[CR]Strength asymmetries between left and right legs and drive trains...

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Date: Sun, 2 Jul 2006 10:03:06 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Don Wilson" <dcwilson3@yahoo.com>
To: Classic Rendezvous <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
Subject: [CR]Strength asymmetries between left and right legs and drive trains...

A right hander's right legs tends to be stronger than his left leg. Its the reverse for a lefty. Doing sets of leg presses on a weight machine will usually expose the asymmetry in leg strength, so I do not think there should be dispute of this assertion. And even if one is a great athlete and trains diligently to reduce the difference, this asymmetry will probably not entirely disappear. In pleasure riding, the leg strength asymmetry may not matter, but as one seeks to optimize oxygen utilization in long distance riding and racing, it might make a very significant difference. Why? Because symmetrically geared/leveraged pedals prevent a fully efficient match with legs of varying strength. When one leg is in an efficient gear/leverage situation, the other is necessarily in something less efficient. If riders worry about an ounce here and an ounce there, if they struggle to control every aspect of oxygen management, if they seek the slightest aero dynamic improvements, it seems then that they ought to be very interested in minimizing inefficiencies triggered by this asymmetry.

So: have any drive train designers tried to design a drive train that distributed gearing/leverage asymmetrically between the left and right legs to optimize this difference in leg strength (not leg length)?

Before answering, recall that we've recently covered: a) curved and angled cranks that seem to attempt (apparently unsuccessfully) to deal with dead spots at TDC; b) long and short cranks to deal with a person with one leg shorter than the other; and c) with the BioPace quasi ellipsoid approach to optimizing pedalling efficiency for both legs regardless of strength. None of these, as far as I understand them, addresseses the fundamental phenomenon of asymmetry of leg strength between left and right legs in most persons.

I ask the question, because it seems that vintage lightweight racing bike and component makers have usually at one time or another at least tried to address almost every aspect of cycling. So I figure the past might be prologue for thinking about this issue.

Don Wilson Los Olivos, CA USA

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