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Discussion Starter #1
There are only 4 people I've ridden with, and they all ride in higher gears than I do. A 5'3" female--rides in 1-2 gears higher than me, a 5'10" male who rides 2-3 gears higher than me, and a 5'6" male who rides 3-4 gears higher than me. We are all about the same speed and I am 50-120 lbs heavier than all of them (6'6" 240 here).

I come from a weight lifting background and when I started riding I would use 2-3 gears higher than I do now but now I'm usually in the 3rd or 4th cog from the largest in the rear. Is there something about long limbs that is conducive to being better at a higher cadence (seems counter intuitive to me) or is it just how I pedal? I have no way of knowing their exact cadence versus mine but it would seem that if we are going the same speed and I'm in a larger cog, I would HAVE to be spinning faster...
 

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I have no way of knowing their exact cadence versus mine but it would seem that if we are going the same speed and I'm in a larger cog, I would HAVE to be spinning faster...
Your assumption has several flaws (assuming you are all on similar 700c tires): different size cogs in the same place on different cassettes and/or different sized chain rings, etc.

If real time cadence is important to you, get a computer to measure it.

I have to admit, after 20 years of riding with 5+ years as a mechanic, I don't know the difference between a higher gear, a lower gear, 1st gear and 20th or whatever gear. I don't really know what higher and lower means. For example: Higher - as in higher up the cassette or higher as in harder to pedal. I use simple ideas like: don't go big/big or small/small; I was in my 52-17; I have never been able to turn a 53-11; etc.

As far as the proper cadence for you, too slow may be bad for your joints and ligaments, too fast is difficult to pedal smoothly, most stick around 90ish rpm - but no harm in learning to smoothly spin at 100+.
 

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Im your size but a bit heavier... and my normal cadence is 95. "Learning to smoothly spinat 100+"... the moment I hit 100... I start bouncing. I wonder how you learn?
 

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Do whatever works for you, don't focus on other people.
That's exactly what the OP is trying to do, figure out what works or will work the best for him/her. By studying what others do, especially those more successful/accomplished than yourself, you can decide what to try and see if it works better for you. Also, with experience and condition, what works best will change.
 

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Generally higher cadences will tax your cardio system (higher heart rate), lower cadences tax your muscles (lactic acid buildup).

The gear someone is in is irrelevant as someone could have a different crank set (53-39 vs 50-34) and/or a different cassette (11-21 vs 11-28).

80 - 90 RPM seems to be the cadence range that most avid cyclists find comfortable. Once you drop below 60 RPM you really start to stress your muscles and knees.

You need to find what works for you.
 

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Im your size but a bit heavier... and my normal cadence is 95. "Learning to smoothly spinat 100+"... the moment I hit 100... I start bouncing. I wonder how you learn?
With practice. It's all in your stroke. I used to spin around 90 but after building my new bike for some reason 100 is just more comfortable. When I hit the 105 range is when I start to bounce
 

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At 6'5" previously as high as 246 then 225 now 210 thanks to riding a ton, here is what I have learned and what I can pass on for your possible consideration: 1. At 6'6" your inseam may be around 34 to 38". Trust me, you are wasting your time riding on 175 or 177.5 and hopefully you now have 180 cranks. Get 195 or even longer cranks depending on inseam. Why be penalized with short little midget horse jockey baby cranks that is arbitrarily limited in size by the bike industry. Get 195 cranks and live long and large. 2. Going from many previous years of cadence work to having a coach tell me it is ok at my size to have and use less finesse and use large long muscle groups with a bit lower rpm high 70's in the 80's even low 90's ok but increase speed considerably. It worked. Older now and way faster than young days of spin. At your size you are ok to grind in the 80's and to focus on speed. Yes, good to have easy smooth spin technique and not bounce in saddle. Yes, good to know and be aware of cadence but spend more time looking at wattage and or speed. gear selection will come as you put the time and miles in. Grind away and see the speed go up. Ride on 195's and feel your legs actually producing not just spinning a little hamster wheel. 3. You will read and maybe hear lots of people tell you no proof of benefit of longer crank. Unless you are standing full height and see them say that to you eye to eye they don't know jack. Way too many bike fits around me for other clydes that not one fitter even looked or asked what size crank arms big tall guy was using. A sad but true too often problem and malpractice. Look at L. Zinn stuff on longer cranks and talk with Tom at High Sierra Cycle to get away from the riders who can still get on the little mickey rides cause they are under the height limit. Sorry about run on paragraph could not indent or enter??
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Your assumption has several flaws (assuming you are all on similar 700c tires): different size cogs in the same place on different cassettes and/or different sized chain rings, etc.

