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Why is Q Factor mostly ignored by bike mfrs?

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Why is Q Factor mostly ignored by bike mfrs?

Old 12-21-17, 06:39 PM
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Why is Q Factor mostly ignored by bike mfrs?

Just curious.. as bike companies offer varieties of stem length, crank length, handlebar width, frame size, saddle setback, etc.. yet it just seems to me that ability to change distance between left/right pedal platforms goes mostly ignored? How come? People's hip socket distances or whatnot have to vary as much as anything else.
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Old 12-21-17, 06:49 PM
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Road bike 130 or 135mm rear hubs put a lower-limit on what they can be. Presumably on mountain bikes a Q-factor is only as narrow as one can get away with, without hitting the chain stays. It is a lot easier to accommodate someone who wants a wider stance than a narrower one. Sometimes you can even do it with pedal washers or longer axles.
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Old 12-21-17, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Road bike 130 or 135mm rear hubs put a lower-limit on what they can be. Presumably on mountain bikes a Q-factor is only as narrow as one can get away with, without hitting the chain stays. It is a lot easier to accommodate someone who wants a wider stance than a narrower one. Sometimes you can even do it with pedal washers or longer axles.
Ok, just to get this out of the way, I'm really talking about the distance between pedals, and not as much about the distance between crankarms. Ie. accommodated thru differing pedal spindle lengths, something sometimes available after-market -- but pretty obscure IMO.
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Old 12-21-17, 06:56 PM
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Ankle clearance and Q factor do not sell bikes. Exotic crank designs, wide frames for stiffness and disc brakes with symmetrical wide rear hubs do sell.

BB30 cranks can be very narrow with lots of clearance.


Pedal spindless are as short as they can be to work with clipless pedal shoes. If you want to go narrower, slide your cleats outboard on your shoes (unless your system doesn't allow that).
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Old 12-21-17, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Ok, just to get this out of the way, I'm really talking about the distance between pedals, and not as much about the distance between crankarms. Ie. accommodated thru differing pedal spindle lengths, something sometimes available after-market -- but pretty obscure IMO.
As @wgscott notes above, accommodating a wider Q-factor is easier than accommodating a narrower Q-factor. For a wider Q-factor, aftermarket pedal extenders are available in a variety of lengths, e.g.:



https://www.amazon.com/Bicycle-Pedal.../dp/B00F1IZK7Y
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Old 12-21-17, 07:27 PM
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Pedal washers to add smaller amounts of Q are also commonly in use by fitters.
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Old 12-21-17, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
Pedal washers to add smaller amounts of Q are also commonly in use by fitters.
The problem comes for OEMs in safety and liability. Specialized a few years back recalled their "Body Geometry" branded pedal extender parts...and AFAIK stopped selling them.

Specialized recalling Body Geometry pedal extenders | Bicycle Retailer and Industry News

Note how well they sold....6,500 units in the USA.
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Old 12-21-17, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
As @wgscott notes above, accommodating a wider Q-factor is easier than accommodating a narrower Q-factor. For a wider Q-factor, aftermarket pedal extenders are available in a variety of lengths, e.g.:



https://www.amazon.com/Bicycle-Pedal.../dp/B00F1IZK7Y
Understood. Especially that after-market solutions exist. However, that's not really what I'm asking. I'm asking why the bike equipment manufacturers pretty much ignore Q factors; or at the least, it's not at all highlighted. I'd hazard to guess any trip to a LBS and purchase of a particular bike model, and a requisite set of shelf pedals results in the same pedal distance whether the rider is female, male, 5'2" or 6'4".
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Old 12-21-17, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
The problem comes for OEMs in safety and liability. Specialized a few years back recalled their "Body Geometry" branded pedal extender parts...and AFAIK stopped selling them.

Specialized recalling Body Geometry pedal extenders | Bicycle Retailer and Industry News

Note how well they sold....6,500 units in the USA.
Pedal washers aren't a problem for liability. We're only talking a few millimeters.
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Old 12-21-17, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Understood. Especially that after-market solutions exist. However, that's not really what I'm asking. I'm asking why the bike equipment manufacturers pretty much ignore Q factors; or at the least, it's not at all highlighted. I'd hazard to guess any trip to a LBS and purchase of a particular bike model, and a requisite set of shelf pedals results in the same pedal distance whether the rider is female, male, 5'2" or 6'4".
Most bikes sold are like most fitness equipment...they're bought for that New Year fitness resolution--that bottoms out and is abandoned 1-2 weeks later. What is the point selling minutiae like Q-factor when just about no one rides enough for it to matter.

Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
Pedal washers aren't a problem for liability. We're only talking a few millimeters.
But it is a problem for liability. How many washers are "safe" and will never fail? What material? Are they safe for long-term use with carbon? We're talking big corporate liability here--you as the OEM sell it as stock equipment, it had better be "safe" with no asterisks. Further, most cleats can be adjusted laterally enough that "a few" washers aren't needed.

