Quick Profile: One Cadence Wonder, The Magic of 80 RPM

“One Cadence Wonder—The Magic of 80 RPM” is a progressive-intensity profile that is ridden entirely at a cadence of 80 rpm. In the indoor cycling environment, the cadence of 80 rpm can be used for anything…literally anything! It can be used to simulate a climb or a flat road, it can be used as a standing effort or a seated effort, it can be at a low, moderate, high, or very high intensity, and it’s perfect for a warm-up, a cool-down, or a recovery. Songs with a tempo of 160 bpm also are great for your stretch song. This tempo and cadence really is so versatile.

The idea of not changing your leg speed for an entire class might seem odd at first, but 80 rpm is a natural, comfortable cadence for almost every rider. However, it might be challenging for some people to hold for long periods while out of the saddle. In order to provide everyone an opportunity for success, many of the standing efforts in this profile are relatively short. Nevertheless, riders should be encouraged to lower their cadence when standing if they feel it’s necessary.  

Another benefit of this profile and playlist is that it’s great for learning and understanding music, not only for you, the instructor, but for your riders as well. It demonstrates why just listening to a song won’t be able tell you whether it’s a “climb” or a “flat road.” Remember, a flat or a climb is just a construct we invent indoors—it’s how you choose to describe the terrain that matters in your profile; the effort will be the same regardless of whether they think they are climbing or riding on a flat road. Still, from a music perspective, this is a lesson that could benefit your beat-driven riders if it alters your perception at all about choosing beat-appropriate music when creating playlists. There are always riders who will find the beat no matter what you ask them to do, so choosing music with a beat that supports the effort can be crucial for their success. Further, the energy can vary so much with songs of the same tempo. Some songs will sound mellow, others will sound sad, some will be happy and energetic, some might sound frantic, while others will sound more aggressive. It can be surprising to discover how songs with the same tempo can sound and feel so different. 

As this is a progressive-intensity ride, by anchoring the cadence, progressing the intensity over time is very simple as you just need to add more gear. I have done my best to choose songs that increase in energy as the intensity rises to help support the progressive nature of the ride. I have also chosen shorter songs to keep the energy fluctuating regularly; this may help to distract from the consistent beat for anyone who might find this component a challenge. 

The intensity target for this profile ranges from Zone 1 to Zone 5, but you can also use perceived exertion. Zone 3 will feel moderate to somewhat hard, Zone 4 will feel moderately hard to hard, and Zone 5 will feel very hard.


  1. This was so much fun Bill! I don’t think my riders realized how hard they were going to work, I think they went into the ride thinking it might be “easier” than most of my classes – boy were they wrong! As always, your song choices were spot on, I especially enjoyed the something old. Thank you!!!

    1. Author

      Hi Trish! This profile was actually created by me 🙂 I am so happy that you and your riders enjoyed it. I agree that it’s a very misleading profile in that it seems like it should be easier than it is; my group loves it every time I offer it, and they even request it! I always offer a new version every year with different music choices to keep it fun and fresh. Glad to hear your positive feedback!


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