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cadence

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Panter, 17 Sep 2007.

  1. Panter

    Panter Just call me Chris...

    Morning all ;)

    Just a quick question on cadence then.

    I've been riding 6months, getting a lot fitter and stronger but my cadence seems to be pretty low. I seem to sit at about 60rpm as a fast average where most references seem to advise 60-90.

    I prefer a slower cadence, it feels more natural and I prefer the "slow power" approach as I find spinning far more tiring than grinding in a higher gear.

    The thing is, if I could increase my cadence it would get my commute down to the 1 Hour mark which is my long term goal.

    On an off-road ride yesterday, a friend also commented that I should be trying to achieve a much higher cadence when climbing.

    Should I stick with what feels more natural or is a faster spin a better technique that I need to train for?

    any oppinions appreciated ;)

    Cheers

    Chris :biggrin:
     
  2. Lefire

    Lefire New Member

    Location:
    Colchester
    I used to think that the 'slow power' thing was more natural too but then I dropped a couple of gears and let my legs spin faster. It reduced how tired I got straight away for starters.
    I am now able to ride further and faster because I am not so exhausted. I think this is die more to the improved cadence rather than the practise of training.
     
  3. BentMikey

    BentMikey Rider of Seolferwulf

    Location:
    South London
    It looks like you already know what you should be doing!!
     
  4. cyclebum

    cyclebum Senior Member

    Location:
    Cheshire
    I was out with hubby yesturday who was just there to give me support, and mostly he just let me go on ahead. I have been playing for a while now with this idea of cadence and I noticed on the occassions I was behind him I was cycling very comfortably but in a lower gear than him, and he really seemed to be working so much harder. He claimed it was just a fitness thing.
    I also took the advice of a higher cadence lower gears up hill and it really seemed to work. Mind you I had new road tyres fitted before we set off (as opposed to th off road I have been using) so I think that helped alot too.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Panter

    Panter Just call me Chris...

    Thanks peeps I'll keep at it and see how it goes.


    Cheers

    Chris ;)
     
  6. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    There was an article in the last C+ about this, from what I recall, tests had shown that high cadences might not be the universal solution that is often advised.
    This was heartening for me. My experience has always to use lower cadence/bigger gears, always felt least effort and most economic. When I returned to cycling in a big way some 4 years ago, everyone advised me to stop grinding and spin…I duly did so (the club coach also advised this). Well for 2 years I persevered and got nowhere until one day got fed-up with being dropped on the club run I decided to go-up a few cogs and use my old style…fantastic, went-like a train again.
    Have given-up the high cadence thing now, it does not work for me and there are reports from others here that it does not work for everybody. What the C+ article suggests is that the optimal cadence for a lot of people is not as high as people think and that most peoples “natural cadence” tends to be their most effective.
    It’s worth experimenting for to find-out the method/style that works for you whether high or low cadence.
     
  7. BentMikey

    BentMikey Rider of Seolferwulf

    Location:
    South London
    80-90 is not high cadence though, for most it will be a good compromise between efficiency and not trashing your legs.
     
  8. It is worth bearing in mind that a reduction in pedal cadence means an increase in load through your joints and through the transmission. My experience as a cycle mechanic strongly suggests that those who trundle around at low RPM suffer premature wear of chains and sprockets. I assume that they also suffer premature wear of knee and hip joints.

    The benefits of high cadence also includes; Faster gear shifts, better acceleration, quicker warm up and improved cardiovascular fitness.
    Aside from the joints thing, pedalling a low cadence will tend to build muscle. Lean legs are nice, enormous great muscley tree-trunk legs like those my mate Dylan possesses are another thing altogether. Specially on a lady.

    It feels natural, particularly as a new cyclist, to pedal at close to our usual walking rate. As a general rule if you feel comfortable in a particular gear; downshift one click.
     
  9. OP
    OP
    Panter

    Panter Just call me Chris...

    Interesting points, thank you ;)

    I do have quite muscular legs, and I do get tired very quickly if I spin at a faster rate. I've also trashed the transmission on my bike in just 6 months.

    I need to up my cadence anyway as I obviously want to go as fast as possible on the road. Hopefully it'll help with my off road riding too. If not then I'll have to accept I'm a grinder ;)

    Ho hum, so much to learn. I really thought this cycling lark was just about leaping on a bike and riding about. Didn't realise there was so much to it. Mind you, didn't realise how expensive it was, or how addictive it is and totally didn't factor in that I'd want to start buying different types of bikes..............

    Cheers

    Chris :biggrin:
     
  10. Tynan

    Tynan Veteran

    Location:
    e4
    I'm a fairly recent convert to cadence after many many years of grinding along in big hard gears

    utterly convinced of the benefits, made me a proper decent cyclist, quicker, acceleration on tap and it feels much more natural

    after a period of it feeling unatural
     
  11. baggytrousers

    baggytrousers Well-Known Member

    Location:
    wirral
    I am big fan of a high cadence although high for me is around 80-90 I find I can keep this up far longer than I could pushing in a higher gear. I'm not interested in muscley legs - at my age (mid forties) I'm happier exercising my cadiovascular system and working my heart at a sustained level which I can maintain over a longer period of time.
     
  12. asterix

    asterix Comrade Member

    Location:
    Limoges or York
    I'd agree that if you have strong enough legs then it may be ok to grind up the hills and that your muscles will look after your joints. After all, how do weightlifters push such heavy loads without severe back injury?

    However a novice cyclist would still be well advised to spin a bit faster than seems natural in order to build muscle- eventually to be able to maintain such a cadence but in a much higher gear.

    This area is nothing but hills and a fast cadence is the way to go.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    Panter

    Panter Just call me Chris...

    Thanks guys, appreciated.

    I made a conscious effort to spin as much as I could on my commute today.

    It felt unatural and cost a few minutes longer but I'll stick with it and see how it goes.

    After all, I eventually want to be able to go as fast as I can ;)

    Cheers

    Chris ;)
     
  14. stevenb

    stevenb New Member

    Location:
    South Beds.
    I often find it depends on how I feel. But all the advise said here is great.
    yesterday I just couldn't get going as I'd had a coupla nights bad kip.
    I wanted to grind the lower gears but just couldn't....dropping down the next cog helped and in turn gave the stamina to get home comfortably.
    I'm still getting back into cycling so I don't want to push myself to destruction. I am trying both slower and higher cadence cycling methods and hoepfully will stick to the higher cadence as it does feel more natural to me. I have found I can climb hills so much faster and more powerfully than before. A slower cadence oftens ends up with me straining and getting cramp in my right calf muscle.

    Another reason to use a higher cadence at the moment for me is that I'm still awaiting my road bike to be delivered. I'm sure that when I ride it then my pedal efficiency will be improved through the road cycling I've been doing on my mtb. :biggrin: Well thats the theory anyway
     
  15. OP
    OP
    Panter

    Panter Just call me Chris...

    Thanks StevenB.

    I must admit its getting a bit easier :biggrin: