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pedalpedalpedal
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I'm 5'6" with a 30" inseam, and I rode 175mm cranks from '98 until a year ago. I never tried anything else because I didn't really think there was a need to. Anyway, a year ago, I ended up with a SS road bike with 165mm cranks, and I've progressively gone up to larger chainrings as my legs have gotten stronger (currently push 82GI up even huge hills). I used to occasionally get knee pain in my right knee on rides over 35-40mi, and now with the shorter cranks, I can finish up any length ride and, though my legs are tired, I still feel fresh overall, and never have any pain during the ride.

Last week, I hopped on my MTB and did a 111mi ride, seated the entire time, pushing my 175mm cranks. My knees hurt a little, and I generally felt like I was doing more work to get through the larger arc required by the longer cranks. Obviously, you can get better leverage with longer arms, but I wonder if it's worth the effort considering how much more travel is required.
 
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