Bouncing around the group ride

My natural cadence on the trainer falls in the 90-100 range, with 100-115 frequently keeping me out of the ERG death spiral when the surges hit. I can spin up to 125-130 or so on the trainer without bouncing. I find that Chad’s mid-workout advice to focus on knees going up and down and relaxing everything else eliminates bouncing pretty quickly if it happens at all any more. It’s fun.

BUT, I’ve been informed that despite improving drastically with keeping up on the weekly group ride the last few weeks, I’m bouncing (and from my data, this is likely when I hit the 95-115 rpm range that consistently works for me on the trainer).

I was told to raise my seat and/or keep my cadence down. I tried keeping my cadence down yesterday and focusing on my knees when things got spicey, but I still had bad form per others on the ride. It’s a new bike (1 month old), but my saddle height is lined up with my now-trainer-bound (professionally fit) bike. I do have a set of rollers I can pull out of the closet to work on my pedal stroke. Other advice for translating good form habits from the trainer to the road?

I’d think the go to is to check your fit on the bike. Is the stack or reach to the handlebars different on this bike than the one you had professionally fit? I suspect that you’ll find something is off with your saddle height, or fore/aft and if you make changes there you’ll solve the problem.

I don’t see why you should be bouncing at 90-100 RPM. I’d think that would be a slightly faster than typical RPM range, but not so much that it would be the cause of your bouncing.

After the saddle thing is double checked. Maybe do some kick and pulls on the bike while someone is watching you. See if you are just mashing straight down on the front of your pedal stroke.


I second the suggestion to get a bike fit. It isn’t always straightforward to transfer a bike fit, especially if the geometry of the two bikes differ markedly from one another. Or if e. g. your cranks are of a different length — or perhaps should be of a different length.

The second suggestion I’d make is to try resistance mode for hard workouts: it sounds as if you are struggling with resistance changes. In either case, you should definitely not wind up that much when in erg mode.

Do check if crank length are identical. A longer crank length will make you more prone to jumping.

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Thanks everyone. Crank length is the same. Frame size is smaller and geometry generally more aggressive, however, so there are definitely some changes. Was hoping to avoid the expense of another fit just yet when I’m overall so much more comfortable on this bike, other than the bouncing issue, but it sounds like that’s where this is heading.

If the fit is more aggressive and that means your knees are hitting your chest that might cause the bouncing. Don’t think you necessarily need to get a fit, but would look at trying to get the same fit across all your bikes. Which on a smaller and more aggressive frame might mean some spacers and a longer stem for example. Also possible that “much more comfortable” is simply a reflection of being outside and having more movement.

Both bikes have been ridden extensively outside. Chest does not hit knees (well, I’m capable of making that happen if I get as low as absolutely possible, but I wasn’t doing that). The added comfort is, I believe, in a large part due to the original bike being way too big for me (I’m 5’8" and it’s a 56cm frame–this is a ~54 cm (small Canyon Ultimate)).

How confident are you that you are not bouncing on trainer? Given that it took someone else on your group ride to tell you before you noticed, you might be bouncing on trainer.

How confident are you that the folks on the group ride are correct?

Film yourself and upload it here.

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The reasons for bouncing are many but I just want to touch on this. Did you “line up” the saddle height side by side or did you measure from the centre of the bottom bracket?

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I measured from the bottom bracket.

No reason to doubt the perception of my teammates. I have not recorded myself. Will see if I can come up with a way to do that during my vo2 intervals today.

Video of trainer bike was a fail (kids!!). I feel myself rocking side to side, but sit bones feel planted and the only time I feel “bounce” is when I’ve been spinning quickly (100+) and the power drops out for a rest interval (or if I lose focus / get tense above 115 or so). Raised seat on new bike a touch (~4mm), and ran it through myvelofit for fun. Calls my seat height fine, though it wants me to pull everything (saddle and stem) forward 1cm. Could that be contributing? Changing the integrated headset is not in the budget right now.

Assuming it’s also a form issue beyond any fit issues, any tips on eliminating bouncing in general? Drills I can do on my commute? I’d love to stop embarrassing myself. I’m not big on using the rollers (still waiting for that inevitable coffee table crash), but it is going to be freezing this week, so I could rethink that for a while.

