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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 05-24-14, 01:57 PM   #1
rekon
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Do Short Cyclists Have A Disadvantage?

Height is a significant factor in many sports but I was wondering if cycling is one of them.

Are there any studies and/or has it been proven that short cyclists (under 5'7) are at a disadvantage compared to tall cyclists?

It seems as if the lighter and stronger you are - the better. So, if that's true height shouldn't matter - but what do I know.

Thoughts?
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Old 05-24-14, 02:14 PM   #2
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Usually shorter cyclists are lighter as well, so a lot of the pure climbers are relatively short, for ex. Quintata, Pozzovivo, Aredondo, JRod etc.. As in climbing what matters is not absolute wattage, but watts per kg.
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Old 05-24-14, 02:15 PM   #3
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Caudel Evans and Levi Leipheimer are both very short, doubt LL tops 5'5". Their credentials are about as good as they get. Cavendish is listed at 5'9", maybe with cowboy boots. His resume' isn't to shoddy either.
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Old 05-24-14, 02:25 PM   #4
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just psychologically..."short man syndrome" can't be avoided...

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Old 05-24-14, 02:27 PM   #5
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Short riders have an advantage in that they can ride under semi's on the expressway. This is either a make or break strategy for training.
On one hand, if the shorter rider can keep up, he will be come stronger and flourish. But if not, it culls the herd which eventually results in a taller population by extinction.. A further tidbit is...it is broadly speculated that this is how Amazon women came into being. Btw, no affiliation with the widely successful retail website.
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Old 05-24-14, 02:39 PM   #6
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I am somewhat short/average height... all i gotta say, is the smaller framed bikes i ride are lighter then most
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Old 05-24-14, 02:46 PM   #7
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If anything, would think it is an advantage. Aerodynamics, body weight,, bike weight? How many pros have an NBA type physique?
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Old 05-24-14, 02:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gc3 View Post
just psychologically..."short man syndrome" can't be avoided...

I normally don't respond to this kind of stuff but dude you must have 2 much time on your hands to find stuff like this and keep it in your photobucket.
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Old 05-24-14, 02:59 PM   #9
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There is a chart which I can't locate showing the height and weight of pro cyclists. There are exceptions like Cadel Evans and others but my recollection was that most were over about 6'. Larger riders would tend to have larger cardiovascular systems and a higher absolute VO2Max. That won't help on climbs where power to weight is the critical factor but for general riding it's the Power to CdA ratio that is important so it depend on who can get into the most aerodynamic position so perhaps tall skinny riders with a smaller frontal area but still large heart and lungs have an advantage.
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Old 05-24-14, 03:01 PM   #10
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Shorter cyclists have a moderate advantage for climbing.

Look up square-cube law. Basically, your mass is proportional to the ^3 power of height (volume). The surface area of your lungs scale proportional to the square of height (^2). Lung surface area is basically correlated with your aerobic capacity. So on average a shorter cyclist would have a Power/Weight ratio. If I recall, Lance was one of the taller TdF winners at 5'10".

That said, if you're very short, the bike weight becomes a significant issue. A 5'0" rider would probably have an ideal body weight <100 lbs, and the 15 lbs min weight makes a large difference compared with a 130 rider on the same 15lbs bike.
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Old 05-24-14, 03:15 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
If I recall, Lance was one of the taller TdF winners at 5'10".
I think you might want to check that.
Wiggins 6'3"
Froome 6'1"
Miguel Indurain 5 time winner 6'3"
Eddy Merckx 5 time winner 6'1"
Greg Lemond 5'10"
Bernard Hinault 5'9"
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Old 05-24-14, 03:27 PM   #12
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Riis and Ullrich are both 6ft+, as is Andy Schleck.

And of course they all competed with midgets like Pantani and Contador.

There are advantages to height in cycling, more leverage with big long thighs, leading to more power, and usually bigger lung capacity as has been said. Very small riders have weight advantages in the high mountains, though, as well as a shorter wheelbase being better for getting around switchbacks on descents.
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Old 05-24-14, 03:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsa103 View Post
Shorter cyclists have a moderate advantage for climbing.

Look up square-cube law. Basically, your mass is proportional to the ^3 power of height (volume). The surface area of your lungs scale proportional to the square of height (^2). Lung surface area is basically correlated with your aerobic capacity. So on average a shorter cyclist would have a Power/Weight ratio. If I recall, Lance was one of the taller TdF winners at 5'10".

