Optimal cadance

What’s your optimal cadance? The going wisdom from trainers seems to be ‘higher is better’ with CTS reccomending 100rpm. But the literature in the journals suggest that may not be the only optimal scenario.

Some geeky articles below on cadence:

Determining optimal cadence for an individual road cyclist from field data – proposes taking 6 month of power, cadence and Heart rate data into account to determine optimal pedal cadence.

Effects Of Cadence on Aerobic Capacity Following a Prolonged, Varied Intensity Cycling Trial

Javier, Chavarren & Calbet, Jose. (1999). Cycling efficiency and pedaling frequency in road cyclists. European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology. 80. 555-63.10.1007/s004210050634.


. 2011 Dec; 111(12): 2885–2893.
Ergonomics, Volume 20, 1977 – Issue 5

Published Online: 25 Apr 2007

. 2011 Dec; 111(12): 2885–2893.
Published online 2011 Mar 25. doi:  10.1007/s00421-011-1914-3
PMCID: PMC3218268
PMID: 21437606

The relationship between cadence, pedalling technique and gross efficiency in cycling

“In conclusion, energy expenditure is strongly coupled to cadence, but force effectiveness, as a measure for pedalling technique, is not likely the cause of this relationship. Along with other studies (Kautz and Hull ; Ettema et al. ; Lorås et al. ), we are inclined to conclude that FE is mostly affected by inertial forces, and thus the value of this parameter as a measure for technique should be questioned. “


Cycling efficiency and pedaling frequency in road cyclists –

Key Points from above

  • “When competitive cyclists perform prolonged exercise that simulates racing conditions (i.e., variable, low-moderate submaximal cycling), a higher cadence results in excess energy expenditure and lower gross efficiency compared to a lower cadence at the same power output.
  • Consequently, maximal power output is reduced during a subsequent exercise bout to exhaustion after using a higher cadence.
  • Selection of a lower, more energetically optimal cadence during prolonged cycling exercise may allow competitive cyclists to enhance maximal performance later in a race.”


pop article that says:”shoot for 80″



the vaic takeaway is that work done in cycling can be best measured as Gross Effeciency: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/24027428_Efficiency_in_cycling_A_review

We focus on the effect of cadence and work rate on energy expenditure and efficiency in cycling, and present arguments to support the contention that gross efficiency can be considered to be the most relevant expression of efficiency. A linear relationship between work rate and energy expenditure appears to be a rather consistent outcome among the various studies considered in this review, irrespective of subject performance level. This relationship is an example of the Fenn effect, described more than 80 years ago for muscle contraction. About 91% of all variance in energy expenditure can be explained by work rate, with only about 10% being explained by cadence. Gross efficiency is strongly dependent on work rate, mainly because of the diminishing effect of the (zero work-rate) base-line energy expenditure with increasing work rate. The finding that elite athletes have a higher gross efficiency than lower-level performers may largely be explained by this phenomenon. However, no firm conclusions can be drawn about the energetically optimal cadence for cycling because of the multiple factors associated with cadence that affect energy expenditure.
Efficiency in cycling: A review (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/24027428_Efficiency_in_cycling_A_review [accessed May 28 2018].

pedal measurementrs


clipless only

another one