The benefits of high cadence or, "spinning" is also good for low drive-train wear

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
The real reason of the chain damage (as David has correctly pointed out) is...

An article quote:
Chains are a consumable part of the bicycle drive train. As you pile on the miles, your bike’s chain will wear out. The internal parts of the chain, the rivets and rollers, begin to wear out and give the illusion of stretching. This wear can cause the chain to mesh poorly with cogs and chainrings, causing poor shifting, premature wear to the cogs and even skipping over the cogs. Since it’s far more expensive to replace your cassette than it is to replace a chain, knowing when to replace your chain can actually save you some money in the long run. Unquote.

We replace the chain because it stretches (often after just several hundred of miles). You determine it with a chain gauge tool. When the teeth of the gauge drop inside the links at the 1.0 mark, you need to replace the chain. Nobody measures the wear of the chain due to friction, and many of us lube the chain (after degreasing it) as Reed Scot pointed out. A stretched chain may look as a new one, yet it is useless. Your question involving "the same power output" is somewhat devious. It all can be explained by the rules of mechanics... I may do a test, though, as my Vado has a power meter and the cadence meter.

Good read:
.

Another good read:

Does your bike mechanic whistle softly when she examines your drivetrain? [...] If you want to save your back, your knees, your energy, and your mechanic’s sanity, make sure you aren’t committing any of these six gearing sins.

Yet another good read:

Riding in a cross gear or very low and heavy gearing combination does indeed put greater force on your drivetrain rather than finding a consistent, moderate cadence. However, it is really the shifting and grinding wear under great load associated with low cadence riding which leads to shorter drivetrain life and not the actual low cadence. If you tend to “mash gears”, as they say, try getting comfortable shifting more often and intuiting which gear combinations will yield the right cadence for hill climbs, descents, sprints and the such to minimize wear

Good links... I think it's explained well!

Ask A Tech – Chain Lubrication & How Drivetrain Wear Relates To Cadence
Q) I just bought a 2010 Felt B2 and wanted to know if cleaning the chain with a chain cleaner box works just as good as taking the chain off and cleaning.
Also, does riding at a slow cadence in a high gear stress the crank and cassette teeth more than riding a fast cadence? – Neil

Second part of your inquiry… Riding in a cross gear or very low and heavy gearing combination does indeed put greater force on your drivetrain rather than finding a consistent, moderate cadence. However, it is really the shifting and grinding wear under great load associated with low cadence riding which leads to shorter drivetrain life and not the actual low cadence. If you tend to “mash gears”, as they say, try getting comfortable shifting more often and intuiting which gear combinations will yield the right cadence for hill climbs, descents, sprints and the such to minimize wear. Thank you for the inquiry and ride fast.


How is mashing different from spinning? Most cyclists prefer spinning.

You know the expression "it's like riding a bike?" It means once you've learned how to do something, it's hard to ever forget. Unfortunately, the same goes for bad cycling habits.
Mashing refers to a kind of cycling method that many cyclists use, but most training coaches frown upon. It has to do with what's called your cycling cadence, and if you're getting ready for a bike race or need to improve your cycling performance for a triathlon, you'll want to start paying attention to this.

Cadence is to the speed at which you pedal, measured in revolutions per minute (rpm). This, of course, is related to (but not the same as) your bike's speed. A low gear will offer little pedal resistance, but it'll take furious pedaling to go fast. Conversely, a high gear will make the pedals harder to push, but it won't require as many revolutions to attain a high speed. Pedaling furiously (with a high cadence) on a low gear is called spinning, while pedaling slower (low cadence) on a high gear is called mashing. Both can get you to high speeds -- so why do the best cyclists prefer spinning?

The prevailing theory is that spinning is a more efficient use of your strength and energy. Many cyclists revert to mashing, however, because it feels faster. But, not only does mashing produce more lactic acid, it predominantly uses what's called fast-twitch muscle fibers, which fatigue faster than slow-twitch fibers (used in spinning) [source: Williamson].

