Original Article

European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 97, Issue 4, pp 424-431

First online:

Optimal power-to-mass ratios when predicting flat and hill-climbing time-trial cycling

  • A. M. NevillAffiliated withResearch Institute of Healthcare Sciences, Simon Jobson, School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, University of Wolverhampton Email author 
  • , S. A. JobsonAffiliated withResearch Institute of Healthcare Sciences, Simon Jobson, School of Sport, Performing Arts and Leisure, University of Wolverhampton
  • , R. C. R. DavisonAffiliated withDepartment of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth
  • , A. E. JeukendrupAffiliated withSchool of Sport and Exercise Sciences, The University of Birmingham

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The purpose of this article was to establish whether previously reported oxygen-to-mass ratios, used to predict flat and hill-climbing cycling performance, extend to similar power-to-mass ratios incorporating other, often quick and convenient measures of power output recorded in the laboratory [maximum aerobic power (W MAP), power output at ventilatory threshold (W VT) and average power output (W AVG) maintained during a 1 h performance test]. A proportional allometric model was used to predict the optimal power-to-mass ratios associated with cycling speeds during flat and hill-climbing cycling. The optimal models predicting flat time-trial cycling speeds were found to be (W MAP m −0.48)0.54, (W VT m −0.48)0.46 and (W AVG m −0.34)0.58 that explained 69.3, 59.1 and 96.3% of the variance in cycling speeds, respectively. Cross-validation results suggest that, in conjunction with body mass, W MAP can provide an accurate and independent prediction of time-trial cycling, explaining 94.6% of the variance in cycling speeds with the standard deviation about the regression line, s=0.686 km h−1. Based on these models, there is evidence to support that previously reported \(\dot{V}\hbox{O}_{2}\)-to-mass ratios associated with flat cycling speed extend to other laboratory-recorded measures of power output (i.e. Wm −0.32). However, the power-function exponents (0.54, 0.46 and 0.58) would appear to conflict with the assumption that the cyclists’ speeds should be proportional to the cube root (0.33) of power demand/expended, a finding that could be explained by other confounding variables such as bicycle geometry, tractional resistance and/or the presence of a tailwind. The models predicting 6 and 12% hill-climbing cycling speeds were found to be proportional to (W MAP m −0.91)0.66, revealing a mass exponent, 0.91, that also supports previous research.


Power supply and demand Cycling speed Maximal aerobic power (W MAP) Power at ventilatory threshold (W VT) Average power output (W AVG)