What is cadence in road cycling, and why does it matter?

Pumping pedals!

Cadence, in simple terms, is the rate at which you pedal. Basically, the rpm (revolutions per minute) of your pedals. It is a key measurement because it’s a vital component of the power you generate on the bike.

To measure this, you could buy a cadence sensor or simply count the number of times you push your right pedal in 15 seconds and multiply by 4.

But why should we know our cadence, and why is it so important to cycling?

Avoid injury

It's good to bear in mind that riding at a lower cadence typically puts more strain on your muscles, while a higher cadence shifts the load more to your cardiovascular system.

Too fast a cadence and you could find your pelvis rocking, which could lower pedalling efficiency and even cause back problems. in some cases. You'll also probably get tired quickly.

Tune your own cadence to ride more efficiently

So if you find yourself getting out of breath, try reducing your cadence. If you feel your legs burning more than usual, your cadence could be too low, so probably time to change down a gear to let those legs recover.

Reach cadence nirvana

Cadence is a somewhat personal thing as everyone has a different fitness and body type, so finding a nice balance between power and endurance and trying to stick to the same cadence no matter how fast you are cycling can be a good place to start. A common cadence in road cycling is somewhere in the range of 70–90 rpm.

Measure your cadence regularly and make a mental note of how you feel at different cadences during different types of riding. Grinding climbs or long flat endurance rides.

Consciously varying cadence during different riding conditions will let you focus in on the 'correct' cadence for you. It will feel "natural".

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