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What’s Your Spinning RPM on Flats?

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What’s Your Spinning RPM on Flats?

Old 12-06-22, 03:42 PM
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rsbob 
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What’s Your Spinning RPM on Flats?

I know one rate doesn’t fit all, but am interested in how fast one spins to either maintain or increase speed. Been doing a Zwift training series where the spin rates go what I consider quite high since I am usually happy on the flats about 82 RPM, but that probably is not the most efficient. I read its better to tax the heart by spinning fast on the hills than using ‘hero’ gears and mashing it out. But was is your go-to on the flats and if you are climbing then don’t use the multiple-guess but write out what you spin at on say a 5% sustained climb.
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Old 12-06-22, 04:08 PM
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Whatever suits me at the moment. I’m almost always too busy enjoying the ride to calculate my cadence, but I’d guesstimate around 90 during a road bike ride. Can’t recall ever calculating cadence while touring.
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Old 12-06-22, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
Been doing a Zwift training series where the spin rates go what I consider quite high
Does this training series also stipulate what the torque and/or power should be at these "quite high" spin rates?
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Old 12-06-22, 04:29 PM
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On my road bike, rolling along on the flats, I tend to be in the 80s. On sustained climbs I usually feel best around 75-80. On short punches, if I'm seated, I'll usually shoot for a higher cadence (95+).

On my singlespeed MTB, I use whatever it takes, because I'm always in the wrong gear.
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Old 12-06-22, 06:28 PM
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Depends on bike and gearing but generally I mash around 80
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Old 12-06-22, 07:12 PM
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Probably self-selected cadence is best anyway.
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Old 12-06-22, 07:12 PM
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When I'm warmed up and comfortable, 90 is where I'll settle. When I'm tired, spinning along at 90 is the fastest way to the finish.
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Old 12-06-22, 07:14 PM
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Is the idea of frequent shifting to maintain a desired/efficient cadence becoming more popular with electronic shifting etc? I tend not to switch gears much (out of habit, due to bike limitations) and think my cadence hovers between 70-95. Some of the people I ride with seem to be shifting constantly.
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Old 12-06-22, 09:31 PM
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This is a weird question, as it implies that there is some correct answer, some optimal cadence -- and there is not. Even for the same individual, cadence will vary not just according to terrain, but according to ride distance, goals, etc. A lower cadence is generally more metabolically efficient -- so if the goal is to ride for a very long distance, a lower cadence is often desirable. But higher cadences produce more power, and hence are more desirable for, say, a TT, a sprint, or even just a fast training ride or group ride.

And we haven't even gotten into individual physiology, which renders interpersonal comparisons moot. (Or is it mute? )
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Old 12-06-22, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
This is a weird question, as it implies that there is some correct answer, some optimal cadence -- and there is not. Even for the same individual, cadence will vary not just according to terrain, but according to ride distance, goals, etc. A lower cadence is generally more metabolically efficient -- so if the goal is to ride for a very long distance, a lower cadence is often desirable. But higher cadences produce more power, and hence are more desirable for, say, a TT, a sprint, or even just a fast training ride or group ride.

And we haven't even gotten into individual physiology, which renders interpersonal comparisons moot. (Or is it mute? )
I know one rate doesn’t fit all…”. Yes, quite weird indeed! maybe time to mute the moot point. Or was the statement pointless and the finger speechless? E.E. Cummings
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Old 12-06-22, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
Does this training series also stipulate what the torque and/or power should be at these "quite high" spin rates?
Yes to both, however they vary significantly based on the type of work out and what stage it is in the workout. However a prescribed cadence/spin of 60 at 120 Watts is not unusual. What is unusual is that there is more effort in just pedaling out of the saddle than being applied to the pedals as IRL. Todays out of the saddle one minute intervals were at 210 Watts and a cadence of 60. By the third and fourth sets my puny legs start screaming for the last 15 seconds.
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Old 12-06-22, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
I know one rate doesn’t fit all…”. Yes, quite weird indeed! maybe time to mute the moot point. Or was the statement pointless and the finger speechless? E.E. Cummings


I will say this: back when I was road racing, I did a lot of high cadence training -- mostly because I had a weak sprint and needed to improve it. Learning to spin smoothly at 115-120 rpm is beneficial -- not just in a sprint, but when bridging up to a group, closing a gap after railing around a corner, etc. It's worth doing, if you're planning to race or just want to keep up on a fast group ride.

Beyond that, anyone who recalls watching Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich riding side-by-side will easily recognize that difference cyclists ride well at very different cadences, in normal circumstances.
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Old 12-06-22, 10:05 PM
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Flat road and no headwind? 80rpm. I'll even drop a cog and fall to 75 for a minute, then shift and get back to 80ish.

