Reply To: Bike Pedal Position/Angle

Ryan Vaart

I think my favorite part of the article is probably the last paragraph that notes that pedal stroke/style is a forever-debated and studied thing, and there isn’t much consensus on what is best/right/most efficient (nor if people can effectively change their pedal stroke or if it’s more of a function of your anatomy and genes to have one style or another).  The vast number of inventions sold as equipment that will make pedaling more efficient speaks to this debate — everything from cranks on moving cams to let them move more easily through parts of the pedal stroke to oval chainrings to excessively long or short cranks.  We’ve also seen electronic tools to help visualize how circular your pedal force is as well as more current efforts to identify balance between left and right pedal power.

That’s all to say I don’t know that there’s a “right” answer.  I tend to believe that riding a good amount indoors and outside, in a properly fit position (especially one that has an appropriately fit saddle height) with a cadence that is in the ballpark of 85-95 rpm, will quickly result in a pedal stroke that is your 90-95 percent solution.  As long as you’re not in the camp of stomp/stomp/stomp/stomp, or stomp and lift/stomp and lift/stomp and lift, you’re probably going to settle into a reasonable stroke.

That said, it won’t hurt to do things like one-legged pedal drills (indoor at first please!), which will help you feel how much you push around the stroke (and how much you could reasonable do so), or drills that have you thinking about scraping gum off the bottom of your shoes at the top and bottom of the pedal stroke (which will help you feel how much/little you can actually gain by putting energy into those parts of the stroke).

Just like swimming and running, gaining awareness of your body and what you’re doing while you’re biking/swimming/running can only help you in the end.