The most successful cyclists achieve cadences of 80 to more than 100 rpm for long periods. Some experts maintain, however, that there isn't a one-size-fits all "optimal" cadence, and that you need to find what works best for you [source: Cheung]. And, of course, the appropriate gear at any point in time will always depend on variables such as hills, road conditions and wind.
But if you consciously incorporate spinning into your training, you'll likely become more physically fit and better able to achieve high cadences for long periods of time, just like the pros.
 
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Handlebars

Well-Known Member
Region
Canada
We replace the chain because it stretches (often after just several hundred of miles). You determine it with a chain gauge tool. When the teeth of the gauge drop inside the links at the 1.0 mark, you need to replace the chain
Or you can measure it with a ruler. Position the ruler in the center of a rivet and see where 1' mark lies compared to the rivet it is on or near. If it's at the center of that rivet then it's as good as new. 1/16" difference means it's making a little noise and needs to be replaced. My chain needs to be replaced now after 4500 km of mixed easy and medium hard pedalling and lots of gear changing.
 
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Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
Or you can measure it with a ruler. Position the ruler in the center of a rivet and see where 1' mark lies compared to the rivet it is on or near. If it's at the center of that rivet then it's as good as new. 1/16" difference means it's making a little noise and needs to be replaced. My chain needs to be replaced now after 4500 km of mixed easy and medium hard pedalling and lots of gear changing.
Yes, I have learnt new techniques since writing that post. I use a digital caliper to measure the pin-to-pin distance on 10 consecutive links. The new chain would have 127 mm or 5".
 

FlatSix911

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Silicon Valley
You should see me spinning with the Yamaha PW-X2 :D
You are in luck... the PW-X2 now supports cadence well above the 120 RPM of the PW-X. ;)

1603217646701.png
 
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Steve Brown

New Member
Region
United Kingdom
This is all fascinating stuff for me. My wife and I ride together, and share certain riding characteristics. We both rowed competitively in our late teens, 20s and 30s (except I didn’t do the child-bearing), and a couple of principles seem to transfer to cycling:
1. Don’t row, or ride, over-geared (I.e. gearing too hard) and;
2. Keep the rating (strokes/minute=cadence) up.
However, both of us, having transferred to very leisurely cycling in our 60s, have a low cadence (I only know mine is low because the turbo Vado SL 5 tells me it). I seem to chug along at around 50, and I would guess my wife is similar. We also seem to go through chains and bottom brackets with monotonous frequency.
We ride bikes which we gear for grinding (mashing?) up hills, both in Devon (UK) and Spain. Hills in Devon can be 20% or more for short distances. In the small part where I live (South Hams) you’re basically either going up or you’re going down, with not much in between.
All these comments above, started by the amazing Stefan, suddenly bring together these apparently disparate facts, which combine to show that, basically, we’re doing it all wrong!
One principle which seems to be pretty well universal, is that we need to up our cadence with a training programme which adds increasing amounts of spinning. This will train the right types of muscle and we will get younger and faster every day. That I (mis)understand.
However, I specifically like a slow cadence for a number of reasons:
First I like it. I run on low gearing, and like to ride long hills while looking around aimlessly and thinking of nothing in particular. Some people would call it meditation.
Second, I have always had an ectopic heart beat (the sequence of the beat is correct, as in the cylinders of a petrol engine firing in the correct sequence) but in any particular minute there may be some long beats, and some short beats. Very short beats are inefficient. I speak as an accountant! My experience is that, the lower the cadence, the more regular/even my heart beat is, both afterwards and more generally.
Third, I have for 12 years now had a very faithful and reliable steel non-return valve fitted to replace my old-fashioned aortic heart valve. This is brilliant, so long as I remember to take my warfarin/Coumadin, but does mean that I am aware of every heart beat, especially at night!
So… should I continue to plug along as I do, or take a gradual approach to up my cadence? When I try a higher cadence I do find it quite tiring, and feel a lactic acid build up in my legs. Maybe though I just need to work at it?
Thank you for your patience if you’ve got this far!
 

reed scott

Well-Known Member
Good links... I think it's explained well!