No desire to 'spin to win'. I also stand to climb about 500% more than would be 'ideal'. But I am clearly faster when standing to climb- it's been years of climbing to know.
I have a weak spin game.
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Old 12-06-22, 10:27 PM
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A looooooong time ago, I read an article that claimed that, while there is no set formula, a higher cadence should accompany a higher wattage output. It made sense to me, and I now noticed that I was very comfortable at 90-100 when I was racing and trying to ride fast, but now prefer 80-90 now that I'm just trying to enjoy the ride and stay fit.
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Old 12-06-22, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
Yes to both, however they vary significantly based on the type of work out and what stage it is in the workout. However a prescribed cadence/spin of 60 at 120 Watts is not unusual. What is unusual is that there is more effort in just pedaling out of the saddle than being applied to the pedals as IRL. Todays out of the saddle one minute intervals were at 210 Watts and a cadence of 60. By the third and fourth sets my puny legs start screaming for the last 15 seconds.
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Old 12-07-22, 12:15 AM
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
Thank you for posting. Brings to mind the classic climbing battles between Armstrong (‘dancing on the pedals’) versus Ullrich, mashing at low cadence. One was not correct or right, but what was right for the rider (dugs aside).
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Old 12-07-22, 08:06 AM
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80-90. 70 is lowwwwwww, I don't stay there unless I do strenght trainings.
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Old 12-07-22, 08:15 AM
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I'm in that 81-90 range during normal conditions, but I generate a lot of heat. If the weather's hot, I might be loping along in the 70ish range in a big gear to keep the heat production down. I rode the Hotter N Hell last year. My average cadence was 69 for the day.

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Old 12-07-22, 08:24 AM
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Probably between 90-100 RPM when cruising.

I am proud to brag that, according to my calculations using gear ratios and speed, I can maintain short bursts over 220rpm when I put my mind/legs to it.
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Old 12-07-22, 09:13 AM
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I select RPM based on power output. Higher power = higher RPM. Lower power = lower RPM. It gets into efficiency and which muscle fibers you wish to emphasize.

Lower = 67-73 rpm

Higher = 88-95 RPM

I don't do middle.
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Old 12-07-22, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
But was is your go-to on the flats and if you are climbing then don’t use the multiple-guess but write out what you spin at on say a 5% sustained climb.
I deliberately mix it up depending on how I feel in the moment. But flats typically 80-90 rpm and sustained seated climbing 70-80 rpm when not gear restricted. Out of the saddle climbing around 60-70 rpm. I also try to train in a very wide range of cadence from 50-130 rpm to provide as much flexibility as possible. In practice I don't like pedalling at a constant cadence for extended periods. I would rather vary my cadence to balance strength vs cardio load.
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Old 12-07-22, 10:20 AM
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When I'm riding along, not thinking about it on the flats, I'll look down at the Garmin and I'm spinning between 95 and 105. Same thing on Zwift, if I'm riding "alone". If I'm in a pack in a Zwift race following a Pacebot, though, I find myself around 89, and I think it's because at that cadence it's easier for me to do the little spurts of power if I find myself drifting back in the group.

On climbs, both IRL and in Zwift, I find myself seeking a gear which has me at about 85-90 rpm.
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Old 12-07-22, 01:46 PM
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There's practical reasons to both be able to perform at lower and higher cadences with the terrain you encounter or group/race scenario you find yourself in.

I'm going to throw it out there that the mashing phenomenon might work fine for folks riding greenways and C-group rides with zero accelerations. But if you're moving on out and require acceleration, mashing leaves you needing to significantly increase torque rapidly. Which you can do, but you can't do it repeatedly many times. It deals with the type 1, 2a/2b fibers recruited for each type of effort.

Also in situations where an acceleration could happen, it behooves you to not sit around at a lope cadence and caught trying to hammer gear changes to catch up.

Being able to mash some can mean you make it up sharp inclines on gravel rides or cyclocross racing. Being able to spin you can respond to aggressive road situations.

So, you can optimize this for an hour effort or TT or something and self select.........but if you are a one trick pony you probably won't win much or perform well.

Personally I find it super interesting that many folks self select running cadences that are nearly exactly double their cycling one (as cycling requires a full revolution but running counts each foot strike). I ride z2 thru z5 from like 85 to 100 rpm. I run z2 thru z5 at 170 to 190 run cadence. Which would be 85 to 95 equivalent on the bike.

I have a personal theory the bike cadence is some odd physiological adaptation of humans responding over the thousands of years to run stress and stride optimization.
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Old 12-07-22, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
Personally I find it super interesting that many folks self select running cadences that are nearly exactly double their cycling one (as cycling requires a full revolution but running counts each foot strike). I ride z2 thru z5 from like 85 to 100 rpm. I run z2 thru z5 at 170 to 190 run cadence. Which would be 85 to 95 equivalent on the bike.

I have a personal theory the bike cadence is some odd physiological adaptation of humans responding over the thousands of years to run stress and stride optimization.
Does your run cadence/stride length change when you're on the flat vs. going up a hill?
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Old 12-07-22, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
Does your run cadence/stride length change when you're on the flat vs. going up a hill?
Since legs don’t have gears, shorter stride but similar cadence within reason. So z2 run at 08:30/mi on flat at 170 spm but uphill will shorten stride until it feels weird and the cadence drops further. Downhill more stride length within reason then cadence faster also.

Bike racing requires accelerations you don’t do running. So running you can kind of hone in on a cadence a bit more I feel like. Especially if you do not run a bunch of demanding hills.
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