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What is Cycling Power Output? | Wattage Explained

Watts don’t just lighten up your bulbs and indoors but are used for lighting up bicycles too. The same kind of energy that brightens up your home and makes those bulbs glow can be made on your bike without using any plug. The watts you will be making on your bicycle will be entirely man-made and comprise RPMs, i.e., cadence. Additionally, these watts are dependent upon how much torque you put on the pedal.

Wattage Explained

Putting it simply, watts simply display how hard you work. For example, a horse can generate 746 watts. A superhuman such as a Tour de France winner can generate 1900 watts while going on a single sprint. Other cyclists can go as high as 300 watts on a solo 4-hour ride. Other recreational riders can sustain this wattage in forty-five minutes or one hour.

Watts is the best way to describe how much your energy is being transferred to the bike. The energy you generate depends on how much you ate or slept before the ride, the overall stress levels, the outside temperature, and many other factors. Watts is entirely unbiased, which is why the numbers will be different each time you take a ride because it considers all the factors.

What is the cycling power output?

Cycling power output also refers to that of the “power-to-weight ratio.” The phrase is often quoted in terms of cycling and is openly used by avid cyclists. It is used by many bicycling enthusiasts and is used mainly by many Tour contenders. Power to weight ratio or cycling power output is crucial for every bicycle enthusiast. One can improve his cycling power output over time.

As we all know that money cannot buy happiness, but it can buy you more horsepower. The same goes for cycling. One cannot simply buy more power, but he can most certainly train his muscles and whole body to produce the required amount of power.

The absolute amount of power that one can put on the cycle to make the wattage is not the only factor in determining the overall performance of a cyclists. Instead, the whole thing undertakes other factors, such as the cyclist’s overall body weight, additional weight, and gravity while moving uphill. For cyclists who don’t ride on flat roads and smooth paths, the amount of power that can be produced in relation to the bodyweight is as crucial as the maximum power output. Cycling power output is as important as the power to weight ratio as it predicts the rider’s overall performance.

Understanding power-to-weight ratio/watts per kilogram

As we know, that power to weight ratio can be calculated through a simple formula, i.e., watts/kg. However, there are three ways that you can use to increase your power to weight ratio.

  • Keep your weight constant while focusing on increasing your overall power output.
  • Decrease your weight while keeping your power output constant.
  • Decrease your weight while increasing your power output.

What power to weight ratio is good?

To find out how good is a “good” power to weight ratio, one has to consider many factors. It is dependent upon the time period of your ride and the riding level. Here is a chart that shows a typical power to weight ratio for different types of cyclists.

Rider Type




5 Minutes

20 Minutes

1 Hour










It might look surprising to you that all of these rates are quite different from each other. Still, it shouldn’t intrigue you because, of course, the pro riders will have superior cycling power output than others.

What does cycling power output mean in practice?

Quite importantly, the steeper or accentual the past, the more power to weight ratio matters. On the other hand, the flatter the terrain, the lower power to ratio matters, while the output matters.

How to calculate your own power output?

Calculation of your own cycling power output requires taking two kinds of measurements. First of all, you should consider weighing yourself and then your maximum power output. The first thing can easily be calculated, while for doing the second calculation, you will need a power meter. Additionally, if you cannot get your hands on the power meter for your bicycle, you can use the watt bike.

A Watt bike is a stationary bike with an accurate powering meter installed on it. One can use the pedals to generate wattage and find out his own cycling power output. The main reason for using the stationary watt bike is that you will not have to slow down because there will be no traffic involved.

How to improve cycling power output?

Here are some practical tips that you can use if you want to enhance your cycling power output.

  • If you are a beginner and simply ride the bike, you should consider putting more focus on putting in more miles. This will not only enhance your overall aerobic fitness but will also help in removing excess body fats.
  • If you are an experienced rider and are healthy, you should avoid focusing on adding more miles. Though additional mileage will help you reduce the overall body weight, weight loss when your fat levels are already down could lead to muscle mass loss which could prove to be damaging for the muscle tissue, resulting in major injury. On the other hand, you should focus on specific training such as intervals, segment riding, etc.
  • Always focus on making a healthy diet while you are riding. Avoid sugary substances, and do not take processed foods. On the other hand, you should always focus on eating things packed with vitamins and proteins. Proteins help recover the body from strain after pedaling for a long time, while vitamins will keep your body active. After a session of strenuous cycling, you should refuel your body with real food, and you should, at all costs, avoid eating junk foods or energy drinks.

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