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What Is a Good Cadence for Cycling?

calendar icon January 9, 2023
calendar icon 5 MINS
author icon matthewmace

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The answer may surprise you… choosing a good cadence is a little more complicated than it looks.

Do you find yourself either grinding up a climb or spinning so fast that you can’t put enough power through the pedals? If this sounds familiar, then you could be using the wrong cadence on the bike.

Naturally, we all have preferred cadences — you may feel more comfortable adopting a low cadence, similar to Alberto Contador, or you may prefer a faster cadence, such as Chris Froome. 

Technically, there is no “perfect cycling cadence.” But there are good cycling cadence guidelines that can help you become more efficient and comfortable when cycling. 

This blog post will explain what cycling cadence is, what guidelines we recommend, and then we’ll finish with a few cadence training drills.

What is cycling cadence? 

Cycling cadence, also known as pedal rate, is the total number of revolutions your pedals make while riding per minute. But don’t worry — you don’t need to count these yourself. 

You can buy a cadence sensor to track your revolutions per minute (RPM). Most power metres and smart trainers also have built-in sensors.

Cadence influences your cycling economy, power output, perceived exertion, and fatigue on the bike [1]. For example, adopting a lower cadence allows you to be smoother when you stand up out of the saddle, grind up a steep hill, or can be used to develop muscular strength with specific intervals. Whereas a higher cadence recruits more of the aerobic and cardiovascular system — great for climbing longer hills and sprinting. 

While you can easily change up your cadence on certain parts of your ride, at other times, your cadence will naturally drop, even when using the lowest gear selection on steep climbs. For this reason, you should train at a mix of cadences for those instances when you need to increase or decrease your RPM — more on that shortly.

What is a good cycling cadence? 

This is where things get a little complicated — current research shows conflicting results regarding the best cadence for cycling. Largely, this is because there are numerous definitions of the phrase “optimal cadence,” which describes energetic cost, perception of effort, and muscular strength [2]. 

Instead of thinking about cadence as a number you should stick to it no matter what — you should be able to adapt on the fly to the demands of the road and train a variety of cadences so you can cope with variations when it comes to crunch time in an event or race. 

But for the sake of argument, and especially for beginners, a good average cadence for cycling is anywhere between 70 and 90 RPM, especially for shorter zone 2 rides and rides exceeding 4 hours in duration [3]. 

What is the best cycling cadence?

Numerous studies report lower cadences of 70 to 90 RPM to be the most efficient at improving cycling economy, reducing fatigue, and lowering metabolic energy demands. However, cadences between 100 and 120 RPM improve sprint cycling performance, and slightly lower cadences of 90 to 100 RPM are most suited to road time trials [1,4]. 

We’re sorry to disappoint, but there is no one best cycling cadence for road riders — it depends on what type of riding you’re doing, the gradient of the road, and your strength on the bike. 

While you can aim for an average cadence of between 70 and 90 for endurance rides, there are going to be times when lower cadences will not allow you to produce the required power output on steep climbs. 

So, it’s important to adapt your cadence when necessary. Pedalling in the wrong cadence bracket will either reduce power output, increase energy expenditure, or increase your metabolic and aerobic costs when not necessary. 

You should train at a mix of different cycling cadences to improve performance.

Cycling cadence training — how to get started

Cycling cadence drills can be performed as an individual workout (e.g., low or high cadence hill repeats) or added during or at the end of a zone 2 endurance ride.

During any one given ride, you’ll likely need to switch cadences to attack a climb, accelerate back up to speed after cornering, or maintain a higher RPM on longer, steeper climbs.

Cycling at higher cadences reduces the force used per pedal stroke, lowering muscular fatigue and allowing riders to utilise type 1 slow twitch muscle fibres instead of type 2 fast twitch fibres [6].  

Muscle fibre distribution is seen as an important determinant of the energetics of pedalling [7]. However, slow twitch fibres are preferential because these are aerobic — they contain more mitochondria and myoglobin and provide you with the energy for those long days in the saddle. 

Fast twitch fibres, on the other hand, are used for short bursts of speed and energy. You’ll still use fast twitch fibres on your ride (when attacking a steep section of a climb or sprinting, for example), but for the majority of the ride, you’ll be using those type 1 slow twitch fibres.

While maximal strength capacity positively impacts the lower extremity muscular activity during cycling — useful for steep gradients and other moments where a lower cadence is preferred [5], a mid-high cadence of between 70 and 90 RPM is preferred for most riders. This cadence bracket, in theory, should recruit slow twitch muscle fibres for all-day performance in the saddle. 

You also need to consider in training what your goal event looks like and what your strengths/weaknesses are! 

  • What are the main demands of the course? > Climbing, flat or undulating. 
  • How long is the event? > Short duration races (~60minutes) might not be influenced by lower cadences as much as long races due to the fatigue.
  • Is there a long climb or sprint that I will need fresh legs for at the end? > a higher cadence may help you conserve muscular strength when required at the end of the race. 
  • Are you riding/racing multiple days? >accumulating load over multiple days at a cadence you are not used to will affect how you recover and perform on the bike the next day/s. 

This is where a coach will be able to target your training specifically to make sure you can cope with the demands of the terrain and style of ride/race.

There is no such thing as a perfect cadence

According to the research, there is no best cadence for cycling — in any one given ride, you’ll need to adopt a mix of cadences, whether that’s climbing a steep hill, accelerating out of a slow and sharp corner, or keeping up with the group on the flats.

Training at a mix of cadences is highly recommended — you’ll be better suited when you need to adapt your RPM on your next ride. 


What is the average cadence in the Tour de France?

The average cadence in the Tour de France depends on the stage and event. But you can expect professional riders to ride anywhere between 75-95 RPM (on average).

Is higher cadence better cycling?

Cycling at higher cadences reduces muscular fatigue and increases aerobic recruitment, allowing you to ride more efficiently for longer. 

What is the most efficient cadence?

There is no perfect cadence. However, several studies reported an average cadence between 70 and 90 RPM to be the most efficient at reducing fatigue, increasing cycling economy, and lowering metabolic demands.


  1. Abbiss, C.R., Peiffer, J.J. and Laursen, P.B., 2009. Optimal cadence selection during cycling. International SportMed Journal, 10(1), pp.1-15.
  1. Ansley, L. and Cangley, P., 2009. Determinants of “optimal” cadence during cycling. European Journal of Sport Science, 9(2), pp.61-85.
  1. Abbiss, C.R., Peiffer, J.J. and Laursen, P.B., 2009. Optimal cadence selection during cycling. International SportMed Journal, 10(1), pp.1-15.
  1. Lucia, A.L.E.J.A.N.D.R.O., Hoyos, J.E.S.U.S. and Chicharro, J.L., 2001. Preferred pedalling cadence in professional cycling. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 33(8), pp.1361-1366.
  1. Bieuzen, F., Lepers, R., Vercruyssen, F., Hausswirth, C. and Brisswalter, J., 2007. Muscle activation during cycling at different cadences: effect of maximal strength capacity. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 17(6), pp.731-738.
  1. Talbot, J. and Maves, L., 2016. Skeletal muscle fiber type: using insights from muscle developmental biology to dissect targets for susceptibility and resistance to muscle disease. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Developmental Biology, 5(4), pp.518-534.
  1. Umberger, B.R., Gerritsen, K.G. and Martin, P.E., 2006. Muscle fiber type effects on energetically optimal cadences in cycling. Journal of biomechanics, 39(8), pp.1472-1479.