking about calculated cadence per gear... its a bike, shift when the load get to easy or hard
    +1.
    "I've wanted you to succeed, but watching you find excuse after excuse after excuse and then laugh it off as the loveable, quirky, chubby guy is getting old."--Ill.Clyde

  6. #6
    just pedal donalson's Avatar
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    first your gearing is not far off from what many MTB have... the rear is typically 11-32t with a few more steps between but many people run 11-28 or 12-28... up front the granny (small gear) is commonly a 22t)... so ultimately they have a bit lower gear... but unless you are climbing some serious stuff your gearing looks fine

    I know way to many 'mericans can't drive a stickshift car... but its the easiest way to think about it

    in a car you can do 45mph in every single gear... you can also do 1mph... but doing 45mph in 1st gear is going to have your engine spinning so fast that you risk the entire thing blowing up...

    if you take off from a stop in 5th gear (or whatever the top is on your car) it's going to take a lot of grunt from the engine to get it moving... putting a lot of pressure onto the thing, your engine will likely buck a bit as you lug it... it makes more power higher up in the RPM range but you are forcing it to operate well below that... but when you are cruising along at 50mph that engine is sitting happily spinning at it's optimal rpm for the little power it needs to exert to maintain its speed... come to a steep hill and you will need to give it more gas (energy) or downshift to maintain the same speed

    YOU are the car engine... unfortunately our bodies don't make near the power an internal combustion engine does so we need a wide gearing range to move ourselves from a stop or power up a hill...

    your body wants to operate at a certain RPM... typically 80-90 rpm cadence allows you to produce the power needed while removing the lactic acid from your muscles so you can keep on keeping on... less then that and you are likely using more muscle (anerobic)... also knees tend to develop issues from this abuse.

    a cheap cycle computer with cadence is a nice thing when starting out... I have mine mostly as a reminder and a toy... I know I sometimes look down and notice "hey pedaling has gotten a little harder... oh look i'm pedaling a bit slow... (then I shift down a gear)... with time your body will know what speed it likes to pedal... the gears are there just so you can maintain that speed.
    mtbr clyd moderator

  7. #7
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    The best advice I've heard for new riders that are pedaling at a slow cadence is to shift to one easier gear than you normally use. That will increase your cadence and reduce your pedal pressure to maintain the same speed.


    Here's Mike Sherman's Gear Calculator for your bike.
    25 (red) 33 (black) 42(blue) chainrings and 13-15-17-19-21-24-28 cogs; 26 x 1.95 wheel.

    Don't use the big 42 chainring unless you are wanting to go faster than 15 mph in the immediate road ahead. You don't have to shift to the fastest 42-13 combination, that's for going over 20 mph on shallower downhills (coast down the steep ones!)

    With the higher 80 to 90 cadence, use the middle 33 chainring (shown in black) when you are on flat ground and will be riding between about 8 mph and 16 mph.

    This middle chainring should be able to work with all the back cogs. The 42 or 25 chainrings should avoid using the extreme opposite cogs -- avoid 42-28 and 25-13.

    When you see a climb up ahead, shift to the smallest 25 chainring and click about 2 gears smaller on the back. That will be close to your cadence on the middle ring, so you can keep riding with minimal disruption. Once you hit the hill, keep going to an easier gear as needed.



    Your Excel speed calculations are correct, but this site is much easier to try different cadences or even different gears. It updates all it's charts on the fly as changes are made.

    By the way, I like cadences around 90 if I'm working steadily, but I'll often use a 70 cadence, with very light pedal pressure, if I have a slight downhill or a tailwind. And of course, there's times when I'm spinning madly on a very short downhill slope instead of shifting for just a few seconds duration, or standing and using a very low cadence on a steep hill.
    Last edited by rm -rf; 08-21-13 at 02:10 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member awfulwaffle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ill.clyde View Post
    Once you get comfortable spinning, and you get in better shape, you'll find you're pushing the bigger gears at a higher cadence.

    All of this said, understand, when you're on a newer bike this will become MUCH easier also.
    Heed this man's advice, he nailed it right on the head.

