Appleman Bicycles has released the 2XR FIT Crankset, available to buy or to rent, with the aim of helping riders find the perfect crank length from the comfort of their own bike. Chances are, most of us are riding about with cranks that aren’t the optimal length for us, but the cost associated with trying out different cranksets is prohibitive for most riders. The rent-able 2XR FIT Crankset changes that by offering six crank lengths off the same arms.
Ever wondered whether your cranks are the right length? Based on this study by James Martin at the University of Utah, you can find out what the optimal crank length for maximum power delivery is by calculating 20% of your leg length or 41% of your tibia length. The latter calculation is considered the more accurate of the two. Go ahead and try it – you’ll be astounded.
Curious myself, I went ahead and measured my tibia at 35 cm; 41% of that is 143.5mm. To put that into context, I am 163cm (5ft 4″ tall).
An astonishingly small number of manufacturers actually offer cranks anywhere near that length. Some of the smaller, more boutique manufacturers are wise to it – Appleman Bicycles being a prime example, of course, but the big drivetrain manufacturers have a painfully limited offering in terms of crank length.
Appleman’s modular 2XR Crankset pricing starts at $485 USDIt is an additional $50 to customize crank color, and another $25 to customize other components
For mountain bikes at least, the industry has settled on 170mm or 175mm. Few manufacturers go to the effort of spec’ing shorter cranks on smaller bikes, and it’s extremely unlikely you’ll see cranks shorter than 165mm on stock builds. You might get 160mm cranks on an eMTB, if you’re lucky.
I am opening up a proverbial can of worms, here. There’s all manner of things to be investigated around crank length; what may be optimal for road riding, may not be optimal for mountain biking, especially as you have descending ergonomics to consider in addition to pedaling ergonomics.
Midnight Blue and Gold have been added to the list of custom color options
Regardless, based on the results of James Martin’s study on crank length, I’m going to throw it out there that most of us are probably riding cranks that are at least a bit too long. That said, it’s going to take quite the leap of faith to trust the calculation, and throw your hard earned cash down on a new crankset with crank arms that are likely way, way shorter than anything you’ve ridden before.
Now, thanks to Appleman Bicycles’ 2XR FIT Crankset, you can try it before you buy it. The crank arms have no fewer than six possible pedal positions, allowing the rider to test the following crank lengths: 100mm, 135mm, 145mm, 155mm, 165mm and 175mm.
The staggering of the pedal positions necessitates the odd shape; a shape that pushes me to advise use of caution if testing on a full suspension mountain bike where the BB height could get worryingly low, and the subsequent risk of pedal strikes worryingly high. But, you can see the appeal. Many a rider stands to benefit from a quick ride on the 2XR FIT crankset, especially those rehabbing a knee injury, for example. It could help a rider quickly identify a crank length that allows for more anatomically-friendly knee angles throughout the pedal stroke.
While changing pedal positions can be done in a jiffy, swapping the chainring is of course a slightly more time consuming task. I mention that here as, chances are, you’re going to want to alter your chainring size as you alter crank length. As you reduce the leverage at the pedals, chances are you’ll need to account for that by dropping a chainring size.
The 2XR FIT Crank is built on the same design and modular system as the 2XR Crankset we covered previously and can be configured with spider and spindle options for road, gravel, mountain and fat bike use.
Pricing for the 2XR FIT Crank rental is $100 (or $50 if a 2XR Crank is purchased) for 3 weeks of use. Bottom brackets and chainrings are also available to rent. A full-price deposit is taken up front and refunded minus the costs after safe return of the parts to Appleman HQ.
Also worth noting here is the addition of the modular 2XR Crankset in a 100mm option. This one is aimed at para-cyclists, riders with prosthetics, or any one with limited range of leg motion. These start at start at $525 USD.