Ask A Tech – Chain Lubrication & How Drivetrain Wear Relates To Cadence
Q) I just bought a 2010 Felt B2 and wanted to know if cleaning the chain with a chain cleaner box works just as good as taking the chain off and cleaning.
Also, does riding at a slow cadence in a high gear stress the crank and cassette teeth more than riding a fast cadence? – Neil

Second part of your inquiry… Riding in a cross gear or very low and heavy gearing combination does indeed put greater force on your drivetrain rather than finding a consistent, moderate cadence. However, it is really the shifting and grinding wear under great load associated with low cadence riding which leads to shorter drivetrain life and not the actual low cadence. If you tend to “mash gears”, as they say, try getting comfortable shifting more often and intuiting which gear combinations will yield the right cadence for hill climbs, descents, sprints and the such to minimize wear. Thank you for the inquiry and ride fast.


How is mashing different from spinning? Most cyclists prefer spinning.

You know the expression "it's like riding a bike?" It means once you've learned how to do something, it's hard to ever forget. Unfortunately, the same goes for bad cycling habits.
Mashing refers to a kind of cycling method that many cyclists use, but most training coaches frown upon. It has to do with what's called your cycling cadence, and if you're getting ready for a bike race or need to improve your cycling performance for a triathlon, you'll want to start paying attention to this.

Cadence is to the speed at which you pedal, measured in revolutions per minute (rpm). This, of course, is related to (but not the same as) your bike's speed. A low gear will offer little pedal resistance, but it'll take furious pedaling to go fast. Conversely, a high gear will make the pedals harder to push, but it won't require as many revolutions to attain a high speed. Pedaling furiously (with a high cadence) on a low gear is called spinning, while pedaling slower (low cadence) on a high gear is called mashing. Both can get you to high speeds -- so why do the best cyclists prefer spinning?

The prevailing theory is that spinning is a more efficient use of your strength and energy. Many cyclists revert to mashing, however, because it feels faster. But, not only does mashing produce more lactic acid, it predominantly uses what's called fast-twitch muscle fibers, which fatigue faster than slow-twitch fibers (used in spinning) [source: Williamson].

The most successful cyclists achieve cadences of 80 to more than 100 rpm for long periods. Some experts maintain, however, that there isn't a one-size-fits all "optimal" cadence, and that you need to find what works best for you [source: Cheung]. And, of course, the appropriate gear at any point in time will always depend on variables such as hills, road conditions and wind.
But if you consciously incorporate spinning into your training, you'll likely become more physically fit and better able to achieve high cadences for long periods of time, just like the pros.
Tip: A good way to measure your cadence is to use your phone ( if you have a phone mount on your bars ) By using the timer function it is easy to count your revs ( one side only ). 30 seconds elapsed and multiply by two gives you your spin rate.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
A good way to measure your cadence is to use your phone ( if you have a phone mount on your bars
Reed,
Steve owns Specialized Turbo e-bikes. These have the cadence and power meters... :)

Steve,
Let me tell you the latest anecdote. I have started riding with Justyna, a strong and enthusiastic traditional cyclist in her late 30s. She was complaining on her knees hurting. So I was telling her about higher cadence technique a lot, and she changed her own riding style. Of course, she wouldn't spin without patient practising the new technique but her cadence increased significantly.

As we had already been on an 80-miler and two metric centuries together, we had a lot of time for practice. On one of the rides, we all had to adjust to the slowest rider of the group. I rode my full-power Vado in just 25/25% assistance (it was windy; I would have gone down to 20/20 otherwise). And I was doing "high cadence demos" for the group. For instance, I dramatically downshifted and went into 150 rpm cadence: the pack was instantly left behind and disappeared in my rear-view mirror :) Later, I did the same at 135 rpm. Riding together again, I explained to my riding mates I had stayed at exactly the same assistance level as it was before! It was only high leg power output due to high cadence that made my Vado accelerate so impressively. Justyna was learning fast. Now, she described her experiences on Facebook:

Her friend: "So many kilometres? And no muscle sores?"
She: "Not anymore. And, following advice from more experienced cyclists, I've changed my pedalling technique: higher cadence, less forcibly. After the last trip, my right knee didn't hurt me at all!"

