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Froome Vs Quintana – What Is The Best Cadence For Cycling?

Froome Vs Quintana – What Is The Best Cadence For Cycling?


– [Simon] We’ve been doing some
research recently into cadence, and more specifically what, if any, is the
optimal cadence for you as a cyclist? And there was one point in particular
that really piqued our interest, and that was with regards to the world’s
top pro cyclists. More specifically, the likes of Chris Froome, who pedals with
a cadence of about 100 RPM when he climbs, versus his arch nemesis Nairo Quintana,
who pedals with a cadence closer to 75 when he is climbing. – [Dan] So, we devised a very simple
experiment which we are about to carry out right now to find out whether Si and I
most resemble Chris Froome or Nairo Quintana. So, what we’re going to do are
two reps up this fairly long climb in the Wye Valley. We are going to record
our data. It’s not just cadence, of course, but also power, and heart rate,
and also our own perceived exertion on the climb. And at the end of it, we
should decipher for both of us, what’s the most efficient cadence, and
therefore who we resemble as pros. – Yeah. Now, I imagine it will be quite
clear rather quickly that we resemble neither Chris Froome nor Nairo
Quintana in many ways. However, as Dan said, hopefully we will know at the
end of it how fast we really should pedal. ♪ [music] ♪ – Two, one. ♪ [music] ♪ – I’m no Chris Froome. ♪ [music] ♪ – Well, aside from being a brutal test,
we do actually have some hard data. Dan, what did you find out? – Yeah, I’ll kick this off. So, I was
faster on the slower cadence run than I was on the high cadence one, quite
significantly. Twenty-three seconds was the difference, despite the fact that
my heart rate was actually lower. Only by two BPM, but still. Perceived
exertion, I would actually say slightly higher for the higher cadence than
the lower cadence, but only slightly. – So lower cadence was faster, lower
heart rate, and felt easier, as well. – It did, for those runs. – Well, for me, the time difference was
much smaller. Still faster on the low cadence run by 12 seconds, but my heart
rate was 5 beats per minutes lower by the slower cadence. And then my rate of
perceived exertion, as well, the high cadence, actually, I felt was
almost unsustainable. I really, really suffered doing that. – Yeah, I mean, there’s no doubt I was far
more comfortable and closer to what I would have chosen as a cadence on
such an effort when I was at 75 RPMs. So, I wasn’t having to look down too much
to make sure I was at the correct cadence, whereas when I was trying to hold 100 RPM,
I was constantly having to look down to make sure it was high enough. In
fact, I was going up there thinking, “Maybe the reason Chris Froome looks
down so much is not to look at his power, but to make sure that he’s keeping up his
reputation as a high-cadence spinner.” – Well, from my perspective, I was
desperate for us to have added in a third dimension. I wanted Vincenzo Nibali in
the mix, because I really wanted to ride a little bit quicker than our Nairo Quintana
cadence. Now, the one question, Dan, that I do really want to see answered
about cadence now, is actually to see whether or not we, or you, could ride
faster by training to pedal at a faster cadence. So, could Nairo Quintana
ride faster by pedaling faster? I want to know. – Or could Froome go faster when he
grinded it out at a lower cadence? I guess only those two could provide us
with that answer, and there’s probably no chance that they will, unfortunately.
Now, if you would like to subscribe to the Global Cycling Network, we will have loads
more experiments like this coming to you in the not-too-distant future.
All you’ve got to do for that is to click on the globe. – Yeah. In the meantime, once you’ve
subscribed, then why not check out couple more videos where we tackle the
rather difficult subject of cadence? So up there, Dan and I went to the
laboratory and actually really did some hardcore science with it, and then, just
down there, you can actually see the benefits of our research on the subject of
whether or not you can improve your cadence. So make sure you
go and check one of those out.

100 comments on “Froome Vs Quintana – What Is The Best Cadence For Cycling?

