How short is too short…well, if it feels too short then it probably is
I dropped from 165’s to 137’s the other day while riding single track. I was able to do it, but it was wierd, I loss all of my torque and had to rely solely on momentum. Balance wise it was not all that different, same wheel, high seat position, easier spin, but it was not as controlled and ultimately I switched back to the 165’s for the rest of the ride.
I’m contemplating 150’s for this weekend, just to see if my increased experience on the 36er has grown my skill enough to manage off road on shorter cranks. My reason for reducing crank length is not efficiency, but an effort to smooth out my spin when riding through turns on single track; I seek the flow
As to riding 114’s on a 36er, sure, it could be done, but I’d want to ride something smaller than 145’s before dropping to such a short crank. It’s not that the total decrease is such a big deal (165 to 137 is the same reduction) but having so little leverage on such a big wheel would require a very fine sense of balance that can only come from some short crank experience.
Guess I’m in the opposite mind camp from Terry on this. I’ve always ridden double hole cranks on my 29er, have never changed holes during a ride, and doubt I ever will. I’ve also settled on 152 cranks for my Coker, and never change them - they work OK both in and off road but probably not the “best” for either. Changing stuff around is a PITA, and adds risk if something going wrong (stripped threads etc.). Not to mention having to carry extra stuff. I prefer to just pick the best overall setup and ride.
Of course, I’ve ridden waaay less than Terry, and admittedly at a different level, so maybe it’s just because I’m not to the point of wanting to maximize performance.