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What's the deal with a high cadence?

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

What's the deal with a high cadence?

Old 07-09-06, 05:16 PM
  #51  
shokhead
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Originally Posted by -VELOCITY-
I normally ride with a cadence between 80 and 85. Occasionally I'll jump up to 90 or 95 but it feels ackward having to pedal that fast. It doesn't feel normal. Should it feel normal? I keep seeing in various places that they recommend a faster cadence and how it helped Lance win his first tour. But for the everyday non pro rider does a high cadence help. I find that I have to work harder to maintain such a high cadence. My heart rate goes up. Any feedback would be great. Thanks.
I dont consider that high,80-85. 95 and up is getting it on pretty good. I use to ride around 100 but not anymore. I'm pretty happy from 90-95. Of course a headwind knocks any cadence to crap.
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Old 07-09-06, 06:43 PM
  #52  
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Originally Posted by WorldPax
I got to thinking where my cadence came from and came to the conclusion that muscle memory never forgets. In my teen years I lived on my BMX-Freestyle bike. Was even sponsored by SE bicycles for a couple years. 18 years later I think my body remembers that spin you have to maintain on a single-speed bike.

Want to increase your spin, steal the kids bike out of the garage and take it for a ride.
I wouldnt know bout high cadence from bmxes mine were all geared ungodly high as they were all set up for jumping after long down hill runs. I stole my chain ring/disk/sprocket take your pick off a exorsise bike 62 tooth monstrousity and had a 12 on the free wheel. It was rarly even ridden on the road or trails. Lets just say i avoided riding on flats or even the slightest inclines as was humanly possible. To get goign on a flat ment having some one push me a bit or give me a tow as for hills forget it wasnt going to happen ever.

But a few miles on a bmx should get you use to high cadence in a hurry with a normal bmx or better yet a free style bike. They are geared realy low as with free styles its all about getting up to speed in a hurry or power to get the front wheel off the ground going up small ramps etc. As for a kids bike one with the girly paint jobs or fancy little stickers on them dont even try to ride it these things are made for very light weights and youl likely twist bend or snap the frame.
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Old 07-09-06, 07:39 PM
  #53  
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Gontchar (winner of last tdf time trial by over 1 minute) thinks you're all *******
Hm... would I rather win a TDF time trial or seven TDFs?
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Old 07-09-06, 09:11 PM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by godspiral
Gontchar (winner of last tdf time trial by over 1 minute) thinks you're all *******
And?
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Old 07-09-06, 09:37 PM
  #55  
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I don't think it was mentioned specifically, but power=cadence X pedal force (RPM X torque) so if you can increase your cadence by 25% without much loss in pedal force, you'll increase your power.

-murray
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Old 07-24-06, 03:43 PM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by ElJamoquio
Nah, go to www.sheldonbrown.com, and print out his MPH vs. Gear-you're-supposed to be in charts. Tape it to your bike.
Is this the calculator you were referring to?
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/index.html
Honestly, I can't quite figure out its output... can somebody please help! bunch of thanks in advance...
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Old 07-26-06, 07:35 AM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by mayukawa
For that guy whose MTB has a rocket strapped to the back...
Yeah, it's probably this guy's bike...

http://www.ronpatrickstuff.com/
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Old 07-26-06, 08:18 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by bmclaughlin807
It's also easier on your knees!!!
Amen to that; I have a tendency to push a higher gear than I should. A hold-over from my BMX days, I suppose. Anyway, I failed to stretch well enough before yesterday's ride and my left knee hurt on the inside about halfway through the ride and for most of the day's remainder.

Today I stretched the crap out of it and decided to run a little lower gear with a higher cadence. Not only did my knee not hurt once, but I got to work faster than the day before AND I dropped my chain once.

Definitely going to continue working on my cadence, that's for sure.
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Old 07-26-06, 08:54 AM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by WorldPax
I got to thinking where my cadence came from and came to the conclusion that muscle memory never forgets. In my teen years I lived on my BMX-Freestyle bike. Was even sponsored by SE bicycles for a couple years. 18 years later I think my body remembers that spin you have to maintain on a single-speed bike.

