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Importance of Cadence

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Importance of Cadence

Old 08-31-21, 01:11 PM
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Rdmonster69
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Importance of Cadence

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 !!!
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Old 08-31-21, 01:27 PM
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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.
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Old 08-31-21, 01:29 PM
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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 def do not mash a low cadence lol !!!
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Old 08-31-21, 01:36 PM
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IMHO there are two important uses for cadence on a cycling computer. (1) Help a newbie learn what a decent cadence is -- as caloso mentioned, don't mash! (2) For a loaded tourist, it can be a help to avoid mashing and hurting your knees. For the tourist, mashing is problem that's accentuated doing repeated long days, with heavy loads in steep terrain.

Since neither of these apply to you, cadence: isn't that an interesting number!
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Old 08-31-21, 02:34 PM
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I think there’s more to cadence than simply saying don’t mash, and I actually monitor cadence quite a lot in my training as I seek to develop my all-around cycling ability. On its own, it’s not so interesting perhaps, but understanding how it intersects with power and heart rate helps me optimize output and recovery.
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Old 08-31-21, 02:45 PM
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I really struggle with maintaining a good cadence. I definitely tend to prefer to mash at a low cadence and have to be really conscious to try and correct it. As soon as I stop paying attention, I find I'm spinning slowly again. I'm sure it has a lot to do with not being in the best of shape, so I find I tire myself very quickly if I try to spin faster. I can go a lot longer at a slower cadence...until I hit a hill, which just sucks all my momentum away and pedalling becomes an agonizing grind.

I think part of my struggle is that my road bike has biopace chainrings, which if I recall correctly, encourage a lower cadence.
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Old 08-31-21, 02:48 PM
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My cadence has been 95rpm for 40 years. I don't have cadence on my cyclometer and don't care for it.
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Old 08-31-21, 02:56 PM
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I would refer you to this article that has a helpful discussion of the uses of different cadences in different situations.

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

The author gives specifics about when higher and lower cadences make sense and what those cadences typically are for both seated and standing work.

I hope that helps.

Otto
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Old 08-31-21, 03:41 PM
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That 89 average is very good. My rides tend to average 75 to 80 rpm, even when I'm spinning in the 90s a lot during the ride. Easier paced portions usually have a lower cadence, down to the 70s. And hills are mostly low cadence, although I do like to climb at 90 rpm if the gearing allows it.

I have Di2 electric shifting, so it's easy for me to shift a lot. I'm always searching for the best feeling cadence. I'll sometimes shift for just a couple of revolutions, then shift again.
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Old 08-31-21, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Rdmonster69 View Post
I have no idea of the importance of cadence or if it is really a very meaningful thing to pay attention to.
For me personally cadence is unimportant and irrelevant. I never keep track of it.
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Old 08-31-21, 04:20 PM
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Seems like your cadence is good. Most of what I've seen is that the general target RPM should be ~90. But my experience seems to be the opposite of most. When I started seriously cycling, my cadence was naturally high--often in the upper 90s. As I've gained fitness and strength, that has come down sharply. Riding at 90-95 now feels to easy, and so I often find myself going down the cassette to find more resistance. When I finally check, I'll be in the 75-80 range and then have to move back up.
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Old 08-31-21, 04:30 PM
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For me, it was a useful thing to have on my cyclocomputer when I started riding more seriously, just to train my legs to spin. Now I mostly don't think about it.
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Old 08-31-21, 04:41 PM
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It’s useful to bear in mind that it takes internal work to spin your legs and feet at a particular speed. This is on top of the work that is externally applied through the pedals to move you and your bike forward against the various external forces.

Though we may not bother to think about it, it’s simple and obvious physics, and Formenti’s group at Kings’s College have published data to quantify that work in terms of watts/kg (of rider). We’ve had some good discussions about this in the SS/FG Forum.

This internal work is strongly dependent on cadence. For me as an example, I need about 75 watts just to spin my legs at 110 rpm, about 55 watts to spin at 90 rpm, 25 watts at 70 rpm and 8 watts at 50 rpm.

I think this explains in part why casual cyclists usually pedal slowly: they don’t have the cardiovascular capacity to push themselves forward at the speed they want to go while also spinning a fast cadence.

It also explains why pedaling fast and easy makes a great warmup, because there isn’t a lot of pedal force required, but you increase the CV load and get your pulse rate higher.

As the article above points out, there are many occasions to use a high cadence, but there are also many occasions to use a lower cadence, including maintaining a speed once you’ve accelerated. You will use lower total energy maintaining a particular speed at a lower cadence, but obviously that is counterbalanced by the need to maintain a cadence high enough to keep pedal force reasonable.

Otto
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Old 08-31-21, 04:42 PM
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Cadence can be a useful tool. Indeed, it is for many. I have not had a cadence sensor in a long time. I know real close to what my cadence is by feel. For me, at this point and the way I ride now, the only things I bother looking at are the time of day, trip miles, average speed; and will see the ride time if coursing through the menu. During the ride and when I get home, the miles number is the one I am most interested in. My cadence comfort zone is 75 to 105 rpm, with 80 to 90 rpm the real sweet spot. In most situations, in the proper gearing, I can do that all day long.

