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I have a cross-check at 52 cm with a casual drop handlebar set up. It's a relatively square frame compared to other bikes I've ridden in the past. The cranks feel very small, like I'm not using my whole range of motion to pedal. I'd be curious to run longer cranks.

The problem is that because of the short wheel base, on turns it's possible for me to accidentally kick my tire when I adjust my clip position to a relatively comfortable position.

Is my frame simply too small to fit longer cranks?

  • It depends on how much value you place on having a setup where you can't easily kick the tire. You have to evaluate that. – Daniel R Hicks May 19 '17 at 19:50
  • Tyre/wheel/toe overlap is fairly common on 700c diamond frame bikes no matter what. You simply learn to not pedal while making sharp turns. I have no idea how fixed speed bikes cope with sharper turns while rolling. – Criggie May 19 '17 at 21:57
  • I'd say you measure it. Sit on the bike and put feet on pedals and put both pedals at the same height (while leaning to a wall or holding to a door frame, etc.) and have an assistant measure the distance from the tip of your shoe to the wheel. That distance is almost the same as the crank length you can "add". During this test, if you swing the steering right to left you should roughly see how much foot-tire clearance you have. – Jahaziel May 19 '17 at 23:34
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    @Criggie I used to have a fixie with toe overlap, and I'm told it's very common on track bikes. It's not as big of a problem as you think. The only time I ever hit my toe on the front tire was during extremely tight turns at extremely low speed. And at low speed, it's just a minor annoyance. – Mike Baranczak May 21 '17 at 0:57
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    What length cranks do you have now? – whatsisname May 21 '17 at 17:09
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Yes, your bike is capable of using longer cranks.

Longer cranks will likely cause more toe overlap, which is generally expected and widely tolerated on small-framed 700c bikes. Here is Sheldon Brown's opinion of toe overlap, from his online glossary:

On many bicycles, especially those with smaller frames and full-sized wheels, it is possible for the front fender or tire to bump into the rider's toe or to the toe clip. Some people worry a lot about this, but it is rarely a significant problem in practice.

The only time it can happen is when the handlebars are turned quite far to the side, as only happens at very low speeds.

Many, many people ride bicycles with fairly severe overlap with no practical problems, sometimes having to make a slight adjustment to their pedaling habits at very slow speeds.

On smaller-size bikes with full-sized wheels, it is usually impossible to eliminate overlap without causing adverse fit/handling issues.

  • Just to add a little color to this: I am short, so I 'live with' toe overlap and, yes, I have fallen to the ground because of it. But, it only took me a couple of falls to learn how to avoid the issue. Now, it's been years since it's caused any problems for me. (knock on wood....I'll probably hit the ground on my ride home from work this afternoon, now that I said that). – Matt Goodman May 24 '17 at 18:49
  • I couldn't fancy toe overlap when clipped in, but I only get it when unclipped (as I usually am at the slow speeds compatible with steering that much). My foot sits further forward than it should in that case. It's not a problem then. I'm tall with big feet and big bikes. – Chris H May 24 '17 at 19:41
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Are you sure your seat is at the right height? Your sensation of not getting full stroke could be because your seat is too low. It may also be because you are geared too high.

Gearing lower and spinning is more efficient in terms of energy output and is easier with smaller/normal cranks. Longer cranks effectively increase the distance your feet have to travel each rotation and increase your leverage, in effect making it the equivalent of a smaller chainwheel so easier to go uphill, but make it harder to spin and harder to go faster.

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