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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 08-01-06, 12:54 PM   #1
davidmcowan
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Larger gentlemen...

I've thought a couple times rolling on my commute as I see people with their knees out at about a 45 degree angle that these people are not helping their knees. It occurred to me today that the people I see biking like this tend to be of the larger variety. Is there something about being large that makes it necessary to bike with legs pointed out in such a way?

Just curious.
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Old 08-01-06, 01:01 PM   #2
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Seat's too low.
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Old 08-01-06, 01:12 PM   #3
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I think it's safe to say I'm a large guy at 6'2", 235lbs. My knees almost brush the top tube as I pedal. For some, the size of their thighs may be an issue but for most I believe it's probably just bad form. There's a guy I see regularly on day's that I drive to work. He's average size, riding on aero bars with knees pointing out at what looks like 45, just catching wind. I have to fight the urge to yell out "knees in to win".
But hey, it's none of my business.
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Old 08-01-06, 01:15 PM   #4
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It is not a necessary riding position for larger people, but it may be a result of that. Larger riders may ride with the seat too low because they have difficulty swinging their leg over a higher seat or just ignorance. Once on the lower seat, a larger gut would necessitate swinging your legs out to the sides. I say all this as a larger rider who saw the light in my first couple of weeks of commuting. I fine tuned my seat and bars until I could ride in the correct position with my knees travelling up and down parallel to the frame. Hopefully, the riders you see will also see the light and as they get in better shape they will make the necessary adjustments.
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Old 08-02-06, 08:43 AM   #5
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How aboout you little ass 150lb guys strap an additional 100lbs to your back and then try standing on the tip toes of one foot. That is what it is like for larger people to "toe down" when they stop. And let's not forget to mention the unstability of all that extra weight so high up and how it makes it almost impossible to safely go from the seat to the top-tube-straddling position because the saddle is so high up that the larger person cannot toe down safely. There's more to it than ignorance and laziness.
I started biking at +360lbs and now I'm on my way to 275lbs and when I was the former things were much, much, much more difficult to do then. Now I just take them for granted.
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Old 08-02-06, 08:57 AM   #6
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I'm not exactly tiny at 6'6"/250#, and I've seen many people riding in the manner you've described. Not just big guys, either. All sorts. I'm pretty sure that it's a poorly adjusted bike that leads to the "knees out" problem. Seat too low, top tube too short, bars too close, etc., will all make people force their knees out.
I haven't noticed any problems with balance when I toe-down at a stop, or with top tube clearance when I dismount. Maybe it's the difference on a MTB with a tall seat post and stem, and I'll notice some difficulty in a couple months when I get my Bianchi San Jose, which is more of a cx/road frame with drop bars.
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Old 08-02-06, 09:13 AM   #7
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When riding all the way down in the drops I have problems with knees out due to the 40lb spare tire I keep in my jersey its becoming noticeably easier to pull my knees in, but it takes a lot of conscious effort.
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Old 08-02-06, 09:58 AM   #8
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You sound a little fired up. I think assuming we are all 150lb guys may be your first mistake. You don't have to be sitting in the saddle when you "toe down". If your saddle is high you sit in the saddle and then when rolling to a stop get out of it and step off the pedal. The height of your saddle shouldn't effect this. Maybe if this is a problem that you encounter you could try moving the saddle up a quarter inch a week. I think you would realize that it isn't that big of a difference. I don't remember anyone claiming that it was laziness (ignorance maybe). I thought perhaps it was due to some kind of chafe problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrosseyedCrickt
How aboout you little ass 150lb guys strap an additional 100lbs to your back and then try standing on the tip toes of one foot. That is what it is like for larger people to "toe down" when they stop. And let's not forget to mention the unstability of all that extra weight so high up and how it makes it almost impossible to safely go from the seat to the top-tube-straddling position because the saddle is so high up that the larger person cannot toe down safely. There's more to it than ignorance and laziness.
I started biking at +360lbs and now I'm on my way to 275lbs and when I was the former things were much, much, much more difficult to do then. Now I just take them for granted.
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Old 08-02-06, 10:11 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidmcowan
You sound a little fired up. I think assuming we are all 150lb guys may be your first mistake. You don't have to be sitting in the saddle when you "toe down". If your saddle is high you sit in the saddle and then when rolling to a stop get out of it and step off the pedal. The height of your saddle shouldn't effect this. Maybe if this is a problem that you encounter you could try moving the saddle up a quarter inch a week. I think you would realize that it isn't that big of a difference. I don't remember anyone claiming that it was laziness (ignorance maybe). I thought perhaps it was due to some kind of chafe problem.
Nah, not fired up, that's just how I usually am. I'm one of those people who don't take other peoples feelings into account because, well, because I just don't care that much.
My bike is tuned in nicely for me, but the OP asked:
"Is there something about being large that makes it necessary to bike with legs pointed out in such a way?"
and I answered. And when you weigh alot, everything effects everything, even the small things people take for granted like mounting a bike (which requires lifting alot of weight and maintaining balance on one leg).
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Old 08-02-06, 10:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrosseyedCrickt
And when you weigh alot, everything effects everything, even the small things people take for granted like mounting a bike (which requires lifting alot of weight and maintaining balance on one leg).
On the flip side though, since I have lost alot of the dead weight I carried (read fat weight), I have not only maintained the muscle in my legs required to cary all of that weight but I have built up a better endurance in that muscle which makes it hella easy to peddal now. I bet I could climb Everest on a bike
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Old 08-02-06, 11:55 AM   #11
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It's the belly. If knees hit the belly, it's hard to pedal.
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Old 08-02-06, 12:22 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by CrosseyedCrickt
I bet I could climb Everest on a bike
Let us know how that works out...
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Old 08-02-06, 12:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velogirl
It's the belly. If knees hit the belly, it's hard to pedal.
and the thighs...usually its a combination of body shape, a too small bike (fat people need a longer top tube to stretch out a bit and a higher seat post to drop the gut between the legs (they need to compensate by moving the saddle forward))...and i've found that a traditional saddle causes this by chaffing the thighs so they need to spead their knees more.

