Pedal analysis is a new tool made available by power meter tools and smart trainers so I had a look at GCN's video on pedal analysis.
It would appear that professional cyclists have a less smooth pedal cadence. What exactly does that mean? It basically means they are not pedalling with even pressure around the full pedal stroke. This makes sense to me as you'd want to apply most of your pressure on the downstroke and not on the upstroke. What is the ideal pedal stroke? Does it really matter? Should you just try to pedal with what feels natural to you? Some people are pedal mashers and I'm wondering if that's less efficient or more efficient. In my own 'research' I've sometimes tried to focus on making my pedal strokes nice and round and smooth and what I've found is that it feels like I don't have to pedal as hard to get the same power output. Most of my 'research' has been done close to the 200 watts range so it's at a pretty low wattage.
It was once taught that you should do pedal drills by imagining scraping the mud off the bottom of your shoe while going through the downstroke. This conventional wisdom seems to have been overturned by more recent findings. There have also been some studies done that suggest using flat pedals is not as inefficient as once thought. While the above video does not address all of these issues it is certainly an interesting topic albeit a controversial one.