Jerky pedal strokes

Hello all! I’m a bit of a noob to cycling, but have gotten bitten by the bug in a major way. I initially got into cycling about a year ago. About 4 years ago I was diagnosed with young onset parkinson’s disease. About a year ago I decided to get serious about the aspects of my health that I am able to control. Enter my obsession with cycling. A year later I’m 70 lbs lighter, my symptoms are much improved, I’m riding about 50-100 miles a week between the trainer and outdoor rides with the local club, and totally geeking out on FTP and other training metrics.

My question is this: whenever I try to do high cadence work at a low resistance/power I have a really hard time keeping my pedal stroke smooth. It’s to the point that I’m hearing a dead spot or clunk in each revolution. For example, in today’s stage of the Wahooligan tour the workout alternated between low cadence climbing and high cadence descending. I was totally fine with the climbing, but super jerky and unable to maintain a cadence above about 85 smoothly on the descents.

I’m trying to figure out if this is a) due to my parkinson’s or something that is common to beginners and b) what I can do to improve my ability to pedal at a high cadence smoothly.

I look forward to hearing from you all! And to all of you riding the Wahooligan tour: Thank you!!! The DPF has been a wonderful resource for me as I have worked to come to grips with my diagnosis.


I suggest checking out the Elements of Style workout.


Welcome forum and also to the cycling lifestyle! You can never leave!

The clunky pedalling thing is real. I completely concur with @Heretic on doing Elements of style. Also there are a few cadence workouts (just search for cadence) which will also help.
I also find GOAT really good for good low cadence, high torque technique.

One other thing I’ll ask is, have you had a professional bike fit? This can make a world of difference to pedal stroke and avoiding dead spots. On my race bike, if my saddle is even a couple of mm out, I battle with cadence and dead spots. It’s also why I don’t have a suspension seatpost on my gravel bike.

Am also so stoked th3 DPF has helped you! I shall up my fundraising efforts more!


First, everyone has dead spots in their pedal stroke so you are not alone! Those of us who have been riding longer have just learned to minimize the dead spot and the effects. Follow Heretic’s advice and do the Elements of Style workout which shows you how to isolate the pedal stroke into quadrants and get the feel of each one. After you have done the guided workout you can just do the cadence exercises a couple times a week or as much as you think you need.

Second, there is such a thing as self selected cadence. This usually ends up being the cadence your body is most efficient at and you will find that your self selected cadence will increase over time and plateau. Most people end up between 80 and 95 or so.


Welcome @astarr!

There are a few articles and podcasts that discuss cadence:

Wahoo Knowledge Podcasts:

:rocket: New Episode Understanding 4DP Pt 1: Neuromuscular Power :rocket:

:rocket: New Knowledge Episode - The Benefit of High Cadence Training :rocket:

Wahoo Knowledge blog posts:

Cadence is definitely something that you can improve on with practise and training, both how smooth your pedal stroke is, and the maximum cadence you can achieve. As @Heretic says, check out Elements of Style as a starting point.


Firstly well done on your amazing progress so far! And welcome to the joy of the cycling bug and the watts obsession that is a prime symptom!

Others have already given some great suggestions on this thread that I agree with, another useful element is the strength, yoga, and mobility work. Making sure all your leg muscles are working well and strong, as well as nicely mobile will help reduce jerkiness when pedalling

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May also be an idea to check both cranks are properly secure.