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Cadence vs pedal smoothness

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Old 01-05-19, 09:22 PM
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smackpotato
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Cadence vs pedal smoothness

Hi anyone have a chart of cadence vs pedal smoothness. I found a lot of information on pedal smoothness vs power but nothing on pedal smoothness vs cadence. Anyway i have a little project going where i could use this info. So could anyone help out.
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Old 01-06-19, 05:44 AM
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It will be different for every rider. I think you just need the Garmin files from someone with Vector pedals and you can generate the graphs yourself.
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Old 01-06-19, 05:58 AM
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I've read that if you're bouncing on your saddle your cadence is too high. I've seen that too, it's pretty obvious on some riders
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Old 01-06-19, 07:35 AM
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What are you calling "pedal smoothness"? What does that represent to you?

If it's bouncing out of the saddle when you start pedaling at a much higher cadence (120...140...160+, etc), that's something that can be improved greatly by practice.

Once you can pedal smoothly at the max cadence you'll ever use, though (I don't think I've gone over 130 in an actual ride or race situation), I see little benefit to increasing cadence.
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Old 01-06-19, 09:09 AM
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rubiksoval pedal smoothness has been defined as average power divided by total power. as gregf83 says you can generate these if you have garmin pedals and the software. so if anyone has this plot. i would like a copy or two. thanks.
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Old 01-06-19, 10:53 AM
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I have Garmin Vector pedals with a lot of workouts from the track during a large range of cadences and some files from road rides. Bouncing in the saddle is caused from muscles that have failed to relax fast enough after the down power stroke and interfere with the next stroke thus popping one out of the saddle. It is more noticeable at higher cadences.

Power is an instantaneous measurement and average power is the sum of instantaneous measurements over a time interval divided by the number of measurements. What is total power by your definition. Garmin will capture the power every second for each pedal assuming one has turned on 1 second recording.

Who are you and why should I give you any power data?
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Old 01-06-19, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by smackpotato View Post
rubiksoval pedal smoothness has been defined as average power divided by total power. as gregf83 says you can generate these if you have garmin pedals and the software. so if anyone has this plot. i would like a copy or two. thanks.
For what purpose does such information serve? You want to try to deliver power fuether through the pedal stroke? Why? And without a device to measure your own, what do you plan to do with the data?
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Old 01-07-19, 01:25 PM
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The two are (almost) independent variables.

Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
If it's bouncing out of the saddle when you start pedaling at a much higher cadence (120...140...160+, etc), that's something that can be improved greatly by practice.
So a rider (you?) can learn how to increase your cadence, and you can learn to pedal more smoothly (clipless pedals will help if you're using platform pedals currently). Then you can learn how to pedal at any cadence and do it with minimal power variation through the 360 degree pedal stroke.
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Old 01-07-19, 01:35 PM
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https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/3052822384

Click the gear in the upper right corner, and select "export original" from the menu.
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Old 01-07-19, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
The two are (almost) independent variables.



So a rider (you?) can learn how to increase your cadence, and you can learn to pedal more smoothly (clipless pedals will help if you're using platform pedals currently). Then you can learn how to pedal at any cadence and do it with minimal power variation through the 360 degree pedal stroke.
trying to get power throughout the pedal stroke is dumb. Mash down, unweight opposing foot
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Old 01-07-19, 02:59 PM
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This is not an answer to your question, but it will skew the results a lot - for the better. Ride fix gears. With brakes in real hills. A lot. Smoothness will go up. Smoothness at ridiculous RPMs will go up. If you have a 40 mph descent nearby and keep your gear low, like 42-17, you will learn to pedal smoothly at 200 RPM. Yes, you are putting out zero power, but you are teaching your leg muscles to relax completely when they are not involved in the power portion of the stroke - a huge part of being smooth. (You can also teach yourself this riding rollers but the fix gears are a lot more fun.)

Those of us who ride fix gears a lot find one of the real benefits is being able to produce power at a very wide range of RPMs and the comfortable (best) range becomes a lot wider.

Edit: two points - ride with good (and fully reliable) foot retention. You never want a foot coming of the pedal downhill, ever. The smoother and less bounce you ride with, the more fun the fast downhills will be and the faster you will ride. Great incentive!

