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First off, I'd like to thank Blackjack (non-sarcastically, to be clear) for researching around instead of merely going, "Nuh uh, not in my opinion." This is valuable, and I intend to be reasonable/nice, assuming that others are.

For further background on the incident mentioned, here is a passage from the presumable original source, Hinault's own book, Road Racing Techniques & Training:

The year of 1983 was marked by a knee operation, after a mistake in setting [Hinault's] saddle during the Tour of Spain. This mistake– which was the final provocation, if not the actual cause– forced Hinault to pedal on a saddle raised to 74cm for the whole long mountain stage in which he assured his final victory.

A sudden increase of 5mm– especially in such a difficult stage– couldn't help but damage the tendons of a rider whose position was being adjusted so precisely and gradually. If the saddle had been lowered instead of raised it wouldn't have done the same thing. A saddle that's too low reduces efficiency, but doesn't cause this kind of injury.

From the book, we can see that Hinault's saddle being set 5mm too high did indeed cause him problems, though to be fair to BJ, Hinault had not been completely kind to his knees previously. Still, many riders could be accused of same.

It is also noted in his book that Hinault did, in fact, learn to start pushing smaller gears partway through his career. When exactly he started doing this is not stated:


In the mountains, I now use smaller gears than when I was a young pro. Where I used to ride a 22-tooth cog, standing on the pedals when needed, I now use a 24 and stay in the saddle much longer. I sit further back and pedal much more smoothly.


Far as my own experiences with crank length(s) go, I've ridden 170, 172.5, and 175 extensively, and prefer 172.5s.

I especially A-B'd 172.5 and 175 cranks a lot fairly early on in my cycling, and could definitely tell the difference... my pedaling was smoother and felt better on the 172.5s. Which was surprising/disappointing to me, as I kinda liked the idea of having 175s as my crank size ('more is always better', and all that). The 175s felt 'torquey-er', but just weren't smooth enough. But at an 82cm inseam (178cm tall), I suppose that was pushing it a bit. I do have very long thighs, though.

I like a saddle height of around 72.3 mm, and find that, when playing around with my setup, I notice if I don't have that saddle height dialed in precisely or extremely close.

Far as my personal riding style goes, I think I prefer lower rpms on the flats than most, but higher rpms than most on climbs. I don't understand the guys who try to maintain 100+ on the flats, but then want to grind it out at 60 uphill. To me, the two types of effort aren't so radically dissimilar.

I worry about things like knee and ligament injuries, but, knock on wood, none experienced so far.

// I agree with the OP that it would be nice if more cranks were available in 165mm and 180mm lengths, to fit the short and tall. There's a few, but the majority of cranks don't offer this.
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blackjack said:
Fair enough, the rag fest, back and forth starts getting old anyway.
Agreed. And I actually don't like being mean.

I ride about 10k miles per year though, so that's a decent amount of time on the bike and it makes very little difference to me whether I'm running a 172.5 or 175 crank.
It's possible that your 'perfect' crank size is about halfway between those two sizes.

Even someone from the 'I notice' camp, such as myself, would not expect you to feel anything odd from cranks that are only 1.25mm off your ideal.

What might be more interesting is how 170s or 177.5s feel to you.

One of the things a lot of people don't consider with cranks is the size of their feet. I wear an 11.5 to 12 US at 5'9" which is pretty big. If the cleats are in the same position relative to the ball of your foot, all else being equal, and your foot is a size 8 or 9, that cm or so will alter your pedal stroke somewhat.
This is quite true, most ppl don't take into account the effects of having small or large feet, relative to your overall body size.

Come to think of it, I'm sure a professional fitter could tell us some very interesting things, if he/she were so inclined to jump into the thread, but of course they have absolutely no financial incentive to give away any of their fitting procedures/'trade secrets'.
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