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Importance of Cadence

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Importance of Cadence

Old 08-31-21, 09:05 PM
  #26  
ShannonM
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Ideally, one should be capable of riding at a wide range of cadences... say, 60-120 rpm. Because there is no One True Cadence To Rule Them All.

Bodies vary. Roads vary. Loads vary. Bikes vary.

Therefore cadence should vary.

All that said, if your natural cadence on a flat road with minimal wind is 89 rpm, that's probably what you should be doing. If you want to work on your pedaling, (always a good idea,) you might consider dedicating a mild, leisurely ride every once in a while to expanding your comfort zone... shift less often, ride in a gear that's slightly too high or too low, learn to shift with your body instead of your drivetrain on short sections of changing gradient or wind.

IMNSHO, a 6 or 7 speed 80's road bike bike with one chainring and a friction downtube shifter is ideal for this... in many ways better than a singlespeed or fixed-gear bike... most of the simplicity, way more useful and easier to deal with. (Plus, I actively dislike singlespeed bikes, having had several of them over the years. Others feel differently, and that's fine... it's a big pond, and there's lots of room in it for different fish, even if I think they're weird.)

And it's an excuse to have another bike. (Not that any excuse should be needed... in an ideal world, "because I want to and I've got the bread and the rent's getting paid" would suffice.)

--Shannon
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Old 08-31-21, 10:15 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by ofajen View Post
Ride single speed or fixed gear and you will soon force yourself to manage at all cadences.

Otto
LOL! sure one can 'manage', but managing is much easier when you're legs are going into full lockup because you're going down a small bump on your fixie.
Street Fixies are mostly for flatie... I've seen one fixie guy fly into the bushes at the bottom of a small, mild 25 ft elv., 50 yd hill from UCSB to the beach, totally spun out and lockin up...
You can throw a football from one end of hill to the other...
Haven't seen a fixie riding down the little grade in over a year... and there are hundred's of 'fixies' on that campus.
SS, at least you have a chance... no question that one can better 'manage' riding when your legs have versatility,,,
chest-thumpin from fixie or SS riders is way over-rated...
That said, riding a fixie (track bike) in a safe environment - velodrome - is a great way to make your legs more efficient. Track time is well worth the effort.
In fact track riders are among some of the most efficient cyclists out there. Worked well for me...
peace out
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Old 08-31-21, 10:36 PM
  #28  
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I like a cadence counter at times. I tell people that motor vehicles operate best at a certain rpm. I think that a cadence counter can really help people avoid damaging the connecting rod joints of their bikes = the knees as well as training to a cadence that's most efficient for THAT PERSON.

Cheers
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Old 08-31-21, 11:14 PM
  #29  
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Jeez, it’s his AVERAGE cadence over the ENTIRE RIDE. Sometimes he pedaled slower, sometimes faster. It’s possible that 89 is awful for the OP, and that he cranked on the flats @ 105 and ground up the hills @ 65rpm…. and didn’t spend any time at all @ 89. So, OP, I’ll say this: 89 rpm is a great average for most riders at any level over varied terrain, especially if it’s hilly, flat, or mixed. Have fun, ride on!
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Old 09-01-21, 01:34 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by cyclezen View Post
Street Fixies are mostly for flatie... I've seen one fixie guy fly into the bushes at the bottom of a small, mild 25 ft elv., 50 yd hill from UCSB to the beach, totally spun out and lockin up...
You can throw a football from one end of hill to the other...
If UCSB is anything like what it was like in the mid-Naughties when my brother was there, I'm pretty sure that dude would have crashed in exactly the same way and at exactly the same way if he'd been riding a Big Wheel.

(My perceptions of UCSB may be skewed by the fact that bro lived in Isla Vista...)

--Shannon
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Old 09-24-21, 03:07 PM
  #31  
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congrats! I know what feels right & I wish I knew what that was numerically
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Old 09-25-21, 05:22 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by Rdmonster69 View Post
Hi all , I have a bike computer that has a cadence feature for the first time since the 80's so essentially the first time ever lol. I have no idea of the importance of cadence or if it is really a very meaningful thing to pay attention to.