    I started 2 years ago pretty much where you are at now. I didn't have a cadence sensor then, but I recall distinctly my legs starting to ache when I tried to pick it up to what I would call a 'vigorous' pedaling pace. I weighed ~260, was riding a frankenbike built on a heavy Mongoose full suspension frame just like yours, and I doubt I could have maintained 80 rpm for more than a mile or two. I convinced myself that it was better to push harder at a lower cadence for the time being, and just continued to ride.

    Both my strength/endurance and my bike improved in a parallel fashion. Taking the knobbies off in favor of road tires (Kenda Kwiktrax) made a good deal of difference as I wasn't riding offroad at that point. As I got stronger and started to lose weight, I noticed it becoming easier and easier to keep up a higher cadence. I upgraded my bike (including replacing the crappy Mongoose frame with an aluminum hardtail one), and started training with a friend for my first ever century. Towards the end of our 2 month training period, I found that I was able to sprint up to 28 mph on flats, up from a max of ~20 mph initially.

    When I finally bought a new computer with a cadence feature at the beginning of this season, I was surprised to find that my average cruising cadence on flats was 80-90 rpm at around 16 mph on my MTB, and more recently around 95-105 rpm at around 18-20 mph on my new road bike. Mind you, I'm still a clyde and definitely not super fit, but I think I just got used to pedaling faster for longer periods of time, as will you if you keep at it. Just keep riding, get a nicer bike along the way, and you'll see improvement soon enough!

  9. #9
    Senior Member mrodgers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    my head hurts thinking about calculated cadence per gear... its a bike, shift when the load get to easy or hard
    Ha, the thoughts started because a coworker who's been doing this since the beginning of summer said he stays on the middle chainring and is around 5 or 6 on the back (8 gears back there) where I am on the 3rd chainring and riding in my top 7th gear on the rear. I thought he has to be getting exhausted pedaling that fast compared to me and is what prompted me to look at my gearing vs. his gearing (he has a BikesDirect bike, pretty nice in my opinion, especially compared to my Walmart job.) That led me to looking up cadence and the fact that I have to sit here in front of the computer for an hour waiting while my equipment is in cycle here at work led me to start my typical over analyzing.

    For the info on that above, he is riding a 32 and I'm guessing 13 tooth if he's not in the top gear on the rear riding a hard packed gravel/cinder trail at 12 mph while I'm 42/13 riding a paved trail at say 14 mph. Which calculates to me thinking he is spinning his legs wildly but only going roughly 65 rpm compared to me at 57ish rpm.

    The over analyzing came from the simplicity of making 1 calculation in Excel and with the power of saying "Fill Down" having every gear ratio I have calculated along with any speed from 1 to 100 if I wanted what cadence it would be, LOL.

    I will try some lower gears and get my cadence up next time I ride and see what happens. The question I have is, what cadence should folks like me who are looking for just simple exercise to aim for? Should I aim for pedaling at 65 rpm and incrementally increase each ride to get use to it or just try to go all out and do what I feel right now still doesn't feel possible and try to ride at 85 rpm.

  10. #10
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrodgers View Post
    The question I have is, what cadence should folks like me who are looking for just simple exercise to aim for? Should I aim for pedaling at 65 rpm and incrementally increase each ride to get use to it or just try to go all out and do what I feel right now still doesn't feel possible and try to ride at 85 rpm.
    That's a great way to start

    Eventually, over time, you'll find a cadence you're most comfortable with. A cheap computer with a cadence function works wonders, but lately I'm riding without one and know that I'm still in my preferred cadence (usually between 90 and 100)

  11. #11
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    Dirt cadence is lower then roadie cadence by default unless your one some super graded flat fire road.

  12. #12
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrodgers View Post
    I don't know exactly where to put any threads I have questions with, but since I'm just a fat guy trying to get some exercise and reduce weight and cholesterol, I like this section. The amount of sections and information in this forum overall is overwhelming and I have a hard time sorting through the racer info vs. just exercise info.

    So, last night I was curious and counted the teeth on my junk Walmart mountain bike job. Here's what I have...

    25 / 33 / 42
    13 / 15 / 17 / 19 / 21 / 24 / 28
    26x1.95 tire

    Not sure what the standard is on rear cassette and how gearing is spaced on "good" bikes.

    So I was curious about cadence and started googling around. Everything I read says to ride 85-90 rpm. Most of what I find googling seems to pertain to the "serious" cyclists. I'm not interested in being the fastest I can or how much distance I cycle, I'm just trying to get an hour of biking in a day for exercise. I'm perfectly happy riding my 12-14 mph for an hour every night.

