Please help me understand how to use my VAM numbers

I just started using an Element BOLT with speed/cadence sensors and I don’t have power meters on my bike. I did a hilly ride today and didn’t push super hard. My avg speed was only 13.7mph and my VAM was 1245 but I have no idea what to do with that number although I understand generally what VAM represents. Please help! Thanks.

I was once told if you ignore elements like wind I think you can use it as a virtual PM. You can hold a VAM number of X vertical m/ h regardless of the gradient.

Thanks for the reply but I still don’t understand what my 1245 number means. How do I use it and how can I tell if it’s “good” or not? Thanks again.

It’s the rate of vertical metres you climbed in an hour.

I know but what do I do with that information? I can tell from my avg mph whether a given ride was faster or slower than my general or intended pace for that ride. And watts, if I had power meters, would tell me what zones I am in and for how long. But why should I care about VAM and how do I know what it means relative to other metrics like mph, etc.?

Well if you know what it is use it as you see fit, it’s just another metric. If it’s going up you are improving if its going down you are not.

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Okay, thanks. :+1:t2:

Or if it went up you climbed some hilly routes, if was down you were on a flat route.

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I am really just trying to figure why I would care about VAM as opposed to just looking at avg speed or power to determine whether I am improving or not on any given ride.

Because if you can keep an equal VAM on hills of various gradients it’s a means to pace yourself. Avg speed doesn’t tell you anything on a 5% grade vs a 12%. No need to be obstinate when folks are trying to help.


I wasn’t trying to be obstinate, just trying to get a better understanding. This is helpful and answers my question. Thank you.

VAM varies with gradient, so I don’t know how you would use it to compare or pace different climbs. So you can compare results on similar gradients, but at that point it’s no different than speed.

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