Cadence (cycling)

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Sigma Sport BC 1606L Cyclocomputer displaying cadence

In cycling, cadence (or pedalling rate) is the number of revolutions of the crank per minute; this is the rate at which a cyclist is pedalling/turning the pedals. Cadence is directly proportional to wheel speed, but is a distinct measurement and changes with gearing—which determines the ratio of crank rpm to wheel rpm.

Cyclists typically have a cadence at which they feel most comfortable, and on bicycles with many gears it is possible to maintain a preferred cadence at a wide range of speeds. Recreational and utility cyclists typically cycle around 60–80 rpm. According to cadence measurement of seven professional cyclists during three-week races they cycle about 90 rpm during flat and long (~190 km) group stages and individual time trials of ∼50 km. During ∼15 km uphill cycling on high mountain passes they cycle about 70 rpm.[1] Cyclists choose cadence to minimise muscular fatigue, and not metabolic demand, since oxygen consumption is lower at cadences 60-70 rpm.[2]

While fast cadence is also referred to as "spinning", slow cadence is referred to as "mashing" or "grinding".

Any particular cyclist has only a narrow range of preferred cadences, often smaller than the general ranges listed above. This in turn influences the number and range of gears which are appropriate for any particular cycling conditions.[3]

Certain cyclocomputers are able to measure cadence, and relay the reading to the cyclist via a display, typically mounted on the bicycle's handlebars.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lucía, A.; Hoyos, J. & Chicarro, J. L. (August 2001). "Preferred pedaling cadence in professional cycling". Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 33 (8): 1361–1366. CiteSeerX doi:10.1097/00005768-200108000-00018. PMID 11474339.
  2. ^ Abbiss, C.R.; Peiffer, J.J.; Laursen, P.B (2009). "Optimal cadence selection during cycling". International SportMed Journal.
  3. ^ Kifer, Ken. "Cycling Cadence and Bicycle Gearing". Archived from the original on 2012-02-04. Retrieved 2009-05-03.

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