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  1. #1
    Senior Member godspiral's Avatar
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    90 RPM? -- is that for everyone?

    General advice is to pick a gear that you spin at 90 rpm.
    is that just for going 25 kph+ on flats or uphill? -- or anything over 20kph?

    can 60-70 rpm be ok? --if you have a heavier bike? no clips? are heavier than average? crappy crank/lower bracket? sprinters legs and recovery profile?

    I weigh 180 on a heavy bike... I find bobbing the legs up and down super fast to be more tiring than a higher gear... is it just lack of practise?

    is the real key to target pedal pressure under 10lbs (15 or 20lbs ok?) rather than an RPM rate?

    incidentally, here is a link to a seldom visited power calculator that has additional features compared to the most popular. -- estimates pedal pressure.
    http://www.mne.psu.edu/lamancusa/Pro...e/bikecalc.htm

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    I use 90 is a minimum but am happier at 100. 105+ results in me shifting.
    Under 90 also results in me shifting in the opposite direction.
    However, when I am riding up a steep hill I tend to drop into the 80s.

    Clipless is a virtual necessity to maintain a high cadence. Your legs also have to get used to spinning. It is quite tiring.
    Fit is also a necessity to eliminate bobbing up and down. I am properly fitted and do not have an explanation as to what causes the bobbing. Sorry.
    As for pedal pressure: riding clipless negates this metric IMHO. I barely push on my pedals at super high RPMs. 120+ makes my feet feel like they are hardly touching the bottom of my shoes.

  3. #3
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    You just have to build up to it. Some like to mash and run slower, but once you get used to it. 90 rpm is not hard. I found it takes a week or two of trying to jump cadence by about 10. So if you're starting at 70, it will take about 3 weeks before the higher rpm feels ok.

    Yes it is more tiring, i.e. the leg muscles have to be retraned. At about 80 rpm you trade efficiency for easy of each pedalling stroke and reducing pressure on the knees. Your cardio system needs to be stronger as you need more air movement for this work.

    Incidental link seems pointless. It's is horsepower instead of watts, and has limited choices. There are better calcs from analytical cycling.
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    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    I don't pay any attention to my RPMs - I ride at a cadence and in a gear that feels right to me at the time. Sometimes I spin faster in a lower gear, sometimes I spin slower in a higher gear.

    I put together an older Bianchi with a double and down-tube shifters this year and I've rediscovered the joy of NOT shifting every few minutes in order to try to keep some set cadence. If it weren't for old knees and some fair climbs, I'd go back to a single-speed.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  5. #5
    tsl
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    I'm 49, 165lbs and was a 60-65 cadence man. I read all the same stuff about increasing cadence and decided to give it a try since it just wasn't getting any easier or less painful at 60-65. At first, I thought my legs were going to fly right out of my hip sockets! (Not to mention the burning lungs bit.) But little by little, I've increased, and damn! The advice was right.

    Two months later, I commute now at around 90. On my weekend rides, I aim for higher still. I'm doing hills now at 105 and set a new personal best of 122 last night on a stoplight sprint (it's a poorly-timed set of lights--the only way through is fast.) Those cadences are still a little too fast for me on commutes. I can keep them up in only short bursts. But it feels really good.

    The key to my building cadence was finding a comfortable speed at an old cadence, then downshifting by one cog while maintaining the same speed. Once I was comfortable with that, I downshifted another cog. Now I'm riding in the same gears as before, but I'm much faster at the higher cadence and can actually walk after a ride. I'm finding it's much more comfortable and enjoyable to ride now too, since I'm not having to work so hard to turn the cranks.

    BTW, my bike is a fairly heavy hybrid with platform pedals. I'm thinking it's probably even more important on a heavy bike because it makes it easier to move the extra mass. And with platforms, the only way to generate power is on the downstroke. If you want more power, you need more downstrokes.

