How to Determine Optimum Cadence?

Krank
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How to Determine Optimum Cadence?

Postby Krank » Sun Oct 09, 2016 4:01 pm

Hello all.

As you know, engines have torque curves - where torque increases with rpm gets to a maximum and then decreases. The peak of this curve is the most efficient rpm for the engine and returns the best fuel economy - typically 3000-4000 rpm for a car, depending on the engine design.

We humans have a similar, peakier curve where we have an rpm range for maximum efficiency; however I understand that, most people tend to ride below this. Research has shown that the maximum efficiency cadence is typically between 85 - 100 rpm, with less experienced riders doing something like 60-70 RPM.

How do I determine my optimum cadence at the peak of my power curve for - (i) Optimal cadence for flats and (ii) Optimal cadence for hills?

What does optimum cadence mean?

I do understand that optimal cadence is a personal thing, and will change as fitness levels change.


Krank
Last edited by Krank on Sun Oct 09, 2016 5:19 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Derny Driver
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Re: How to Determine Optimum Cadence?

Postby Derny Driver » Sun Oct 09, 2016 4:15 pm

I think your hypothesis is flawed

Krank
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Re: How to Determine Optimum Cadence?

Postby Krank » Sun Oct 09, 2016 4:25 pm

Thanks Derny Driver.

Could you share what the flaws are and possibly advise how optimum cadence is determined?


Krank

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ft_critical
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Re: How to Determine Optimum Cadence?

Postby ft_critical » Sun Oct 09, 2016 8:13 pm

Cadence is meaningless unless your have your pedalling technique sorted.

g-boaf
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Re: How to Determine Optimum Cadence?

Postby g-boaf » Mon Oct 10, 2016 8:12 am

Krank wrote:with less experienced riders doing something like 60-70 RPM.


Oh really? There were certainly pro riders who would steam-roll a big gear. It just depends on what you are used to doing.

Nobody
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Re: How to Determine Optimum Cadence?

Postby Nobody » Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:30 am

Krank wrote:The peak of this curve is the most efficient rpm for the engine and returns the best fuel economy - typically 3000-4000 rpm for a car, depending on the engine design.

Best fuel_economy_for_power_produced in petrol powered cars is typically around 2000 rpm.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brake_spe ... _statistic
Last edited by Nobody on Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:02 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Marx
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Re: How to Determine Optimum Cadence?

Postby Marx » Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:50 am

Buy/install a power meter.
Wonder no more.
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g-boaf
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Re: How to Determine Optimum Cadence?

Postby g-boaf » Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:32 am

Marx wrote:Buy/install a power meter.
Wonder no more.


Indeed. Do 60 minutes flat out at 60rpm. Then next week, do 60 minutes flat out at 70rpm. Then following week, 80rpm, then 90, then 100, then 110rpm. And give us an RPE for each one too.

And after that, the findings can be presented here with graphs showing HR drift, power, cadence, etc. :twisted:

That should keep the OP busy for a while. ;)

Calvin27
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Re: How to Determine Optimum Cadence?

Postby Calvin27 » Tue Oct 11, 2016 2:00 am

1. Car analogy is wrong. A car uses fuel only, humans are more like dual fuel. Optimum cadence at full charge and booking will vary.
2. Human physiology is complex. Some riders are limited by heart, lung capacity. Others, especially beginners will feel the lactic burn before anything else. That's why we have threshold power, threshold hr, lactic threshold etc. All different.
3. Wrt the comment about cars being most efficient at 2000rpm. It's only true because we have speed limits that mean the car can't use full power. Maximum thermal efficiency occurs at peak torque, which is usually peak power. The reason why this doesn't correspond to peak efficiency is because you are not using all the power.
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Alex Simmons/RST
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Re: How to Determine Optimum Cadence?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Tue Oct 11, 2016 8:18 am

There is no such thing as an optimum cadence. Analogies with internal combustion engines are not valid. Human physiology means that pedal velocity is not a variable that is independent of pedal forces.

IOW cadence is not something we can independently control. Cadence is an outcome of two things we can control, being i. gearing choice and ii. effort level (power) and those factors we mostly can't control, i.e. external resistance factors such as air resistance, gravity, rolling resistance etc.

IOW you don't choose to ride at a cadence, you choose to ride at a given effort level and gear. Thinking cadence is something one can optimise is one of the great cycling myths.

Why doesn't anyone ask "what's the optimal pedalling torque?"? (The answer to the quoted question would be the same BTW).

Not sure what research you read. In terms of efficiency, the highest efficiency is typically attained at cadences lower than what most people ride at. Cycling isn't typically a fuel economy drive in any case.

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ft_critical
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Re: How to Determine Optimum Cadence?

Postby ft_critical » Tue Oct 11, 2016 4:53 pm

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:IOW you don't choose to ride at a cadence, you choose to ride at a given effort level and gear. Thinking cadence is something one can optimise is one of the great cycling myths.


I think, with practice, you are getting better at answering this question.

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Derny Driver
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Re: How to Determine Optimum Cadence?

Postby Derny Driver » Tue Oct 11, 2016 5:08 pm

Thank you everyone.
This thread, like all the other cadence threads, is now CLOSED.

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