It simply works.

Justyna told me she could mentally embrace the idea, and she drew a manual transmission car analogy. Before any planned stopping, she would downshift with the front derailleur for easier ride re-start. And she can also understand active using of manual gearbox is for maintaining the best engine rpm. Same with the derailleur and optimum cadence range.

@Steve Brown: cadence of 76 didn't hurt anybody. It is a long process to learn and forget you are pedalling faster.
 
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Steve Brown

New Member
Region
United Kingdom
“It simply works.” Says it all really. I’d better get practicing.
Thank you Stefan - the original post was great, and really cleared my mind up.
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
Reed,
Steve owns Specialized Turbo e-bikes. These have the cadence and power meters... :)

Steve,
Let me tell you the latest anecdote. I have started riding with Justyna, a strong and enthusiastic traditional cyclist in her late 30s. She was complaining on her knees hurting. So I was telling her about higher cadence technique a lot, and she changed her own riding style. Of course, she wouldn't spin without patient practising the new technique but her cadence increased significantly.

As we had already been on an 80-miler and two metric centuries together, we had a lot of time for practice. On one of the rides, we all had to adjust to the slowest rider of the group. I rode my full-power Vado in just 25/25% assistance (it was windy; I would have gone down to 20/20 otherwise). And I was doing "high cadence demos" for the group. For instance, I dramatically downshifted and went into 150 rpm cadence: the pack was instantly left behind and disappeared in my rear-view mirror :) Later, I did the same at 135 rpm. Riding together again, I explained to my riding mates I had stayed at exactly the same assistance level as it was before! It was only high leg power output due to high cadence that made my Vado accelerate so impressively. Justyna was learning fast. Now, she described her experiences on Facebook:

Her friend: "So many kilometres? And no muscle sores?"
She: "Not anymore. And, following advice from more experienced cyclists, I've changed my pedalling technique: higher cadence, less forcibly. After the last trip, my right knee didn't hurt me at all!"

It simply works.

Justyna told me she could mentally embrace the idea, and she drew a manual transmission car analogy. Before any planned stopping, she would downshift with the front derailleur for easier ride re-start. And she can also understand active using of manual gearbox is for maintaining the best engine rpm. Same with the derailleur and optimum cadence range.

@Steve Brown: cadence of 76 didn't hurt anybody. It is a long process to learn and forget you are pedalling faster.
This is one of the the most fascinating threads on here! I got my Vado SL back in October and missed this thread back then. I used EBR a lot to look at the various bikes I was considering in the run up to getting the SL, but didn't notice this useful information.

A couple of thoughts and questions - first of all I didn't realise Mission Control had a cadence monitor, I'll be checking that out on my next ride, very useful! I trained in spinning back when I road raced as a teen in the mid 80s, but no idea if I've developed bad habits since so very curious to see if I'm mashing nowadays and interested in correcting if so. It's tricky here with all the hills, as Steve says above, you are either going straight up or down. But there are a couple of long cycle paths, the Wray Way and the Granite Way both converted old railways so the gradient is very shallow. I'll use that for testing. Steve, it might be worth you looking into fitting a 38T front chainring for the South Hams/Dartmoor hills as it will help you with cadence and the S1.1 motor will work better on the 20% gradients, you'll find it's less of a slow hard grind, made a big difference to me.

Stefan all this cadence & motor info has raised a question for me. One of my main routes out of town has a mile long rolling hill. I use this road a lot as the gradient is only 10-15% and it's a good 'wake up' for me at the start of my rides. First couple of months on the Vado SL I would do it in Sport assist at the factory setting of 60%. Then I started playing around with assist levels. The factory Eco setting of 30% was useless on all the hills here (and with my weak fitness level) so I bumped that up to 45% and now I do this long hill in Eco @ 45%. But, and here's my question, is this a false economy, both in terms of my fitness and the battery use? What I mean is, I push myself to do the hill in Eco. I can find a comfortable cadence but aerobically it's tough. I assume this is good for me and I'm also preserving battery so that later on in the ride I can go to Sport on other, steeper hills and so have enough battery to get home.