Want to increase your spin, steal the kids bike out of the garage and take it for a ride.

My 7 yr old daughter rode with me and her big sister (9) recently. She is *very* competitve and has a single speed Huffy Sea Star (little girl's bike). She did 7 miles with us on the local, flat railtrail. Each time her sister tried to pass her (riding her Trek 3700) the little one would spin like Lance on the attack...amazing to see those skinny little legs flying..had to be 150 or better...she wore out quickly though... Finally the older one hung back a bit, shifted up and attacked...by the time the younger one saw her coming, it was too late...probably went by her at a blistering 15 MPH!!! LOL. How funny to see my girls riding like this.

looks like another 3700 is going to be coming to the stable soon.
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Old 07-26-06, 11:55 AM
  #60  
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Originally Posted by jock
90-95rpm can be considered fast if the subject is normally touring at 60-70rpm. It's horses for courses, not a Lance-fest. Everyone's natural cadence is different, some fast, some slow, and it will vary depending on the prevailing conditions (flat, climbing, headwind, temp, humidity, etc). And for those who are willing to put in the time and effort, that natural cadence can be adapted for a new task with training (eg. to convert a strong road rider to a track pursuiter).

The 'perfect cadence' is actually your natural cadence. Most bike riders don't even know what their natural cadence is. Mine's 97rpm, what's your's? How do you find it? At what revs does your action start to break down? Does action breakdown really mean you are no longer able to deliver power to the pedals? Does it mean you can't spin faster? Apologies, for I digress... back to the subject matter at hand:

Is it important for everyone to strive for those "incredible" LA cadences of 120rpm? Of course not. It's far more important for everyone to strive for the cadence range which suits their bioligical makup, specifically the way in which their muscles burn fuel. For some ppl high cadences can be just as taxing as low cadences are at the same speed for others just because of the way their muscles convert energy stores and oxygen into work. Your coach will be able to work out your optimal cadence range with one or two weeks of ride information if they are worth the money you are paying them.

'Scientific studies' on small subject groups (<1000) of ill-defined fitness ("well trained athletes" - WTF is that?) that say one thing or another about just about anything are becoming a bore. Why? Because they shoehorn every athlete into a generalisation, and they allow charletans like RFS to jump on a bandwagon, preach rubbish with impunity, and profit from people's naivity.

If it's any consolation, juniors as young as 10 in our club spin at over 200rpm for long periods of time. When they are older and they're muscle mass increases they will find it hard to keep up more than 199rpm for long periods of time.
Excellent post! It's one of the most informative and factual here in a long time. So many posters try and say everyone should be spinning at 110 or 120 rpm because that works for them. Everything I've read in terms of studies and authoratative advice supports exactly what you said - the perfect cadence is each individual's natural cadence.
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Old 07-26-06, 12:05 PM
  #61  
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... which also changes with time and training...
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Old 07-26-06, 12:29 PM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by allez
i just looked at this computer because i need a new one for my new build. one question: WHY does this computer need to go up to 185mph? who is going this fast on a bicycle?
Maybe if you have an old motorcycle and the speedometer is broken, but you don't have the dough to get a working replacement... or if you're trying to make a street-legal motor vehicle from one that isn't...
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Old 07-26-06, 12:33 PM
  #63  
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80-90rpm works for me; anything more seems to cost me oxygen-wise. It's easier on the quads but harder on the heart. Since I have more quad strength than aerobic capacity I'll stay on the low side. I usually climb 60-70rpm because I'm already on my smallest 1-2 gears already so there's nowhere to go.
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Old 07-26-06, 12:40 PM
  #64  
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Also, I've heard that you can generally put out maximum power at lower (70-80) cadence. (but your legs will probably get tired sooner). Sound right?
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Old 07-26-06, 12:44 PM
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i got up to 170rpm for a sec the other day. Uh I read some article about the australian track team doing "high-cadence drills" where the spin at 150+. It just practice and riding a fix gear down a mountain. You'll get it with enough practice.
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Old 07-26-06, 01:13 PM
  #66  
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Everytime I pass someone struggling at <50rpms I want to bark "SHIFT!" It's crazy and makes me sad.