Ben

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Old 01-07-19, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Then you can learn how to pedal at any cadence and do it with minimal power variation through the 360 degree pedal stroke.
Except you can't, as no one pedals in a 360 degree motion, and doing so is not an efficient manner of pedaling for delivering power, and trying to do so is probably a waste of time that could be spent actually improving your conditioning.
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Old 01-08-19, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Except you can't, as no one pedals in a 360 degree motion, and doing so is not an efficient manner of pedaling for delivering power, and trying to do so is probably a waste of time that could be spent actually improving your conditioning.
Constant power through 360 degrees? You're right, no way. Reduce the variation through the circle? Depending on your age, this is why good coaches have recommended ankling, or scraping mud off your shoe, or spinning in circles -- to power through the dead spot at the bottom of the stroke. I've found this kind of pedaling helps quite a bit to get extra speed on the flats, and especially to keep a bike moving up a steep hill. It also uses more muscles -- a pull through the bottom of the stoke recruits the hamstrings, versus developing unbalanced quads.

Next time you ride a supported ride (century?), watch the riders. The fastest ones, the 100 mile riders, generally pedal smoothly, while the riders who're stretching to make 25-30 miles stomp on the pedals. That jerky style is inefficient.
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Old 01-08-19, 11:02 AM
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To the OP: Pedal smoothness = lack of bouncing on the saddle. If you're smooth, you can pedal very fast. Cadence sort of doesn't matter, except in relationship to effort lost to just moving the legs. Trackies can pedal up to 200 rpm. Geezers like me can still hit 150 for an instant. That's all you need to know, really. All the discussion about pedaling circles dissolves when you realize this.

Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Except you can't, as no one pedals in a 360 degree motion, and doing so is not an efficient manner of pedaling for delivering power, and trying to do so is probably a waste of time that could be spent actually improving your conditioning.
This inability to pedal "in a 360 degree motion" is an old canard that's designed to deflect attention from what's really going on when people pedal smoothly. Of course no one applies even power to each pedal all around the circle. But what's really going on is that people apply even power to the chainrings all round the circle by keeping the sum of their crank torque even around the circle. So one pushes down hard on the downstroke and typically applies zero up-force to the opposite pedal on the upstroke. At the top and bottom of the stroke, each pedal gets 1/2 the force applied to one pedal on the downstroke. It's a very simple concept and not hard to do.

What's harder to do is to answer the question "how" that's really the subject of the OP's question. How do riders pedal at very high cadences without bouncing? (please excuse the rhetorical question.) The answer is very simple but hard to do: One pedals so that pedal forces are always at right angles to the crankarm, IOW tangent to the pedal circle. Thus when the pedal is as the bottom of the stroke, there is no downforce on that pedal and thus no bouncing on the saddle. Very simple, but that's also how one applies equal torque to the crankset all around the circle. Obviously if one can pedal like this there is no wasted leg effort. Every calorie goes into putting power to the ground. This is the whole point of pedaling smoothly.

That said, it is true that for relatively short periods one can generate more power by ignoring all the above and simply hammering the downstroke. The downside to that is that one is only using a small proportion of leg muscles and they will tire quickly more quickly than if one were using all one's pedaling muscles.
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Old 01-08-19, 11:16 AM
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The smooth pedaling debate is interesting. It seems so logical that engagement of more muscles and more force throughout the pedal stroke should be the goal. But is it?

During a track session, our coach shows up with new software on his iPad and does video of the riders at the track. Using the software and drawing lines, he critiques our position and pedaling style. For my wife, she has perfect aero position on the bike and she crushes the pedals. Each stroke is an explosion and she points her toes down. She has 3 world track records, a national time trial record and multiple road and track national championships.

My position is so so but I have perfect pedaling stroke. He compared me to some old Italian guy that is thought to have the best pedal stroke. Well, my race palmeres pales compared to my wife's but hey, I have perfect pedaling stroke. It does not seem to do jack for me.

He did not tell either of us to change our pedaling stroke.

If you ask her about her childhood, she rode her bike everywhere and jumped a lot of rope i.e. hours. I think the rope jumping and cycling as a child set up the neurology to give her the explosive pedal stroke and fast muscle recovery. She never bounces in the saddle at the track no matter what the cadence and looks amazing.

Copy her not me.

