Conventional wisdom says that a smooth pedal stroke makes you faster.
But we’ve seen studies arguing that it’s the other way around: Fitness contributes to a smooth pedal stroke. The fitter and faster you become, the easier it is to pedal smoothly at a given intensity.
The bottom line, though, is that a smooth stroke increases your efficiency — more so the longer the ride — and it makes you look more stylish on the bike, too. A smooth and supple stroke is the mark of an accomplished roadie. The French even have a name for it, souplesse.
Here’s one good drill to help you pedal better at any intensity level:
Mentally divide your stroke into three parts:
—power the pedal down
—pull through at the bottom like you’re scraping mud off your shoe
—pull your knee forward over the top like your aiming it at the handlebar
To work on each part, concentrate on one during every three pedal strokes.
For example, to improve your downstroke, give the pedal a little kick as the crankarm goes forward from vertical to horizontal. Do this with the right leg, pedal normally three stokes, then do it with the left leg.
After couple of minutes, pedal normally and then add similar emphasis to scraping the pedal through the bottom. Finally, accentuate pulling over the top.
Make this drill part of every ride. Soon you’ll notice a difference in the smoothness and power of your whole stroke.