    Next I looked for information on calculating cadence from your gear ratios. I found a calculation and made a table in Excel to plug all my gears in and get a cadence at various speeds. When I'm on the relatively flat Allegheny River Trail I find myself generally between 12 and 13 mph for 6 miles out and 13-14 mph for 6 miles back. I ride in my highest gear. Trying to get higher than 14 mph, I'm pushing too hard and tire out, though I do sprint my final quarter to half mile and run 18-19 mph as long as I can for that last span.

    From my calculation, between 12, 13, and 14 mph my cadence is 49 - 53 - 57 rpm. That feels right and pretty comfortable for me.

    So reading about cadence, like I said, I see everything saying that you should aim for 85-90 rpm. What?!? That calculated on my top gear that I should be aiming for 21 mph! That is an absolute impossibility for me. I can hardly hit 19 mph for a quarter mile. The only time I've hit 21 mph was coasting downhill behind my house on around 11% grades. I tried to keep up with pedaling and couldn't catch that kind of spinning at 21 mph.

    So, I look at my next gear down, 42/15. 85 rpm calculates to running 18 mph. Ok, so this was last night after my ride I was looking all this up so haven't tried going faster on a lower gear. I will try next time just going with the 42/15 and see what kind of speed I get out of it, but I feel like 85 rpm my legs will be flailing about uncontrollable. Also, again, no way I'm going to be doing 18 mph.

    Ok, then I'll look at a 65 rpm cadence, perhaps for me that is a more realistic goal to achieve. When I have to slow down to get through the barriers that block motor vehicles, I generally down to 4th on the rear and move back up through the gears until I'm back in top gear. As I'm accelerating back up when I'm on the 42/15 (6th) I hit 12 mph when I move to the top gear. At 12 mph my cadence calculates at 56 rpm and I think I'm pedaling pretty darn fast and need to jump up to the top gear.

    14 mph in that 42/15 6th gear calculates to 65 rpm. Times that I've done that before moving to top gear feels like the legs are flailing around way too much.

    I'm just trying to learn and understand a bit about the techniques of pedaling a bike. I've read last night that lower cadence you will put more effort with your legs and that would be good for muscle building in the legs but faster pedaling at a given speed will be a better cardio workout. Also I read that the lower cadence and more effort would tire you out faster. Since losing weight and lowering cholesterol is my goal, seems that I want to pedal a higher cadence than I have been now for 3 weeks today. Feeling wise, the tiring out with lower cadence doesn't make sense to me. I will try out different gearing and pedaling faster my next ride, but my thinking right now is pedaling faster will be more tiring.

    Like I said, just trying to gain some knowledge here and hope that some folks can shed some light for me thinking in a Clyde way rather than a 140 lb racer way, but maybe I'm thinking all wrong on the fact that I'm on a junk heavy mountain bike. I'm picking up a new bike next year, but I don't think I want the slung down low stance of riding a road bike and I'm researching some different hybrid bikes for later purchase (something like Specialized Crosstrain is what I'm thinking as I do have a ride I go on that is gravel road and a possible trail to ride that is cinder or hard pack gravel rather than paved, thus the not wanting a road bike.)
    That's an interesting and unique way of looking at it, but I don't think it's very useful. There's nothing that says you have to use any particular gear on your bike. The gears are there to serve you, not the other way around. If spinning your highest gear at 90 rpm would put you at 21 miles per hour and you know you can't do that, don't use that gear. It's really that simple.

    The whole point is to move yourself and the bike from point A to point B in either the most efficient or most enjoyable manner for yourself. Some basic rules of thumb apply, like higher cadences being more efficient, but it's really up to you. As you ride more, you'll get a feel for what kind of cadence gets you to your destination with energy left to stand up, and what kind leaves you lying on the ground as soon as you get off the bike. Ride at the cadence that requires the least energy, and as you ride more, you'll be pedaling at that rate, but with higher gears.
    Craig in Indy

  13. #13
    Senior Member mrodgers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    Dirt cadence is lower then roadie cadence by default unless your one some super graded flat fire road.
    Yes, the trail I was talking about with my coworker is a Rails to Trails that is either cinder or hard packed limestone. It is basically as hard and smooth as pavement, just not quite, at least from what he says. I may be checking it out on Friday after work with him. The trail he rides is basically the same as mine except for the surface. The Rails to Trails are basically almost dead flat.

