Cadence outdoors vs on the turbo

On the turbo, I target 85-95 rpm as my cadence. I have little problem in maintaining this at pretty much any power.
When I go out on flatish roads, I can sit on 90 all day, but on 6 to 20% gradient, I really struggle to stay over 80. I often even drop towards 60, even if in a lighter gear.
Does anyone else find the same? What do you do about it?
The way I see it is that if I’m on lower cadence on the road, I should really be training at that level.

What trainer are you using?

What gearing on the bike are you using?

Is this in ERG or Resistance mode?

I think that’s quite normal when climbing steeper gradients outside. I have a naturally higher cadence and drop when climbing too, especially at 20%!!! You’re not going to find many people fit enough and with low enough gearing to be spinning at 90+ up a 15-20% gradient.


I’m using a dumb trainer (Cycleops Fluid 2) with a 4iiii power meter. This is the same power meter as I use outside. In my mind, if I’m putting out 250w at 90rpm indoors, I should be able to sustain that outdoors…

I also noticed this, 90rpm on the trainer but outside on climbs (mtb) usually 75-85rpm.

I’ve started mixing in some 75-85rpm cadence work on the trainer during sweetspot / threashold workouts. For example if I’m doing 6 x 7 mins sweetspot, I’ll alternate my cadence between 90rpm and 75rpm for each interval.

1 Like

I’m not using ERG mode, but on the trainer, I’m staying pretty consistent between 95 and 105.
On the road, when I’m not pushing high watts I’m around 100rpm. When I’m pushing high watts around 90-95… but on the hills usually up to 80-85max…

Ps: on 20% hills -> “Survival mode” :wink:

On steady climbs (or flats) I’ll ride at 90-110. On variable pitch climbs or really steep climbs where I’m likely to want to stand occasionally my cadence falls off significantly. Sustained faster cadences while standing are annoying (to me).

In general, that makes sense. The issue can be the reality of the difference in inertia from the trainer flywheel, vs what you actually experience on the road. Your mass, aerodynamic drag, bike setup and road conditions all play into the “feel” equation. Nothing can match perfectly, but the newer wheel-off trainers tend to have more flywheel inertia than the older wheel-on versions. This can lead to more “real” feel for some riders, especially when the trainers are spinning in gearing similar to what the rider uses outside.

Unfortunately, as good as any trainer is, very few can claim to have realistic feel, that translates into a more parallel experience inside and out. The most revered one I have seen is the old Lemond Revolution with it’s wind resistance and massive flywheel. Everything else is short of that performance by small or large steps.

1 Like