On my last ride I averaged about 17 MPH for 17 miles and my average cadence was 89. I didn't feel like I was bouncing or spinning the pedals crazy fast. I don't really pay attention to much on the computer other than the time I am on the bike and my speed.

Any input would be helpful. This is my second full season of cycling since I took it back up and have been getting between 60 and 90 miles a week and feel reasonably fit.

I've also lost about 10 pounds and lowered my BP about 20 points. That's where its at !!!
Firstly an average cadence of 89 is pretty typical of a reasonably experienced cyclist. Most people who cycle regularly will have an average cadence somewhere between 80-95 rpm. Beginners tend to be at the lower end of that range (some well below 80) and trained cyclists tend to be at the higher end, let's say above 90 rpm average. But there is no single optimum cadence to aim for. Self-selected (natural) cadence tends to work very well for most people, as long as they don't deliberately try to push gears that are way too hard for the terrain.

Secondly your cadence will vary quite widely during an individual ride depending on the terrain (hills vs flats vs descents), conditions (tailwind vs headwind) and your level of fatigue. You may find that you naturally prefer a lower cadence when climbing vs riding on the flat. You will almost certainly prefer a lower cadence when standing vs seated climbing too. A good rider can operate efficeintly within a wide cadence range (say 60-100+ rpm), so it's not a matter of riding at a fixed cadence all the time.

The only time I look at my cadence while riding is on long steady climbs (to check I'm not dropping below 60 rpm if I've got lower gears in hand) or on long flat sections (to check I'm in my preferred 85-90 rpm range). But to be honest I don't find cadence all that useful to see live on the bike. I tend to look much more at my power and HR, but that's another story!
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Old 09-25-21, 07:28 AM
  #33  
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Maybe any One metric isnt all that interesting in isolation. But keeping an eye on HR, cadence, speed, etc may revel interesting connections. For instance, how Cadence impacts HR even at the same speed.
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Old 09-25-21, 09:43 AM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
New riders tend to use too big of a gear and mash a slow cadence, which can be uncomfortable and put stress on the knees, so you'll see a lot of advice to increase cadence. Don't think that applies to you, you're not mashing at all, so if 89 rpm works for you, keep going.
Does that mean that all fixed gear riders have bad knees?
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Old 09-25-21, 09:46 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by RH Clark View Post
Does that mean that all fixed gear riders have bad knees?
No, it doesn’t mean that.
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Old 09-25-21, 10:30 AM
  #36  
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Meh, except for doing cadence drills to be able to spin it up in a sprint, I'm not sure consciously messing with your cadence has any benefit...

When I look at this local hill I use for 5 min repeats, one day 331W, 86 rpm, 156 HR, the other day 329W, 94 rpm, 156 HR, yet another 327W, 86 rpm, 156 HR... and a lot of my results are like that, I can't see a clear trend of one cadence being better than another.

Some coaches advocate a lower cadence for triathlon to be able to run better after the bike but I don't know how much of that is folklore. It seems like another of those things where there is a lot more opinion than evidence. Except need to be able to spin it up to sprint.

Last edited by Branko D; 09-25-21 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 09-25-21, 03:26 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
No, it doesn’t mean that.
No, nor single speed riders either.

Otto
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Old 09-28-21, 04:23 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
New riders tend to use too big of a gear and mash a slow cadence, which can be uncomfortable and put stress on the knees, so you'll see a lot of advice to increase cadence. Don't think that applies to you, you're not mashing at all, so if 89 rpm works for you, keep going.
You’re exactly right and was the mistake I made! Now try run cadence of 80/85 which feels soooooo much more comfortable and has reduced fatigue and increased my distances.
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Old 09-28-21, 08:44 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
New riders tend to use too big of a gear and mash a slow cadence, which can be uncomfortable and put stress on the knees, so you'll see a lot of advice to increase cadence. Don't think that applies to you, you're not mashing at all, so if 89 rpm works for you, keep going.
I agree with this.
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Old 09-28-21, 10:13 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by RH Clark View Post
Does that mean that all fixed gear riders have bad knees?
No, they are just bad at over simplified generalizations baiting a response.
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Old 09-29-21, 05:48 AM
  #41  
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Wait for the poster to come along and say "I have extra special slower muscles, and grinding at 45 rpms is just right for my extra special differently unique anatomy..." Just wait for it...
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Old 09-29-21, 07:36 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by Branko D View Post
When I look at this local hill I use for 5 min repeats, one day 331W, 86 rpm, 156 HR, the other day 329W, 94 rpm, 156 HR, yet another 327W, 86 rpm, 156 HR... and a lot of my results are like that, I can't see a clear trend of one cadence being better than another.
I’m surprised that it’s not glaringly obvious to you that such extremely narrow case parameters as yours could not possibly tell you anything about one cadence being better than another.