If real time cadence is important to you, get a computer to measure it.

I have to admit, after 20 years of riding with 5+ years as a mechanic, I don't know the difference between a higher gear, a lower gear, 1st gear and 20th or whatever gear. I don't really know what higher and lower means. For example: Higher - as in higher up the cassette or higher as in harder to pedal. I use simple ideas like: don't go big/big or small/small; I was in my 52-17; I have never been able to turn a 53-11; etc.

As far as the proper cadence for you, too slow may be bad for your joints and ligaments, too fast is difficult to pedal smoothly, most stick around 90ish rpm - but no harm in learning to smoothly spin at 100+.
My gf has the same exact crank and cassette as me and the other guys have a larger chain ring than me (gf and I have 50, they have 53) with the same cassette.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
At 6'5" previously as high as 246 then 225 now 210 thanks to riding a ton, here is what I have learned and what I can pass on for your possible consideration: 1. At 6'6" your inseam may be around 34 to 38". Trust me, you are wasting your time riding on 175 or 177.5 and hopefully you now have 180 cranks. Get 195 or even longer cranks depending on inseam. Why be penalized with short little midget horse jockey baby cranks that is arbitrarily limited in size by the bike industry. Get 195 cranks and live long and large. 2. Going from many previous years of cadence work to having a coach tell me it is ok at my size to have and use less finesse and use large long muscle groups with a bit lower rpm high 70's in the 80's even low 90's ok but increase speed considerably. It worked. Older now and way faster than young days of spin. At your size you are ok to grind in the 80's and to focus on speed. Yes, good to have easy smooth spin technique and not bounce in saddle. Yes, good to know and be aware of cadence but spend more time looking at wattage and or speed. gear selection will come as you put the time and miles in. Grind away and see the speed go up. Ride on 195's and feel your legs actually producing not just spinning a little hamster wheel. 3. You will read and maybe hear lots of people tell you no proof of benefit of longer crank. Unless you are standing full height and see them say that to you eye to eye they don't know jack. Way too many bike fits around me for other clydes that not one fitter even looked or asked what size crank arms big tall guy was using. A sad but true too often problem and malpractice. Look at L. Zinn stuff on longer cranks and talk with Tom at High Sierra Cycle to get away from the riders who can still get on the little mickey rides cause they are under the height limit. Sorry about run on paragraph could not indent or enter??
Thanks!! I will look into this.

I ran into the same thing weight lifting... Shorter people just aren't able to fully relate. Can I get name brand cranks (Shimano Ultegra, etc) at longer lengths?
 

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Can I get name brand cranks (Shimano Ultegra, etc) at longer lengths?
Shimano Ultegra go up to 175 mm; Shimano Dura-Ace to 180 mm. But before you buy longer cranks, keep in mind that proof of effectiveness is sustained power read on a power meter over a certain length of time. Just "feeling your legs actually producing not just spinning a little hamster wheel" means nothing, and discounting advice just because it comes from people shorter than you are is foolish.
 

