Spinning to make power on the indoor trainer

My normal cadence on the road is between 85-95, when just general riding or e-racing on my Kickr I am usually in the 90-100 range. I have just started the Rolling Road Race training program and with the higher power interval I am needing to be in the 110-120 range to maintain a steady power output. I am using ERG mode.
As this is not a cadence I would comfortably hold out on the road, I am wondering if I should be trying to find a way to make power at my “normal” cadence.

Are you sure you are in ERG mode? The resistance should adjust to your cadence, to make sure you stay on power.

You can also shift to another gear on the cassette to get more comfortable. But general recommendation is middle of the cassette and small or middle (if 3x) chainring.


Broadly speaking, you should be using cadences inside that are similar to what you use outside.

  • Exceptions can come when looking at particularly higher level power intervals (like VO2 max, Anaerobic & Sprint), where you often want to spin at higher than normal cadences. This can depend on your actual goals for those intervals, but it’s common to use 100rpm thru 120rpm for these types of efforts.

  • It can also depend on the duration where you might do a higher cadence for ones that are less than a minute, while using quick but not lightning fast cadence for 2-5 minute VO2 or higher efforts.

Outside of that, are you new to using ERG mode or experienced with it?

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I always use ERG mode for workouts, and have been using it for several years. I am able to comfortably do sweet spot and threshold in my normal cadence, but VO2 and higher I have to use a high cadence to not spiral into a grind. My concern is that at these higher power levels on the road I would seldom be above 100 and just wonder how the higher cadence power output indoors will transfer to lower cadence power on the road.

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It’s fine. But if you are overly concerned, just turn off erg mode.


Yup, as mentioned, set your goal and then consider swapping to another mode if ERG is not helping you in these efforts.

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Is there any specific reason that you don’t want to train at those higher cadences? Just because you can’t or don’t comfortably hold that high cadence on the road doesn’t mean you won’t be able to after you train and develop it.

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Don’t use ERG mode! I used it for a year and have now graduated to resistance mode. You learn so much more

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Erg always feels weird to me and leads to the same feeling that you’re describing when I used it. Now I just use simulation mode on my Garmin and shift gears like normal.

Hey there!

Ideally, we should be able to use just about any cadence we prefer in ERG mode. As other comments mentioned, I think it would be a good idea to play around with your gearing combination. We generally advise keeping your chain in the little ring up front and somewhere in the middle of the cassette in the back. That should give you a good starting point.

You could also try starting your intervals at that 85-95 RPM range you mentioned and keeping it steady there. ERG mode should take care of all of the resistance changes necessary for you.

Additionally, it may be worth checking your Wahoo app for KICKR firmware updates. If you have an older KICKR (V4 and models earlier than 2020), you may also need to calibrate your trainer (but don’t worry about calibration if it’s a V5 or V6 from later than 2020 – those calibrate automatically).

Finally, I noticed some of your recent workouts are basically on/off intervals. As others here mentioned, you may prefer doing those workouts outside of ERG mode for some extra control. Trainers can sometimes deal with such quick power changes a bit more slowly than some athletes prefer. This article goes over the steps to changing your smart trainer’s mode in the TR app.

Hope this helps! Feel free to let me or TR Support know if you have any other questions.


Is there an article explaining the reasoning behind the small ring up front and middle cog in rear? I find it easier to ride (any) wattage using the big ring and a smaller cog in the back (ie a big gear). I do tend to ride a high cadence when doing so tho (like 95-105 rpm), especially when doing vo2 type workouts. I typically ride around 85-90 rpm outside in a relatively flat area.


I know there is something I’ve seen shared, from the app device section IIRC.

  • The main reason the small ring is mentioned is that most smart controlled trainers respond faster and more firmly when the flywheel is spinning a bit slower (small ring) than a bit faster (big ring). The resistance unit can “grab” and “adjust” faster if the flywheel isn’t ripping at a higher rate like happens with the big ring.

  • Outside of that, as long as the trainer can hit the power targets in ERG, people can choose gearing to more closely match feel outside. Some like the small ring for being more like MTB, gravel or climbing, while others like big ring for more flat and fast rolling riding feel. More than one way to use them so people can experiment and choose as needed.

  • The other reason some commonly prefer small ring is lower noise since the drivetrain is moving slower, which is more quiet.

  • My main comment on gearing is to match your testing process gearing with your the gearing you intend to use for most of your training. Using a similar flywheel inertia is worthwhile. On top of that, some trainers show some power data deviation at different flywheel speeds as well. So, “test like you train, train like you ride” is a good direction to apply when your equipment allows.


Thanks for the suggestions, I have recently changed from always using the big ring to using the small ring in ERG mode after seeing it was recommended. I will go back to the big ring and also try resistance mode for short intervals. I have recently replaced my Kickr V1 with a V5 and it has a slightly different “feel” that I probably still need to work through as well.

I read this as chasing the power numbers and not focusing on the cadence. If you focus on the cadence then the power numbers should level out on their own, but will never be perfectly smooth. Assuming you aren’t in some odd gear combination that the trainer/software don’t like that results in either choppy or slow response then it should be able to settle in at any rpm you like.

Combine that chasing of the power number with ERG mode for VO2 max stuff, which can overshoot very easily as you ramp up. So then the trainer backs off resistance to bring you back down and if you aren’t consciously thinking about your cadence you spin up. Now you are spinning faster and if you let off a little it will up the load so it seems like spinning slower is mashing.

My trainer doesn’t play nice in resistance mode with TR so I’m stuck doing everything in ERG (which I prefer anyway), it took me a while to figure out there are times I just need to focus on my cadence and ignore the power number. When I don’t I end up just spinning faster.