Cadence & Power Fade

One of the more popular questions I receive on my podcast is what cadence should I ride at.  There is a lot of evidence and success for athletes with a high cadence and also a lot of evidence and success for athletes with a low cadence.

To make things as simple as possible, I would follow this.

  1. Ride at your natural cadence.
  2. In a race simulation session or looking back at past races, analyse the data and look at where can you improve.


Below is a cadence fade chart for both Ironman and half Ironman.  For example if an athlete is doing a Ironman and the athlete does most of the race with a cadence of 90rpm and in the last 30min of the race the cadence drops to 81rpm, this will show a fade of 10% showing that the athlete needs to either change their cadence or look at ways to limit the cadence fad towards the end of their race.

There could be a number of reasons why an athlete sees a cadence fad and may not be the wrong cadence.

I have also added a power fade here as well to help when you analyse your training/race data.

Cadence and power fade for Ironman races

  Cadence % Power %
Excellent 0-5% 0-7%
Good 5-8% 7-15%
Needs Improvement 8-12% 15-20%
Poor 12% + 21% +

Cadence and power fade for Half Ironman

  Cadence % Power %
Excellent 0-3% 0-4%
Good 4-5% 5-8%
Needs Improvement 6-7% 9-14%
Poor 8% + 14% +

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