Ramp Test in ERG Mode

I have no idea what I should be experiencing doing the ramp test in ERG mode, will feel harder each step up or does my target power just go up each level. I am never sure I am actually doing the test right. I have just got a smart trainer but not really sure I am using it correctly…

In Erg mode, the trainer will increase the resistance to match the target power with each successive step of the workout.

You just keep it in the same gear, and spin consistently until you hit the wall and can no longer keep going.

Generally, the total test lasts anywhere from 20-30mins. It should feel pretty easy for the first 7-8 steps, then get a little harder, and then the last 3-4 steps are a real test of mental and physical stamina. Hold on and stay steady as long as you can!


ok, but do I feel the resistance getting harder for each step or do I more just up the power target, I did one in ERG the other day and I didn’t think it felt like each step was harder than then last in the way it felt, I just upped the power each step up. Sorry I am probably asking ridiculously stupid questions but I don’t want to keep doing it if I am not doing it right

Thanks for replying

The steps early on won’t feel all that much harder. But as you approach the white line (current FTP), the resistance should start to feel more and more uncomfortable.

You shouldn’t have to adjust or increase anything. The ERG mode of your smart trainer should be doing all this for you. Your job is to hold on and pedal as smoothly and consistently as possible.


cool thanks, I think it felt really easy as my current FTP was really low, probably not right, and I think that might be the issue. Now my FTP has increased considerably, apparently, so I will do it again and see if I can feel anything different - the last test I did I gave up eventually as I was pedalling so hard and fast and it was still too easy I felt I could not keep doing that indefinitely.

I will give it a go and see where I get, thanks for your help.

This can sometimes affect results… what trainer and what gearing are you using?

Gi-Gi, another thing you should make sure you’re doing before riding is to do a “Spin Down” to make sure the trainer is calibrated. Nothing worse then working out with an out-of-calibrated trainer.


I have calibrated the trainer I am in small cog on the front and middle on reverse to keep the chain straightish and I don’t change gear. I think the first time I did it on the new trainer ERG was not working I managed to get a really good FTP. Then I had a “too high” FTP which made the ramp test hard to do. I have done so many ramp tests now I am tiring myself out I am going to stick with the lower one I did this morning and just start my programme next week. I might do something else rather than yet another ramp test on day 1,not sure what though.

Sorry if being a rookie girly TR beginner is making ask loads of obvious questions but I want to get it right.

Thank you


Yep I did that after the guy at TR helped me sort that out.


Nothing to apologize for at all. This forum is all about learning and improving, even test taking is part of that.


Bringing this thread back to life, as I experienced the same thing as the OP. I’ve done many FTP tests in the past, but this was my first with a smart trainer (Kickr Snap). I did the test in ERG mode, but it felt like there was very little to no resistance while doing the test. I got to the point where I was in my 11t ring on my cassette and it said I was doing around 30-34 mph at 100+ cadence. I have done many many workouts in ERG mode and it felt like ERG was not activated. I did a spindown right before I started the test and I zero’d out my Powertap P1 pedals for my powermatch.

Can someone from TrainerRoad look at my logs from my test last night and see if there was something wrong? I also had Trainer Road stop responding right near the end of my test :tired_face: so I had to tried to keep going, but the test was a failure because I had a ‘Zero’ reading for about 15-20 seconds while the sensors tried to re-attach.

Has anyone else had this problem, where it says its in ERG mode, but you don’t feel like the resistance is increasing. I tried keeping a steady cadence, but the power kept falling below the target number until I would increase my cadence or switch to a higher gear (which I never do during workouts).

Thanks in advance for any help.

Done! Thanks for the note.

1 Like

I also just changed to a smart trainer KickR Core (yea yea even with all their noise problems on my 3rd replacement in 5 weeks so far !!)

