I hate being on the road and missing stuff like this.
I’m fucking dying here looking at David’s posts.
This topic has actually been studied fairly extensively (in a genuinely scientific context) and the most frequently reported result is that the best power output and efficiency is achieved when power output versus radial position is evened out to the best of the cyclists ability and taking into account the fact that a human’s quads (even a career cyclist’s) are generally stronger than any other muscle in the leg and will be able to output more power.
The entire leg, and the quad that drives it is designed to put out significant force/power for all sorts of tasks, the muscles that lift the legs are designed mostly for stroke completion.
This is why walking around in marginal terrain (deep snow, mud, marsh, etc) is so fatiguing, because even for people with high fitness, the extra work in having to lift the leg for no gain is exhausting. And that’s one of the beautiful things about cranks, they allow that leg lift, which is entirely wasted work while striding, to be turned to useful power output.
This is basic biomechanical fact.
Obviously if you just mash on the downstroke and coast through the aft 180 deg of the stroke you’re going to be inefficient and burn out your quads, but I don’t know any performance minded cyclist that doesn’t work on evening out their stroke and extracting power from the aft 180 deg of the stroke. Mostly because being a pedal masher sucks on serious rides.
None of this is a great mystery to any cyclist. The problems are that has the cadence increases, power demands increase and fatigue sets it, maintaining an even pedal stroke is hard.
In all the thousands of words I’ve seen typed, there hasn’t been a single data point. No one is going to take a bunch of mumbo jumbo seriously, people respect data. Power meters aren’t that expensive, go get one.