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  1. #1
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    Setting up bike with length differences

    This is a question that I have been thinking of for a while. I have length differences in both my arms and legs beyond the normal variances. As for my arms there is a difference of 3/8” in arm length, the right side being longer. Would it make sense to set up my right side shifter lower by this amount. I am thinking by doing this it would keep my upper body square to the handle bars. Any thoughts on this?

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by hopub229 View Post
    This is a question that I have been thinking of for a while. I have length differences in both my arms and legs beyond the normal variances. As for my arms there is a difference of 3/8” in arm length, the right side being longer. Would it make sense to set up my right side shifter lower by this amount. I am thinking by doing this it would keep my upper body square to the handle bars. Any thoughts on this?
    Go ahead and try it, but then you'll have to decide if its better to balance upper body weight on "unbalanced" hoods, or stay on balanced hoods and take up the 3/8" slack in your elbow. That's where you can have plenty of slop. The hoods have to balance the bike too, not just the rider. The bike will feel better with the hoods at the same height, just sayin'.

  3. #3
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    I have read of riders setting up their handlebars skewed slightly off-center, while aligning the brake levers straight ahead, to accommodate arm length discrepancies.

    If you were to mount your bike on a trainer, and loosen the stem bolts so the bars could rotate freely, you could ride for an hour and see if the bars naturally settle into an off-axis position. That might be and indicator of what your body is asking for, as well as showing you what position they need to be in. Sounds like a fun experiment.

    If your problem is something that affects your riding comfort and performance, then give it a try. If you have no pain, discomfort, or control issues, then I wouldn't bother.

  4. #4
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    My arms are different lengths too and I have built all my bikes with the hoods adjusted to compensate. I run a 1’ ruler from the underside of the flat portion of the handlebar drops and set my left lever touching the ruler and the right about 1/2” above as that is my shorter arm. I never have shoulder or arm pain when riding.

  5. #5
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    Try it. You might have to tweak cable tension, possibly housing length, when you do it (but probably not) but it's in no way a problem per se.

    A pretty good percentage of riders with equal length arms are riding around with different shifter placement because someone screwed 'em on that way and it's no problem.


    My arms are slightly different too. But I find I just bend my elbows a little different instinctively and don't even notice. But if it were an issue with feel on the bike I would not hesitate to just place the shifters differently.

  6. #6
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    Is your LLD (leg length discrepancy) functional or structural? I ask because the former can be as a result of riding on an ill fitted bike for a while, and may resolve itself. I noticed you joined some time ago.

    If there was ever a person who could benefit from a good fitter, it's you. But, LLD can be solved by shimming between the shoe and cleat. The shims are flat or angled (two angled inverse makes for one flat 3mm shim for example).

    I rode on an ill fitting bike for a while, my seat was way too far back, and this contributed to uneven hip girdle which presented itself as a LLD, but it was functional. Some stretching, PT and a better fit and I no longer have a overly dominant muscle group... and the LLD resolved itself.
    "That pretty much sums it up. I'm 43 and my max is ~178-180. If that HR chart was mine or Froome's, we'd be on the verge of death. But for you it probably looks like a normal workout." -TLG

    LOLOLOL

  7. #7
    Russian Troll Farmer
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    Like most people with unequal-length limbs, you have likely learned to adapt to it. Having an unequal setup to keep your shoulders level is really only an issue if you ride with your elbows locked, which EVERYBODY says you should not do. Since you should ride with your elbows bent, you probably already ride with one slightly more bent than the other. That's all you should need. Don't over-think it.

    I remember years ago, somebody was selling online some 'special' saddle that was a bit more 'built-up' on the right side, since most roads have crown to them, and to keep your bike perpendicular to the road surface you would need to lean to the left to stay upright. I wonder how many suckers bought that saddle, never stopping to think that most people keep their bike straight upright, regardless of the crown of the road.
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Time Toulouse View Post
    Like most people with unequal-length limbs, you have likely learned to adapt to it. Having an unequal setup to keep your shoulders level is really only an issue if you ride with your elbows locked, which EVERYBODY says you should not do. Since you should ride with your elbows bent, you probably already ride with one slightly more bent than the other. That's all you should need. Don't over-think it.

    I remember years ago, somebody was selling online some 'special' saddle that was a bit more 'built-up' on the right side, since most roads have crown to them, and to keep your bike perpendicular to the road surface you would need to lean to the left to stay upright. I wonder how many suckers bought that saddle, never stopping to think that most people keep their bike straight upright, regardless of the crown of the road.
    Right. I didn't even realize my arms were different length until a very experienced fitter exposed it with a tape measure. My initial reaction was to ask what this circus freak should do about it. His response was something along the lines of: "nothing, and pretty much everyone has different length arms and they instinctively deal with it fine"
    Extreme cases would be a different story but 3/8th wouldn't be extreme.
    Then again setting up shifters 3/8th apart wouldn't hurt anything either. So just try it as see what you think.


    As for the second paragraph; just wow. Even by cycling industry standards that's a crazy gimmick.

  9. #9
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    My different arm lengths were discovered by a pro fitter I went to about 15 years ago. My right leg is slightly shorter too and I use a stack of 3 “Lemond” shims under my cleat.
    The fitting was money well spent.

  10. #10
    Russian Troll Farmer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    ...
    As for the second paragraph; just wow. Even by cycling industry standards that's a crazy gimmick.
    Well, it WAS back when there were actual online retailers selling titanium bottle cage bolts for $10/each...

    The only issue you should consider is that you should use your shorter arm to determine how far forward your bars should be.
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

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