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cadence(3 posts)

May 27, 2002 5:57 AM
what is the ideal cadence?? does it matter the length of your crank? for example..if you have cadence of 90 with 170 crank is that equal to 80 with a 172.5 crank?? and how do you know if you have the right crank length?? i have 1 30" inseam and am using a 172.5 crank. i try to spin at 80rpm no matter where i am going..if i pedalabove 85 i go up a gear. is this the proper way to do it?
re: crank arm length, cadence **long**Old_school_nik
May 27, 2002 6:14 AM

As far as Crank arm length
the short answer is that it does matter, the tough part is figuring out the right length for your own riding style and bike. This link has more than you could ever want to know about crank arm length decisions:

As far as Cadence, or rpms - that is much more personal a decision. Often you hear people refer to their riding styles as either being a "spinner" - very high rotations maybe high 90's to low 100's or a "masher" gig gears and low rpm's like the 80's you say you use.

My experience as an exercise physiologist tells me that usually riders with smaller builds, less weight, thin limbs tend to do well at higher rpms and larger riders with a lot of muscle mass seem to fare well pushing bigger gears- but it is still very personal.

Recently, possibly due to Lance's success in the tour climbs, higher rpm's (over 100) has made a real comeback in popularity, especially climbing.

My final suggestion is that you try and determine which style seems to leave you with a lower heart rate - of course if you have been doing 80 rpms for a while you have a training effect at that level.

Anyway, maybe pick up Carmichal's book,

Cadence vs. crank lengthKerry
May 27, 2002 5:30 PM
Every increment of crank length is about 2-3 rpm. Going from 170 to 175 is about 5 rpm. Spinning is more physiologically efficient, all else equal. It is also something you have to practice - you can't say "I can't spin" unless you have spent some serious time working on it, day after day over a season or two. The primary disadvantages to low cadence like you use are 1) harder to accelerate quickly starting from a lower cadence, 2) you'll have less left late in a ride, 3) risk of knee problems, and 4) you have less "turndown ratio" in your gears. If your total range of cadence is 50-60 up a steep hill to 80 on the flats, you need to have a wider range of gears to get you everywhere you want to go. If you can comfortably spin up to 110, then you can go 35 in a 53/13. If 80 is your comfortable cadence, you need a 53/11 to just go 30.