Try the 5min hill at 60rpm x 330w after a ~3hr, 55mi ride with +3k ft of gain and get back to us on that question of “one cadence better than another.”
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Old 09-29-21, 12:46 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
Wait for the poster to come along and say "I have extra special slower muscles, and grinding at 45 rpms is just right for my extra special differently unique anatomy..." Just wait for it...
I won't be that poster, but I do find it funny how so many here blindly believe that higher cadence is uniformly "better" or "more efficient". 45 is probably too low, but there have been studies showing that 60 rpm is actually more efficient than 90rpm, but then they may not take into account ability to perform over an extended period. It all depends on how long you are going to be riding, how fast, how much muscular strength and endurance and how good your cardio conditioning is.

I think a lot of the generalization comes from the fact that many(most?) cyclists have put more effort into developing cardio conditioning rather than muscular strength & endurance. So it's more efficient for them to rely on cardio so they don't overtax their muscles.

Also, everyone isn't a wannabe pro or trying to live up to the rules and expectations of all the expert roadies. If someone is happy and comfortable mashing at 45rpm, I say well done and I'm glad they're enjoying their bike riding. We all don't need to fit into the box that others define as the right way to cycle.
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Old 09-29-21, 01:22 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
Wait for the poster to come along and say "I have extra special slower muscles, and grinding at 45 rpms is just right for my extra special differently unique anatomy..." Just wait for it...

Well, you asked for it.

I grind in the mid-60s in the 53x11 combo in the flat and it works great for me. Higher cadence/lower gear definitely decreases my speed and endurance which I think are pretty great for a 60 y.o.
From what I've seen and heard from other people, it's highly unusual to be able to push a big gear like this for as many miles as I do.

Does the idea that some people are outliers really bother you so much?
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Old 09-29-21, 01:31 PM
  #45  
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^ I didn't call you out by name. I still love 'ya, though. You are a valued member of these sub-forums and I wouldn't change a thing about what you write. All valid.
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Old 09-29-21, 01:34 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by NumbersGuy View Post
I won't be that poster, but I do find it funny how so many here blindly believe that higher cadence is uniformly "better" or "more efficient". 45 is probably too low, but there have been studies showing that 60 rpm is actually more efficient than 90rpm, but then they may not take into account ability to perform over an extended period. It all depends on how long you are going to be riding, how fast, how much muscular strength and endurance and how good your cardio conditioning is.

I think a lot of the generalization comes from the fact that many(most?) cyclists have put more effort into developing cardio conditioning rather than muscular strength & endurance. So it's more efficient for them to rely on cardio so they don't overtax their muscles.

Also, everyone isn't a wannabe pro or trying to live up to the rules and expectations of all the expert roadies. If someone is happy and comfortable mashing at 45rpm, I say well done and I'm glad they're enjoying their bike riding. We all don't need to fit into the box that others define as the right way to cycle.
Yes! Absolutely, I have emphasized muscle strength and endurance over cardio. I have always had very strong legs and my strength in a rider is being able to put out a lot of torque over very long distances. My winter routine is to put high resistance on the elliptical and grind on it for 3 hours on Saturday and Sunday, and 3-4 hour long sessions during the work week so my leg muscles are big and powerful. It's a lot more efficient for me to put out 63 high-torque rotations per minute than waste a bunch of the energy I produce lifting my heavy-ass legs 30 or so more times per minute.
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Old 09-29-21, 01:47 PM
  #47  
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If I could have only one, in ride metric available to me, it would be cadence. I'm am precisely one of those riders who will do one of these things in the absence of a cadence meter:

1) Pedal way too slow if I'm not paying attention.