I have riders that fly by me that are turning at a slow cadence in high gear and keep at it as long as I can see them. If I tried that for any length of time, I would likely be taking a couple of days off. Like so many questions, it depends on how and why you ride. Of course, health factors have to be thrown in there.
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Old 08-31-21, 05:13 PM
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I've always been somewhat of a masher but have been following a Sufferfest training program that is forcing me to keep a higher cadence. I'm also getting to know how different cadence (60 vs 90) feels so I won't always have to rely on a cadence sensor. I was probably in the 65 or so range most of the time but now it seems my real comfort zone is around 85-90.
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Old 08-31-21, 05:52 PM
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just keep riding!
gm
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Old 08-31-21, 06:14 PM
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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....
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 !!!
Awesome! You're doin great! 89 avg is commonly where most riders like to be.
Importance of cadence - I'll prolly over-simplify...
cycling is a balance of muscle power and cardio fitness. at any given speed/effort (climbing, steady roll on the flat, acceleration, etc) the slower you pedal the greater muscle power you have to exert to hold or increase that speed. The faster you pedal the greater the load shift to your cardio fitness and ability to transport oxygen...
Pedaling actually causes msucles to work against each other during the full pedal stroke. So 'training' of riding also involves training the muscle to contract and release as other muscles and groups take over in the pedal stroke - Efficiency... The more efficient a rider's pedal stroke the less energy is expended, the lower the oxygen transport requirement.
A rider who only rides at 60 rpm will have a more difficult time as the need for speed or power is increased. A rider who can comfortably ride at 90+ rpm will be more 'efficient' than the 60 rider. That rider who can do 90+ will also be able to rider longer, at higher speeds, climb better and generally will have greater power and endurance than a rider who stays at 60.
Lower rpms, when the exertion level is moderate or low, require lower power or aerobic work, there are times when this is great. But often when the effort gets harder, that limited rider will not be able to perform anywhere near as well as a more 'efficient' rider with higher cadence comfort.
It doesn't mean much if you ride alone and rarely, if ever, put yourself under exertion. But come to a tough uphill and that rider will falter...
There's a lot to this, much more than my short paragraph. Developing a wider cadence range takes time, not weeks or even months... sometimes longer.
Riding with a cadence meter and not...
If you have it, it's always there for reference. If you don't, then there's timing yourself (like we did in the ancient days). I like having cadence on many of my bikes.
After a while cadence can become 'natural'... But also easily lost, when you're not riding regular. muscle memory fades relatively quickly.
Even our 'remembrance' of what 90 felt like can go awry... Simply, the faster you can comfortably spin the pedals, the easier and lighter the load on your legs at any rpm...
Thx
Yuri
once asked "is it better to spin a smaller gear or push a bigger gear", Eddy Merckx replied "It's best to spin a Big gear".

Last edited by cyclezen; 08-31-21 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 08-31-21, 06:20 PM
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Obviously if you have been riding since the 80’s and you are averaging around 90, you really have little need to keep track of your cadence.

I went the opposite direction. Had a cadence reading on my computer in the 80’s and haven’t used it since.

Higher cadence can be a double edged sword, it is great for spinning along, but not if you lose power at a lower cadence.

Spinning at 100rpm up a hill at 5mph is not a good thing. Being able to also have power at a lower cadence is better than just spinning your brains out on a climb.

John
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Old 08-31-21, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
Obviously if you have been riding since the 80’s and you are averaging around 90, you really have little need to keep track of your cadence.

John
I wish I had been riding continuously since the 80's ....took a few decades off. This has been a great thread for me!! I appreciate the responses. I am a leaner skinnier guy so I probably haveca naturally higher cadence because I don't have the muscle mass to slowly spin a bigger gear and maintain speed.

With my new Domane I can actually use the big ring on the crank and still spin pretty fast.
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Old 08-31-21, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Rdmonster69 View Post
I wish I had been riding continuously since the 80's ....took a few decades off. This has been a great thread for me!! I appreciate the responses. I am a leaner skinnier guy so I probably haveca naturally higher cadence because I don't have the muscle mass to slowly spin a bigger gear and maintain speed.

With my new Domane I can actually use the big ring on the crank and still spin pretty fast.
I learned riding a mtb that high cadence spinning was not everything.

John
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Old 08-31-21, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Rdmonster69 View Post
I wish I had been riding continuously since the 80's ....

With my new Domane I can actually use the big ring on the crank and still spin pretty fast.
Not to piss on your party, but your Domane gearing is certainly and quite a bit lower than anything you were riding in the ‘80s.
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Old 08-31-21, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
I learned riding a mtb that high cadence spinning was not everything.

John
likely...
riding on a rough road, cobbles, hard dirt is often better, and safer at a lower rpm and constant power load....
But then I'm a roadie, been a racing roadie since '69...(stopped in 2012) so my comments are 'roadie'.
Even now, after some recent serious slack time, I have a hard time just doin a 'birds/bees, flowers' ride... LOL
Learning to do that... but roadie cadence gets me over most anything... just doesn't seem to help when I ride with the under 40 guys in these parts... LOL!
... a goal... then there'll be another after that one...
Thx
Yuri
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Old 08-31-21, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by cyclezen View Post
It doesn't mean much if you ride alone and rarely, if ever, put yourself under exertion. But come to a tough uphill and that rider will falter...
There's a lot to this, much more than my short paragraph. Developing a wider cadence range takes time, not weeks or even months... sometimes longer..
Ride single speed or fixed gear and you will soon force yourself to manage at all cadences.

Otto
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Old 08-31-21, 07:22 PM
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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
…except at the velodrome.
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Old 08-31-21, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Not to piss on your party, but your Domane gearing is certainly and quite a bit lower than anything you were riding in the ‘80s.
Lol .... Im sure ....and my Trek 2.3 has a Dura Ace crank with a BIG big ring ......not even close to using it .... I like the gearing on the new bike.
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