    Quote Originally Posted by CraigB View Post
    That's an interesting and unique way of looking at it, but I don't think it's very useful. There's nothing that says you have to use any particular gear on your bike. The gears are there to serve you, not the other way around. If spinning your highest gear at 90 rpm would put you at 21 miles per hour and you know you can't do that, don't use that gear. It's really that simple.
    I am only using the calculation to come up with a way of knowing what my cadence is. I didn't know there were cycle computers that can show you, then again, someone said a "cheap" cycle computer that measures cadence and to me right now, $50 isn't cheap and that is what I'm seeing. Mine is cheap, $15 and only shows mileage, distance, etc.

    With the calculation, I now know that if I want to target 65 RPM, then I either need to ride 16 mph in 7th, 14 mph in 6th, or 12 mph in 5th. Or that I can use the same rear gears at the same speeds and with the middle chainring I would be at 85 rpm. I know I can't sustain 16 mph in 7th so that is out. I can sustain 14 mph in 6th, probably easier than I could in 7th since I do fluctuate between 13 and 14 mph with the occasional seeing 15 and even down to 12, I just thought originally I would be pedaling way too fast and that is the one thing that I am learning from the great responses here, that I should be pedaling at a higher cadence and why. Now on Friday, I will be able to test out using those gears to increase my pedaling and confirm real world what everyone has taught me here.

    If I had the extra cash right now for a meter that displayed cadence, then I could just pedal whatever and go by what the meter reads. I don't have that extra cash right now so calculating it out is all I have to know what I would be pedaling since the only variable I know is the speed I'm able to ride at.
    Last edited by mrodgers; 08-21-13 at 07:34 PM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    You can calculate cadence yourself. If your bike computer doesn't have a stopwatch, use your wristwatch. When the seconds hand gets to 12, start counting your pedal strokes until you get to 15 seconds, then multiply by 4. Do this a couple of times during a ride.

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    Two things - for a cheap cadence "meter", buy a super cheap cycle computer off eBay (<=$4 including free shipping from China/Taiwan). Set it up with the sensor reading a magnet stuck to the cranks, not the wheel. Use 1666 for tire size. You'll read rpms not speed. Ignore the rest of the display.

    Second, as far as understanding and/or building cadence, try this. Put the chain on the middle front ring and on the 5, 6 or 7 ring on the rear. Now try to pedal as smoothly as possible - no mashing. "Spin" circles as opposed to just pushing on the pedals - that is, drag the pedal around the circle with the ball of your foot when you're not pushing (people used to call this wiping dog **** off the ball of your shoe). This creates smoother power cycle in your pedaling. You're in this gear combo not for speed but to ensure you aren't bouncing in your seat as you (re-)learn how to pedal smoothly.

    Now, if you haven't gotten the cheap cadence computer setup I mentioned above, count the revolutions of your right foot for 15 seconds - 1 for each time your knee begins its push. Multiply that number by 4. That's your per minute cadence.

    Do that 3 or 4 times while pedaling smoothly on a flat. Average those numbers and that's your current smooth pedaling cadence.

    Now you have a base/starting point to improve from. Try increasing your cadence 5 rpm at a time for a week while maintaining smooth pedaling circles. When you have that down, rinse&repeat adding 5 more rpm.

    I did this for two months conscientiously and went from pedaling badly at 55rpm to pedaling relatively smoothly at 90rpm and found that this eventually transferred to faster gears too. Now I can ride on the big front chainring and small rear rings for extended periods in the 80-95rpm range. It gets better every week. And my speed increased along with the cadence and sooth pedaling.

    YMMV

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    As someone who recently got a cadence sensor, I must say that it's improved my cycling tremendously. I'm very fortunate that my bike (via Garmin 510 and ANT sensor) pretty much displays everything in real time. For the first week I didn't even display my speed, just time and cadence. I set my baseline at 70 RPM (big front ring, third largest rear cog) and found myself bouncing over 80 RPM.

