Pedalling Technique - What the Polar View Shapes Mean

Training Guide > Cycling Tests > Pedalling Technique Test > Pedalling Technique - What the Polar View Shapes Mean

One of the unique features of the Wattbike is the ability to monitor your cycling technique as you ride. This is shown as a force curve on the Wattbike Performance Computer known as the Polar View. The Polar View shows the force applied to the pedals and the position of the pedals when applying this force.

When cycling, you can play around with the graph – pushing on the left leg will create a large force shape on the left, pushing hard on the right leg will enlarge the graph on the right. You see a percentage beneath each side, telling you how much power each leg is generating. Standing up and altering your cycling technique will produce a change in the graph.

How to read the graph

The Polar View shows the force the rider applies as the pedals go round. There are 4 distinct points in the pedal stroke which is explained below.

Where the pedals are:

pedal positions on a polar graph

  • Point A - Both pedals are in a vertical line. Your left leg is at the highest point; your right leg is vertical at its lowest point.
  • Point B - Both pedals are horizontal, the left leg on the drive phase – the right leg on the recovery phase
  • Point C - Both pedals are vertical. Your left leg is at the bottom of the revolution and your right leg is at the top
  • Point D - Both pedals are horizontal, the right leg on the drive phase – the left leg on the recovery phase

What your legs are doing:

  • Moving from point A to point B - As you start to drive with your left leg the graph moves anti-clockwise from A to B. The left leg begins to apply force to the pedals, the right leg is finishing the drive phase and beginning the recovery
  • Moving from point B to point C -The most powerful part of the left-leg drive. Most riders normally reach their most powerful point just after the horizontal. As the left leg gets towards vertical again (point C) the power normally starts to come off as the rider transitions from left-leg drive to right-leg.
  • Moving from point C to point D - The right leg begins to apply force to the pedals, the left leg is finishing the drive phase and beginning the recovery
  • Moving from point D to point A - The most powerful part of the right-leg drive. Most riders normally reach their most powerful point just after the horizontal. As the right leg gets towards vertical again (point A) the power normally starts to come off as the rider transitions from right-leg drive to left-leg.

Example shapes

The Figure of Eight - Beginner

figure of eight, beginner polar graph

This cyclist losing too much pedal momentum on the transition from right-leg to left-leg (point 1) and left-leg to right-leg (point 2). The cyclist is only using the muscles on the front of the thigh and is “stamping” on the pedals.

Tip: Being properly attached in the toe cages or using cycling shoes will help sustain power throughout the pedal stroke.

The Peanut - Good

the peanut, polar graph

This cyclist maintains some pedal momentum between leg drives. However, there is still a noticeable loss of momentum – especially since at point 2 there is a larger dead spot than at point 1.

Tip: Imagine scraping mud of the ball of your shoes to help extend the leg drive and improve the transitions

The Sausage - Elite

the sausage, polar graph

This cyclist has a large rounded shape, which is consistent, balanced between each leg, and he maintains good pedal momentum throughout. Typical shape of a strong drive and a balanced recovery.

 

 

 

 

Angle of peak force

The angle of peak force should be the same in each leg. However the actual angle of peak force is dependent upon a number of things - your cycling position, whether in a seated or standing position and whether using high/low resistance settings and/or high or low cadence.

Different combinations will have different physiological effects, matching your heart rate and power training zones to the resistance and cadence levels (use the tables in this guide to help) is a key component of getting the best out of your Wattbike training.

Ten ways to improve your force curve



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