I ride bikes...
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: New York, NY
Bikes: Trek road, Surly cyclocross, Fetish mountain
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i've heard that this is actually a bit controversial of a subject. there doesn't appear to be one generally accepted rule. but, one thing for sure is that you don't want a crank that's too long. it can mess up your knees and even though you will get greater leverage out of the longer arm, you will have to bend your leg so far that your effective power actually goes down.
a shorter crank will allow you to pedal at a higher rpm, which can have a similar effect to the increased leverage of longer cranks. it seems like a personal decision to me, depending on your riding style. if you're tall and like to pedal at slower speeds, go with longer cranks. but, if you like to spin at high rpm's, then go with shorter cranks.