The length of a crankarm affects the amont of power than can be applied to the drivetrain. As the crankarm gets longer, leverage increases since the pedals are further away from the axis which is the center of the bottom bracket. This measurement is taken from the center of the spindle/bottom bracket to the center of the pedal threads.
Depending on the height of the rider, ideal crankarm lengths can vary. The taller the rider the longer the crankarm since their legs will probably be longer. Regardless of the riders height, it may be preferable to have a shorter crankarm for some applications so that the clearance from the ground can be increased. Many downhill bikes will come with shorter crankarms since pedaling efficiency isn't a top priority but ground clearance is.
Some typical crankarm lengths with approx rider heights:
- 160mm = 5'
- 165mm = 5'4"
- 170mm = 5'8"
- 172.5mm = 5'10"
- 175mm = 6'
- 177.5mm = 6''2"
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