Ramp Test + Dumb Trainer = I HATE IT

So let me whine here a minute please. While I love the idea of the ramp test, my current setup has me continuing to HATE it!

Finished SSB1 and time to start SSB2. Decided to try the ramp test again. I am on my faithful KK dumb trainer. Put the good cassette (fewer jumps between cogs) on.

As things get harder, I am going from a cadence of 105/110 to 88. then I try to ramp the cadence back up to maintain power. Burns out the legs waaay too early. I can tell there is more there, but not standing to help boost kills me.

I have worked on a slower cadence (about 90-93) as it better corresponds with the MTB racing. But this wide range, held for relatively longer times, just destroys what my legs can do.

I know this has been discussed before – but dang I needed to vent.

and no, buying a smart trainer is not a $$$ option.

Back to the regularly scheduled day now…


I do feel like that on the last three intervals.

I shift one final time, it sends me from 97 to 85rpm and I have to use the same gear and raise the cadence on the final three.

Its killer and I agree toasts my legs…

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I feel like that too. But then again, frying my legs is the point of the ramp test and I don’t seem to undertest on the ramp, so I just accept the pain and view it as testing my versatility!


When you ride outside you need to use a range of different cadences… so assuming you’re doing all this indoor training to become a better rider when you get outside, I’d say you need to suck it up and do more high/low cadence work :wink:


Being able to pick my cadence was the biggest gain of getting a smart trainer. What you describe sucks!

Barring springing for a smart trainer . . . You may have already done all this but if not, get cassette with 1 tooth jumps between gears. That helps a little and it is one more reason to get a dedicated trainer wheel i fthat cassette is not something you want to ride outside. Also, take a look at a gearing chart for your current setup and make sure there is not a smaller jump for the power levels you are at by shifting on the front chain ring. If all that does not work, if you’re on a road bike you could go to a compact front if you don’t have one to get closer spacing. But at that point, you might as well just get a smart trainer :wink:

I feel your pain—there are workouts where my power target falls right in-between two gears and I’m left mashing one and gasping for breath in another. It’s forced me to broaden the scope of my abilities, which I think makes me a stronger rider.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Ramp Test is not a measure of how close you can be to each power target. The calculation, in the end, is a percentage of your highest 60 sec. power. If you need to hold on to a gear a little longer before making the jump, I’d say do it. Then you can try hitting the next gear when you feel your cadence is ready for it.


The last 5 steps of my ramp test (dumb trainer) my cadence is between 82 and 86. 110 cadence is pretty high, if you were on a steep hill putting out 10-20% over FTP what would you be spinning at?

Cadence is quite individual and whilst training it can have some benefits, people tend to find a cadence that works for them.

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Look at all the issues that can arise and probably will arise using ERG mode and you might just be glad that you’re using a dumb trainer. I prefer to have cooked legs than a cooked brain from all the frustration with ERG.

If you use a dumb magnetic trainer or smart trainer in resistance mode, you can make fine adjustments between gears by changing resistance. On a fluid trainer this is not possible.

Accelerating from a reduced cadence is tough. Perhaps try hitting the higher power target of the new step before you shift gears. This way you get your acceleration / power increase at a high cadence, really spin things up, and then shift. You will now only need to maintain power at the lower cadence, rather than raise it.

I know the feeling, I often have a hard time hitting my preferred cadence on threshold intervals. At the same time though, I feel like it’s all just mental.

I pulled one of my ramp tests and it looks like my cadence was basically the same the entire test. I’m using a Cycleops Fluid2 and have a 53/39 crank with 11-23 10 speed cassette.

On dumb trainers, it is SO much better having a close ratio cassette. Then the jumps are not too big and it feels far more natural when trying to match the power line on the screen.

