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What is your cadence on the flats?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway
View Poll Results: What is your typical cadence on the flats
50s
1
0.52%
60s
1
0.52%
70s
19
9.90%
80s
79
41.15%
90s
89
46.35%
100+
3
1.56%
Voters: 192. You may not vote on this poll

What is your cadence on the flats?

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Old 06-13-18, 02:20 AM
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raria
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What is your cadence on the flats?

Consider you have a 2 hour ride on flat terrain with no traffic lights. What is you typical cadence in that situation?

This article Ideal cycling cadence: why amateurs shouldn't try to pedal like Chris Froome - Cycling Weekly discusses that lower cadence and bigger gears are better for mere mortals not on drugs.
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Old 06-13-18, 04:40 AM
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I think it's pretty well established that as your average power output increases, your efficiency is better at higher rpm. That may not directly correlate with total metabolic efficiency, rather ability to maintain an average power. My informal observation is that untrained/casual cyclists seem to do best (speed x distance or time) at around a 60 cadence. If I try to get one to spin at 90, they will blow up.

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Old 06-13-18, 05:37 AM
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“At a low exercise intensity of 50W, they found that pedalling in a small gear at 110 rpm put more than 60 per cent of their power into moving parts of their own body, including thighs, knees and feet while only 40 per cent of it actually went into spinning the cranks. It was a massively inefficient way to ride.”

Does anyone actually do this on the road? If so, why? Seems like a very unlikely scenario...
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Old 06-13-18, 05:55 AM
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This is likely one of those research studies that proves what one is looking for.

Take a group of people with a natural cadence of 60 RPM, and put them in a lab pedalling at 110 RPM, and they will underperform.

I think one really needs to give up the whole cadence thing, and look at force per pedal stroke + overall power.

Estimates below, but it should give the general idea

Set one's target force at some percentage of one's weight, say 30% to 60% of one's weight, then choose a cadence that gives the desired power based on that force. That would be about what one gets from standing walking, 2 leg squats, etc.

In the case of the study, pedaling at 110 RPM, at 50W, it is likely that the actual force going into the pedals is < 5% of the person's body weight.

Ramp it up to 500W (10x the study), and that 5% of one's weight goes up to 50% of one's weight which is a lot of force at high cadence.

Now, that 500W at half that RPM would double the force on the pedals, or say 100% of one's body weight, something that is hard to maintain for long. Pedalling standing? Still, one has cadence and acceleration due to gravity, so while it may seem like one is putting all of one's weight into pedaling, the pedal is actually falling away from oneself, so the force is less.

It is not surprising that pushing subjects up to a cadence they're not accustomed to, and telling them to do this at a minimal power, that the results will show most of the effort going into spinning the pedals.

Last edited by CliffordK; 06-13-18 at 05:58 AM.
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Old 06-13-18, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by raria View Post
This article Ideal cycling cadence: why amateurs shouldn't try to pedal like Chris Froome - Cycling Weekly discusses that lower cadence and bigger gears are better for mere mortals not on drugs.
I don't see that conclusion in that article at all. The only thing that I see is that 50w at 110 rpm is incredibly inefficient, but who the hell does something that ridiculous?
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Old 06-13-18, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I don't see that conclusion in that article at all. The only thing that I see is that 50w at 110 rpm is incredibly inefficient, but who the hell does something that ridiculous?
+1

Who rides around at 50w for 2 hours?
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Old 06-13-18, 06:33 AM
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50 w would be crazy uncomfortable at a higher cadence. I'd just bounce all over the place.

But I routinely do 110 to 120 rpm for 15 to 30 seconds when pushing 500 to 700 watts because it greatly reduces muscular fatigue after an hour plus. So high power, high cadence definitely helps, especially for accelerations or undulations when power increases quickly.

But the lower the power, the lower my cadence. An easy ride maybe I'm in the mid 80s, but tempo and threshold is typically mid 90s, while above that gets into the 100s for a few minutes at a time. My sprints are usually 115 to 130 rpms.

Last edited by rubiksoval; 06-13-18 at 09:16 AM. Reason: typos
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Old 06-13-18, 06:59 AM
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My own research shows that my natural cadence is around 90 rpm, which matches perfectly with 180 footfalls/min when I'm running. Go figure.
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Old 06-13-18, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
+1

Who rides around at 50w for 2 hours?
I can't even fathom it, tbh; keeping a little weight on the pedals while turning them over is more than 100w for me, and I'm not exactly Besthe us.
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Old 06-13-18, 07:45 AM
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Between 80-95 typically on a ride.
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Old 06-13-18, 08:59 AM
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They Use A different Way of Measuring Power

"At the same time the scientists also took a 3D infrared video of the riders, to calculate how much power the lab rats were using to move their legs."

