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J Sports Sci. 1991 Summer;9(2):191-203.

The influence of cadence and power output on the biomechanics of force application during steady-rate cycling in competitive and recreational cyclists.

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Biomechanics Laboratory, School of Physical Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


The intent of this study was two-fold. The first aim was to investigate how cyclists orient forces applied by the feet to the pedals in response to varying power output and cadence demands, and the second was to assess whether competitive riders responded differently from recreational riders to such variations. One group consisted of US Cycling Federation category II licensed competitive cyclists (n = 7) and the second group consisted of recreational cyclists with no competitive experience (n = 38). The subjects rode an instrumented stationary 10-speed geared bicycle mounted on a platform designed to provide rolling and inertial resistance for six pedal rate/power output conditions for a minimum of 2 min for each ride. The pedalling rates were 60, 80 and 100 rev min-1 and the power outputs 100 and 235 W. All rides were presented in random order. The forces applied to the pedals, the pedal angle with respect to the crank and the crank angle were recorded for the final 30 s of each ride. From these data, a number of variables were computed including peak normal and tangential forces, crank torque, angular impulse, proportion of resultant force perpendicular to the crank, and pedal angle. Both the competitive and recreational groups responded similarly to increases in cadence and power output. There was a decrease in the peak normal forces, whereas the tangential component remained almost constant as cadence was increased. Regardless of cadence, the riders responded to increased power output demands by increasing the amount of positive angular impulse. All the riders had a reduced index of effectiveness as cadence increased. This was found to be the result of the large effect of the forces during recovery on this calculation. There were no significant differences between the two groups in each of these variables over all conditions. It was concluded that the lack of difference between the groups was a combined consequence of the limited degrees of freedom associated with the bicycle and that the relatively low power output for the competitive riders was insufficient to discriminate or highlight superior riding technique.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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