  1. Well the data that you did find out may help. But though out 2016 froomy has been dominating. That could mean that they could both be on the same gear but froomy just be able to push to better. So what gear were you in where you in. Could you have still went 100rpm in a higher gear that might be what froomy does. I think GCN should do this again and put what gear they were using into the graph

  2. I am most comfortable at 80 rpm. If I want to rest while cycling I up a gear and go down to 70-75. 90 or higher cadence is so tiring and slower for me. A friend almost never goes abover 65 rpm. And another never goes below 90. Its just a personal choice really.

  3. Gcn where are de power data?!?!?! And a lactate test to check the fatigue after each ride? Time doesn't mean nothing because you can have wind, heart rate doesn't mean anything because can varie a lot like you said in a video a while ago. Also training is very important in this matter the training….. froome will never go faster grinding you just have to check the 2011 vuelta, the angliru stage and you can see froome grinding his knees off. And nowadays you done see Quintana grinding as much as contador (which Back in the days was considered a spinner). Do a follow up video with the data please

  4. My most frequent ride is a singlespeed mountain bike around the NYM. I never push so I'm used to grinding up silly steep climbs with a ridiculously low cadence. When I ride my geared MTB my self selected cadence is about 70, but when I jump on my roadie it's instantly back to 90.
    Go figure.

  5. When doing trainings on Zwift, I often alternate intervals, doing one at 90+ rpm then the next at 60 rpm and so on. And I also noticed that my HR is about 5 pulsations lower on lower cadence. I think that by training at higher rpms you're training your heart and breathing, and by training at lower rpms you are training your leg muscles.

  6. Hi, I've changed the way I ride over the last couple of years. I've gone from pushing big gears "53 x 11 in TT" and 53 x 17 on the flat in club runs to having a low cadence to now spinning. I've even gone and got myself a smaller chain ring on the front and gone for bigger sprockets on the back. My climbing has got so much better now. My first bike had a 42 x 21, 52 x 12 and now I'm on a 39 x 25 and still on a 53 x 11. When I decided to to this and got myself a cadence meter I was peddling at 70rpm which was my normal cadence to ride to. I'm now at 95rpm to 105rpm on the 39 ring and feel like I'm doing the same speed. I feel fitter and faster and less tired at the end of the ride. There is a climb on the club run I always get dropped at the same point but if I keep my cadence and watch the computer and keep it I'll catch them at the top and ride past them still having energy to finish off the last little bit. It's helped with the track riding as well. And on the last plus side my leg now fit into normal jeans without having to get some 3 sizes to big just to get my legs in. I also thing it depends on your body size and crank length which is best for you. I'm tall and heavy so in theory I should be grinding away but in practice I've found spinning to be more quicker and economical.

  7. C'ome on guys are you kidding us. A 7/8 minute climb and you're (Cervelo test team and pro cyclist) testing theories with it. We want to see you suffer (hahaha). Not that I am sadistic, but I do suffer in some climbs (26min of 95% to 97% Max HR) for 6km and 5% gradient (Yeah, I always take with me some extra weight for fun – my gut).
    So please do those SCIENTIFIC tests for really long climbs to see the difference because froom or quintana don't just go all out on the climbs, they are sitting behind their mates for most of their days, then act rarely when attacked or react even rearerly (I like this one).

  8. Easy: it dependts on the caracteristics of the rider, your strenght and your aerobic capacity. And, at the end, cadence is directly related to the gear you can move at that cadence. Is not only and exclusively about the cadence.

  9. Hi guys, i think it all dépends of the ratio they are using when climbing at their différent cadence.

    Thank you!

  10. I don't think it's as simple as that. I think for any one to sustain a 100 rpm in a climb or 75 for this matter you have to take into consideration the gear you're climbing. You have check at what ratio Nairo and Froom do their best climbs, and also that can change from cyclists to cyclists… Love the videos. Thank you guys.

  11. awsome video. but I'm thinking if you trained for 100 cad. like froome does you would have had very different results here. oh well. still a good video.