My current cassette has this:

11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 23


Am i right in guessing that you’re on your trainer with a mountain bike and a 1x? That sounds like it would make cadence and gearing rather difficult. In my case I’m on a Cycleops Jet fluid pro (love it) with a 50/34 2x front and I think a 14-28 cassette (it’s been a while since I bought it/looked at it). Somehow I’m able to keep my cadence in the 88-96 range. Right around the half way there’s the crossover point where I switch from the little to the big chain ring up front and have to shift most of the way up the back to keep cadence steady and then things continue as per usual with the cadence getting high right around the end which from what I understand isn’t the worst thing. If you’re dead set on doing ramp tests you might try doing it on a 2x bike if you have one and then doing your workouts on your MTB. Or maybe you should do the 8 minute test instead. I’m not a huge fan of the ramp test because I find it rather unforgiving but I’m giving it a chance for the duration of my current BBS period. After that I’m going to be contrasting it with the 8 minute test to see which I like better. Also check out the other thread on here about not doing a ramp test at all and doing a threshold workout instead and using how it felt to gage your FTP increase or decrease.

The great thing about erg mode for the ramp test is that you just settle in to your preferred cadence and then they to hold on for dear life. No thinking required, just pedalling. The big win on the ramp test is that it means you don’t overshoot on earlier steps (which can lead to you burning out earlier).
I find that for the vast majority of sessions, except maybe those with lots of explosive sprint micro-intervals, erg mode massively reduces the cognitive load because all you have to worry about is pedalling and choosing a cadence that is appropriate for the goals of that interval. It’s not perfect, but then what is


I’m still getting the hang of my smart trainer and erg mode step testing, I am yet to do a test without some kind of issue. Nonetheless I have done a step test on the rollers and found this experience to be quite favorable.

I’ve a dumb trainer with a resistance lever (10 positions) and an 11 speed 12-25 cassette. My biggest problem during the ramp test is that the jumps in power target from one minute to the next are bigger than the difference between one cog & the next so I end up changing a couple of cogs at a time or fiddling with the resistance lever or a combination of both. I don’t think I can get a cassette with a closer ratio (Campag) but even if I could it’s not going to help. For most of the test it doesn’t bother me as I’m getting better at knowing what combinations I need to be in for certain power targets, but it’s that last step on the test that kills me. I feel like I could go longer if the target on the last step wasn’t so high, but I try to hit the target & blow up.

I’ve done 2 ramp tests on a the fluid KK and two on the Kickr Core. I too thought the Kickr would make it easier but to my disappointment it was absolutely no easier with Erg mode. In my opinion it’s just flat out brutal no matter how you take it or what you take it on.


This is exactly the moment where I wish I had an erg available to me - those last few minutes in the ramp test I have to have my cadence all set ahead of time with room to spare so that I can just focus on pedaling. Usually I overshoot the current step just a bit when I’m running out of gas, but the result has yet to prove to be a number I couldn’t handle so it’s all good I guess.

There are times where I just can’t find the right gear combo for the cadence I want in other workouts and it weighs heavily on my mind, distracting me from the real work to be done. Sounds like those final steps are in that zone for OP… :confused:

@dprimm - Not sure what ring you have on the front right now, but try a bigger ring up front so that you can have a better cadence at those last few minutes. Way cheaper alternative than trying to spring for a smart trainer, and I bet you can find a combo where you have to settle for a less than ideal cadence a little earlier rather than those last steps.

Have you though about switching to the 8min or 20min FTP test?

For reasons not relevant to this general theme of this post, I use the Andy Coggan’s 20min test only. On a dumb trainer, other than the initial ramp to target power, you wouldn’t have to deal with concerning yourself with switching gears, ramping cadence, ramping power, etc.


Slight aside. I use an old 9 speed close cassette on my little ring (39), and with a “heavy turbo wheel” find it hard to get down to 40% FTP as ive run out of gears and wont go lower than a cadence of 75 or so, so recoveries are generally over 50% FTP.

Same here. Some workouts suggest a very low power between intervals that is about 30 or 40 watts too low, even when trundling along.
So i just go slow but at a pace that is not ridiculously slow. Then i pick it up again when the next interval starts etc.

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