But anyway - my questions is when i do the ramp test in erg mode i try keep a smooth and constant cadence at between 87 - 90 rpm until i hit failure, thats when i end the test. But when i’m hitting that failure point, it’s mainly because of HR and breathing that i cant sustain the cadence at that power level, i’m sure if i reduced my cadence at this point i could grind out at least another 2 steps.

so my question is - Am i doing it correctly ? or do i reduce my cadence and try grind out another 1 or 2 steps ?

Generally, you can use any cadence that you feel you can sustain.

  • That can mean a constant one through the entire test.
  • It can also mean a degrading one from say 90 rpm, that drags down to 60 rpm before you pop.
  • In ERG, if your cadence drops quickly, it likely means you will be missing the power target as the trainer may not be able to adjust fast enough. That is highly dependent on the specific trainer in use and your rate of cadence drop.

The basic statement about the test is to do what you can do and push until you can’t any more.

  • Just be mindful of the stress and strain on muscles and joints, as lower cadence and higher forces can lead to issues for some riders.
  • It is not as likely to be an issue in a shorter effort like this test, but it’s a good idea to consider at least because it would not be great to have an injury as a result of pushing cadence that is too low for your body.
1 Like

thanks Chad - valued input as usual

Good point Yes if i drop cadence too quickly the trainer flywheel spins freely and the power drops off completely until the flywheel speed gets down to match where my cadence is placing force against the resistance again, this will obviously skew the final numbers.
So i suppose i would need to start dropping cadence a few steps before the failure step to make sure my flywheel isn’t freewheeling.

1 Like

I guess flywheel speed could be an issue if you are ripping in top gear (like 50 x 11 or similar) and really drop your cadence quickly. But I find that my cadence in ERG Ramp tests is slow decay (see examples). For me, it’s simple fatigue dragging me down, not intentional slowing of cadence.

I try to watch cadence in my tests to keep below my cap early, and then trying to keep a relatively quick on towards the end. But it usually ends with a slip of 1-2 rpm at a time and eventually ends with a 10-20 rpm drop from my ideal. Depending on muscle fatigue vs aerobic exhaustion, I end up popping for different reasons, but the end is almost always accompanied with some drop in cadence along the way/

I see that - Mine is the opposite i tend to increase my cadence from about 89/90 to 98/99 in the last 4 or 5 steps

This is why i ask the question as i’m sure i’m blowing early because of the increase in cadence - I could have probably finished that last step if i had kept it at 90 or even the next step if i reduced it to say 80

Ill give it a bash on my next test on monday

1 Like

Yup, I have seen similar results from myself and others (cadence picking up through the test) that leads to a failure that may have been changed with controlled cadence. It may work well for some people, but that “over-rev” seems to pop people in ways they might not do otherwise.

  1. Basic reminder to make sure you are not chasing power targets. Let the trainer do the work to get you to the target.

  2. Determine your “Cadence Cap” before you start the test. Watch and control your cadence through the test with this in mind.

Good luck on your next test and report back with your results and effort.

1 Like

@Marc_Carter - it looks like @mcneese.chad has answered this pretty well. I would just reiterate that the way ERG mode works is a very different experience than non-ERG trainer behavior.

Remember that “power” on a bike is a calculated combination of cadence (leg speed) and torque (how hard you are pushing). So you can achieve 200w with high speed and low torque OR high torque and low speed OR any combination in between.

In ERG mode if your cadence drops the trainer compensates to keep you producing the same power - so it will increase the amount of torque required. This can really hit you harder than you expect, and “grinding it out” can be very difficult. (I find if my cadence drops I get in trouble really quickly!)

Finding what works for you on these tests is really a personal thing and will take a few times through to figure out. In very general terms, most coaches I’ve heard recommend trying to set your cadence where you are most comfortable and try to hold it. Fluctuating cadence throughout can quickly tire you, but some changes might happen naturally.

I mostly find that if I can start with a little higher cadence (90-95) it “feels” easier later. My cadence will probably drop a little as I get closer to failure, but my perceived effort is definitely less if I can keep my legs moving quickly.