1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Is there an Ideal cadence for hills

    Yes I found articles in our forums but they do not answer my question. I am building up my strength and endurance using my gym spin bikes about 4 times a week for 10-20 mins each time. I vary my cadence from 90 to 100 and vary the resistance too from challenging to dying in one minute intervals. Sometimes I crank the resistance way up and off seat mash for 30 - 45 seconds too. But my question is What is a good cadence for say a section of hill climb and is say 1/2 mile long? I want to know I have a hill to climb and not dread the challenge and have the confidence to just drop a gear and go! Without dying and stopping to walk of course! Thanks! I do wear clip less on ascends and platform it going down.

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    Everyone is different....some stand and mash a big gear, others sit and spin. I usually spin. The only advice I can give for cadence is pick a gear you can stay "on top of".

  3. #3
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    Yes, there's an ideal cadence. Probably a few, depending on what you're doing. Other than climbing a hill of course. I don't know what yours is.

    For a half mile climb off-road, I'd probably do most of it in the saddle. I'd probably try to stay at my most comfortable/efficient cadence. For me, that'd be a bit above 90, but it's a little different for everyone.

    If you can substitute some real rides for some of your gym workouts, you'll probably get more better more faster.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    +1 ^^ Probably the most simple yet best answers you will find.

    Just to add some info, I'm more of a spinner like ghettocop. A buddy of mine encouraged me to try mashing up the hills and I gave it a try for 3 rides last week but it just didn't feel right to me and wore me out quicker while not going any faster. He seems to have the exact opposite happen to him, so just goes to show that what works for one person doesn't really mean much. *We're both riding comparable bikes, comparable sized (height/weight) and he's only about 5 minutes faster over a 10 mile loop so it's as close as you can get to apples to apples comparison.

    One thing I'd suggest is to try the same trails with the different approaches. Spin one day, mash another day, then try a combo of spinning/mashing. Most "natural" for me is to sit & spin through most of the climb and then shift down 1-2 gears when I'm within maybe 20-30 ft from the top then stand up and mash. More than anything it gets me up to speed a bit quicker once I'm done with the climb.

    GIve it a shot and do whatever works best.

  5. #5
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    Watch Tour de France time trial to see what cadence the pros use.
    Around 80 rpm plus minus 20 is about right for you.
    Have you heard of the test: If your lungs hurt, lower the rpm. If your legs hurt, raise the rpm.

  6. #6
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    Thanks guys. Just finished gym workout and did my spin. Great info but while spinning at 90, I pictured a hill I frequent and it may be too fast a cadence. Whith that said 100 is ridiculous for me to try a hill. BTW I only ride dirt. Like u guys mentioned, I need to ride more but honestly prefer only weekend runs. I spin at gym cause I'm pumping iron anyways and started spinning more to get into better riding shape.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbl_91762 View Post
    Yes I found articles in our forums but they do not answer my question. I am building up my strength and endurance using my gym spin bikes about 4 times a week for 10-20 mins each time. I vary my cadence from 90 to 100 and vary the resistance too from challenging to dying in one minute intervals. Sometimes I crank the resistance way up and off seat mash for 30 - 45 seconds too. But my question is What is a good cadence for say a section of hill climb and is say 1/2 mile long? I want to know I have a hill to climb and not dread the challenge and have the confidence to just drop a gear and go! Without dying and stopping to walk of course! Thanks! I do wear clip less on ascends and platform it going down.
    No there are many cadences that work well.

    One long climbs 1 hour plus (that is over 1500 vert ft for me)....I will vary my cadence and style of riding several times.

    It just gives the body a break.....check out the TdF the riders also vary things up as the go up the mountains.

  8. #8
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    It takes time to build up your cadence I usually do about 90-95 on the fireroad climb, 80-85 on singletrack and about 70 or lower on the tech climb with bigger gear. I try to climb at no more than 75% of my effort if not I'd risk bonking on the steeper part

    However when I switch to survival mode then it's granny gear and whatever rpm to keep me from walking.

