Maximum cadence and preferred cadence
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  1. #1
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    Maximum cadence and preferred cadence

    Hi everyone

    Iím a jogger, but Iíve hurt my knee. So cycling is something Iím just getting into now, nothing serious yet. Anyways, I am interested in the relationship between pedal rates and fatigue. Iíd thought Iíd ask some experts!

    For racing on flat ground everyone has a preferred gear. While in this gear, letís assume there is no wind and you are racing to 200m in a straight line.

    I would be interested in finding out your maximum RPM achieved in these conditions, even if itís just for a second. Next, while in the SAME gear, what is your preferred RPM over much longer distances (e.g. a few miles plus)? Or do you prefer to use a different gear?

    Hope to get some replies.

  2. #2
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    Spinning in a low gear is much better than high gear for your knees. Average cadence preferred is in 85-95 range. In an all out sprint I'd hit 140-150 rpm.

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    I would be interested in finding out your maximum RPM achieved in these conditions, even if itís just for a second. Next, while in the SAME gear, what is your preferred RPM over much longer distances (e.g. a few miles plus)? Or do you prefer to use a different gear?
    The "same gear" part of your question doesn't make sense. You don't pick a gear and then pick a cadence, because the combination might put you at a speed that's slower than you want to go, or faster than you CAN go (how fast you can go is a function of the power you can produce, as well as slope, wind, etc).

    Instead, if you have a preferred cadence, you shift to achieve it at the speed you want to go at that moment.

    Most road riders settle in to that 85-95 range. Some people like to mash a bigger gear at slower cadence, some spin even faster, but mostly it's that range.

    As for max cadence, I have gotten around 150 descending on a fixed-gear, but that's not an efficient cadence generally. I'm a little skeptical of Upnorth's claim of 140-150 rpm sprints, unless he's talking about the track where your gear is limited, or chasing a very fast group down a steep descent. In the common 53x11 high gear, 140 rpm is well over 50 mph. If he can sprint that fast on a flat, he should be out there beating Mark Cavendish.

    I am interested in the relationship between pedal rates and fatigue.
    The general rule is this: spin. Most people new to cycling use too low a cadence (too high a gear). It takes some practice to train the muscles to turn the pedals at 100 rpm smoothly and comfortably. But it's worth it. Higher cadences will generally mean less fatigue, and also less stress on the joints (especially important since you have a knee problem).
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    Like JCavila, I believe in using whatever gear keeps my cadence in my preferred range, which is 85-95. If I get above 110 I get a little bouncy in the saddle. When I was younger and dabbling in racing I could only afford one bike, which was a Reynolds 531 tubed touring bike built up with a high gear of 48x14. Once the pack exceeded 34mph I would get dropped. I did the math (oh, so long ago) and figured that I was spinning out at 140rpm to hit 34mph in that gear. I just started using a cadence computer this year and the highest cadence I have hit with it is 122 - and I am not trying to achieve a super high cadence. I am merely trying to ride within a comfortable pace for my body and knees.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCavilia View Post
    The "same gear" part of your question doesn't make sense. You don't pick a gear and then pick a cadence, because the combination might put you at a speed that's slower than you want to go, or faster than you CAN go (how fast you can go is a function of the power you can produce, as well as slope, wind, etc).

    Instead, if you have a preferred cadence, you shift to achieve it at the speed you want to go at that moment.

    Most road riders settle in to that 85-95 range. Some people like to mash a bigger gear at slower cadence, some spin even faster, but mostly it's that range.

    As for max cadence, I have gotten around 150 descending on a fixed-gear, but that's not an efficient cadence generally. I'm a little skeptical of Upnorth's claim of 140-150 rpm sprints, unless he's talking about the track where your gear is limited, or chasing a very fast group down a steep descent. In the common 53x11 high gear, 140 rpm is well over 50 mph. If he can sprint that fast on a flat, he should be out there beating Mark Cavendish.


    The general rule is this: spin. Most people new to cycling use too low a cadence (too high a gear). It takes some practice to train the muscles to turn the pedals at 100 rpm smoothly and comfortably. But it's worth it. Higher cadences will generally mean less fatigue, and also less stress on the joints (especially important since you have a knee problem).