This is a 4k 12 lap effort increasing speed to 37 mph last two laps - 88 gear inches


Team pursuit with the motor 32 mph - 94 gear

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Old 01-08-19, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Constant power through 360 degrees? You're right, no way. Reduce the variation through the circle? Depending on your age, this is why good coaches have recommended ankling, or scraping mud off your shoe, or spinning in circles -- to power through the dead spot at the bottom of the stroke. I've found this kind of pedaling helps quite a bit to get extra speed on the flats, and especially to keep a bike moving up a steep hill. It also uses more muscles -- a pull through the bottom of the stoke recruits the hamstrings, versus developing unbalanced quads.

Next time you ride a supported ride (century?), watch the riders. The fastest ones, the 100 mile riders, generally pedal smoothly, while the riders who're stretching to make 25-30 miles stomp on the pedals. That jerky style is inefficient.
The fastest ones push down harder, and don't pull up on the backstroke at all. this myth has been debunked for over 25 years https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1997818
If anyone needs access the full article I can email it if you PM me
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Old 01-08-19, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Constant power through 360 degrees? You're right, no way. Reduce the variation through the circle? Depending on your age, this is why good coaches have recommended ankling, or scraping mud off your shoe, or spinning in circles -- to power through the dead spot at the bottom of the stroke. I've found this kind of pedaling helps quite a bit to get extra speed on the flats, and especially to keep a bike moving up a steep hill. It also uses more muscles -- a pull through the bottom of the stoke recruits the hamstrings, versus developing unbalanced quads.
.
No, not good coaches. Old-school coaches (who may otherwise be good).

Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post

Next time you ride a supported ride (century?), watch the riders. The fastest ones, the 100 mile riders, generally pedal smoothly, while the riders who're stretching to make 25-30 miles stomp on the pedals. That jerky style is inefficient
.
Not a big "supported ride" type of rider, myself.

But I don't disagree with smooth pedalers versus not. I do disagree as to what makes them smooth, which is not what you're asserting.
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Old 01-08-19, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
The smooth pedaling debate is interesting. It seems so logical that engagement of more muscles and more force throughout the pedal stroke should be the goal. But is it?

During a track session, our coach shows up with new software on his iPad and does video of the riders at the track. Using the software and drawing lines, he critiques our position and pedaling style. For my wife, she has perfect aero position on the bike and she crushes the pedals. Each stroke is an explosion and she points her toes down. She has 3 world track records, a national time trial record and multiple road and track national championships.

My position is so so but I have perfect pedaling stroke. He compared me to some old Italian guy that is thought to have the best pedal stroke. Well, my race palmeres pales compared to my wife's but hey, I have perfect pedaling stroke. It does not seem to do jack for me.

He did not tell either of us to change our pedaling stroke.

If you ask her about her childhood, she rode her bike everywhere and jumped a lot of rope i.e. hours. I think the rope jumping and cycling as a child set up the neurology to give her the explosive pedal stroke and fast muscle recovery. She never bounces in the saddle at the track no matter what the cadence and looks amazing.

Copy her not me.

This is a 4k 12 lap effort increasing speed to 37 mph last two laps - 88 gear inches

Team pursuit with the motor 32 mph - 94 gear
Of course your wife is doing it right! And as i said, for short distances, hammering the downstroke is fastest. I would define "short distances" as under say 20k. Strong well trained riders are good with it up to maybe 40k. Beyond that, we start to see more smooth riders at the front. Looks to me like she definitely pushes back at the bottom of the stroke. Those Italian cyclists we revere had smooth strokes from climbing gravel passes on fixed gears. Whenever I have to climb some steep wet-leaved grade, I really try to smooth it up.

These guys are pretty smooth, remind me of the better riders I've been out with over the years:
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Old 01-09-19, 05:41 AM
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Cadence vs pedal smoothness
Originally Posted by smackpotato View Post
Hi anyone have a chart of cadence vs pedal smoothness. I found a lot of information on pedal smoothness vs power but nothing on pedal smoothness vs cadence. Anyway i have a little project going where i could use this info. So could anyone help out.
Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
What are you calling "pedal smoothness"? What does that represent to you?

If it's bouncing out of the saddle when you start pedaling at a much higher cadence (120...140...160+, etc), that's something that can be improved greatly by practice.