  12. I find high cadence is best because my legs recover a lot quicker and are still fresh when I reach the end of a ride. I wouldn't be able to do multiple hills grinding because I would just burn out and bonk.

  13. high cadence feels easier for me, 75 is getting towards a legs in treacle feeling. I'm riding a lot further than I used to now I've upped the cadence.

    Horses for courses I guess.

  14. I feel like you might also need to measure blood lactate to see how fatigued your muscles are afterward. I don't think cadence has much to do with speed as much as comfort and efficiency

  15. So clearly, they were making more power at low cadence (P = torque x cadence), which only shows that they weren't pushing hard enough at high cadence. (Should have been 1 gear harder). Learning to maintain high torque AND high rpm is the holy grail, and you need to train that, but it helps to be born with it too…….

  16. Not bad but this test should account for the fact that Froome uses a shorter crank for his height and quite the opposite for Quintana who uses longer cranks than what he is "supposed" to use. That pretty much dictates their corresponding preferred cadence, ie for the same gear ratios, shorter cranks will have higher cadence, thus spins more rpm. Surely athletes like those two at the elite level have already done enough tests to optimise their crank length/cadence choice so anything higher/lower is not optimal. Cadence is course dependent too, anything long and steep is likely to be benefitted by high cadence, whereas short and punchy climbs are best with low cadence high power efforts.

  17. Surrreeeellllllly you should have had a third dimension (almost like a 'control') of cadence display off (but recorded) and riding at self selected cadence that you find most comfortable. You consistently recommend this as the path to follow so it seems almost outrageous that it was omitted from the test for both of you to then compare with the Froome/Quintana extremes. Please repeat and rerecord immediately. Ta 🙂

  18. #torqueback in a presenter challenge, I wonder which of you guys would be faster between 2 rides, one looking at their power meter and data, and the second ride without looking. Would this prove the difference in performance is alot to do with your head?

  19. I'm sorry that my question is off topic but could someone let me know if the Kask proton helmet is suitable for an oval head shape? I can't find a shop that sells them so would need to order online to see it 😒

  20. is clear that Froome is an extra ordinary rider. Also is pretty weird for a colombian to be a high cadence rider, we usually go higher than 2000 mts above sea level while training, with less oxigen it increases the difficulty to recover when you rise too much your heart rate

  21. 6 months ago my avg cadence was high 60's, thanks to training it is now high 80's and I am now working on pushing it over 100. It does take training, but so far it has been well worth the effort. Time will tell if I can get it to the high 100's or even over 110!

  22. I am sceptical that Froome really does 100rpm the entire climb, especially the long ones. From watching him on TV, I'd say he attacks by increasing cadence, but then he drops it back a bit to a more sustainable level. I usually do around 90rpm on climbs, but the legs just ask for some change after doing it for more than 15 min or so. Can't imagine anyone doing it constantly on a 40-min climb.

  23. Interesting concept, but a little too narrow vision on this video, by not mentioning leg length, body weight/height, climb gradient

  24. at the bottom of the hill I'm knocking out a 100 but at the top it's about 75, best of both worlds, no just me being shit.

  25. @gcn but one would things the gearing plays a very big factor and noting the Froome runs o rings ? And the physiology of the ride ! I mean event crank length too play a role in actual fact the dynamics are endless and will vary rider to rider! but very fruitful knowledge

  26. What was the average grade on the climb? From the video it looks quite easy: 4-5 %. A better experiment would be to repeat one of actual TCF climbs where Cris did 100 rpm.

  27. Froome rides with the offset crank, that may be why he can maintain that high cadence. Otherwise, it's probably the alien DNA they found in Froome's blood-work as published by Velo News – their April 1 in-depth research report.

  28. when you ride with low rps you have selected a gear with less teeth and when you ride with high rpms you have selected a gear with more teeth?