I understand what your saying but perhaps wattage calculated from a power meter measures different power than their 3D infra-red video?

What I don't understand is their advice: "If you choose a gear and cadence that allows your muscles to contract at one third of their maximum velocity, you’ll maximise your power output."

But the article linked to doesn't mention muscles or contraction at all.

Read more at http://www.cyclingweekly.com/fitness...9cWjyZ2xpm8.99

Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
+1

Who rides around at 50w for 2 hours?
Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I don't see that conclusion in that article at all. The only thing that I see is that 50w at 110 rpm is incredibly inefficient, but who the hell does something that ridiculous?
Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
50 w would be crazy uncomfortable at a higher cadence. If just bounce all over the place.

But I routinely do 110 to 120 rpm for 15 to 30 seconds when pushing 500 to 700 watts because it greatly reduces muscular fatigue after an hour plus. So high power, high cadence definitely helps, especially for accelerations or undulations when power increases quickly.

But the lower the.power, the lower my cademce. An easy ride maybe I'm in the mid 80s, but tempo and threshold is typically mid 90s, while above that gets into the 100s for a few minutes at a time. My sprints are usually 115 to 130 rpms.
Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I can't even fathom it, tbh; keeping a little weight on the pedals while turning them over is more than 100w for me, and I'm not exactly Besthe us.
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Old 06-13-18, 09:21 AM
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I think once you get a little fit, experimenting with cadence while using a powermeter should show you some things. Especially if you're doing group rides or something where you're not thinking about cadence as much as holding on for dear life. Looking at cadence after the fact will likely show you're pedaling pretty quickly. Then, as you blow up/get tired, cadence will start dropping off considerably.

I've heard it explained a dozen times that higher cadence requires more aerobic capabilities, while lower cadence requires more neuromuscular demands. That also matches my experience of trying to do 200+ corners in a race. Standing and sprinting out of a lot of them from 70-80 rpms leaves my legs wrecked versus spinning out of them at 100-110 rpms. But once I start blowing up, the first thing I tend to do is drop cadence and start standing to accelerate.
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Old 06-13-18, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by raria View Post
I understand what your saying but perhaps wattage calculated from a power meter measures different power than their 3D infra-red video?
If they're estimating a different thing and calling it "power" then this has no relevance to anything.
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Old 06-13-18, 10:56 AM
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A lot of this is a case of "what are you trying to accomplish?" Efficiency is better in higher gears,lower cadence (to a degree) but comes at a cost of more drain to the reserves of your leg muscles, ie less oomph available later to get up tough hills or win sprints. Races are won by massive efforts. Racers ride a higher than optimum RPM for hours to keep the muscle reserves intact to use for that huge effort. (After the race, nobody cares what energy stores are left, only the rider's placing on the scorecard. The rider who places 27th but has the highest energy reserves left over is NOT the winner. )

Now, if your goal is to ride the fastest possible 100 mile flat century, a highish gear. lower RPM might well be best. But if the wind shows up or there are late hills (of a faster rider to hook up with), you might be regretting those gear choices.

Bwn
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Old 06-13-18, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
If they're estimating a different thing and calling it "power" then this has no relevance to anything.
It is relevant. The bike only sees applied power, yes. But the infrared sees power consumed, The difference is power lost to heat, etc. The infrared won't tell you which rat is faster but it will tell you a lot about bio-mechanics involved.

Ben
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Old 06-13-18, 11:17 AM
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So Long As They Are Consistent

Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
If they're estimating a different thing and calling it "power" then this has no relevance to anything.
I understand what your getting at, but if they measure power one way then so long as they are consistent across all subjects (including Froome) then that's okay.

Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
It is relevant. The bike only sees applied power, yes. But the infrared sees power consumed, The difference is power lost to heat, etc. The infrared won't tell you which rat is faster but it will tell you a lot about bio-mechanics involved.
Ben
Good insight Ben. I guess we'll have to read the scientific article if they are measuring power consumed/outputed via the infra-red versus power transfered to bike (via a power meter).