  9. #9
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    left.......left.........left right left. to da left...... ROFL

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by beanbag View Post
    Have you heard of the test: If your lungs hurt, lower the rpm. If your legs hurt, raise the rpm.
    I've never heard that before, but that's what I've been doing as of late. Opposed to just suffering through it. Because once at the top I'm dead. Either legs or lungs are shot. Sometimes both. That's good advice!
    SS ==> Nut up or Shut up!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbl_91762 View Post
    Thanks guys. Just finished gym workout and did my spin. Great info but while spinning at 90, I pictured a hill I frequent and it may be too fast a cadence. Whith that said 100 is ridiculous for me to try a hill. BTW I only ride dirt. Like u guys mentioned, I need to ride more but honestly prefer only weekend runs. I spin at gym cause I'm pumping iron anyways and started spinning more to get into better riding shape.
    Doing a lot of low weight/high rep, especially for your legs, is supposed to help with being able to last a bit longer at really high power outputs. My level of desire to go to the gym and level of discipline weren't such that I did a lot of that this winter.

    90 is actually a somewhat low cadence for me. It's all relative. You definitely want to have a cadence of at least 90 available to you, though. So if you can't sustain it, keep practicing that. I'm not sure if your gym has the bikes with crappy seat adjustment and ridiculously wide Q-factor - one of the reasons I don't use the bikes at the gym - but if the bikes can actually fit you, it's a good thing to practice there. Otherwise, practice it on access roads or other parts of your ride that are just getting to the next good bit. Efficient pedaling is all about teaching one's muscles a certain pattern.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbl_91762 View Post
    Thanks guys. Just finished gym workout and did my spin. Great info but while spinning at 90, I pictured a hill I frequent and it may be too fast a cadence. Whith that said 100 is ridiculous for me to try a hill. BTW I only ride dirt. Like u guys mentioned, I need to ride more but honestly prefer only weekend runs. I spin at gym cause I'm pumping iron anyways and started spinning more to get into better riding shape.
    I do the gym 2-4 times a week. With a job and family I don't have time to haul the bike out and ride during the week, but I can drop by the gym and do 45 minuts on the bike on the way home from work.

    So for me I find that and idea pace is 90-95 rpm. Push that pace at the highest resistance I muster for 45 mintues at time. Per the bike it is telling me I am at 20-23 mph for the duration. However that bike dependant as each one has a differenet resistance level despite the same "level setting". Anyway at this cadence I can maximize my speed. If I push the resistance higher my cadence slows and I go slower. If I drop the resistance to spin faster I am just going in circles and not going at a faster ground speed. This cadence also translates in to a confortable pace on my mointain bike. I try to match this cadence/resistance on my trail riding on both flats and up hills. This where the gears come in and watching my speed on the bike computer. I don't have a candence meter on my bike, but I can get it about right by feel. Plus cadence on mountain bike is a short lived deal as terrain will impact cadence and resistance quite a bit too.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbl_91762 View Post
    But my question is What is a good cadence for say a section of hill climb and is say 1/2 mile long? I want to know I have a hill to climb and not dread the challenge and have the confidence to just drop a gear and go! Without dying and stopping to walk of course! Thanks! I do wear clip less on ascends and platform it going down.
    Unless you have perfect, evenly graded trails, I don't think spin class translates all that well - you can't just lock into a gear and cadence and go for a 1/2 hour. Most of my climbs vary in grade, have short steep sections mixed in with less steep portions, technical rocks or roots I have to get over, etc. As a result, I'm shifting gears, varying cadences, etc. frequently on a 1/2 hr climb. Which is what makes it a lot more fun than riding a spin bike!

    IMO, you have to focus more on what works to get you up the climb. Don't worry about picking the right gear, cadence from the start. Just start riding and you'll figure out what works!

    Good luck!
    '11 Specialized Enduro Expert for the trails
    '13 Felt Z4 for the road

  14. #14
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    I realize that a stationary bike is not the same as real thing so that's why I vary tension every minute. I try to imagine a local trail and try to adjust to it. I figure pushing the legs and lungs a few days is better then not. I can't wait to see how I feel this Weekends run and expect a difference. I wish I could do even light leg workouts but a bad back kills anymore leg workouts.

  15. #15
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    Has anyone else seen the Expresso bikes?

    My gym has them. There much better than your standard exercise bike. Seat is height adjustable, and moves forward and back slightly, pedals have toe clips and straps, handlebars move side to side, and it has shifters. Has a virtual reality TV on the front of it and you pick a course and ride it. Resistance is constantly changing as you go uphill and downhill, and cycle through the gears. When the trail turns, you turn the bars to follow. If you set up a profile for yourself, you can repeat the same course over and over, and see a "ghost" of each of your previous rides, to compare.

    The one thing I hate... if you stop pedaling, no coast. Thing basically stops dead. Even going downhill. Makes it tougher.

