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Question on cadence

Old 07-25-13, 12:01 PM
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Question on cadence

How important is cadence? The dude that runs the LBS says my cadence sucks, and I really should be getting a faster cadence in. My problem is this - to get at the so-called recommended pace I am on the first chainring, and anywhere from 1st to 3rd gear but my times are SLOWER doing this. I prefer the second chainring, and resort to the first on stupid-steep climbs. Is this really such a big deal or is riding at a slower cadence ok if I am faster? It bugs the hell out of me, to the point I hate going to the LBS because I know I will get lectured on the subject again. Thanks in advance for any input/advice.
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Old 07-25-13, 12:32 PM
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What is your typical cadence?

Maintaining a higher cadence generally leads to smoother pedaling and better power. You have to get used to it though, or you suffer. You can't go from 50->80 rpm overnight, you need to go 50->60 then once you're comfortable at 60 try 65-70, etc.
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Old 07-25-13, 01:10 PM
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My typical cadence is around 60 to 70 at the moment. Mr. LBS says it should be around 80 to 90. My biggest problem is that 80 to 90 isn't very comfortable for me and I feel like I am bobbing up and down on the saddle.
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Old 07-25-13, 01:43 PM
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I feel like this is more important on a road bike than a mountain bike, and even on road bikes, there's variation (compare Lance Armstrong vs. Jan Ullrich, for example). My cadence varies constantly on a mountain bike, depending on terrain. However, I feel like my cadence is usually slower on a mountain bike than on a road bike, generally speaking.
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Old 07-25-13, 01:53 PM
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Developing a smooth pedal stroke at higher RPM is a worthwhile endeavor for any type of bicycling.

However, you can't worry about this too much on a MTB when riding technical trails. On such trails, you need to be much more concerned about pedal clearance, weighting the bike properly / body position, and momentum. You need to be thinking about when you can pedal. "Can I get in a pedal stroke right now and not hit that root?" "If not, will I stall on the short climb after it?"

If you're just banging away on a gravel road or an open stretch on a trail, fine. Pedal 90 rpm. Heck, you can pedal 120 rpm if you like.


Honestly, having written that, my first guess is that the person(s) telling you that at the LBS are roadies.
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Old 07-25-13, 03:26 PM
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Thanks guys, great info! At this point I think I will just hit the ignore button when I go back into the LBS and continue on as is.
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Old 07-25-13, 05:40 PM
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Cadence has two effects on the ride:

1. A higher cadence (best achieved in a slightly lower GEAR) makes it easier to re-start when you stall out going uphill.
2. A higher cadence reduces wear and tear on your knee joints (most noticeable when you've done it for decades and still can walk, lol).

90 is a bit high for MTB, and really -- NO real "expert" is going to just spit out a standard cadence for everyone to ride in all conditions.
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Old 07-25-13, 05:42 PM
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High cadence stresses your cardiovascular system, low cadence stresses your muscles more. When you run out of cardiovascular strength, you can take a break and then go back at it again. When your muscles give, you're done, you aren't going anywhere. That said, when I mountain bike, I'm much more worried about which pedal is up so I can clear that next rock, or making the most out what little pedaling I can do and sometimes that is not best accomplished by spinning in a lower gear. Just go out and have fun. Unless you are out to do some ultra-endurance type riding, it's unlikely that cadence will be a limiter for you.
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Old 07-25-13, 05:48 PM
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Spinning faster is good for your knee's, good for power. Just be aware of it and next time you need power change one cassette gear,
Odds are you will like what you feel.

Other thing, only time you should be on your saddle is climbing or coasting to a stop for a rest or a drink.

I also like a slower cadence but I have moved up comfortably from a 60 -70 range to a 60 - 90 range
My legs last longer, I climb better and I breathe better with a bit faster cadence..


Things you need to know:

If you stop breathing even for an Instant you will suddenly loose power in your legs..
If your getting surprised by the trail conditions look another ten to twenty feet ahead...
Hydration, The water you drink today will help you tomorrow so,,, hydrate the day before you ride....
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Old 07-25-13, 07:33 PM
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http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Moun.../dp/0736083715

Page 70, says it perfectly, a couple of quotes from Brian Lopes.

*"How many racing engines make their power at low rpm?"

*Cadence is very important, If you can make power from 60-120 rpm's, you can double your speed in the same gear.

Maybe the guys at the LBS were trying to be helpful...
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Old 07-25-13, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by osco53 View Post
Other thing, only time you should be on your saddle is climbing or coasting to a stop for a rest or a drink.
False.

Let's see you do a 60 minute XC race entirely from the attack position. Go on, I'll wait.

Don't race? A lot of people don't but this still applies. When you're on moderate* to easy terrain, you absolutely can and should be in the saddle. This is considerably easier to do with a full suspension bike, as you can go over roots and rocks without a lot of drama.


*What's moderate is subjective but I'll try to quantify. If you're not descending and the root/rock/whatever isn't big enough to use at least half your suspension travel, you should be in the saddle. You can pedal much more efficiently in the saddle and there is often some pedaling involved in bicycling.
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Old 07-26-13, 03:20 PM
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To be honest, I don't feel limited by my cadence at all. The terrain here is quite varied and I spend 85 percent of the time on the saddle. I just don't dig the higher cadence as I don't feel as comfortable - I feel like I am bobbing up and down on the saddle. As far as endurance, I have no issues there either as my average singletrack trail ride is anywhere from 10 to 20 miles with an average of 500 feet in elevation change. The most important thing for me is I am having fun and getting in some great excercise.

Great discussion, I appreciate all the input from everyone on the subject.
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