But now I'm wondering if I did the hill in Sport @ 75% but with a much faster cadence would the battery use be much different? As I wouldn't be mashing as much. And I'm wondering if going easier on the pedals with the extra assist, might make me push faster/ do a faster cadence and so get a similiar work out to the lower assist level?

This is all very interesting and something I hadn't given much thought to.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
first of all I didn't realise Mission Control had a cadence monitor
Your Vado SL indeed does have cadence and power meters but Mission Control doesn't! Solutions:
  • Buy the TCD display. It can display up to five configurable screens, where you can select Cadence and Biker Power, or
  • Use a sports watch such as Garmin that can connect to the TCU of your SL via Bluetooth (but I haven't tested that), or
  • Simply invest a tenner in BLEvo application. It can display a huge dashboard of live ride parameters including Cadence, Biker Power, Motor Power, and even Heart Rate, as you can connect your HRM to BLEvo. Up to 51 ride parameters can be simultaneously recorded during your ride for post-ride analysis (even on a PC, in Excel). These parameters come from TCU, GPS, and HRM. The recorded ride can be exported to Strava. You can even see a post-ride map with any smallest detail of any ride moment (or, how long you stayed during your rest and for how long). Plus GPS navigation available in the app.
I have posted a praise of BLEvo in these Fora, and @Kam1936 made a thread on BLEvo. Worth every penny!
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
Stefan all this cadence & motor info has raised a question for me. One of my main routes out of town has a mile long rolling hill. I use this road a lot as the gradient is only 10-15% and it's a good 'wake up' for me at the start of my rides. First couple of months on the Vado SL I would do it in Sport assist at the factory setting of 60%. Then I started playing around with assist levels. The factory Eco setting of 30% was useless on all the hills here (and with my weak fitness level) so I bumped that up to 45% and now I do this long hill in Eco @ 45%. But, and here's my question, is this a false economy, both in terms of my fitness and the battery use? What I mean is, I push myself to do the hill in Eco. I can find a comfortable cadence but aerobically it's tough. I assume this is good for me and I'm also preserving battery so that later on in the ride I can go to Sport on other, steeper hills and so have enough battery to get home.

But now I'm wondering if I did the hill in Sport @ 75% but with a much faster cadence would the battery use be much different? As I wouldn't be mashing as much. And I'm wondering if going easier on the pedals with the extra assist, might make me push faster/ do a faster cadence and so get a similiar work out to the lower assist level?

This is all very interesting and something I hadn't given much thought to.
I need to give a thorough thought to be able to answer your questions.
 

fooferdoggie

Well-Known Member
I am set on 80 I cant really keep it faster for long and on the tandem its even harder to spin above 80 too many years at 80 its built in.
 

Rás Cnoic

Well-Known Member
Your Vado SL indeed does have cadence and power meters but Mission Control doesn't! Solutions:
  • Buy the TCD display. It can display up to five configurable screens, where you can select Cadence and Biker Power, or
  • Use a sports watch such as Garmin that can connect to the TCU of your SL via Bluetooth (but I haven't tested that), or
  • Simply invest a tenner in BLEvo application. It can display a huge dashboard of live ride parameters including Cadence, Biker Power, Motor Power, and even Heart Rate, as you can connect your HRM to BLEvo. Up to 51 ride parameters can be simultaneously recorded during your ride for post-ride analysis (even on a PC, in Excel). These parameters come from TCU, GPS, and HRM. The recorded ride can be exported to Strava. You can even see a post-ride map with any smallest detail of any ride moment (or, how long you stayed during your rest and for how long). Plus GPS navigation available in the app.
I have posted a praise of BLEvo in these Fora, and @Kam1936 made a thread on BLEvo. Worth every penny!
Ok I'm confused. After reading in the thread about cadence & Vado Sl I checked the Misson Control STATS page and under the different configurations you can pick to display is 'current cadence' and 'average cadence'.
 

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