I've managed to break my bike frame, and after doing some reading, it is possible that I'm not pedaling correctly by putting too much into my power stroke (see the related question I keep breaking my road frames - why?).

What is the correct technique to pedal, and what is the best way to get up to speed without causing too much stress to the bike frame?

  • 4
    It's much more likely that your frame broke for another reason, rather than pedaling style. Broken frames are not uncommon and can be caused by manufacturing defects, wear & tear, or weakness caused by previous crashes. The poster of the linked question has broken 4 frames all in the same area. Where did your frame break?
    – darkcanuck
    Commented Mar 7, 2011 at 21:08
  • Broke right on the weld between the down tube and the seat tube.
    – Sasha
    Commented Mar 8, 2011 at 7:40
  • 2
    If it's on the weld then odds are high it could be a defect. Have you contacted the frame manufacturer? I had a similar problem once and they replaced the entire frame free, plus labour to reassemble the bike.
    – darkcanuck
    Commented Mar 9, 2011 at 0:23
  • Seems like it was a case of a bad weld. The replacement frame also broke after a couple of years of use.
    – Sasha
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 4:24

4 Answers 4


Short answer: It sounds pretty unbelievable to me, but you could try pedalling with easier gears and spinning legs faster instead of applying lots of power.


There's a lot of theories about correct ways to pedal and different ways to do it, and different equipment setups that can either help you do it right or help you learn to do it right. But unless you're worried about small differences (like for competitive riding), it can be kept relatively simple. I'm sure we have some users who can talk more about specific pedaling techniques.

  1. Pedal in an easier gear (but faster).
  2. Try to use more of the pedal stroke.
  3. Don't fight your own pedal power.
  4. Don't stand. Stay on the saddle.
  5. Generally try to keep everything smooth and even with no bouncing.

The easier gear thing should be fairly obvious. You can get the same power by pedaling faster in a lower gear. This should reduce the strain on the bottom bracket area. Don't power through a tough gear when starting up, downshift while slowing down.

There's a tendency for some people to "mash" the pedal from a bit in front of the top of the stroke down to about the bottom. Often with a substantial side-to-side weight shift. That will always be the most powerful part of your pedal stroke, but try to also use the top of the stroke and the bottom. That kind of mashing seems likely to be harder on the frame. Try to push the pedal over the top and scrape it across the bottom.

As far as fighting your own pedal power: on the back side of the stroke, try to lift your foot a bit. Don't lift so much that your foot actually comes off of a platform pedal (this is an advantage of clips or clipless systems). Most people leave a fair amount of weight on the back pedal and they're pushing against it with the front pedal. If you provide some lift to the rear foot you'll go faster and produce less total downward force on the bottom bracket. Especially if you're clipped in, it might feel like you're pulling the rear pedal up.

Standing puts your weight all on the bottom bracket and handlebars. The bike is designed to have a good portion of your weight on the saddle. Occasionally standing shouldn't be a problem, but doing it too often is a common bad habit and hard on the bike.


'Spinning' is the idea that the momentum of the legs is maintained through using a slightly higher gear than you might be able to push it with. So you'll be trying to maintain an almost constant rhythm, you don't push explicitly - or if you do, you're matching it with a pull on the other side. By constant I mean both rev to rev, but almost within the revolution, pushing harder (even on both sides) is going to be accelerating and slowing down within each stroke - maintenance of speed and momentum is generally easier than creation.

Too much power is a slightly bizarre, but completely credible idea: if you're pedalling 80 or 100 revs per minute, or even slightly higher, you should be trying to keep each rev the same. Pushing significantly harder for a few revs (or parts of revs) won't make a massive speed difference, but will hurt you and possibly your bike!

Straight away, a quick observation is that these styles will only really work if you're clipped in (or maybe with straps).


You are going to break you before you break a bike frame - with bad pedaling !

  • 1
    I doubt anyone posting here has as much power in their legs as a pro does. Even with their spinning there is climbing and they put a lot of force on those pedals. Sure they ride nicer frames but it's pretty unbelievable that anyone could break a frame from pedaling too hard. Commented Mar 7, 2011 at 17:23
  • 1
    I do think there's more to the story that that but I'm not convinced that the peak power output of some people here is automatically less than a pro's. Maybe Cav, Hushovd or any decent sprinter would be head and shoulders above us, but I'd like to give an average domestique a go on a peak power meter - and I don't think I'm particularly special :) Or maybe I'm just deluded ...
    – Unsliced
    Commented Mar 7, 2011 at 21:48

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