Looking through my files, I discovered that my indoor rides vs outdoor rides differ significantly if comparing cadence.
I use the same bike and sensors and wonder if others have seen something similar?
On average, my outdoor cadence is about 10 RPM higher than indoors – independent from the power output.
If that’s normal, why is that? If not, why could that be?
My only thoughts are that it’s as simple as your trainer provides more resistance than your body moving through air.
On your trainer, power is a measure of what’s required to turn the trainer. Outside, it’s what’s required to move yourself over land. Those two requirements are different and it takes 10 more rpm to create the extra resistance needed outside to match your trainer. Power requirements outside are also going to vary based on wind and grade. Pedal the same gear at the same rpm against a 20 mph headwind outside and your power output is going to crush the same gear/rpm power output on your trainer.
I imagine there are a lot of variables riding on the road that impact cadence. My cadence tends to be lower due to all the starts and stops (I have to isolate specific segments to analyze).
However, in the moment, I also seen to notice I favor a faster cadence than when indoors. I’ve thought this was due to a preference I have to ride in an easier gear to compensate for rolling terrain. I’m not exactly sure why, but it does seem to happen to me, too. I just chalk it up to all of the added variables of riding outside.