Shifting while using ERG Mode for the Ramp Test

Damnnnn…what a thread! hey on topic but off topic on gearing. Do you guys try to use the same gearing combo everytime you test. and does it really matter (not shifting during tests-protocol)
i wonder if it matters, seems like it should not. The other day had a pretty good test then realized i was 3-4 cogs up on the cassette and i’m usually in my 12t for testing.

12T sounds great, lots of room for shifting :laughing:.

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  • Yes, consistent testing requires consistent use of equipment.
  • Using the same gearing is important if you want any ability to compare prior tests, and keep your training pointed in the right direction.
  • I don’t have the proof, but with a capable smart trainer, I predict people will hit a different “FTP” if they tested in max gearing vs min gearing.
    • The difference in flywheel inertia is real and I expect it to impact results. We have enough anecdotal feedback (mine included) that flywheel speed makes a real difference in feel (and I expect related fatigue) between high and low gearing.
  • This leads to my other main suggestion, to test in the same gearing you plan to use for most of your training. Testing at one extreme and training at the other is likely to lead to issues.

Overall, I’m not claiming that a few shifts in a ramp test are going to totally invalidate the results. But the WILL change things in a way that I don’t think was intended for the spirit of the test. Most people I’ve seen use this “trick” are doing it to extend the test.

  • Is that good or bad?
  • The answer may well vary between earch rider.
    • What I know, is that if I bury myself in a test vs popping “a bit early” and quitting “on purpose” vs going until my eyes explode… the popped eyes ones lead to just enough “extra” FTP that workouts can hit the border of doable vs failure.
    • For me… I am a “good” ramp tester apparently and may well over-perform compared to my capabilities at Threshold. So I have found that underperforming (or manually reducing if I happen to die in the test) is better for me than taking a “higher” FTP value.
  • I would bet that others are the exact opposite of me in that case.

Point being, there are ways to learn from a ramp test and get what you need from it. Maybe shifting is one of those “tweaks” but I think there are better ways to handle it than introducing the trainer delay, power delta and all that comes with shifting as a “trick”. But if it works and people use it consistently, maybe it’s the “best” solution in their situation for all I know?

  • I would just recommend consistent application of that or any trick each and every time you test.

If you did an FTP test outdoors you’d change gears. The ramp test will not provide an “exact” FTP. From these forums you know that for a lot of people it gives a sub optimal result. Changing gear in Erg will give you what… An extra 10 secs? It’s definitely not going to give you a minute so this is a pointless argument. It may add 1 to 2 watts or if indeed it does, I’d expect it to disrupt your rhythm. Not going to make any difference.

  • That’s a simple statement for something far more complex.
    • Which test (1x 20min, 2x 8min, 1x 60min)? [since the Ramp is NOT recommended for doing outside]
    • What terrain (good and consistent dead flat, rolling, fixed for variable grade)?
  • That all gets really interesting once you make a mix of those.
  • I just don’t think outside testing is related to the ramp test in any meaningful way. They both aim to find an FTP value, but the ultimate method can and needs to differ here (not the least of which is that some choose to use ERG when on a trainer… that is not an option outside).
  • Much the same can be said for the other FTP test format. Not are perfect or any guarantee of success.

I do agree that the shifting is likely more of a hiccup than a solution. Would be amazing to see a direct comparison of a ride to dead vs ride and shift result. I do think it’s likely just a few watts in the grand scheme of things, but could be more for some riders?

I agree with what you say. If someone is switching gears, if think they’d be close to finishing. By the time erg catches up they’d be back to struggling. Just not going to get you any meaningful watts. It may gain you a few seconds at most m my points about the FTP test is that there is no perfect way to test it. FTP will fluctuate daily due to many different circumstances, stress levels, sleep, nutrition, time of day,indoors, outdoors etc. For over threshold intervals it’s a sub optimal way of defining training zones. Any gain (if any) from changing gear would be within the range of daily fluctuations. If I got an FTP of 300 for my test if consider myself to be within 290 - 310 range. I certainly wouldn’t think my FTP is 300 exactly for a 6 week training block. This is why the AT will be a changer because your ramp test result will have a much smaller incorrect to your training zones as your plan adapts. I just find it funny that people are accusing the op of cheating a test. The gains (if any) would be insignificant and certainly not lead to a massive overstatement of training zones.

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Depends on why you cadence dropped.

Can you expand on any reasons other than fatigue, and the aforementioned need to shift to avoid Wattage Floors / Ceilings?

distractions, just to name one…

So that is a one direction “shift to easier gear / get lower flywheel speed / momentary relief to get cadence up” choice and no plan to shift back to the starting gear option?

Just seems odd to me, but whatever gets it done I guess.

That would be the plan, I havent actually done it. But for a physics stand point I see no deal breakers, I doubt one gears worth of inertia would make any significant differnce.


Late to this but +1 on turning off the KICKR’s power smoothing. I think they’ve done a real disservice in creating the appearance that ERG intervals are perfectly flat. Maybe it’s just me but I’d rather see where I got sloppy and the effect on power…


So many threads on FTP ramp tests and really the numbers only matter to you and your training. So any fudging of the test, or trying to last longer only effects you.

Thinks it’s quite ego driven or pretty sad that people are trying to eek out more which in turn makes their subsequent workouts harder. Add to that the fact you can just go in and change it manually.

I don’t think you’re correct in your understanding of how ERG works.

The whole point of ERG is so that the user can select their own, preferred gear and cadence. Then the computer will calculate how much resistance to add, to achieve the target output watt.

If the user input abruptly changes, by say sudden increase or decrease in cadence, and or changes the gear at the same time. The computer program will have to adjust its parameters. So obviously the power will fluctuate for however long it takes the computer to figure out what the correct resistance is for your new cadence & gear combination.

If this was not a “micro break” cheat or whatever, then you should be able to just increase your cadence, without having to mess with the gears. The computer will catch up either way.

I most definitely am correct in my understanding of how it all works, it’s all in the dynamics, to increasing cadence you have to briefly put out more power to accelerate the flywheel, plus the way the resistance works is generally proportional to speed (eddy current brake), so to increase cadence you are fighting both of those until the system can catch up and adjust.

I think @jakeriddel should look up the brilliant YouTube vid posted by GPLama on riding in ERG mode…

If I wasn’t on my phone I’d post a link… :grin:

Here it is, watch around 2.30 and it talks about smooth pedalling and then the spiral of death. If you’re changing the gears as you suggest you’re just putting off the inevitable. You should find the one gear to do the last few minutes in and srick to it IMHO but it’s only going to effect your final number.

I feel like this has been beating to death, and without going back to see what I wrote a couple months ago, pretty sure I said, yes ideally you shouldn’t shift, but I also outlined a couple scenarios where I could see it being ok. Like when you kids come and ask for questions while doing 130% of ftp which causes you to dip 10 rpm, then a one time shift and jam on the cadence would seem ok to me in this scenario.