2) Over compensate and pedal a fair bit too fast if I am paying attention.

Others have done a great job of explaining the benefits of well managed cadence. To that, I'll just add my overall impression of the difference that proper cadence has made in my own riding:

3) I'm faster.

4) I somehow feel even faster than I actually am, which is wonderful.

5) A lot less of my cycling feels grueling .

6) I think that my shifting might actually be a bit smoother.

My ride computer is a $100 thing with GPS that attaches with rubber O-rings. My cadence sensor is a wahoo that zip ties to my crank arm. I can move this setup from bike to bike in ten minutes which I consider to be a substantial boon. I don't care about climate change quite enough (yet) to conserve zip ties.
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Old 09-29-21, 02:11 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by NumbersGuy View Post
I won't be that poster, but I do find it funny how so many here blindly believe that higher cadence is uniformly "better" or "more efficient". 45 is probably too low, but there have been studies showing that 60 rpm is actually more efficient than 90rpm, but then they may not take into account ability to perform over an extended period. It all depends on how long you are going to be riding, how fast, how much muscular strength and endurance and how good your cardio conditioning is.

I think a lot of the generalization comes from the fact that many(most?) cyclists have put more effort into developing cardio conditioning rather than muscular strength & endurance. So it's more efficient for them to rely on cardio so they don't overtax their muscles.
I view cadence as a spectrum, not a number.

Yet again, a quick and useful discussion of the spectrum of cadence, broken out by high and low speed, high and low power, standing vs. sitting and climbing, flats and downhill:

https://cinchcycling.cc/blogs/news/t...ycling-cadence

Also a reminder that efficiency is only one consideration in cycling work. But certainly, Formenti’s measurements on internal pedaling work show, as we would expect, that the internal effort of pedaling, separate from the external work done in pushing the pedals and moving the bike and rider forward, is roughly independent of that external workload, but strongly dependent on cadence speed. Typically, riders spend 0.1 W/kg at 50 rpm, 0.3 W/kg at 70 rpm, 0.7 W/kg at 90 rpm and 1.1 W/kg at 110 rpm on the internal work of moving their legs.

There are often benefits to pedaling at those higher rates but the physics dictates that there will always be an increased total workload for your CV system at a higher cadence (relative to the same speed at a lower cadence).

Otto

Last edited by ofajen; 09-29-21 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 09-29-21, 02:17 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
^ I didn't call you out by name. I still love 'ya, though. You are a valued member of these sub-forums and I wouldn't change a thing about what you write. All valid.

Yeah, but except for the 45 rpm part (how insulting!), that one had my name all over it.

But yeah, love ya, too.
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Old 09-29-21, 02:21 PM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by Harold74 View Post
If I could have only one, in ride metric available to me, it would be cadence. I'm am precisely one of those riders who will do one of these things in the absence of a cadence meter:

1) Pedal way too slow if I'm not paying attention.

2) Over compensate and pedal a fair bit too fast if I am paying attention.

Others have done a great job of explaining the benefits of well managed cadence. To that, I'll just add my overall impression of the difference that proper cadence has made in my own riding:

3) I'm faster.

4) I somehow feel even faster than I actually am, which is wonderful.

5) A lot less of my cycling feels grueling .

6) I think that my shifting might actually be a bit smoother.

My ride computer is a $100 thing with GPS that attaches with rubber O-rings. My cadence sensor is a wahoo that zip ties to my crank arm. I can move this setup from bike to bike in ten minutes which I consider to be a substantial boon. I don't care about climate change quite enough (yet) to conserve zip ties.

See, I have no problem with the idea that all of that is valid.

The problems for me in these conversations is when people start describing what I do successfully as being the mistakes of a beginner. Bicycling is really an art, not a science, there's always more than one good way to do things.

And what's great about your post is you realize how much of this is subjective. I'm on the opposite end on #5, I find spinning absolutely boring as hell.


Hope the zip tie Karens don't find you!
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