Cranks & Gearing

Bike Fit Terms: What do BDC & TDC Refer To?

As both a coach and bike fitter, I know that I and my fellow practitioners sometimes throw out acronyms as if the entire world understands exactly what our peculiar lexicon means. I also know that being able to "speak the language" with your coach and/or fitting professional will help you get the most benefit from their services. With that in mind, I thought I would explain a couple of those bike fit acronyms you might have heard before but not really have understood.

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Gearing Nomenclature Explained

You’re hanging out after the ride and someone says, “Man, that hill was steep. I was in 34x25 the whole way up but spun out the 11 going down!” If you’re new to cycling, gear designations can seem like advanced mathematical theory. When riders start throwing these numbers around, you don’t know what they’re talking about. But gearing, even with the proliferation of choices resulting from 11-speed cassettes and compact cranksets, is quite simple.

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Shimano Syncro Shift – Advanced Shifting Technology

According to Shimano’s website, Syncro Shift “gives riders the simplicity of a 1x11 drivetrain, with the gear range and gear steps of a 2x11 drivetrain by utilizing a single gear shifter (or two shifters, if you prefer) that can control both the front and rear derailleurs through programmable gear mapping.” That’s a lot to understand. So let me explain. And give you a quick thought to plant in your head: think of it as an automatic transmission, of sorts. Syncro Shift is Shimano's adaptation of their second-generation Di2 to allow a bike to automatically shift to advantageous gear combinations.

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Are Shorter Crankarms Better?

I'm a 6-foot-tall big-gear masher with a 34-inch inseam. I use 175-mm crankarms. But I wonder if shorter would be better. Here's my theory: Because the hub travels slower (a shorter distance) than the tire (which goes a longer distance) it seems logical to go to a shorter crank. Higher gear, slower cadence = shorter cranks. Coach Fred Matheny explains.

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