    I'm on my second week and I've found that when I maintain 78-82 RPM on flat ground which translates into approximately ~15 MPH. The best part, I'm hardly winded after 10+ miles. Out of curiosity, on my ride back, I dropped the cadence to 60-65 RPM in much tougher gear and although my speed went up (~18 MPH) I was completely gassed by mile marker three.

    Finding my cadence "stride" has been one of the biggest improvements to my enjoyment of cycling (after bike fit). I encourage you to find a way to determine your comfort zone, as soon as possible.

  17. #17
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    I still think you're making this way too complicated. Once you know what at 65+ cadence feels like (or whatever cadence you want to use), which only requires a watch with a second hand as MRT2 says, ride it. If the gear you're in is too high for you, shift down. If it's offering too little resistance for you, shift up. The rest is just relatively meaningless numbers.
    Craig in Indy

  18. #18
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrodgers View Post
    I am only using the calculation to come up with a way of knowing what my cadence is. I didn't know there were cycle computers that can show you, then again, someone said a "cheap" cycle computer that measures cadence and to me right now, $50 isn't cheap and that is what I'm seeing. Mine is cheap, $15 and only shows mileage, distance, etc.
    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...99_-1___202553 $20

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    a.k.a., Point Five Dude Surrealdeal's Avatar
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    Cadence is a fun statistic to geek out on but it is not necessarily an indicator of a 'right' or 'wrong' way to pedal your bike - If you're not in shape for it 95 rpm is going to be uncomfortable (and unsustainable) no matter what your gearing is.

    Without a computer to look at, just ride by feel - a steady and even turnover rate that you are comfortable with. Use your gears to achieve the resistance and moving speed that you want (Somebody said before that your gears are there to serve you - that is true). Your actual rate is just a number really and like millions of riders before you, you can get by without knowing what it is.

    One other thing to consider (not sure if this even applies to you) is one's form - Us big guys tend to start out riding with our knees sticking out. If you really try to work up to 90-95 rpm, that is an uncomfortable arrangement. Work on keeping your knees in so that your thighs are more or less parallel to your top tube. It's a lot easier to spin that way and it's got to be better on one's knees. That might be the only useful thing I have ever taken away from watching the TdF.
    Fat is sweat, on the wrong side of your skin.

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    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Your thinking is fine. Heavy rider, heavy bike, the spinning experience isn't quite the same as 170lb on a 16lb bike. However, I have been "training" my wife to do 40m loops with me, on a hybrid, and without a doubt high cadence spinning has remarkably improved her riding experience. Forget the meters, the mental anchor is thinking about a spin cadence that feels like you could go "all day". That's your sweet spot, "all day". For me, that's probably 85-95...but that's after years of riding and spin classes. For others getting bike fit, "all day" might be 65-75. Mashing is a miserable experience once you tackle distance and hills, you can generate some big watts for a while but you will pay the price over time and distance.

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    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    I'll give a little different perspective-
    I'm 65 yo with emphysema and a "bad" knee-
    I've had to go to 165mm cranks because I don't have full range of motion in my right knee. (I'm also recovering from"intermedullary nailing of the tibia" aka "a rod inserted into the tibia through the knee".
    I've experimented with different crank lengths from 160-175mmin 5mm increments.
    My knee basically won't let me spin faster than 85. IF I try to mash, I "gas out" in a matter of seconds.
    175mm foot comes off the pedal @ 62 RPM Chronic knee pain
    170mm 80 RPM some knee pain
    165mm 85 RPM and I can RIDE without PAIN (I do slow down to 80 as I fatigue)
    160MM 80 RPM. Simply getting too short.

    Something else that is important to cadence is SEAT HEIGHT!!!
    Most new cyclists have their seat too low. This means you have to over bend the knee. This reduces your cadence AND power + puts additional stress on the knee.

    Without getting into specific numbers, just try the next lower gear and spin it a little faster and see the results. You'll figure it out for yourself what works best.

    I "spin" 80-85 in a gear that I don't have to force. 3 weeks ago I rode 70 miles.

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    Senior Member Astrozombie's Avatar
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    Need to get out of that 3rd chain ring, i really only use it as an "overdrive" when i feel like seeing how fast i can go, only the fittest cyclists will actually stay in that gear for any decent amount of time....also if i don't want to "wear down" my middle chainring but i'm not sure if that even matters.
    ~90RPM is like 2 revolutions every second (well looks like this thread has showed a better way) I can postpone that purchase of a new computer
    Assume nothing; Question everything

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    Senior Member mrodgers's Avatar
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    This is all great stuff, I appreciate the replies and discussion.

