Big/little ring trainer difference

Hi, I have recently realised a noticeable difference between putting out a set wattage whilst on my kickr19 direct drive trainer depending on whether I use the small or big front ring.

I have always trained in the small ring and mid cassette for chainline reasons.

Whilst completing my standing start 15 sec seated sprints today I was able to hit much higher watts using the big ring. I also notice endurance efforts are loads easier whilst in the big ring.

I wonder if my lower cadence ability/preference suits the bigger ring and subsequent impact this has on the pedal effort.

Should I stick to the little ring whilst training and enjoy the gains found when using the bigger ring outside, or use the bigger ring whilst training? I ride flat courses mainly and I guess the bigger ring is more applicable to my goals/events.

I suppose this is really a question about whether to play to your strengths or work on weakness.



This is quite a can of worms. We have a MASSIVE thread on the TR forum covering this from about every possible angle. I won’t link here unless people want to burn several drinks and hours of their life :stuck_out_tongue:

In short, flywheel speed seems to feel different from one extreme to the other. What feels easier/harder, better/worse, etc. varies with each rider and their riding/training history, the trainer in use, and other issues. It’s best for people to experiment and determine what they think best suits their needs.

Most important, I feel it is usually best to test in the gearing (and related flywheel speed) that you plan to use for most of your training. It may be less than ideal to test at one extreme and train at the other.

Likely, this all falls into the “marginal gains” territory, and that is if there even is an actual difference in training impact, which is totally unsettled and hotly debated.


While I don’t know all the specifics, there is a power ceiling depending on which gear you are in. I’ve hit that ceiling in slower speed gears only to realize why so I then shifted a few gears and could hit the target I needed to on my KICKR. Perhaps it’s unrelated to what you experienced although it wouldn’t be hard to verify by looking back at previous workouts.

Thanks, I’ll search for this over at TR when I’ve got some time to kill. Seems to me that this must have big implications for users and of course other platforms such as Zwift.

Maybe I’m at one of the more extreme ends and feel more of a difference than others would.

I think I’ll wait till the end of the 10 week resistance plan and then complete an ftp test in the big ring and go from there.

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This is really useful to know. Thanks.