Looking at the poll. Many people have Cadences upwards of 80+. I wonder if that's due to the popularity of compact doubles?
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Old 06-13-18, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by raria View Post

Looking at the poll. Many people have Cadences upwards of 80+. I wonder if that's due to the popularity of compact doubles?
85-95 rpms was considered the ideal cadence, long before compact cranksets became common.
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Old 06-13-18, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by raria View Post
Looking at the poll. Many people have Cadences upwards of 80+. I wonder if that's due to the popularity of compact doubles?
It's due to the popularity of the realization that cycling is a pedaling sport and that the supple powerful high cadence pedaling technique with both spin and grunt on demand that coaches have been teaching for the last century works on the road, track and trail.

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Old 06-13-18, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by raria View Post
Looking at the poll. Many people have Cadences upwards of 80+. I wonder if that's due to the popularity of compact doubles?
Preferred cadences for flat-ground riding shouldn't have much to do with the gearing on the bike, particularly as just about any road bike has gears that accommodate just about anyone's flat-ground cruising preferences. I mean heck, even an old racing bike with a 52-42 crank paired with a 14-19 corncob freewheel can let a rider do more than 90rpm on 700x25 tires at only 16mph if they'd like... or less than 90rpm at 25mph, if they'd like that instead.

Originally Posted by raria View Post
Consider you have a 2 hour ride on flat terrain with no traffic lights. What is you typical cadence in that situation?
At a steady cruise, probably somewhere around 90rpm. I don't really think in terms of particular cadences, though. If I feel like I'm asking too much force of my quads and I could easily afford to spin faster, I gear down. If I'm feeling spinny and could afford more leg force, I gear up. My cadence may vary a little over the course of the ride depending on how I'm feeling.

My cadence tends to be upwards of 80rpm because I can comfortably sustain over 80rpm. But I certainly have no desire to pedal faster than there's good reason to; if I'm drafting in a group that's going on a slightly downhill grade, and I need to deliver only a very small amount of power to the drivetrain in order to keep up, I'll often hop into a very high gear and gently slow-pedal for a pleasant breather. I'll also go higher if I need to; if the group accelerates up a short hill and my legs are toast and I need to summon a burst of energy from somewhere, I'll sometimes end up spinning up to around 120rpm in an effort to keep the power flowing. And I'll go even higher in stupid scenarios if need be; if we're hammering down a steep hill so hard that tucking-and-coasting in the draft isn't sufficient, and we're doing 40mph, and I'm on one of my vintage bikes with a ~100-inch top gear, I'll try and spin the >130rpm at 50W and it sucks but I'll do it because I don't have a whole lot of choice.

Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
If they're estimating a different thing and calling it "power" then this has no relevance to anything.
They're using infrared to see the total energy expenditures in the subject's body, not just what gets delivered to the drivetrain.
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Old 06-13-18, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
It is relevant. The bike only sees applied power, yes. But the infrared sees power consumed, The difference is power lost to heat, etc. The infrared won't tell you which rat is faster but it will tell you a lot about bio-mechanics involved.
Ok, fair point.

Originally Posted by raria View Post
I understand what your getting at, but if they measure power one way then so long as they are consistent across all subjects (including Froome) then that's okay.
I suppose there's something to that. But because it's measuring a different thing than we commonly understand as power, we can't just compare it to our understanding. It's true though that as long as it's consistently applied we can learn something from it and I'm objecting too strongly over something that's less important than I realized at first.
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Old 06-13-18, 12:37 PM
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The thing to keep in mind is that the whole thing is dumb. Like really, really dumb.

They're looking at losses at 50w output - 50w is *exceptionally* low and a low target like that is only going to make losses proportionately larger. Add the fact that they're looking at it through the lens of an absurdly disproportionate cadence and it only makes it more ridiculous; yeah, your legs have mass and the faster you move them, the more energy it takes to control them, regardless of output. So they've built the absolute worst case scenario and some hack at Cycling Weekly latched on and gave it an attention-getting headline that's not even supported by the work.

Really, really dumb.
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Old 06-13-18, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
and I'm objecting too strongly over something that's less important than I realized at first.
I think you're objecting to a misunderstanding of what the study is doing. They're not using the infrared as a substitute for a power meter; they're using it alongside a power meter, so that they can see how much energy is being consumed in total by the body versus how much is actually making it into the drivetrain. The ratio of power meter readout to infrared readout is an efficiency measurement.

Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
They're looking at losses at 50w output - 50w is *exceptionally* low
Yep. For most people, 50W is below the intensity that can be sustained during a bonk. If you're riding along on flat ground at 110rpm and 50W, it'll feel like there's almost zero resistance on the pedals.