  29. I feel like the power meter doesn't tell the whole story. In my anecdotal experience, it feels like I can hold a higher overall wattage for longer by spinning at 90-100rpm. Yes, two of the same power levels with different cadences will yield different speeds. But in the long run, the higher cadence is easier to sustain because of the reduced lactic acid accumulation, letting me turn higher wattage with less perceived effort. Watt for watt, or even finishing time for finishing time, I would much rather spin up a long ass mountain rather than grinding and blowing up my legs with lactic acid. Higher cadence is just more sustainable. 90RPM is really the best place to be, and there is plenty of well documented evidence of this.

  30. Hard to say you used data without discussing WATTS, which is the only true way to determine power used. Froome spins through 3 weeks of the tour then is able to blow everyone away on the time trial and mountains simply by using power he still has, where the other riders' tank is empty as they have been grinding for close to a month. There is a good bit of psychology needed to get used to spinning, when a rider attacks Froome in the mountains he doesn't always chase, he simply looks down at his powermeter and if his WATTS are correct he lets the rider go, knowing full well that he will catch up by spinning, not all riders can do this as they get excited and come out of the saddle and chase, IE: use up energy!

  31. Chris used to grind and he changed to a higher cadence I think we all know what happened after that. Neiro can't spin faster for long distance that's why he's number 2 in the TDF

  32. The thing is: when you face a sttepp climb and run out of gears you're forced to climb at 75rpm (let's say) which affects to the power level, vo2 max, etc but if you can use more gears and spin at 100 rpm you can save your legs and still produce more power! Contador climbs stand but he cannot spin fast enough for longer than 100 meters before blowing his legs chasing Froome, why is that? Of course because spinning is a faster way to climb, and you're sitted so your HR is lower than standing. Why do pros spin easy in the main pack? why not going easy at 60 rpms? if grinding is better this should be theway always, but no, they grind in the mountain instead of spinnig and the results are there. You can beat Froome any day for sure, but you will never take a Tour, Giro or vuelta grinding all day long

  33. But can you do the next hill?? as much as I disagree with Durians nebulous approach to his arguments and diet I have to agree with him on this one. You will spare your muscles at 100 rpm even though you use more O2. Also you need to train to cycle at a different cadence.Probable about 2 to 3 months to train the muscles and the nerve (including brain) tissue involved

  34. Was gear selection a factor in this? IE, on high cadence did you spin in the easiest granny gear and then for low cadence choose a reasonable gear? or did you perhaps choose the same gear for both high and low cadence over the whole climb?

  35. Morons if you pedal faster and use a lower gear, you will not build up as much lactic acid, in you muscles.
    And the cadence has its greatest applications in inclines.
    Also in hot climates a higher cadence lower gear will increase endurance, will reduce fatigue.
    Think of a weight lifter i can empty a shipping container weighing 20 tonnes over a day in 25 kg increments, i cant lift 20 tonnes.
    Sorry was that too big a leap or dumbing it down two much?
    Smaller amounts, less load per stroke more repetition, equals greater stamina.
    If you can train your self to adopt a higher cadence, and lower gear for the same relative speed, you will in theory have muscles and knees with less fatigue and wear for the high load explosion you need for the finish or chases etc.

  36. Mechanical speaking… Its almost always faster to go one gear lower one gear ratio and spinning 90+ rpm

    I find it a hell of a lot easier to keep supra threshold power at cadences above 85 rpm

  37. Its what you're used to. When I started cycling over 20yrs ago I naturally had a low cadence. 60 to 70rpms up climbs. Over time I've trained myself to have a high cadence as I would fatigue at the end of hilly races and get dropped, so turned to high cadence to try and solve this. It seemed to work so I've kept to it. We have many 12%+ climbs here so I have a 34×32 now on the back so I can keep my cadence high even at 10kph.
    Just bought a new bike that came with a lowest gear of a 39×23. Even though I'm an ok climber (5W/kg for 10mins) I just wasn't strong enough to comfortably get up the 2 x Cat 2's and all the pinch climbs on my ride. I was going a slow pace for me, but my heart rate was through the roof!
    If I trained for a few months and built up my strength I'm sure I'd handle it better. But was a real eye opener about how hard low cadence is up steep climbs when you're not used to it!

