Bike Fit Surprising Result

I’m not sure whether it is too soon to be really excited about this, but I thought I would share my most recent bike fit story. I went in last week to see a guy who has quite a bit of bike fitting experience, told him my story and explained the problem I am currently having (pain in the right arm that over time has spread to shoulder and ribs) and that I am sure I am pushing with my right upper body to balance my stronger left leg, which is structurally longer. He listened and didn’t even need to do any measuring to suggest going to a shorter crank length. I am 5’4" (164cm) and have a 50cm frame, but had 170 cranks… He installed 155s and raised the seat and lowered the stack height (is that what the stem sits on?) one spacer.
I can’t believe the difference. It is really huge. And I confess I do not understand it at all. I have been suspicious for a long time that I probably needed shorter cranks… My husband said, wow, I didn’t even know they made them that short. I never would have thought that raising the seat and lowering the handlebars would make things more comfortable, but it does.
And one of the most exciting things is that I think I am going to actually be able to ride out of the saddle. The shorter cranks make an incredible difference in my balance on the bike. I had thought I was just getting older and that was why I was having trouble. The bike fitter chuckled and said no, ma’am, it’s not you, it’s your bike. I gave him the sidelong look that said I recognized that he was just being gallant, and he got serious and said, no, really, it is the bike and we can fix this.
And it appears to be true… I think it’s going to take a while for my arm/shoulder/rib thing to quiet down, but the new fit doesn’t appear so far to be making anything worse and it has made several things much better. I also have terrible ankle dorsiflexion on my right, shorter side and the shorter cranks allow me to pedal without having my knee track all over the place. When I look down now, both legs pretty much piston up and down like I think they are supposed to.
So if anyone is on the fence about getting a professional fit, I say go for it. I had previously had 2 local-shop fits from minimally trained folks and two fits from someone who had taken several courses, but didn’t have a huge amount of experience yet. So do find someone with a good amount of experience, it’s worth it!


Yeah, 5’4” and 170’s really isn’t a great combo. Going to 155 is a bit of a jump, but it sounds like you are seeing instant improvement, so roll with it!

Once you can get your saddle / crank sorted, people are shocked to learn how much more comfortable it is to have a lower HB. Added bonus, you just got more aero, too. Win win!!!

Keep us updated as things progress!


You got a quality fitter, those are hard to come by. I spent a total of about $700 on 3 well-regarded fitters, the first 2 told me my bike was too big and offered me a smaller stem and shoe inserts (which I bought, unfortunately). The last one told me my bike was too big and offered to sell me a new bike (which I did not buy, thankfully).

After a lot of researching I realized my bike wasn’t too big, rather my cranks were too long. I found a pair of 155mm cranks and went to my LBS to get them installed after I had trouble with them. It was the best decision I ever made with my bike, aside from riding it.

I should qualify that I’m a 5’11" / 180cm male so the first thought probably isn’t shorter cranks, but it goes to show how it’s important to not be stuck in preconceived ideas of what “normal” is.

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Yeah, I’m the same height and benefited hugely from shorter cranks- I had no issues with pain beforehand but it definitely showed in my power production and comfort over longer distances. I’ve heard that echoed by a lot of shorter women so i’m surprised that it doesn’t seem to be a more common approach amongst fitters. (Or bike manufacturers for that matter- I ride an XS or S in women’s-specific models and most of them seem to come with 170’s which doesn’t make a ton of sense in my opinion.)

Happy to hear you’re feeling more comfortable on the bike- hopefully the arm settles soon!


One fitter I didn’t use measured up my last bike in a shop and said it was too big for me. I suspect he was trying to sell me a new bike. I had done something like 30,000 miles on the bike and had the Mallorca 312 coming up there was no way I was changing it. To put my mind to rest I started googling and my bike by a sporting fit was indeed about 0.5cm too big for me. However, going by ‘comfort’ fits its was about 2cm too small. I subsequently did the 312 in comfort and another 11,000 miles before the bike got retired.

The eventual replacement is custom fitted and the fitter has done a great job.


Also 5’4” and when I moved over to a Canyon from Trek they suggested a size smaller with shorter cranks. I wasn’t sure but gave it a go and love the fit so much! At first the shorter cranks made me feel like a hamster on a wheel but I got used to it quickly and now I love them. I can put more consistent power throughout each stroke, and overall the bike is so much more comfortable. I can ride for 5+ hours while on the larger bike it was 3 tops before my back would start hurting even after a professional fit.