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Folks,

I've been riding without cleats for many years; but made the switch across to SPDs on my mountain bike a couple of years ago - the 8 months I've had my road bike I've always been riding with SPD-SL cleats.

As I was so long without cleats, I've a pedaling technique that is almost entirely based on the pushing motion from whichever foot is in front, I have to consciously concentrate on trying to pull up at the same time with the opposite foot - something which I only manage in short bursts when I really think about it.

If I'm honest, the only time I really pull noticeably on the pedals is when my legs need a break when climbing and I don't want to get out of the saddle.

I'm fairly sure my technique is rubbish (though it seems to work ok for me), how did you teach yourself to pull as well as push on the pedals - knowing my muscle memory I'm not sure it will ever become a natural thing for me.

What is the power ratio from pushing to pulling? If it's meant to be something like 80-20 then I'm probably not too far off, if it is meant to be 50-50 then I've a long way to go.

Any help appreciated.

Cheers,

9 comments

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herrkaa [5 posts] 1 year ago
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Two quotes that helped me improve were these:
Lemond said that the upstroke is like pushing your knee toward the bars and Eddy Merckx suggested to think of scraping the mud off the bottom of your foot. [Citations needed.]
Your leg is already so conditioned to do the down stroke, that there is no mental image necessary.

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Chris James [363 posts] 1 year ago
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I wouldn't worry. The people with a really fluid style don't look like they are thinking about what their feet are doing at 100rpm.

Just try to pedal smoothly (i.e. pedalling circles). Unless you are going up steep hills or pushing at a lowish cadence most people don't pull up much.

Most beginners stomp on the pedals because they are cycling at low cadences and fighting the bike. Pedalling with a higher cadence will soon encourage a smoother pedalling style.

(Apolgies, I re-read your original post and yoo made clear that you weren't a beginner!)

80/20 sounds fine to me. I would have thought you'll just injure yourself trying to pull up as much as you push down.

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Joeinpoole [439 posts] 1 year ago
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According to Grant Petersen in his excellent book "Just Ride", nobody actually 'pedals in circles'.

"This has been proven by laboratory studies of top-notch riders hooked up to machines, with wires taped to various muscles to see which ones are firing at which part of the stroke. These studies prove that at normal pedalling cadences *nobody* pulls up on the pedals. Even pro mash. The most efficient pedalers just minimise the weight on the upward-moving pedal, so that one leg isn't fighting the other"

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sergius [292 posts] 1 year ago
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Thanks,

That's interesting, I've never really associated high cadence with smoother pedaling style before. I do have a relatively high cadence, I try to keep the cadence consistent and use the gearing to control speed/power when climbing, other than a couple of particularly nasty climbs near me (Leith Hill / White Down Lane) I pretty much stay in the saddle and just spin things out.

I occasionally get the small jerk/bite at the top of my stroke which I've been trying to eliminate, it only tends to appear at very high speeds when descending or when things level off at the top of a big climb - I've just assumed it was natures way of telling me to change up a gear.

I think I'll try and concentrate more on just pedaling smoothly with a bit of a pull on the up stroke. I'd always kind of assumed that the power output from both the up and down motions would be the same - if that's not really the case than that makes a lot more sense and I'm probably not too far from a good technique.

I'm getting a bike fit next weekend as well, I'll try and get some analysis done when I'm on camera and can actually see what my legs are doing more easily.

Cheers,

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Chris James [363 posts] 1 year ago
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Joeinpoole wrote:

These studies prove that at normal pedalling cadences *nobody* pulls up on the pedals. Even pro mash. The most efficient pedalers just minimise the weight on the upward-moving pedal, so that one leg isn't fighting the other"

That's was what I actually meant by pedalling in circles!

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alexjones5 [27 posts] 1 year ago
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on a flat section of road unclip one foot and try pedalling one legged. After a couple of minutes try this with the other leg.
This will improve your action. You could also try riding on rollers as a smooth pedalling action is essential!

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bigmel [106 posts] 1 year ago
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Joeinpoole wrote:

The most efficient pedalers just minimise the weight on the upward-moving pedal, so that one leg isn't fighting the other"

Aim for 100/0
Getting the zero is the tricky bit. Having spent your time actually pushing down on the pedal during it's upstroke in order to remain in contact with it, the best you can do is minimize the resistance to your downstroke.

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graham_f [166 posts] 1 year ago
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+1 for Alex's suggestion of riding on rollers - you can really feel it when you're not pedalling smoothly on them. The other thing that I've found really helped is riding a fixed gear, as going down hills your top speed is restricted by the rate at which you can spin the pedals.

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fukawitribe [1430 posts] 1 year ago
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Some excellent suggestions here - one-legged pedalling is particularly good at showing you where in the cycle you might want to apply pressure, and a great exercise in itself.

As far as the 'pull-up' is concerned - I wouldn't quite think of it on quite those terms. The usual advice i've seen is along the lines of

* coming up to the top of the stroke, try and kick/push your foot forward in your shoe over the top to accelerate it over the top
* push down (much as you already do) from roughly 2 o'clock to 5 o'clock-ish
* pull back with your foot (towards the rear of your shoe) as you approach and go through the bottom of the cycle
* relax and unload the foot as you come back round again

..so it's something like

kick - push - pull - relax

It takes time to get used to things, I still don't have a great or even good action, but you can begin to feel some differences almost immediately (particularly with the drag). You can try adding in bits of that, one side at a time but whilst clipped into both sides, when out and about - it'll get more natural over time and you'll stop actively thinking about the details so much.

As always, there's plenty of stuff online (too much sometimes) - bike-fit guru Steve Hogg is always a good person to listen to (IMO) and has some interesting stuff about pedalling here

http://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/bikefit/2011/05/pedalling-technique-...

Whatever happens, I guess it's not the end of the world if the technique isn't someones idea of perfect as long as you're having fun. Good luck with whatever you do.