  • Endurance Spinning (ES) - Practice spinning slightly quicker than your natural, self-selected cadence. Ride at a cadence that’s at the very top of your comfortable rpm range (often this is your natural cadence + 3-5rpm) and remain there for a solid 5 minutes.

The goal is to learn to turn the pedals more quickly with less force/muscle stress thereby improving your ability to remain predominantly aerobic over a wide range of rpm. If your HR rises more than a few bpm, you’re pedaling too quickly - take it easy and stay relaxed but quick.

  • As with most cadence drills, starting just a bit above or below your current limit or comfort point is probably best. “Small bites” concept where you gradually push your abilities over time. It could be that you are just not “clean” in your pedal stroke at those higher cadences (specifically outside with the bike unrestrained?) so dial it back a bit and work there before getting to those quicker spins.

Not sure if it’d help directly with the bouncing (though it may) but rollers potentially would help w/ other aspects of group rides (well, balance, and riding a really straight line). Once I got used to them I found fixed trainers boring.

A good location helps a lot; my current setup has them between a wall and the back of a squat rack so there’s nowhere to go. But much of the time was just with a wall though. I thought having a little step made it easier; getting on the bike always felt like the most precarious part and the step keeps it from being awkwardly high.

Are you running the same pedals and shoes on the trainer and outside? If the measurements are based on a professional fit, the margin for error might be tight enough that 3mm or 5mm differences in stack height on pedals, and the same differences in shoes (yes, I’ve seen both), could be causing an effective difference in saddle height to the pedals…

Also agree with checking saddle fore/aft position, maybe angle as well? I assume you’re running the same saddle on both bikes?

Same shoes; same pedals (speedplay). Different saddles. Specialized mimic on the trainer bike (which could be part of my initial height measurement problem as it kind of “sags” in the middle). New bike has the canyon stock saddle (Sella Italia SLR), which has been miraculously great. Both are level.

Yeah, you definitely need a bike fit, especially if you went for a smaller frame and a more aggressive geo. Sizing down alone will put you in a more aggressive position, you’ll need to raise the seat post and get a longer stem to compensate for the smaller frame. Out of curiosity, did you talk to a bike fitter before making that purchase?

Just note that it might be advisable to get cranks of a different length, too, as a result. I reckon getting shorter cranks might really help if you are on a smaller frame.

Usually 54 cm is considered a medium-sized frame. Have you measured inseam and the like? Did your bike fitter tell you anything about that? That’s super important to get a proper fit.

E. g. I have long limbs and I need one size larger than many people expect because of that (1.78 m tall, I ride size L/56 cm).

Given that you report no or less issues on your old bike, I would hold off on doing any drills and get the fit dialed in first. You have to understand why you are bouncing more now, and then you can do drills to rectify that.

Canyon runs big, so the small is much like a medium in other brands. My bike fitter couldn’t fit me in before I made the purchase, unfortunately. So instead I did lots of measuring and reading and plugging numbers into online tools and calculations before going this route. If anything, most advice seemed to put me on the line between small and extra small on the Canyon. All this considered, I was still nervous to order blind, but then so relieved when it came in–the fit feels SO much better than what I was on before. I’m trying to reconcile being so much more comfortable with advice to emulate my old fit just to stop the bouncing, particularly when the advice on TR workouts seems to be that bouncing is usually a tension issue that can be resolved with practice. Is coach chad wrong? :wink:


Be careful to keep two things apart. I can totally empathize: I had an endurance road bike previously, and I hated how the bike rode. There was nothing wrong with it, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Then I tried more aggressive bikes and I immediately clicked with them. My 3T Strada with its much more aggressive position feels much more comfortable than my Cube Attain GTC did. (I had bike professional fits for all of them, so they all fit correctly.)

Perhaps this is the same with you and your bikes? However, the downside is that you cannot directly transfer the old fit and expect it to work as well. The “natural” body position on both bikes is likely just different. To give you an example: on my endurance road bike, I initially had saddle comfort issues. I needed to get a saddle with a large cutout to make it work. My Strada came with the same saddle, but the version that lacks the cutout. I have had no comfort issues with the saddle on the new bike.

Please don’t get a bike fit again - total waste of money especially if you have already had one. If your saddle to bb is the same it isn’t going to be your fit. There are many other things it could be.

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