All it takes is 2 failures (due to stupidity in setup) in 10,000 for the CPSC to have your hide.


Which, again, is why Specialized stopped selling pedal extenders. Too much risk, no reward.

Last edited by Marcus_Ti; 12-21-17 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 12-21-17, 07:42 PM
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They don't ignore Q factor. They've created a variety of parts and adapters to allow individuals to adjust pedal spacing for their needs.

Creating frame molds is expensive. That's why manufacturers only offer 5 or 6 sizes of frames. Component manufacturers largely make things that will accommodate 95% of all buyers, hence most bars ranging from 40-44cm wide and cranks largely in the 170-175 range. (Yes, there are some outliers that go smaller/lager.)

Many pedal manufacturers (Speedplay, Shimano) offer different length spindles to offer a wider Q factor. There are also adapters, as shown above, to go even longer.

They already pretty much make things as narraw as they reasonably can, frame and crank wise.
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Old 12-21-17, 07:42 PM
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This is America. Bigger is better. Now "Q" is a letter best kept out of advertising so marketing hasn't pushed Q-factors publicly, but the are doing it. And Q-factor is a lot like a given car model. Like the model, every year it gets bigger so more can be offered. (More cogs, more clearance, more hardware.)

The day will come when the marketing guys will see that many of us have been hurting for a smaller Q-factor (and voting with our feet; buying older bikes). Time for a new concept. The N-factor (for "narrow").

You saw it here first.

Ben
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Old 12-21-17, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Understood. Especially that after-market solutions exist. However, that's not really what I'm asking. I'm asking why the bike equipment manufacturers pretty much ignore Q factors; or at the least, it's not at all highlighted. I'd hazard to guess any trip to a LBS and purchase of a particular bike model, and a requisite set of shelf pedals results in the same pedal distance whether the rider is female, male, 5'2" or 6'4".
I think part of your question may come from the assumption that human foot stance varies a lot between people. And it actually doesn't - we all walk with our feet nearly brushing each other lest we wobble or fall over. Normal crank width is arguably on the wide side for normal human anatomy, and Q is limited by the construction of the bicycle.

Graeme Obree's record setting track custom track bike used unusually narrow Q for greater efficiency - something you can get away with on a single speed bike where there is more freedom to address chain line.
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Old 12-21-17, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
I think part of your question may come from the assumption that human foot stance varies a lot between people. And it actually doesn't - we all walk with our feet nearly brushing each other lest we wobble or fall over. Normal crank width is arguably on the wide side for normal human anatomy, and Q is limited by the construction of the bicycle.

Graeme Obree's record setting track custom track bike used unusually narrow Q for greater efficiency - something you can get away with on a single speed bike where there is more freedom to address chain line.
I see your point and get it. That said.. a normal vs. extended spindle for a pedal (eg Speedplay) only changes by about 1/4" (~6mm). Total across the bike difference = 1/2". People may all walk with the same gait, but a 1/2" is really nothing, if comparing a size 8 woman's foot with a size 13 man's foot stride by stride. Yet, what you read from fitters' blogs is that Q factor can be important. Just curious why there aren't S/M/L sizes of Look Keos sitting on the LBS shelf I guess.
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Old 12-21-17, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Ok, just to get this out of the way, I'm really talking about the distance between pedals, and not as much about the distance between crankarms. Ie. accommodated thru differing pedal spindle lengths, something sometimes available after-market -- but pretty obscure IMO.
When my Lynskey came in I put on a pair of Ultegra 8000 pedals, and kept getting heal strikes with my let foot against the chainstay. I sent the pedals back and got the +4mm spindle version, and that cleared it up. So there's one option, but I would agree, it's not like there's a lot of variety out there that one can choose from.
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Old 12-21-17, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
...

They already pretty much make things as narrow as they reasonably can, frame and crank wise.
First, that's not true, at least for any bike with a standard Shimano BB. That left crank is the same long ways out as the right. Doesn't have to be. In the '70s, asymmetrical axles were the norm. Many of us rode bikes where the left crank almost hit the skinny steel chainstays bikes used then. Second, your statement is only true if you consider cogs more important than knees. Yes, some people need high Q-factors for their knees. But others of us need low Q-factors and wow! is that getting hard to do on modern geared bikes.

My knees are happier on my fix gears because the Q-factors are so much lower.