    I have maybe 1 more question just for information as I won't have the cash for a new bike until next year, but....

    Right now I'm on my old 2005 Mongoose mountain bike from Walmart that I got back then to ride with my then 5 yr old when she got her first bike. Obviously, it is a POS and I know that, I will be figuring out over the winter what I want. The bike was fine back then at 4 mph riding with her and even when she went 2 wheels and on her 2nd bike as well (I think we rode 7 mph.) Now that I'm actually riding for real, I think that I am more comfortable everywhere but the rear end if I sit way back on the seat. I can't adjust it back any further so I can't see how it is. So obvious to me is the bike is way small.

    Thus, I'm wondering if you guys could shed some insight on whether it would be easier to pedal faster if my legs weren't so cramped up as close to the seat position? My seat is as high as it can go and the height feels just fine to me (leg barely bent at the bottom of my pedal with the ball of my foot on the pedal and knee locked when the heel of my foot is on the pedal which I've read is a decent way to know with seat height.) Thus, I just was wondering if having a larger bike that fits better would affect how easier it would be to pedal faster once I get through this year and pick something up next year (I'm thinking roadlike hybrid such as the Trek 7.x FX over a road bike because I do have some gravel roads and gravel paths I want to ride on and I do like a more upright position.)

    This is just a curiosity question at the moment. As for my next ride, I will try out staying in the middle chainring and increasing my pedaling rpm which will be tomorrow.

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    Senior Member MattFoley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post

    Something else that is important to cadence is SEAT HEIGHT!!!
    Most new cyclists have their seat too low. This means you have to over bend the knee. This reduces your cadence AND power + puts additional stress on the knee.
    Exactly...and I can't believe it took so long for someone to say it. I'm guessing that if 65+ RPM feels too high, the OP's seat is probably way too low.
    Cars man, whyyyyyy?!?!?!?!

  25. #25
    Senior Member Black wallnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Astrozombie View Post
    Need to get out of that 3rd chain ring, i really only use it as an "overdrive" when i feel like seeing how fast i can go, only the fittest cyclists will actually stay in that gear for any decent amount of time....also if i don't want to "wear down" my middle chainring but i'm not sure if that even matters.
    ~90RPM is like 2 revolutions every second (well looks like this thread has showed a better way) I can postpone that purchase of a new computer
    What? 90 rpm is exactly equal to 1.5 revolutions every second. 2 revolutions per second would be 120 rpm.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrodgers View Post
    This is all great stuff, I appreciate the replies and discussion.

    I have maybe 1 more question just for information as I won't have the cash for a new bike until next year, but....

    Right now I'm on my old 2005 Mongoose mountain bike from Walmart that I got back then to ride with my then 5 yr old when she got her first bike. Obviously, it is a POS and I know that, I will be figuring out over the winter what I want. The bike was fine back then at 4 mph riding with her and even when she went 2 wheels and on her 2nd bike as well (I think we rode 7 mph.) Now that I'm actually riding for real, I think that I am more comfortable everywhere but the rear end if I sit way back on the seat. I can't adjust it back any further so I can't see how it is. So obvious to me is the bike is way small.

    Thus, I'm wondering if you guys could shed some insight on whether it would be easier to pedal faster if my legs weren't so cramped up as close to the seat position? My seat is as high as it can go and the height feels just fine to me (leg barely bent at the bottom of my pedal with the ball of my foot on the pedal and knee locked when the heel of my foot is on the pedal which I've read is a decent way to know with seat height.) Thus, I just was wondering if having a larger bike that fits better would affect how easier it would be to pedal faster once I get through this year and pick something up next year (I'm thinking roadlike hybrid such as the Trek 7.x FX over a road bike because I do have some gravel roads and gravel paths I want to ride on and I do like a more upright position.)

    This is just a curiosity question at the moment. As for my next ride, I will try out staying in the middle chainring and increasing my pedaling rpm which will be tomorrow.
    Yes your stroke will likely be more efficient if the bike actually fits you and because of that it should feel easier. However as you have noticed mashing feels correct now but once you work up to a faster cadence you will no longer enjoy mashing.


    Mark

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