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Alias 530, I know tall to tall you can relate. We live and suffer problems of limited size, stock, builds, etc...There is no need to suffer on a bike and not be able to use long leg leverage and power. Yes, wattage readings and output would show empirical proof. But the waste of time on short cranks will be just that - a waste of time. If this were tennis you would be playing with a normal or oversized racquet and the short fellas would have to play with a junior racquet. Guess what, that is what we are doing when we ride 180 or shorter cranks - using a junior sized racquet. Campy, Shimano and Sram make up to 180 cranks arms. They are way too short for you. There are a few companies that make 190 or longer. A quick internet search or check this forum will bring out more info for you to look into. Not sure why but I still cant indent or make a new paragraph. Anyway, you know why you will really want to look into this as should many other tall riders. As to proof that longer cranks work for me, used 180's and knew were I was in group/team rides on climbs, sprints, flats, etc... When I switched to 195 I was not only staying up with climbing monkeys that dropped me before as a clyde I was also sprinting for climb top wins. Previously dieseled on the front making little horse jockeys suffer now can ride away from the front of the pack. Same with sprints and over rollers. Immediate benefit, immediate results, immediate improvement with everything else being the same. That is and was enough proof for me and many other who have gone longer. Check out superclydesdale.com to read his impressions of longer cranks. It is not made up. And yes always take advice from people shorter than you cause this bike industry is perfectly proportioned for them and we can learn a lot about what works really well for those lucky masses.
 

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At 6' here, so not too tall, but I try and maintain a cadence of 88 RPM to 92 RPM. I do bursts of above, up to 110 RPM, but at this point cant hold for too long. Working at it :)
 

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Alias 530, I know tall to tall you can relate. We live and suffer problems of limited size, stock, builds, etc...There is no need to suffer on a bike and not be able to use long leg leverage and power. Yes, wattage readings and output would show empirical proof. But the waste of time on short cranks will be just that - a waste of time. If this were tennis you would be playing with a normal or oversized racquet and the short fellas would have to play with a junior racquet. Guess what, that is what we are doing when we ride 180 or shorter cranks - using a junior sized racquet. Campy, Shimano and Sram make up to 180 cranks arms. They are way too short for you. There are a few companies that make 190 or longer. A quick internet search or check this forum will bring out more info for you to look into. Not sure why but I still cant indent or make a new paragraph. Anyway, you know why you will really want to look into this as should many other tall riders. As to proof that longer cranks work for me, used 180's and knew were I was in group/team rides on climbs, sprints, flats, etc... When I switched to 195 I was not only staying up with climbing monkeys that dropped me before as a clyde I was also sprinting for climb top wins. Previously dieseled on the front making little horse jockeys suffer now can ride away from the front of the pack. Same with sprints and over rollers. Immediate benefit, immediate results, immediate improvement with everything else being the same. That is and was enough proof for me and many other who have gone longer. Check out superclydesdale.com to read his impressions of longer cranks. It is not made up. And yes always take advice from people shorter than you cause this bike industry is perfectly proportioned for them and we can learn a lot about what works really well for those lucky masses.
Sorry, I don't believe we know enough about the OP to say 180mm crank arms are too short. Crank arms are one part of a bike that there is little empirical proof of the benefit of one over the other.

I am 6'-3" and ride 175mm crank arms but frankly did not notice a difference when I switched from a 172.5mm crank arms. One of my riding buddies is 6'-7" and does fine on 180mm crank arms.

Here is a calculator someone had developed (no idea if it has validity, its just an opinion)

Optimum Bicycle Crank Length Calculator

It suggests that one would need a 41" inseam to use a 195mm crank.
 

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Trust me, you are wasting your time riding on 175 or 177.5 and hopefully you now have 180 cranks. Get 195 or even longer cranks depending on inseam.
Why exactly should we trust you? Has all that has been learned in the past 120 years of bicycling suddenly become irrelevant because you have formed an opinion?

The "logic" of "crank length should be proportional to leg measurements" has been around for a LONG time, and lots of people have turned that "logic" into a formula for determining crank length. Only one problem: the research doesn't support it. One key feature that is often ignored in these discussions is the duration of muscle contraction that is controlled by cadence. It just may be that there is an optimum here, which is why there is a fairly narrow range of cadence for optimum performance. Longer cranks tend to mean lower cadence, moving you out of that optimum range. Crank length has been a point of debate since the introduction of the "safety" bicycle in the late 1800s, and there have been all sorts of fads in that regard.