one drill that will help smooth out your pedal stroke: one leg drills. In a relatively easy gear (not mashing, and not crazy spinning out; a gear you can maintain your speed), unclip one foot and go for 45sec-1min pedaling with the other foot. Try to prevent surging --concentrate on a circle. A few times each leg once a week for a couple weeks will make a big difference. Once your muscles are better trained in going in circles instead of pistons, you'll kick that cadence up a few notches in no time.
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Old 07-26-06, 01:16 PM
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I hadn't ever bothered to find out my average cadence as I've only been riding for about 8 months now... but that sheldon brown calculater made me happy. I rode 50 miles yesterday at an avg. speed of 17.8 and mostly (maybe 75% of the time - it's a pretty flat ride) in my 53/21. Turns out that corresponds exactly to 90rpms. I always figured i was going at a much lower rate than that. Of course, my quads did burn something fierce for about 30 minutes after I got home, so maybe it would be smart of me to up it by 5rpm's or more. Good info in this thread.
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Old 07-26-06, 01:22 PM
  #68  
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on an offnote: it was weird watching landis pedaling in the tour this year. over the years i had gotten so used to seeing lance's cadence that floyd looked like a masher in comparison. especially noticable in the TTs.
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Old 07-26-06, 04:36 PM
  #69  
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My shimano flightdeck has cadence. However i noticed that if im going a faster MPH i can still pedal slow but it will register a fast cadence because of the tire going around...

So my question is, Am i actually spinning the cranks that fast or is it just because im traveling at a higher MPH??

Here it is: http://bike.shimano.com/catalog/cycl...=1153953483545
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Old 07-26-06, 05:12 PM
  #70  
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Are people with large mass legs more prone to lower cadence ?
The size of a person's legs could vary by several pounds per leg between person.
A few pounds spinning at differences of 10-20 rpm could be quite significant
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Old 07-26-06, 06:36 PM
  #71  
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I'll try and work myself into higher cadence, but right now anyone pedaling over 100RPMs seems ridiculous to me. I try to keep myself above 80, but if I breach 100 I'm all over the place in my seat. It may be too high.
I do prefer speed over cadence though, and being around 80 RPMs makes me feel like I'm actually powering my bike, rather than feeling like I'm doing nothing more than sitting on something narrow and hard while I make my legs go real quick.
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Old 07-26-06, 06:39 PM
  #72  
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Originally Posted by lennyk
Are people with large mass legs more prone to lower cadence ?
The size of a person's legs could vary by several pounds per leg between person.
A few pounds spinning at differences of 10-20 rpm could be quite significant
These look skinny

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Old 07-27-06, 05:28 AM
  #73  
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Originally Posted by Phantoj
Also, I've heard that you can generally put out maximum power at lower (70-80) cadence. (but your legs will probably get tired sooner). Sound right?
Right. 70-80 generally is the recommended cadence for TTs. That gets you maximum power over the course.
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Old 07-27-06, 05:57 AM
  #74  
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I began riding at the beginning of the year at a weight of 235. I bought a Roubaix and being a tech geek started measuring everything that I did on the bike. When I began I was mashing a big gear at about 60-70 rpm with my goal targeted on specific MPH. Many times after my rides my knees ached and riding was all about pain threshold. I integrated a heart rate monitor with cadence and concentrated on my LT levels as it relates to my heart rate and found that my cadence increased to 95-100.

Developing this cadence made my rides longer, less painful and allowed me to tackle some serious hills. IT also had the benefit of burning my body fat stores instead of sugar stores and six months later I am at 188 pounds.

I am now a disciple of obtaining the perfect high cadence pedal stroke.
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Old 07-27-06, 06:11 AM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by The Fixer
Use your watch and count your crank revolutions.
+1. Consider it interval training. Ride @ your normal pace, chose a given time or distance and ride @ your target cadence. Then relax @ your normal pace. When recovered (or almost so) ride the target cadence. Repeat, repeat, etc. Before long, your cadence will begin to increase. Bob
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