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Showing posts from 2016

Pro Cycling Crank Length List

I compiled a list of pro cyclists and the crank lengths they used on their road bikes in 2016.  Although I couldn't find information for their TT or Track bikes (if applicable), it's evident in the Tour De France that Chris Froome used a shorter crank for his time trial bike.  In fact, much of Team Sky used different crank lengths to suit the event (Short=TT, Mid-range= Road, Long = Track or Short distances).  Nairo Quintana appeared to use the same crank for TT and Road, and it showed in his difficultly at the final stages.  Team Movistar, are you listening? :) NameHeight (in)WeightCrank LengthTony Martin73165175Nairo Quintana66128172.5Chris Froome73157172.5Mark Cavendish69154170Marcel Kittel74190175Lance Armstrong70165175Alberto Contador69137172.5Fabian Cancellara73179177.5Andy Schleck73150172.5Andre Greipel72176172.5Vincenzo Nibali71143172.5Bradley Wiggins75152177.5Jens Voigt65168177.5Peter Sagan73163172.5Richie Porte68139167.5Alejandro Valverde69137172.5Joaquim Rodriguez67…

Crank Arm Length: Everything You Need To Know

Crank length is a complicated topic because determining optimal crank length involves going to a lab and measuring expired gasses, performing muscle biopsies and evaluating blood samples to test lactic concentration.  Although lactic testing only requires a finger prick, muscle biopsies require a needle resembling the size of a pencil.  Below is a picture for anyone who hasn't seen one before.  Ouch!
Although the lab method is the gold standard, I would like to propose a new method that's less invasive/ painful and involves a power meter, heart rate monitor, motor control tests and ratings of perceived exertion.  In testing myself and my clients, I have used a CompuTrainer and a Kurt Kinetic Smart Road Trainer with equal success.

It's common for sprinters to experience a 200 watt improvement solely from optimizing crank length, and I want to pass these benefits to the masses.  I hope that after reading this post, you'll have a better understanding of how crank length a…

Is Running Hurting Your Cycling Performance?

As a runner for most of my life, only transitioning to dedicated cycling for the past few years, I hate to admit that running is the last form of cross training that a dedicated, competitive cyclists should consider.  The reason: Inflexibility.

RUNNING RESTRICTS THE AERO POSITION
Although the high impact nature of running helps to improve bone density, the adaptations the body goes through can hurt your cycling performance.  The more you run, the better you get because the muscles, tendons and ligaments develop elasticity to conserve energy.  Rather than relying entirely on energy sources to produce a muscular contraction, elastically stored energy within the muscle doesn't require energy consumption, so you save considerably more energy which allows you to run faster for longer.  However, when the muscles and tendon adapt this way, it comes at a major sacrifice: range of motion.  Every muscle used in running will become more inflexible and "spring-like" in order to handl…

Is Your Crank Arm Length Too Long?

LONG CRANKS DON'T LEAD TO INJURY... BODY IMBALANCES DO
While studies seem to be fixated on the length of the femur, tibia and foot, the fact is this: Inflexibility is the variable most likely contributing to the discomfort associated with long cranks.  This is especially true if you don't have normal range of motion at the hip, knee and/or ankle.  If this is the case, then the length of the bones is the last thing you need to worry about!  Instead, you need to investigate the fascia, muscle, tendons and ligaments.  These are more likely to affect your pedal stroke.
"Inflexibility is the variable most likely contributing to the discomfort associated with long cranks." If there's a slight bit of imbalance in any of these structures, this will cause you to compensate and make it difficult to pedal comfortably.  If the body wants to or can't resist compensating, injury is inevitable, and if you ignore your imbalances, you will get injured!  It's better to act…

Crank Length for Track Cycling

There is a big misconception that shorter cranks provide superior acceleration compared to longer cranks, and this is mainly because short cranks are often associated with the explosive and strong track cyclist.  In reality, the reason why track cyclists have to lift weights and work on explosive training is solely to compensate for the baggage short cranks come with- an increased force required to produce the torque needed to move a smaller lever arm.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE CRANK IS TOO SHORT OR TOO LONG?
It's reasonable to think shorter is better, especially when you consider that since the gears are fixed, faster speeds can only be reached by hitting a higher cadence.  But how do you know when the crank is too short?

When the cranks are too short, it will be too difficult to turn the cranks because your body simply can't generate the force needed to create torque.  As a result, it will take longer to climb up the rpm's- your accelerations will be slower, especially from a…

Crank Arm Length Explained

WHY DOES CRANK LENGTH MATTER? It directly affects the way you produce power- it changes the amount of pressure or force you can put into the pedals and the rate that it can happen.
Power = Force (torque) x RPM (cadence) For the same power, if force goes up, cadence goes down, and if force goes down, cadence has to go up.  Too much of either variable leads to problems.  The optimal crank length is one that doesn't require so much force that fatigue occurs too early (too long), but also doesn't make it possible to put any pressure into the pedals (too short).

Knowing what length to choose starts with understanding how crank length affects certain aspects of cycling- at the body and the bike.

CRANK LENGTH & CADENCE RELATIONSHIP
As crank length increases, cadence decreases. As crank length decreases, cadence increases. Each crank length will cause you to naturally select a range of cadences.  It's important to stay within this range because forcing your body to spin beyond …

Chris Froome & Team Sky's Secret - How to beat a team of Short Crank Arms

If you haven't already read my original post and studied the crank arm length flow chart posted there, please go to the link below.

http://eatsleeptrainsmart.blogspot.com/2016/01/crank-arm-length-debunked-long-vs-short.html

Chris Froome & Team Sky - The mechanical secret behind their success
The success of Team Sky was the result of a collaborative effort to maximize the benefits of short crank arm lengths, but there are limitations that when exploited, are hard to overcome.  When either variable of the power equation is thrown to extreme levels, the human body will eventually fail to meet the demands.

Power = Torque x RPM

In the case of Richie Porte and Chris Froome, they were on the RPM side of the equation.  Very high cadences achieved only through short cranks have its own pros and cons.  Lets start with how they had the advantage.

The Physical Demands of the TDF
In the Tour De France, everyone has to race consecutive days, so keeping the hips and legs fresh is key to overall…