There is no reliable formula for predicting crank length. There ARE lots of formulas out there, but they are just figments of the imagination of their purveyors. No one has ever done a study that shows how crank length should relate to anything.

You will find no high quality data to support any particular crank length as being better than any other. This is true whether or not you correct for leg length, femur length, etc. On the other hand, you will find lots of anecdotal or low quality data to support all kinds of conclusions, and more theories than you can shake a stick at. A rider's response to changes in crank length is 1) highly individual, 2) dependent on riding style and the event (TT, climbing, crits, track racing, etc.), and 3) most important, highly adaptive. This is why it is so hard to study the effect of crank length.

A 2008 study by Jim Martin, Ph.D., from the University of Utah shows zero correlation between crank length and any performance factors.
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Fred Matheny Summary: There have been studies of crankarm length, but the results aren't consistent. Some show that longer cranks provide greater leverage for turning big gears. Some show that shorter cranks foster greater speed via a faster cadence. And some show that crank length is completely individual.

So, longer crankarms aren't a panacea for time trialing. In fact, there are dangers associated with them. The added length makes your knees bend more at the top of pedal strokes and extend more at the bottom -- both of which can lead to biomechanical injuries if you jump from 170 mm to, say, 180 mm.

Also, longer cranks reduce cadence -- and a brisk cadence is the key to good time trialing.

All this said, many time trialists use crankarms 2.5 mm longer than those on their normal road bike. Because 2.5 mm (one-tenth of an inch) isn't much, it rarely causes an injury. But the jury is still out on whether that bit of extra length actually improves performance.
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Jim Martin tests as reported in VeloNews: 16 bike racers of various heights doing maximal sprint power tests of under four seconds duration on cranks of 120, 145, 170, 195, and 220mm showed no statistical difference between crank lengths. Seat height to the pedal was maintained throughout, but fore-aft saddle position and handlebar height were not readjusted with crank length changes, despite variations with crank length of pedal-to-knee relationship and saddle-to-bar drop. This also led to Martin’s assertion that he could see no point to positioning the knee over the pedal spindle.

Further Martin tests showed no statistical relationship between metabolic cost and either pedaling rate (RPM) or crank length, using nine trained cyclists riding 145, 170 and 195mm cranks who pedaled at 30-, 60-, and 90 percent of their lactate threshold at 40, 60, 80 and 100 RPM. On the contrary, power output and pedal speed (pedaling rate times crank length), accounted for over 98 percent of the variation in metabolic cost.

In another test, Martin had 10 racers perform a 30-second maximal sprint on 120mm and 220mm cranks at 135RPM for the 120mm and 109RPM for the 220mm. he found that, while the rate of fatigue was less for longer cranks, the fatigue per revolution was identical. This led him to suggest that track sprinters, rather than spinning at high RPM, should select the gear at or just below the one at which they produce maximum power output. The higher gear, as fatigue per revolution would be constant, would get the rider to the finish sooner, as fatigue would take more time to set in.

Finally, Martin’s studies of pedaling technique indicated that regional cyclists had “better” pedaling mechanics than elite cyclists. It indicated that elite riders pull up less on the pedals on the backstroke and push down harder on the downstroke.

By studying 13 trained cyclists and 35 fit athletes who did not own bicycles, he also showed that non-cyclists, who started out lower on the first day, produced higher power outputs by the 4th day than trained cyclists. They also hit their maximum power at a higher RPM than the cyclists. The total time to learn to produce more power by the non-cyclists was three days and a total of 36 seconds of hard pedaling! This seemed to dispel the ideas that cycling adaptation takes time, that pedaling technique refined over time is important, particularly to learn to pedal efficiently at high RPM, and that avoiding “working against yourself” on the backstroke (revealed in graphs showing a net negative torque past bottom dead center) is useful.
 

