Need more speed? Think about your pedalling technique!

With so much data about our riding available, it’s easy to get lost in a world of heart rate readings and FTP scores, but it’s time to take a step back and look at one of the fundamentals of cycling – pedalling technique.

Mastering the correct pedalling technique is one of the simplest ways to improve your performance. The benefits of correct technique include, amongst others, better bike handling, improved power output and more speed.

So where to start? Prudential RideLondon’s Indoor Bike Suppliers Wattbike have developed this simple guide to show you what a good pedalling technique looks like. Read on and you’ll find tips on how to improve your technique along with specific pedalling technique sessions for you to try.

The perfect pedalling technique

The Wattbike has a unique pedal technique analysis tool called the Polar View, which draws a simple graph representing your pedalling technique. After much analysis of elite cyclists, Wattbike Sport Scientist Eddie Fletcher developed the Polar View graph of a beginner, intermediate and elite cyclist. Take a look at the diagrams below to find out more about each shape.

Beginner Wattbike

Beginner: This graph shows the cyclist stamping on the pedals which results in lost momentum during the transition between legs (points 1 & 2).

Intermediate Wattbike

Intermediate: To move from beginner to intermediate, where some momentum is maintained during the transition between legs, you should imagine scraping mud off the ball of your foot. This extends the leg drive and improves your transitions.

Intermediate Wattbike

Elite: The ‘perfect technique’ is consistent, balanced between each leg and maintains good pedal momentum throughout.

Top tips for improving your pedalling technique

If you want to increase your power output and speed, these top tips will help you move from a beginner to elite Polar View shape:

  • 1.Set up your bike correctly
    An incorrect saddle position can wreak havoc with your pedalling technique and can also cause recurring problems with your legs, back and shoulders. Think about investing in a professional bike fit service as a good place to start.
  • 2. Think about the whole revolution
    Don’t just push your power through the front of the pedal stroke, instead think about engaging your hamstrings. You’ll feel as though you’re scraping your feet at the bottom of the pedal stroke and getting ready for your next revolution.
  • 3. Achieve balance
    Applying an even force between your left and right leg makes for an efficient pedalling technique. The Wattbike shows leg power through each leg as a percentage, you’ll want to keep the percentage as close to 50/50 as possible.
  • 4. Get your technique right, then practise
    Now you know what to look for, find yourself a Wattbike and get practising. At first, this new approach to pedalling may feel strange, however, after a few sessions the technique will start to become ingrained in your muscle memory. This also means you’ll be able to transfer those all-important performance gains out on the road.