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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 04-19-14, 03:13 AM   #1
Medic Zero
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Questions about longer cranks:


Anyone riding longer cranks? I inexpensively picked up a set of 180mm ones from a Craigslist seller and am about to either put them on my tourer or my new commuter (both old rigid MTB's), and I've got a couple of questions:

Is it harder to climb hills with longer cranks? I haven't decided which bike to try them out on and I live in a very hilly area. Related to that, should I maybe adjust my gearing down a little? I'm in the middle of building both these bikes up (finally!) and so have a choice of maybe using a 46 tooth big chain ring instead of a 48 for example. Otherwise, I'm nearly at the bottom end of gearing already (48-32-22, and 11-32).

FWIW, I'm 6'2", with fairly long legs. I'm excited to try these out, I've been curious about longer cranks for a while, but new they are very expensive, and from what I recall when researching them a few years back, opinions were mixed as to whether many folks felt any benefit or even noticed much a difference.

Any other advice? I know I'm going to have to be more carful about pedal strike, anything obvious I may be overlooking?

Many thanks!
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Old 04-19-14, 06:20 AM   #2
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I ride either 175 or 180mm and am similar sized as you. Mostly road bikes.

Saddle height is more important on the longer cranks to avoid knee strain. Most cyclists have the saddle too low and combine this "Low" saddle with longer cranks and at the top of the stroke the knee is flexed too much.

Climbing using 180mm seems modestly improved for gear mashers like me.

Research what Leonard Zinn has to say. Unfortunately, I have never found data to support his assertions although his opinions make sense.
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Old 04-19-14, 07:53 AM   #3
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If anything you might adjust the gearing up just a bit. Longer cranks are more conducive to a slightly lower cadence in a higher gear since you have a longer lever arm for more torque but also have to move your feet through a larger circle. But the differences are pretty small for the normal range of crank lengths. I switch between 165, 170, and 175 on my different bikes and hardly notice the change.
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Old 04-21-14, 10:03 PM   #4
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I've routinely swapped put cranks. Longer cranks means greater leverage, but harder to have a smooth, sustained stroke at higher cadence - for me anyway. On a real distance ride, longer cranks can give me hip pain. So, great for a hill climber, but not for my tourer. I do notice the difference, even 2.5 differences.
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