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True dat! Don't trust anyone that is a stranger on an Internet forum, especially if they are saying you need some odd equipment, like super long crank arms, with no regards to specific knowledge of you and your style. Especially if they don't use paragraphs.
 

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people keep talking about the magical 90 rpm. In reality, 8 out of 10 riders don't hold 90 rpm. Too many folks laboring away at 75 - 80 rpm.
 

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As I have written a couple of times in my posts, for some reason I am unable on this pc, through this European distant internet connection to indent or make new paragraphs. So I apologize to the readers and to my English and writing teachers if this reads as uneducated and as one stream of thought. It is not. The best I can do is space as much as possible. So here goes...............Consider this a new paragraph...........First and foremost all of us ride. All of us are here to learn and share knowledge and experience. Some ride more some post more. I prefer to ride. My post number is low but my trolling is high. I bite my lip often and I only occasionally post when I feel it is warranted. I have read the previous crank studies and am glad to see them posted again and again here and other forums. It is just unfortunate that seldom if ever does a post show up that states to the effect that maybe there is something to this longer crank length for taller or longer inseamed riders. Most of us know of L. Zinn and if you do know he sure as heck probably knows more than most ever will here. So when he states that he wished he had longer crank arms in his early riding career and that he could have probably risen higher maybe, just maybe there is something to that concept...................btw....that means new paragraph for the editorially and grammatically minded critics here...........So, to most riders who default to whatever sized cranks came with their mass marketed OEM bike purchase and don't have a clue what advantages or disadvantages longer or shorter crank arms will provide for their riding ability, fitness level or desires - good for you that some one possibly in the marketing department picked the crank arm for your frame size. .................... One poster writes that they ride 175 just fine or their tall friend rides 180 just fine it is the same as when I post but then get critiqued for posting that I ride 195 just fine.................. "Oh you can't spin a long crank!" That comment ends when they ride behind me and happen to notice that I happen to be pretty smooth even at 110 cadence. All this old folklore that 165 to 180 is the only way to go, etc...Sorry, but new technology, new material and manufacturing capability for small specialists allow for those of us who are taller to easily purchase and try different crank arm lengths and just like you when you settled on your 172.5 because of some type of feeling that this length seems to work, we may, just maybe have that same feeling of what seems to work for us and who just maybe would like to use longer crank arms. ............................When someone asks for scientific data that longer crank arms work better for taller riders I guess all of us have to assume that those same inquisitors also have gone through a tremendous amount of testing, data collection and wattage evaluation to absolutely prove to themselves that 165 cranks work better that 175 cranks. Some have, most haven't. ........................These same critics may have never walked into a bike shop, suit store, car dealership and tried on or tried out everything available to walk away frustrated that nothing fits and nothing is stocked and sorry but it may take a while to special order. So that is what we do, special order some long cranks, install them, ride them, evaluate just like most readers and posters did for themselves here. I don't critique your crank selection or your recommendation for others to ride 177.5 cause that is what seems to work for your buddy. So maybe, just maybe don't critique us tall riders who have ventured beyond the norm, beyond the industry standard who have found that feeling you may have on 170's and want to pass on that option out there who is 6'6" and learning as he goes. That may have been a run on sentence. Please feel free to post a reply and critique that also. But don't critique my tallness and custom frame build that has less of a bb drop to accommodate my longer crank arms and may not be the geometry that you bought off the shelf. Lucky you......................InterBike last year, in a conversation with Miguel Indurain (look him up to get a clue if needed) about his crank arm length use of 180 (acknowledged) and supposedly occasionally 190 for TT may have had the longer crank arm concept nailed. And I was a head taller than him. Hmm, makes you wonder. Maybe I should ride longer crank arms when my hips were level with his stomach? Doesn't it make you wonder? Just a bit?........................Good luck to Alias530 and good riding to all - no matter how cranky we are.
 
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