Once you can pedal smoothly at the max cadence you'll ever use, though (I don't think I've gone over 130 in an actual ride or race situation), I see little benefit to increasing cadence.
Originally Posted by smackpotato View Post
rubiksoval pedal smoothness has been defined as average power divided by total power. as gregf83 says you can generate these if you have garmin pedals and the software. so if anyone has this plot. i would like a copy or two. thanks.
I have a self-defined training schedule based on cadence, and the poor man’s power meter, Relative Perceived Exertion:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I’m a 40+ year cyclist and I ride mainly for fitness. My training tool is the Relative Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale, and I use cadence to chose gears to maintain my desired exertion…
From a more aesthetic viewpoint, there have been a few threads debating, FWIW, the difference between a bike rider and a (true) cyclist, aand I suggested this criterion:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
This summer was a thread on the Fifty-Plus Forum, ”Bike Riding vs Cycling” with 105 replies, that IMO was a good discussion of the topic as in the article, and subject of this thread:

Sometime after that thread ended, I thought about this seemingly trivial distinction that makes me think a rider is a “real” cyclist. I watch the way they pedal. Without being judgemental about it, a cyclist has a fluid rotary pedaling motion, whereas I think “bike rider” when I see someone pedaling in a piston-like fashion.
.
Now since pedaling is the foundation of bike riding, I think that style and form makes the distinction. Of course then, while an E-bike rider is a “bike rider” they are not cyclists. No moral or “snobbish” judgement here, but a more "objective" one, FWIW.

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Old 01-09-19, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by smackpotato View Post
rubiksoval pedal smoothness has been defined as average power divided by total power. as gregf83 says you can generate these if you have garmin pedals and the software. so if anyone has this plot. i would like a copy or two. thanks.
I think that first is a slight misstatement: pedal smoothness should be average power divided by maximum instantaneous power. It would be nice to use pedal force normal to the crank instead, and I believe some power meters can resolve the vectors to deliver that number, but then power is really the same thing if cadence is steady, so fine. That said, I was once on a long climb in a line behind a couple guys. The guy behind said to the guy in front, "Do you realize you pedal hard for 5 strokes and then easy for 1 stroke?" So pedal smoothness isn't necessarily about just the pedal circle, but I think that alternating power level thing is pretty rare.

A plot like that was posted recently on a trainer/roller thread somewhere on BF. It basically showed that the same rider is much smoother on rollers than on a trainer, which is an interesting result which, though a big roller fan, I would not have anticipated. The poster's handle was @asgelle IIRC.
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Old 01-09-19, 09:43 PM
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Yes a slight misstatement what i ment to say was what you said.
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Old 01-09-19, 09:52 PM
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One year I used winter/spring trainer riding to develop my saddle and par positions while warming up for the road season. As my pedaling position improved, I found my cadence, the upper limit of easy spinning, got faster. It was sensitive to small vertical and fore/aft adjustments of saddle position.
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Old 01-10-19, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by smackpotato View Post
Yes a slight misstatement what i ment to say was what you said.
A slight misstatement. I think you and others are whistling past the graveyard. SRM makes a scientific unit and head unit that can capture torque readings every 1/8 of a second. Most other PM's and head units capture 1 second intervals. I do not think 1 second recording is enough granularity to deduce anything.

I assume by max instantaneous power you are referring to a specified interval of time. So let's assume, my average power for a one minute interval was 250 watts and my max 1 second power was 260 watts, is my pedaling efficiency 250/260? Or are you looking at average power over one pedal stroke? So at 90 rpm, one pedal stroke takes .66 seconds and a 1/2 pedal stroke .33 and the power cycle something more like .25 seconds per 1/2 stroke. How do you propose calculating average and instantaneous power over that .25 seconds?

And power is calculated by torque times rpm. So the reading you get from the power meter is torque and rpm. Generally, rpm is generated by an accelerometer or a magnet. The magnet will record every .66 seconds at 90 rpm and accelerometers are notoriously slow to respond to fast changes in crank speed.

So OP, this is your gig and as Keven O'Leary says on Shark Tank...What are you going to do?
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Old 01-10-19, 11:37 AM
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I think it is the garmin vector that can measure power in such a small increment so as to be able to produce such useful graphs. What i was wanting to see was a similar graph of cadence vs smoothness instead of power vs smoothness.
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Old 01-10-19, 11:57 AM
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A challenge. This winter do all of your first 2000 miles on a fix gear, Don't even get the geared bike out. Work up to 100 miles. Start on a 42-18. Dopn't get bigger than 44-17.

Come back to this thread in June and tell us this didn't work, that you aren't any smoother.

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