Cadence is the rate at which you crank the pedals, measured in revolutions per minute (rpm), and is a central factor in improving cycling performance. A higher cadence reduces the force needed for each pedal stroke, and thus improves overall performance.
Experienced cyclists are more efficient at higher pedal rates, and tend to ride at a cadence above 90 rpm, whereas recreational or novice cyclists usually keep to lower rates. Like speed, cadence is commonly lower during uphill stretches than during long flat roads. Body weight also plays a role. Lighter cyclists tend to have faster pedal speeds than heavier cyclists.
Cadence is normally kept above average levels during cadence technique training sessions and at a much lower level during sport-specific strength training.
In experienced cyclists, increasing pedal cadence encourages recruitment of type I muscle fibers (slow-twitch), minimizing type II fiber (fast-twitch) recruitment. Individuals with a higher percentage of type I muscle fibers tend to be more efficient cyclists.
During long sessions, cyclists can forget to monitor cadence. Using a monitoring instrument to set value limits enables cyclists to easily keep track of cadence goals.