A “magic number” may not truly exist, but there’s a wide consensus that a consistent cadence around 90 rpm can help you avoid leg fatigue and, in turn, run easier off the bike. Similar to race nutrition, bike cadence is a personal style and skill.
“What works for Lance Armstrong (super high cadence) or Chrissie Wellington (low cadence) may or may not work for you,” says Jared Gell, the head coach of Competitive Instinct Multisport and director of retail at Pacific Swim Bike Run in Stamford, Conn. “But practicing riding at a higher than normal cadence does help your pedal stroke become more efficient. Ultimately, even if you continue to ride at 65 rpm, the increase in efficiency will allow you to ride faster using less energy.”
How to Measure Cadence
Basic: Count how many times your right knee comes up in 30 seconds. Double it.
Middle: Keep track with a simple bike computer that includes a cadence sensor.
Advanced: Use a CompuTrainer combined with SpinScan technology to show your output throughout a full pedal stroke.
Get started with these two workouts that will help increase your max rpm. Aim to have equal pressure for the entire 360 degrees of your pedal stroke, and don’t let your more powerful muscles (glutes) plus gravity create a “woosh” sound on the downstroke.