Question about cadence

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Anonymous's picture

"I have a question about cadence. I know that ""it's better"" to spin at 90+ rpm...but I feel more comfortable at around 85. When I lower the gears and edge toward 90, I start to feel that I'm spinning out a bit and can't control my pedaling as well. Any thoughts?

I have a knee issue so I imagine it would put less pressure on my knee to spin faster, but I'm having a hard time doing it."

Anonymous's picture
Ted (not verified)
Do what feels good

As Peter Matusewitch pointed out at the monthly meeting, there isn't really a proven best cadence. Lance wins with 100+, but Riis (and Indurain) used lower cadences to decimate people, especially on big climbs.

That withstanding, I agree that the best way to increase your cadence (if you think it will be better for your knees) is practice at the higher rate, and it will slowly become more natural. I use to spin close to 80, but with spring focus on spinning two year ago, I now feel most natural in the low 90s.

Also, in relation to the knee issue and the other thread about gearing: It takes low gears to spin in the 90s on the hills, unless you are very strong. I find most average riders can survive slogging up hills in the 60-70 rpm range with normal gearing, but to really spin takes a large rear cluster and a compact or triple.

Anonymous's picture
Smiley (not verified)

What? 85 only, not 90!
If I were you, I would stop riding right away!
You'll never spin like Lance!

P.S.: You can keep riding. First, relax, don't worry, you're not the only one! If your knee is not strong, avoid two things that seem contradictory : pushing too hard on a very hard gear (that's why it's good to learn to spin) and spinning without control. Like other bike skills, this one (spinning properly) can be acquired: practice!
You need to produce a smooth, coordinated movement. Also, different muscles react differently to different cadences.
With practice, your muscles will get used to spinning. After spinning at 120 rpm, you'll find that 90-95 is not too fast.
You mentioned the knee, but others can have problems with the hip too, not to mention the ankle (a greater cadence is not recommended if you have ankle problems, but then pushing a hard gear is bad too).
One last thing: relax!

Anonymous's picture
Bob Shay (not verified)

"Make sure your seat is at the right height and your crank arms are the proper length for you. If you haven't already, you may want to stop by a LBS and make sure your bike is fitted properly. A sign that your bike isn't fitted right is that you will ""bounce around"" slightly on the seat at a cadence between 90 to 100.

It will feel like you are a little out of control.


Anonymous's picture
Peter Brevett (not verified)

It's something that you need to practice to get comfortable with. Try spinning faster at low speed and increase your cadence gradually. When you feel o.k. at 100 RPM, try it at a higher speed. I generally spin around 100 RPM and do not feel like I am spinning out until I am close to 110 RPM.

Anonymous's picture
JM (not verified)

Check out some rollers or really pay attention to your pedal stroke on the flats - you will learn to spin at 120+ easily. Then when you ride, you can choose whatever cadence feels best (you will w/o thinking). Right now your pedal stroke is probably what makes it feel out of control above 90 rpm.

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
Worth Reading
Anonymous's picture
Smiley (not verified)
The good cadence for you today is the one that you prefer, but..

that does not mean you should not train to reach a higher cadence than 85 (95 for example). But, according to some scientific research, trained cyclists who were asked to increase by 15% their preferred cadence could not sustain the effort as long.
One should not try to reach a very high cadence just for the sake of it.
PS. Relax!

Nesi X et al. Effect of a 15% increase in preferred pedal rate on time to exhaustion during heavy exercise.Can J Appl Physiol 2004; 29(2):146-56.

Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)

While this article points to some relative differences of pronounced cadence differential, it does not address any aspects of intentionally training to increase one's cadence simply because to do so. It merely suggests that to a point, under isopower conditions, a high cadence is more sustainable than a lower one, but this highly variable depending upon individual physiology.

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