  6. #6
    Neat - w/ ice on the side dalmore's Avatar
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    I too am trying to increase my cadence - I have nothing really to aid me at the moment as far as cyclo computers and the like. What's te best tool for tracking cadence for a beginneer?

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    meep! legot73's Avatar
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    This might be a stupid question, but how do you go about measuring your cadence? Do you count revs for 10 seconds and multiply? Do you have some fancy computer that counts it for you?

    I tend to spin more than mash, but I have no idea where I'm at on the cadence range, just by feel and overall performance. Having some numbers to gauge by might be helpful.
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    If you want to know your cadence, get a $5 cyclocomputer and set it up as a cadence calculator. (glue a magnet onto the crank arm, put the sensor on the downtube or seattube, and figure out a setting that gives a good reading)
    You can also measure, say, 30 secs and count the pedal revolutions.
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    bicyclist LandLuger's Avatar
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    Generally speaking spinning faster goes hand in hand with more power output from the rider. IOW, when I want to generate power I always spin 90+ rpm. When I'm in "touring" mode I seldom hit 90 rpm, but my power output is less than 50%.

  10. #10
    tsl
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    Yes, you can count the number of strokes in a given period and do the math.

    I went the cyclometer route because I was afraid I'd plow into a bus or something if I was counting while watching the second hand on my watch. Plus, I'd have to stop and get a pencil and paper to do the multiplication. I've never been able to do math in my head.

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    Quote Originally Posted by legot73
    This might be a stupid question, but how do you go about measuring your cadence? Do you count revs for 10 seconds and multiply? Do you have some fancy computer that counts it for you?

    I tend to spin more than mash, but I have no idea where I'm at on the cadence range, just by feel and overall performance. Having some numbers to gauge by might be helpful.
    I use a cheaper cyclocomputer. The cat eye astrale 8. On sale at performance for $30

  12. #12
    Senior Member godspiral's Avatar
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    you can also match it to music. look up a metronome on the internet. 120bpm is 60 rpm. Basket-case by green day would be a decent song to come close to 90 rpm...

    HiYo: to convert horsepower to watts... 0.1hp = 75W.. adjusting +/-10W = 0.013hp

    DataJunkie: by bobbing, I wasn't referring to the bike going side to side, just my knees flying up and down.

    I guess the reason I don't get the point of 90 rpm is that it does make me go "anerobic" (get that term mixed up-- mean heavy breathing), without really going faster. I don't have knee pains, although I can barely go up 1 flight of stairs. Will high RPMs save your legs for the hills?

    The other advantage to maintaining 60 rpm, is that you can quickly crank it up to make a light or to pass and go into traffic lanes.

    Hopefully, someone experienced can come on and agree with me that it can work for some people.

  13. #13
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    Any RPM can work for anyone. *shrugs*
    It's cycling.... the most inclusive and multi method sport I have ever found.

    Anyhow, my own personal experience is that the higher cadences actually save your legs for the hills. That and keeps you from developing joint pain.
    As for bobbing, I assumed you were referring to bouncing in the saddle. Something that occurs to some persons at a high cadence.

  14. #14
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    I'd love to spin faster but my knees get tired if I spin faster than 90RPM over say 15 miles or so. But maybe that's just conditioning. No problems on the lower cadences though.

  15. #15
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    I will second advice above that it will take time to increase your cadence consistently. I now ride with my cadence around 90 without concentrating on it. I can get and hold 95 fairly easily if I concentrate a little bit on what I'm doing. I do find that much faster than that makes me want to bounce in the seat, unless I really concentrate on a perfect pedal stroke, which takes all the fun out of it. Over time I'm sure I'll get better, but sometimes you just have to ride for fun. It is also a little counterintuitive to shift to a lower gear to go faster, but it works.