Ben
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Old 12-21-17, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by SethAZ View Post
When my Lynskey came in I put on a pair of Ultegra 8000 pedals, and kept getting heal strikes with my let foot against the chainstay. I sent the pedals back and got the +4mm spindle version, and that cleared it up. So there's one option, but I would agree, it's not like there's a lot of variety out there that one can choose from.
There actually is variety out there, but you really have to look for it. It's just surprising that unlike the obvious choices we have in stem, crank and bar widths, it's nowhere near as obvious when it comes to pedals/Q.
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Old 12-21-17, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
There actually is variety out there, but you really have to look for it. It's just surprising that unlike the obvious choices we have in stem, crank and bar widths, it's nowhere near as obvious when it comes to pedals/Q.
No doubt. I was a little irked that I had to swap my pedals for the longer spindle, and actually I adjusted my cleats slightly more outboard as well. Fortunatey my knees didn't really notice much of a difference. The stupid thing is the particular bend in the chainstay that my heel was striking was totally unnecessary. Or rather, it could easily have been designed slightly differently and accomplished its mission perfectly and without encroaching on the space my left foot needed. I wear size 13 (or whatever the European size number is for it) cycling shoes, and have been using 175mm cranks, so I guess my heels are further back than average, but those aren't freakish numbers at all, and they should have been a little smarter about this.
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Old 12-21-17, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
I see your point and get it. That said.. a normal vs. extended spindle for a pedal (eg Speedplay) only changes by about 1/4" (~6mm). Total across the bike difference = 1/2". People may all walk with the same gait, but a 1/2" is really nothing, if comparing a size 8 woman's foot with a size 13 man's foot stride by stride. Yet, what you read from fitters' blogs is that Q factor can be important. Just curious why there aren't S/M/L sizes of Look Keos sitting on the LBS shelf I guess.
But it is a 1/2" addition to a distance that is already outside of normal.

The only way bike makers are going to advertise variable Q is if they can go down to some number that arguably "narrow". Right now the choice is wide or wider.
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Old 12-21-17, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
But it is a 1/2" addition to a distance that is already outside of normal.

The only way bike makers are going to advertise variable Q is if they can go down to some number that arguably "narrow". Right now the choice is wide or wider.
I don't understand. Define how normal is established? There's much anecdotal stuff on the interwebz on how wider Q factors help some folks. MTBs have good amount wider Q's than Road by default, and Fatbikes wider than that. Equating to a walking gait doesn't seem appropriate. All the force in a pedal stroke is with the knee pretty sharply bent.
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Old 12-21-17, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
I don't understand. Define how normal is established? There's much anecdotal stuff on the interwebz on how wider Q factors help some folks. MTBs have good amount wider Q's than Road by default, and Fatbikes wider than that. Equating to a walking gait doesn't seem appropriate. All the force in a pedal stroke is with the knee pretty sharply bent.
And the knee bends in line with what the leg is already doing. Walk, run, pedal boat, whatever. Your body is very happy with a wide variety of motions with your knees and feet much closer to each other than the arbitrary 6" gap that bikes demand.

Why would you assume that bicycle Q is at all natural? A great deal of the innovations in cycling have been to address the damaging ergonomic deficiencies of traditional saddles, pedals, seat height, handlebars, tire width, vibration, etc. No one was even aware of crank width as a thing before Grant Peterson and Graeme Obree started talking about it in the '90s.

This article mentions specific research on how narrower is better by University of Birmingham. Maybe that would be a good place to read about the actual science?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q_factor_(bicycles)

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Old 12-21-17, 09:40 PM
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Was Obree's bike built with very narrow Q for the "natural" narrow spacing, or more to pull his legs in for better aero?
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Old 12-21-17, 09:44 PM
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Squats, dead lifting, skiing, surfing, and even pedal boating, all have varying amounts of leg spacing
https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/me...edal-boats.jpg
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Old 12-21-17, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Squats, dead lifting, skiing, surfing, and even pedal boating, all have varying amounts of leg spacing
https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/me...edal-boats.jpg
No doubt. I'm willing to believe narrower is better if someone actually has studied cycling body mechanics and demonstrates it, but simply referencing the typical walking gait and then assuming that some other activity that has the legs and other body parts in very different orientations with respect to each other, different motions, etc. isn't enough. A racer's back may be parallel to the ground while riding, but most people walk with their backs upright. That's a 90 degree difference. Then there's the leg bones going into the hips, etc. All very different from walking.

I'm trying to recall the actual thread, but I read one from this forum from a while back where some guy was *****ing and moaning about some part he got that changed his Q by like 1mm or less, and how that suddenly went from him biking just perfectly to being in constant agony. Somehow I'm skeptical.
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Old 12-21-17, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
And the knee bends in line with what the leg is already doing. Walk, run, pedal boat, whatever. Your body is very happy with a wide variety of motions with your knees and feet much closer to each other than the arbitrary 6" gap that bikes demand.

Why would you assume that bicycle Q is at all natural? A great deal of the innovations in cycling have been to address the damaging ergonomic deficiencies of traditional saddles, pedals, seat height, handlebars, tire width, vibration, etc. No one was even aware of crank width as a thing before Grant Peterson and Graeme Obree started talking about it in the '90s.

This article mentions specific research on how narrower is better by University of Birmingham. Maybe that would be a good place to read about the actual science?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q_factor_(bicycles)

I comprehend this synopsis from your linked article: "Sheldon Brown said that a narrower tread is ergonomically superior because it more closely matches the nearly-inline track of human footsteps.[5]"

What isn't said though, is narrower is relative, isn't it? People come in all shapes and sizes and widths.
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