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In cycling, cadence is the number of revolutions of the crank per minute; roughly speaking, this is the speed at which a cyclist is pedalling/turning the pedals. Cadence is similar in some ways to wheel speed, but is a distinct measurement.

Cyclists typically have a preferred cadence at which they feel most comfortable, and on bicycles with many gears it is possible to stick to a favourite cadence at a wide range of speeds. Recreational and utility cyclists typically cycle around 60–80 rpm; racing cyclists around 80–120 rpm and sprinters up to 170 rpm for short bursts[1]. The professional racing cyclist and Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong is known for his technique of keeping up high cadences of around 110 rpm for hours on end to improve efficiency[2].

Some cyclists believe that some cadences are more efficient than others[3], but the wide range of preferred cadences among racing cyclists suggest that the difference, if any, is small[4].

An important point is that any particular cyclist has only a narrow range of preferred cadences, often smaller than the general ranges listed above. This in turn influences the number and range of gears which are appropriate for any particular cycling conditions[5].

Newer cyclocomputers are able to measure cadence, and relay the reading to the cyclist via a display, typically mounted on the bicycle's handlebars.

See also[]

  • Bicycle gearing
  • Tachometer — a motor vehicle's tachometer is analogous to a bicycle's cadence; they are both measurements of the drivetrain's rotational speed prior to the "transmission" (derailleur)


  1. Template:Cite web
  2. Hewitt, Ben (July 2004). "Tour de Lance". Wired (CondéNet) 12 (07). Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  3. Hansen, Ernst A.; Smith, Gerald (2009). "Factors affecting cadence choice during submaximal cycling and cadence influence on performance". International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance (Human Kinetics). 
  4. Marsh, Anthony P. (Summer 1996). "What Determines The Optimal Cadence?". Cycling Science. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  5. Template:Cite web


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