Short legs rant

I’m a 5’11" man and my wife is 5’1", we both have the same leg length and she can wear my pants (albeit with a very tight belt). I’ve accepted the fact that I have short legs.

Yesterday I was doing some research into crank lengths and saw a couple articles talking about how pro cyclists generally have a very high femur to tibia ratio, it turns out my femur to tibia ratio is 0.88…my tibia is longer than my femur.

I know leg length is just one small component of cycling performance but it’s just a funny anecdote on top of my other physical idiosyncrasies that mess with my cycling. For example my shoulders are 23" wide and my chest is 46" (so I’m a wonderful draft), but my lung capacity is below average at around 4 liters. My bone density Z-Score is off the chart at 4.5 which is awesome for surviving crashes, but I can’t float in water and it probably doesn’t help with climbing :D.


I’m 5’10" with short legs and switched to 170mm cranks on all bikes…feel much better for me than 175(mtb) and 172.5(road/cx).

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[insert rant about bike fitting with long legs]


I run 155 cranks on my bike, previously was on 172.5 and it felt like I was pedaling squares.

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I’m the opposite. I’m barely 5’ 7", but have a 32 inch inseam (more like someone 5’10 or 5’11). Makes bike set up a little difficult, but I’ve settled on 53-54 cm standard geometry w/ 110 stem. Feel a little more comfortable on slopping geometry (ie Colnago 49-50s). Gotta work with what you’re born with, can’t really change it (theoretically you can lengthen bone w/ complicated surgery, but “Doc, I need a different frame size” probably won’t get you in the operating room)

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Here is an interesting discussion of this topic. Maybe you should be a swimmer Are athletes really getting faster, better, stronger? | David Epstein - YouTube

Short legs make you more aerodynamic if that helps.

If you think of the legs as the main vertical component and the body as the main horizontal component then short legs/long body makes you longer than you are vertical, so less area ‘seen’ by the wind.

Sure but the upper body is dead weight for power production.

Maybe true.
But I think the biggest issue is fitting. Specially if your legs are not within certain expected ration.
My legs are short (29" inseam), but I am not tall (5’6). So its not that hard for a person like me to decide on the smallest bike i can find with 700c wheels.

On his case, a small bike may be too small for his torso… that complicate things.