In 2015, U of San Francisco sponsored a symposium, Medicine of Cycling, Bike Fit Conference. Following are interesting précis on our most asked questions re pedaling rate, crank length, and pushing versus pulling pedal technique. Papers presented are on line at

The University of California, San Francisco Office of Continuing Medical Education educational opportunities for physicians and allied health care professionals to improve their abilities as practitioners by way of a comprehensive selection of CME activities. UCSF offers over 200 activities each year in all medical specialties serving over 35,000 annual course participants.

Myths and Science in Cycling, John McDaniel, PhD, Kent State University, Jim Martin, PhD – U of Utah Steve Elmer, PhD- Michigan Tech

Summary: Pedaling Rate
For non-competitive cyclists ≈70 rpms is the most metabolically efficient
Cyclists pedal at higher rates to Minimize recruitment of fast twitch fibers, Reduce muscle fatigue, Improve blood flow in the legs
Physiological adaptations with training allow elite cyclists to pedal at higher rates with less neuromuscular fatigue.

Summary: Crank Length and Maximum Power
Small effect
Significant only at extreme lengths
170mm cranks compromise power of the tallest and shortest riders by no more 0.5%
No change in joint power contributions

Summary: Pedaling Technique
Elite cyclists DO NOT pull up more than regional level cyclists
Pulling up is significantly LESS efficient! 7.4% LESS power for same VO2 than preferred pedaling technique
Pedaling is a basic leg extension / leg flexion action likely hard wired in the spinal cord



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