I’m on the “expand your cadence” team. Im a natural masher. Over time I have worked on spinning more and it has reduced my rate to exhaustion on climbs.
I don’t think the recent motherhood responses are in any way helpful. Its bleedin obvious that every rider at times has to have the ability to ride at a very wide range of cadences. But once those situations are managed, then one needs to settle into a gear that implies a narrower range of cadence.
Likewise I’m not and don’t think anyone else here is interpreting this as riding as if in ‘erg’ mode at a very specific cadence. But I think the comment about training that way with smart trainers in ‘erg’ is an interesting aspect to explore the pros and cons.
It seems that the video from Dylan Johnson, the very first response to my question, provides the most useful background, ie, the research is very unclear. The one clearer conclusion being very low cadence training doesn’t help, instead do gym/weight training instead; perhaps from that it can also be concluded that grinding also isn’t the best technique, but that said we all hit hills that we don’t have the gearing to do anything but grind it out. I recently did a XC marathon event where the elite podium finishers all said they wish they had a double chain wheel because they just ran out of gears.
What is inescapable on TR, is that 85 is deemed to be the minimum cadence, preferably better if closer to 95, and in many cases closer to 105? Everybody who uses TR knows this and presumably has endeavoured to deliver. But that is still a large range, within which to settle on a target.
Why does TR tell us to do that if nearly all the response here, say do whatever you like? Chad was not the type of coach to merely pick a number out of a hat, he researched everything.
Some considerations for cadence include fatigue resistance, comfort, but the one that is often overlooked by new cyclists is “snap”. If you try to match sharp accelerations while mashing a giant gear at 65rpm, you are gonna get gapped pretty damn quickly.
I train all of my athletes to generate leg speed via cadence ramps, spinups, form sprinting, throughout the year. I want them to be able to work between say 80 and 130rpm without bouncing, and to be able to hold 110+ for VO2max work for 5+ minutes.
After that, I don’t really care what they ride at, but I will always push them to ride above 85 or so so they learn to use gears, reduce fatigue, and have the ability to respond to accelerations.
In short, I don’t want them to have to be at 92rpm or they fall apart. I want them to be good at like 80-110 in a race situation. I do work on “grinding” for some people and do a little bit of lower cadence stuff, but the dose is very small early in the year. The higher leg speed stuff I work year round.
I find that whatever your preferred cadence is,
If your legs are tired from a previous workout,
Anything under 85 rpm is a recipe to failure.
Some of that is in this blog post:
And the ask a cycling coach video should have some Coach Chad comments. I heard him talk about it in earlier episodes, and don’t want to paraphrase what I vaguely remember from years ago.
With help of VeloViewer, here is personal stats showing cadence changes since beginning of structured training:
- 2019: SSBHV, Oct-Dec
- 2020: SSBHV + TBHV + SusPBHV
- 2021: TBHV + POLHV + SusPBHV
- 2022: 1st half POLHV, 2nd half mostly HR capped Z2 rides + 1-2x Z4/SS
- 2023: same as 2022 but doing Z2 by power (IF 0.65-0.7)
I only try actively control Z5 cadence, rest of time it is what it is.
Trainer rides only (ERG mode). I think it shows that self-selected cadence is intensity dependent. Usually selecting some 0 or 5 ending number in comfortable range and try to stick to it. Z5 in 110-120rpm range.
If we look at outdoor rides only, picture gets muddy, although changes are insignificant. Lets just say, cadence has remained below 75rpm. Looked at various workouts, it is mostly for Z2. SS/Z4 is around 80-85rpm, Z5 100rpm. But as I am doing lot of Z2, higher intensity cadences do not change picture much.
So, outdoors I am obviously grinder. I think it is down to 2 factors:
- mostly flat terrain. When going up some tiny hill, cadence increases naturally
- my gravel bike gearing 1x 46t / 10-50t, most frequently using 14 or 16 which gives comfortable chilling speed (28-32km/h ~ 17-20mph).
No, haven’t had any knee issues
Can you spot the 2 years on TR? The first two years 2014-2015 are mostly spin classes.
Same. Here was a big day at 64rpm, 5 mountain passes, 15,000’ climbing, 11+ hour. After the event, kept right on riding.
Some riders think they can take the cadence they use on their particular model of indoor trainer and they should pedal like that on the road. However, each trainer has a specific amount of inertia and resistance as power changes, so the cadence you use on your particular trainer may be different than it would be on a mag trainer, or a fluid trainer, or a set of rollers, or an electronically braked trainer, with a different sized flywheel.
I think the evidence shows that in the real world on real roads under varying conditions of wind and slope and length and fatigue, riders don’t use a single set cadence. They also don’t use a single set amount of power, nor a single set value of crank torque, nor do they ride at a single constant speed, nor a single gear. I think the evidence shows that riders vary all of these during a ride, especially in response to varying conditions. Cadence varies with varying conditions; only when conditions are constant is it likely that cadence will be constant. Rather than try to determine your “best” cadence, try to focus on determining what goes into your best performance. Good riders constantly make choices about speed, power, crank torque, gear ratio–and cadence.
Thank you for that link. A really interesting explanation. Put things into perspective.
It is interesting to see what some riders actually do. Whereas the benefits of training to do something that isn’t intuitive, isn’t what feels natural.
As I personally prefer short rides, there are clearly benefits for me to focus on increasing my target and hence average cadence. Whereas those of you whose focus is ultra long distance, if there are any, then sticking to the 70-90 range is ok.