It might seem that shifting and pedalling are obvious and intuitive activities. However, you should be aware of a few principles that can be greatly beneficial, especially for beginners. Once you learn something wrong it is not easy to unlearn it, and it can make riding much less enjoyable.
We should shift fluently and slightly in advance. This is why we always need to look ahead and be ready for a change of level or even the need to stop. The chain should remain in its optimal line and we should make use of the whole gear spread of the cassette and chainrings.
We must never cross the chain excessively – meaning combining the large chainring with the smallest cog and vice versa. Apart from reducing the lifetime of the components, we also risk the chain falling off.
Shifting when putting your full force on the pedals is also risky as there is the danger of damaging or even breaking the chain. This usually happens when the rider does not pay enough attention to what is ahead of them.
Pedalling itself can be divided into two fluently connected moves. The first phase consists of pushing the pedal down, which transfers the energy into moving forward. When bringing the pedal up, the rider should engage their calf and hamstrings and connect both moves fluently together. This is the only way to use the input energy most efficiently.
To pedal comfortably and economically we need to keep the right cadence. On level ground, our cadence should be between 90 and 120 rpm. When climbing, we use lower gears and keep a cadence of 60 to 80 rpm.
The optimal cadence differs from rider to rider. It depends on the training, the season and many other factors. Your personal cycling trainer will give you the proper advice.
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