    I never claimed to be in 53/11 during that sprint - when i do intervals my Garmin say 140 -150 rpm and I'm in the 39/11 more like it. No worry about me racing Cavendish.

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    I have a preferred cadence and use the gear that allows me to maintain that cadence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warrior View Post
    Hi everyone

    Iím a jogger, but Iíve hurt my knee. So cycling is something Iím just getting into now, nothing serious yet. Anyways, I am interested in the relationship between pedal rates and fatigue. Iíd thought Iíd ask some experts!

    For racing on flat ground everyone has a preferred gear. While in this gear, letís assume there is no wind and you are racing to 200m in a straight line.

    I would be interested in finding out your maximum RPM achieved in these conditions, even if itís just for a second. Next, while in the SAME gear, what is your preferred RPM over much longer distances (e.g. a few miles plus)? Or do you prefer to use a different gear?

    Hope to get some replies.
    200m is a sprint. I'd probably hit 130+ standing up.

    Normally I ride between 85-110, though the bulk of that is probably between 90-100. When I'm going hard I tend to either go below 90 or above 100 depending on the effort.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Upnorth View Post
    I never claimed to be in 53/11 during that sprint - when i do intervals my Garmin say 140 -150 rpm and I'm in the 39/11 more like it. No worry about me racing Cavendish.
    Got it. Do you find the high-cadence intervals helpful? When I do intervals I try to put out maximum power at useful cadences, which means not much more than 110, usually. I guess I get my mad spin workouts on the fixie.


    BTW, I hope that gear you're using is the 53x15, rather than the nasty crosschained 39x11 (same ratio) ;-)

    And even in that lower gear, 150 rpm is still over 40 mph, which is still impressive. What I mean is, I can't do that, and never could even when I was young.
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    Cross-chaining depends upon the bike. The new Treks have such a wide bottom bracket that being in the small-small is no big deal, though you don't ever want to be in big-big or even big-second biggest.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCavilia View Post
    BTW, I hope that gear you're using is the 53x15, rather than the nasty crosschained 39x11 (same ratio) ;-)

    And even in that lower gear, 150 rpm is still over 40 mph, which is still impressive. What I mean is, I can't do that, and never could even when I was young.
    Many good sprinters hit 130-140 in a max sprint. You can sprint in a 53x17 if you want. Doesn't really matter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bradkay View Post
    Cross-chaining depends upon the bike. The new Treks have such a wide bottom bracket that being in the small-small is no big deal, though you don't ever want to be in big-big or even big-second biggest.
    Nope. It is a big deal because the chain is crazy out of whack. It's the chain that gets jacked up over time, even if it's not rubbing derailleurs.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jajichan View Post
    Nope. It is a big deal because the chain is crazy out of whack. It's the chain that gets jacked up over time, even if it's not rubbing derailleurs.
    So what is the big deal? I cross chain all the time. And get thousands of miles out of a chain. Never broke one either.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bradkay View Post
    Cross-chaining depends upon the bike. The new Treks have such a wide bottom bracket that being in the small-small is no big deal, though you don't ever want to be in big-big or even big-second biggest.
    Wrong, the Treks feature a BB90, which uses a standard spindle length. Therefore, the chainline is the same as any standard bike (i.e. cross chaining is still not recommended)

    The actual width of the BB is wider just because they changed to pressed bearings and made the BB extend to where the old threaded-external BB would be. It is effectively the same q-factor and chainline as a regular Shimano external BB setup.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bradkay View Post
    Cross-chaining depends upon the bike. The new Treks have such a wide bottom bracket that being in the small-small is no big deal, though you don't ever want to be in big-big or even big-second biggest.
    Sorry, but you're confused about a few things here.
    1) The width of the bottom bracket has nothing do w/ cross chaining at all. The chainrings are always in the same place give or take a mm or 2. It's referred to as 'chain line' and it doesn't change much if at all between bikes.
    2) Small/small is not a good gear to be in for various reasons. Very little tension on the chain and since you're in the 2 smallest gears on the bike the chain bounces off the chain stay more easily. If you want to shift to a slightly higher gear ratio you have to shift up to the big ring and also back up a bunch of cogs or you're way over geared.
    3) Big/big is designed to work just fine on all modern drivetrains and makes much more sense than small/small. You can cross chain big/big any time you want but I wouldn't make a habit of riding in for extended periods of time as it doesn't make sense in the long run.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    So what is the big deal? I cross chain all the time. And get thousands of miles out of a chain. Never broke one either.
    I don't cross-chain "all the time", but it's no big deal, either. I've had plenty of occasions when I was riding fully cross-chained without even noticing, until I tried to shift to that cog 12, or 0. cxwrench gives a great summary above.

