Different Pedaling Techniques in Cycling

by Chuck Robert
The right pedaling techniques can maximize the cyclists speed.

The right pedaling techniques can maximize the cyclists speed.

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Runners can develop personal running styles and pacing, but cyclists are limited in how they can pedal, since they must push downward on the pedals. However, there are some pedaling techniques that you can use, which mostly involve timing your muscle contractions at the right moments to increase either efficiency or power.

Typical Pedaling Motion

When pedaling, you typically make three motions. Push the pedal down, kick the pedal upward and then raise your feet back up to the top stroke position. When coming back up, you can push the pedal with more force as the pedal reaches the top to generate extra power.


You can maximize your cycling speed by using leverage to increase the force you place on the crank arms, which is the part of the bicycle that converts the force generated by your legs into force that powers the wheels. The applied force must be completely perpendicular to the crank arm.

Foot Angle and Force

The only two ways to increase the power of the bike is to alter the angle the foot hits the crank arm and increase the power that you generate when pushing down on the pedals. Your legs will adapt to the amount of force that you expect them to exert when you pedal. Practicing cycling can improve the power that you can exert. When pedaling, most people apply the majority of their force downward, since that is a motion similar to running.


You do not have very much variety when choosing how to pedal, since the design of the bicycle only allows people to move their pedals in circles. Some people try to remove weight from the pedals when they are coming up, allowing the momentum generated by initially pushing downward to keep the wheels turning. Thus, only one leg is generating force at a given time. Pulling upward when pedaling has a tradeoff, since it generates more force but is less efficient.


When people pedal harder, they go faster. However, this can consume more energy, so some people choose not to pedal when they are tired or traveling downhill, instead allowing the momentum of the bike to carry them forward until they need to pedal to increase speed or travel uphill. Cyclists can maximize the workout they get from cycling by leaning forward while pedaling.

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