I always find it pretty funny when someone in a paceline is very obviously trying to sustain a specific cadence. The person up front will be hammering down a hill, and most of us are smoothly slow-pedaling in the draft, but one guy is bobbing around on his saddle keeping the cranks turning at 95rpm for some reason.
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Old 06-14-18, 05:02 AM
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Two hours, flat terrain, no stop lights? Honestly, I can't imagine ANY course where I wouldn't vary cadence just to keep things interesting, but if I was given one where there was no inherent topographical cause to vary it and I was directed to maintain a steady cadence, it would probably be right around eighty - moderate exercise, because I might like to get somewhere, but not so intense that I couldn't let my mind wander. A 95-105 cadence isn't uncomfortable at moderate physical efforts, but as the mind wanders, it tends to drop and settle lower.

Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
This is likely one of those research studies that proves what one is looking for.
...
It is not surprising that pushing subjects up to a cadence they're not accustomed to, and telling them to do this at a minimal power, that the results will show most of the effort going into spinning the pedals.
But that's how all experiments work - the hypothesis is always something that shouldn't be surprising.
Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
The thing to keep in mind is that the whole thing is dumb. Like really, really dumb.

They're looking at losses at 50w output - 50w is *exceptionally* low and a low target like that is only going to make losses proportionately larger. Add the fact that they're looking at it through the lens of an absurdly disproportionate cadence and it only makes it more ridiculous; yeah, your legs have mass and the faster you move them, the more energy it takes to control them, regardless of output. So they've built the absolute worst case scenario and some hack at Cycling Weekly latched on and gave it an attention-getting headline that's not even supported by the work.

Really, really dumb.
I think you're not the target audience. Indeed, 50w is no target for performance cycling. But consider this: we probably know hundreds of folks who ride ten thousand miles a year or more, but for every one of them there are tens of thousands of riders who only ride a few hundred a year. What would be really dumb would be for those folks, or anyone toodling along the mup with their kids, or taking a Citibike to the office from the train station, to think that it would be "efficient" to maintain 90-110 cadence on such occasions. High cadence is only efficient if you're going for high performance. We might have figured as much, but it's not a given, and the study demonstrates it quite well.
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Old 06-14-18, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by kbarch View Post
Two hours, flat terrain, no stop lights? Honestly, I can't imagine ANY course where I wouldn't vary cadence just to keep things interesting, but if I was given one where there was no inherent topographical cause to vary it and I was directed to maintain a steady cadence, it would probably be right around eighty - moderate exercise, because I might like to get somewhere, but not so intense that I couldn't let my mind wander. A 95-105 cadence isn't uncomfortable at moderate physical efforts, but as the mind wanders, it tends to drop and settle lower.


But that's how all experiments work - the hypothesis is always something that shouldn't be surprising.

I think you're not the target audience. Indeed, 50w is no target for performance cycling. But consider this: we probably know hundreds of folks who ride ten thousand miles a year or more, but for every one of them there are tens of thousands of riders who only ride a few hundred a year. What would be really dumb would be for those folks, or anyone toodling along the mup with their kids, or taking a Citibike to the office from the train station, to think that it would be "efficient" to maintain 90-110 cadence on such occasions. High cadence is only efficient if you're going for high performance. We might have figured as much, but it's not a given, and the study demonstrates it quite well.
I'm guessing people just cruising around on their bikes aren't thinking about cadence at all and will just go along with whatever they think feels proper, which is probably much lower than 120.

FWIW, I cruise between 90-100 on flats. When I first started frequenting this board I read about higher cadences and tried to spin my legs faster, when I did get a cadence sensor I found my natural cadence (for riding with some will to go fast) was above eighty, and much higher than I guessed.
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Old 06-14-18, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by kbarch View Post

I think you're not the target audience. Indeed, 50w is no target for performance cycling. But consider this: we probably know hundreds of folks who ride ten thousand miles a year or more, but for every one of them there are tens of thousands of riders who only ride a few hundred a year. What would be really dumb would be for those folks, or anyone toodling along the mup with their kids, or taking a Citibike to the office from the train station, to think that it would be "efficient" to maintain 90-110 cadence on such occasions. High cadence is only efficient if you're going for high performance. We might have figured as much, but it's not a given, and the study demonstrates it quite well.
Anyone worried about cadence is likely worried about performance to some degree.

Parents on a mut or people running errands on citibikes would almost certainly not be the target audience, either.

Complete waste of a study.
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