A friend overcame this by swapping the saddle with an XC racing saddle (Selle Italia Trans Am XO)...made an instant difference
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Old 08-02-06, 12:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velogirl
It's the belly. If knees hit the belly, it's hard to pedal.
Yep...this can be alleviated to some extent, but there is no way for me (a fat guy) to get a flat back without having the legs hit the belly. I opt for a more relaxed position to keep my knees in line, but I'm less aero. Its the price of pizza and cheeseburgers.
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Old 08-02-06, 07:24 PM   #15
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I've had some problems with my knees pointing out slightly. It turns out my cleats needed to be adjusted. I noticed my pedaling is slightly more efficient now. BTW - at 6'2" and 240 lbs the belly got in the way some. At 215 lbs it's not not an issue.
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Old 08-03-06, 08:38 AM   #16
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Quote:
Is there something about being large that makes it necessary to bike with legs pointed out in such a way?
Fat thighs + fat belly = impossible to pedal in the normal stroke
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Old 08-03-06, 09:39 AM   #17
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I'm one of these folks...it's all about the belly...it's the hardest spot to lose from, and it's the most intrusive. Pedlang against it is an incredible waste of energy, and believe it or not, actually is harder on the rest of the body, than the knees angle is on the knees.

On my mountain bike, I ride knees out, on my roadbike, I ride almost knees forward. This is what pedal float is for.
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Old 08-03-06, 03:35 PM   #18
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Easy fix--stop trying to ride street bikes and mountain bikes where you're forced to lean forward towards the bars.
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Old 08-03-06, 08:50 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by velogirl
It's the belly. If knees hit the belly, it's hard to pedal.
why did it take a 135-lb 5'6" woman to figure this out?
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Old 08-04-06, 07:45 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cosmoline
Easy fix--stop trying to ride street bikes and mountain bikes where you're forced to lean forward towards the bars.
]

Then wind becomes even more of an issue. More static resistance is even harder on the knees than poor posture.

And not everyone can use a recumbent practically.
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