    *I have no affiliation with that company, just a neat thing I've used at my gym numerous times.

  16. #16
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by beanbag View Post
    Have you heard of the test: If your lungs hurt, lower the rpm. If your legs hurt, raise the rpm.
    Never heard that before. I like it.

    Quote Originally Posted by millargeo View Post
    Has anyone else seen the Expresso bikes?
    Ya, we have those here. Pretty cool.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbl_91762 View Post
    I realize that a stationary bike is not the same as real thing so that's why I vary tension every minute. I try to imagine a local trail and try to adjust to it. I figure pushing the legs and lungs a few days is better then not. I can't wait to see how I feel this Weekends run and expect a difference. I wish I could do even light leg workouts but a bad back kills anymore leg workouts.
    Don't bother trying to use a stationary bike to train for mtb cadence. It will not work. What the stationary bike does for you is to increase your base fitness and leg strength. If you can increase your aerobic capacity and leg strength you will be in better shape to handle the terrain on a mtb. The more fit you are the better you can ride the trails. That is what gym is for basic fitness training.
    Joe
    2003 KHS Alite 4000 26" Hardtail - XC, All mountain, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  19. #19
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    Whatever cadence you can do to get up the hill without your heart exploding is ideal.......

  20. #20
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    For a gym bike, I'd vary between 70 rpm and 90 rpm. You are already varying loads, so I'd keep doing that. I have to say, though, that I have not used a gym bike in some time. I do know that 60 RPM is long distance cadence for most. You aren't going to be on the gym bike long enough for that to be exercise.

    The previous poster pointed out that spinning is not the same as riding a MTB. That is certainly true, so expect sore muscles when you switch out to an actual bike, even if you are fitter overall.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavyRay View Post
    I do know that 60 RPM is long distance cadence for most. You aren't going to be on the gym bike long enough for that to be exercise.
    Not for me. My cruising cadence is somewhere north of 90. Probably on the MTB too.

    60 feels way low to me.

    Someone finally got around to studying it. Actually a few people. Here's an overview.
    Optimal Cadence: What's Right for You? | Active.com
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  22. #22
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    The human body is a lot like a car engine - in order to make power, you need the rpms. More rpms = more power.

    As a vague rule of thumb, for sprints or attacks, you usually go 110+ rpm
    For sustained moderate-high exertion, it's maybe 90 +-15 depending on personal physiology
    For more leisurely cruising, maybe around 60

    To find out what works best for you, you really do need a heart rate monitor, rpm and power meters.

    Yesterday I did a time attack / trial up a hill near me, which is 1400 feet in 30 minutes. I don't have any rpm or heart rate meters or anything, but I would guess I averaged about 90% exertion, or where you have to take deep breaths.

    Since I don't have any of those meters, plus I am not a particularly well-tuned machine, I just mixed up the cadence vs torque output to shift back and forth between lungs hurt vs legs hurt. I averaged maybe around 80-90 rpm, but moved around a lot to make different parts hurt. For example, if there was a temporary increase in grade, I kept the same gear and just let the rpms drop a bit and pushed a little harder on the pedals. Likewise, if there was a temporary flattening out, I just let the rpms rise. Sometimes sit forwards on the seat, sometimes scoot back. Sometimes make an effort to pull up on the pedals, sometimes not. Sometimes just stand up and mash. Sometimes on the bar-ends and sometimes sitting in a very upright leisurely manner with just my fingertips on the handlebars. etc. I figure this is more interesting than feeling a constant pain all over.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Not for me. My cruising cadence is somewhere north of 90. Probably on the MTB too.

    60 feels way low to me.

    Someone finally got around to studying it. Actually a few people. Here's an overview.
    Optimal Cadence: What's Right for You? | Active.com
    Good reading. Thanks.

  24. #24
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    Well after my weekend ride, I'd honestly have to say my exercise in the gym is not enough like most suggest. But it did help with my strength cause I am able to climb without too much leg burn and I am not sore after rides. I realized too that altitude kills me too. For me I need to work on cardio much more so iI'm not sucking wind too much.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbl_91762 View Post
    Well after my weekend ride, I'd honestly have to say my exercise in the gym is not enough like most suggest. But it did help with my strength cause I am able to climb without too much leg burn and I am not sore after rides. I realized too that altitude kills me too. For me I need to work on cardio much more so iI'm not sucking wind too much.



    High cadence is aerobic and is good for your cardio. Low cadence tends to be anerobic and does not do anything for cardio. Does help leg strength though.

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