  38. Use the biggest gear you can on a climb that will allow you to spin at least 100rpm start to finish. Stay in the saddle.

  39. Is it fair to assume these guys being pro cyclists would have tried both methods & the data has lead them to their current style as it's the most efficient for each individual?

  40. Durian Rider for sure disliked this video. The thing is, he is right. 100 rpm is way better than 75 because when you are spinning out, your fatigue level is higher. My proof: Quintana never won tour de france and froome won atleast 6

  41. i trained more one cadence the last 2 years .on the rollers 95 average fro one hour in race like even that ,but at the hills i am more the type of grinding uge gears like 39/23 uphill ,no effort with high cadence uphill could beat any PR on strava from me personal .Riding bigger gears uphill i am faster all the time i was spinning uphill .On longer climbs i will combine my efforts with high cadence and grinding gears to change the type of muscels and steering up my heartrate when it gets to high.I think you can not say clear high or low cadence is better it depends on every person self.A typacly mountain goat can spin more easier at a climb than a pure sprinter it really depends on what kind of athelete everone is and must find his right way to ride uphill.

  42. Cadence, it is not as black and white as you think! On a hill going up, a ridding a low gear, high cadence is the way forward. Why – GRAVITY…. that 9.81m/s is constantly pulling you down!!! it is that simple. If you are in a high gear, and if you could get a high gear big enough, you would not be able to get up the hill….. the vector of gravity and the leaver of such a big gear may in fact see you actually, not only go forward, but it would actually work against you and you would go backwards. It is a physics thing!!! Try it!! Get a huge chain ring and try it on a steep hill. Another thing is that if you tried your test and increased the gradient you would find that you will get to a point where you would not be able to turn the gear. The fuels that your body uses when climbing are also different. For this test to be valid you need to increase the gradient, and test against various cadence.

  43. In fact the climb is not worth the high cadence. If the slope was steep he would suffer more at low cadence. It's like a car. You have to lower the gears on steep slopes

  44. The test hill isn't long enough to test on. Try something that lasts for at least 20-30 minutes. This is where you'll see the advantages of producing target power via the faster cadence method. Bear in mind though that heart will be a lot higher in this scenario as opposed to a mere 8 minute test. Main reason for employing higher cadence is to minimise muscle damage in stage racing. Low cadence high torque is tearing up muscle tissue

  45. Old video so probably nobody will see this comment. I wonder if the preference for high cadence spinning or low cadence grinding is determined in part by the ratio of fast- and slow-twitch fibers in different riders?

  46. Want a faster cadence, get a track bike with a huge gear (ie. 52-12… if you wanna die) and mash it out all week lol! xD

  47. They should definitely repeat this test on a way longer climb. Most of the climbs around here where i live are only considered as ones when they are 10min (Strava KOMs) in duration and above. While referring to the likes of Quintana and Froome who are specialists for the ultra long climbs (HC), they should repeat this test in the dolomites. Since they seem to have the biggest sponsoring deal in cycling history with this region they might even get closed roads for this test! 😛

  48. The most pointless experiment. Come on GCN… you know it comes down to power. Where are the results? Higher cadence saves knees on rides.

  49. I think high cadence is best IF YOU are good at cycling at high cadence. And Low Cadence is best IF YOU are good at cycling at a low cadence. I myself prefer riding at very low cadences. I tend to get tired very quickly if I try to spin a light gear up hills.

  50. HR is irrelevent!
    Test should have been done with same power and different cadence.
    In that case higher cadence with same power would be faster.

  51. I think the thing driving Quintana's climbing cadence is that he started out training near 3000m above sea level. If you're in an oxygen poor environment it doesn't matter how much wear and tear you might be saving by spinning, the O2 cost is just too high.

  52. So I have hired a coach to help me out as I get back into cycling. He says you work on higher cadence to move speed from muscle power to cardiovascular. So the idea is to train the heart, which is easier and can lead to having "legs" available at the end of a long ride. HHMM

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