    If increasing cadence is really difficult then aim for a modest increase over a mile. (Without a cadence counting computer you'll have to count it out). Then as you ride the next mile, just relax and go at your standard cadence. You can try spinning higher RPMs off and on throughout your ride. Over a period of a few weeks you'll find your base cadence edging up and it all becoming easier. Don't spin until you burn out, it is a gradual conditioning process as well as learning which gears give you optimum performance. The good news is that spinning faster with a better, smoother pedal stroke has added at least 2 mph to my average speed (even up hill) with no greater levels of work.

    I have read that hybrids and touring type bikes with long cranks make it harder to spin very fast since it is a larger circle than road cranks. I don't know if this is true, but it makes some sense and fits my experience. Even if it is true you should be able to hit 90-95 with a little practice.
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  16. #16
    Third World Layabout crtreedude's Avatar
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    I not sure exactly what I spin at - but it is up around 90 or better (I know a second when I feel it - and I am much faster than one revolution per second)

    For me, it flattens the hills - the key is (with clipless) is to try to be even on pressure all the way around, pushing and pulling. This gives you lots of time to recover the legs during the cycle. Work at making sure only to use the set of muscles that your really need. This way, they are getting constant mini rests.

    When I got it right and everything is working - it feels like I could go on forever.

  17. #17
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    I'm really bad at math so I count pedal revolutions for 60 seconds and multiply by 1.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  18. #18
    No Rocket Surgeon eubi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso
    I'm really bad at math so I count pedal revolutions for 60 seconds and multiply by 1.
    I'm not quite so bad in math so I count the rotations in six seconds and multiply by 10!
    Fewer Cars, more handlebars!

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    Quote Originally Posted by legot73
    This might be a stupid question, but how do you go about measuring your cadence? Do you count revs for 10 seconds and multiply? Do you have some fancy computer that counts it for you?

    I tend to spin more than mash, but I have no idea where I'm at on the cadence range, just by feel and overall performance. Having some numbers to gauge by might be helpful.
    Count the number of revs in 6 seconds and multiply by ten. After a while you don't need to count. Try this, sounds stupid, but it works:

    Find a cadence that you are comfortable at. As you are spinning, "sing" a song in your head, a song that you know like the back of your hand, that matches your cadence. (classical works well) To check your cadence at any time, just sing the song in your head in beat with your cadence. If the song is dragging, pick up your cadence, if the song is racing too fast, shift up a gear.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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  20. #20
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by godspiral
    I weigh 180 on a heavy bike...
    Just wondering, how much do you weigh on a light bike?

  21. #21
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Generally, high cadence spares the legs, and low cadence spares the heart and lungs.

    The bicycle itself is more efficient in a higher cadence, but the (human) engine may vary. Some riders work better at low rpms, others at the higher levels. This is true even for pro racers. But how will you know what's best for you until you at least try spinning faster for a few months?

    BTW, I think that high cadence not only saves the legs for climbs, it also saves them for old age!


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  22. #22
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    I've always ridden at around 60 rpm... but lately I've been trying to work on spinning faster... in about a week my average has gone up to between 70 and 75, with the highest I've hit being somewhere around 107 (for brief periods!)

    This is with platform pedals.... I know it'll be a LOT easier with clipless, just can't afford them at the moment, have to save some money, and I've already spent too much on bike stuff!
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  23. #23
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vrkelley
    I'd love to spin faster but my knees get tired if I spin faster than 90RPM over say 15 miles or so. But maybe that's just conditioning. No problems on the lower cadences though.
    I agree with you that it is probably conditioning. I have been spinning at 90-95 for a long time to save my fragile knees. I only start to strain the lungs when roads get too steep for my 19 gear/inch low to keep me spinning.
    This space open

  24. #24
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    Staying in the 90 RPM ballpark feels best to me. Higher and I feel like I'm not getting anywhere. Lower and my knees start to smart.

  25. #25
    Just shy of 400W ranger5oh's Avatar
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    I count the revolutions in 1 second and multiply by 60. I cant gaurantee the accuracy of this method though.
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