    To give a straight answer to the OP's question, my preferred "cruising RPM" is about 95, sprinting hard and effectively in the flats is somewhere between 110-120. I can spin faster (topping out around 130-140 or so), but then power output starts dropping.

  16. #16
    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pirx View Post
    I don't cross-chain "all the time",
    By "all the time" I meant regularly, like on pretty much every ride at multiple times. Not literally single-speeding it in a cross chained ratio.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    So what is the big deal? I cross chain all the time. And get thousands of miles out of a chain. Never broke one either.
    You can ride with your brakes rubbing or your wheels out of true as well and still get thousands of miles out of them.

    Doesn't mean it's a good idea.

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    tlg
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    Quote Originally Posted by jajichan View Post
    Doesn't mean it's a good idea.
    Please explain... what is the big deal?
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    Please explain... what is the big deal?
    Increased friction, increased wear, loss of watts.

    Probably not a big deal to most. I simply repeated the big deal part in my reply to the poster who initially said it.

    So how much of a big deal can you make out of me saying "big deal"? So far you're doing well.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jajichan View Post
    Increased friction, increased wear, loss of watts.

    Probably not a big deal to most. I simply repeated the big deal part in my reply to the poster who initially said it.
    No, you specifically bolded is to emphasis how big a deal it is. When it reality it isn't.
    I've got over 4k miles on my chain with no measureable wear. Not a big deal.
    Loss of watts? How big a deal is that?
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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    No, you specifically bolded is to emphasis how big a deal it is. When it reality it isn't.
    I've got over 4k miles on my chain with no measureable wear. Not a big deal.
    Loss of watts? How big a deal is that?
    I bolded is. Not "big deal". Because I replied to a post to the contrary. Again, the only "big deal" at this point is your arguing over my repeating the phrase.

    Loss of watts? Probably not important to you at all. But when you start pushing over triple digits, even small gains can be hard to come by.

    Hahaha. That's a joke. Sort of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jajichan View Post
    200m is a sprint. I'd probably hit 130+ standing up.

    Normally I ride between 85-110, though the bulk of that is probably between 90-100. When I'm going hard I tend to either go below 90 or above 100 depending on the effort.
    130 standing? I'd like to see video of that.
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    I prefer to be in the 90-95 range. Anything @ 85 or under and I feel like I am mashing. At 105 or higher I start to bounce . Pretty amazing that you guys can hit 140ish (regardless of the gear you are in).

    I road without a cadence meter for the first 2 months of riding. The first day I put on the cadence meter I road as I normally would have. I was regularly in the 65-70 rpm area. In the two months since getting the cadence meter, the transformation happened quickly. Now, even when my concentration wanders, my cadence is still close to 90. If I could only keep that cadence with large gearing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tlg View Post
    Loss of watts? How big a deal is that?
    Tony Martin rolled a 58 tooth chainring in the World's TT. Do you think he did that because he was afraid of spinning out?

    He still lost, but that's not always the case. Keeping that chain in a straight-line is free speed, even if you don't care.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by jajichan View Post
    I bolded is. Not "big deal". Because I replied to a post to the contrary. Again, the only "big deal" at this point is your arguing over my repeating the phrase.

    Loss of watts? Probably not important to you at all. But when you start pushing over triple digits, even small gains can be hard to come by.

    Hahaha. That's a joke. Sort of.
    'Pushing over triple digits'? In what? Cadence? Watts? IQ?
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