That said, if you're very short, the bike weight becomes a significant issue. A 5'0" rider would probably have an ideal body weight <100 lbs, and the 15 lbs min weight makes a large difference compared with a 130 rider on the same 15lbs bike.

ya, it seems like the small rider is getting the short () end of the stick here.


a 15 pound bike may be safe for a 180 pound rider, but is way overbuilt for a 120 pounder. he or she should not be penalized by having to carry a proportionately larger percentage of weight by a boneheaded blanket bike weight rule. if the UCI doesn't find something more equitable, then they just aren't trying, IMO.

and, no, i don't think small riders have any natural disadvantage due their weight, but i think they are, to some degree, discriminated against.

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Old 05-24-14, 04:08 PM   #14
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I'm around 6'2 and I noticed the power I put out leaves a lot of the shorter riders in the dust. Just my observation.
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Old 05-24-14, 04:24 PM   #15
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Short answer, no.

Short riders, and very tall riders often have fit issues, but it's really all about power to weight ratio.

One of my friends is 5 foot tall(maybe 110lbs.) on her best days, and she can be a beast. I'm 6' 2" and normally about 170. We are about equal on the flats and climbs, but gravity helps the heavier rider on a downhill. Aerodynamics help her a bit on the DH, but not enough to make her faster.
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Old 05-24-14, 04:28 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
ya, it seems like the small rider is getting the short () end of the stick here.


a 15 pound bike may be safe for a 180 pound rider, but is way overbuilt for a 120 pounder. he or she should not be penalized by having to carry a proportionately larger percentage of weight by a boneheaded blanket bike weight rule. if the UCI doesn't find something more equitable, then they just aren't trying, IMO.

and, no, i don't think small riders have any natural disadvantage due their weight, but i think they are, to some degree, discriminated against.
How so?
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Old 05-24-14, 04:53 PM   #17
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How so?
Bike manufacturers refuse to make a short enough frame and therefore punish short guys by making their nuggies hit the top bar. Some refer to this scenario as a ball buster.
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Old 05-24-14, 05:02 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
There is a chart which I can't locate showing the height and weight of pro cyclists.
http://anonymous.coward.free.fr/rbr/tdf04-bmi.png

http://anonymous.coward.free.fr/rbr/tdf06-bmi.png

1. Current UCI minimum bike mass is 6.8kg whether you're small or big, so that will be a larger fraction of a light rider's mass, so for equal watts/kg of bodyweight, the larger rider will have higher watts/kg of total mass.

2. CdA scales at less than mass, so if rider A weighs 20% more than rider B, his CdA typically will be less than 20% higher.

Both of these mean that larger riders have a *slight* advantage over smaller riders.
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Old 05-24-14, 05:07 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by RChung View Post
http://anonymous.coward.free.fr/rbr/tdf04-bmi.png

http://anonymous.coward.free.fr/rbr/tdf06-bmi.png

1. Current UCI minimum bike mass is 6.8kg whether you're small or big, so that will be a larger fraction of a light rider's mass, so for equal watts/kg of bodyweight, the larger rider will have higher watts/kg of total mass.

2. CdA scales at less than mass, so if rider A weighs 20% more than rider B, his CdA typically will be less than 20% higher.

Both of these mean that larger riders have a *slight* advantage over smaller riders.
Those are the graphs but it seems I mis-remembered in that most cyclists are taller than me (5'9") but not over 6'.
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Old 05-24-14, 06:56 PM   #20
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At 5'8", I enjoy being one of the shorter riders. Makes finding drafting buddies so much easier.

I ride mostly alone, though, and so do not feel disadvantaged one bit.
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Old 05-24-14, 06:57 PM   #21
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No
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Old 05-24-14, 08:09 PM   #22
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Thanks for all the responses. I'm 5'6" an ride a 52 cm bike. I feel like I climb very well and I usually wait at the top for cycling friends that are about 5'10". I was just wondering if I would be at a disadvantage if I wanted to train for a race down the road. Thx.

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Old 05-24-14, 08:17 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lechat View Post
Caudel Evans and Levi Leipheimer are both very short, doubt LL tops 5'5". Their credentials are about as good as they get. Cavendish is listed at 5'9", maybe with cowboy boots. His resume' isn't to shoddy either.
I'm curious what size bikes evans and LL ride...?
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Old 05-24-14, 08:23 PM   #24
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We're all at a disadvantage compared to those pros. Short, tall, stout willowy it doesn't matter, it's in the legs and lungs.
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Old 05-24-14, 08:24 PM   #25
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A better question is, What are my strengths relative to the peloton and how do I capitalize on them? ;-)
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