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Anthropometry for Cycling

Anthropometry (measuring body size and composition) is an important component of fitness for cyclists, no matter what discipline they are involved with. Even though the weight of the body is supported by the bike, a low body mass ratio is an advantage for hill climbing, maximizing the power to weight ratio. Bike mechanics is also affected by body size and limb lengths. Smaller cyclists will also be affected less by wind resistance.

There are also differences in body size between track and road cyclists, and among the road cyclists, differences between good climbers compared to sprinters and time trial specialists. Climbers tend to be shorter and thinner. Time trial specialists are the other extreme, while still being very lean they are bigger and heavier.

An analysis by procyclingstats of riders on the world tour in 2017 found climbers are were slightly shorter (climbers 178.2 cm v 179.8 cm for sprinters). Looking at the average weight, there was a much bigger difference - the average climber was 64.2 kg versus 71.7 kg for sprinters.

There are many anthropometrical tests that are appropriate for all cyclists, such as:

Anthropometry and Olympic Athletes

London 2012 Olympic Games

Here is some information from the analysis of the anthropometric data (height, weight and age) from the cycling participants at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Mountain bike cyclists on average significantly smaller than the other disciplines, and much lighter too, an advantage when hill climbing. The BMX riders were the heaviest, a reflection of the higher muscle mass for power production.

Sport Age Height (cm) Weight (kg) BMI
OVERALL AVERAGE (all sports) 26.1 176.9 72.8 23.3
Cycling - BMX (all) 23.5 176.1 77.6 24.9
Cycling - BMX (females) 23.0 165.7 65.5 23.8
Cycling - BMX (males) 23.7 180.7 83.1 25.4
Cycling - Mountain Bike (all) 27.9 173.6 62.4 20.6
Cycling - Mountain Bike (females) 27.9 166.3 54.0 19.5
Cycling - Mountain Bike (males) 28.0 178.2 67.7 21.3
Cycling - Road (all) 28.3 176.7 66.8 21.3
Cycling - Road (females) 28.0 167.6 57.3 20.4
Cycling - Road (males) 28.4 180.5 70.8 21.7
Cycling - Track (all) 25.2 175.7 72.3 23.3
Cycling - Track (females) 25.4 169.2 63.8 22.3
Cycling - Track (males) 25.1 180.6 78.6 24.1

Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Here is average data from the analysis of the anthropometric data of the cycling competitors at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

  Age (years) height (m) weight (kg) BMI
AVERAGE (all sports) 26.8 1.77 72.0 22.9
cycling (all) 27.4 1.75 67.8 22.1
cycling (females) 27.4 1.67 60.2 21.5
cycling (males) 27.5 1.79 72.6 22.5

Selected References

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