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  1. #1
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    What clipless pedals are best for aging knees?

    I'm a 52 year old road biker and my patellofemoral joints are wearing out after all these years on my 1971 Raleigh Supercourse. I was thinking of dumping the pedals and pedal clips for some road pedals and cleats with dedicated road biking shoes. I'm a little vague on the whole 'float' issue but was thinking it might protect my knees a little. Any comments?

    Dave in West Michigan

  2. #2
    Fuso 30th anniversary!
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    I have a 1971 Supercourse too, though I don't use it anymore. If I recall, they only came in green and brown that year. I did replace all the components on it about 1984.

    Anyway to your question, I have had knee, hip and back problems (not cycling related) and have found that for me, Look pedals and two piece cleats that allow a fair amount of float work great. I've used the Look pedals since the very first shipment arrived in my LBS years ago. The switch to the floating cleats made a huge difference.

    Can't say I'm too familiar with other types. I've tried SPD and Speedplays, but not on long enough rides to see a difference.

  3. #3
    fmw
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    Hoosier Pedaler fmw's Avatar
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    Look into the Speedplay X series. You can twist your feet quite a bit while riding to find the most comfortable angle. I've used 5 or 6 types of clipless pedals and the Speedplays are the best I have used.

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    The best clipless pedals for your knees are no clipless pedals at all. A straight platform pedal gives more foot positions (and more knee relief) than any other on the market. If you're uncomfortable not being locked onto your pedals, there's a "power strap" or something of the kind that allows a single loop over your shoes. Unless you're a racer, clipless pedals are unnecessary.

  5. #5
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    you're talkin an old style quill road pedal and toe clips right? If you're not riddin an old style shoe with cleats then you can allow plenty of 'float' just by not pulling the straps too tight. Foot angle can be adjusted by moving the toe clip position. Thats assuming the clips are the proper length for your shoe/foot size.
    I went to clipless on all my old bikes quite some years back and have tried a number of designs. The ones I've finally settled on are the crank bros eggbeaters. They allow a sizeable amount of float and are plenty secure for me. Due to 2 fairly serious motorcycle mishaps in the past 3 yrs, my knees, which were always rock solid, are now very susceptible to positioning issues and pedaling stress. The eggbeaters seem to allow my legs to adjust the pedal stroke to the best advantage.
    But even more important, many decades before even having knee issues, I realized that saddle position has the greatest effect on what stresses the knees feel from the pedal stroke.
    You might consider reviewing your saddle position and even handlebar position. As you lower or raise the bar or extend or reduce the reach, your hip socket will rotate relative to the same saddle position and change your stroke geometry. All this has a great effect on the knees. Changes as small as 1/4 inch in saddle position affect me, and if not proper will cause fluid to accumulate on my knees now.
    Now 6 months since my last get-off, I'm pretty close to a good position again, but still experimenting to find the 'best' position. I've been real close this last month.
    Make your changes to only one factor at a time, and take good notes on changes made and your reactions - it'll start making sense after a while.
    Oh, just shy of 56 here, so understanding what you're goin thru.

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    Thanks very much for the info! I have one of the olive green Raleighs, and I dumped the crappy components in '88. I notice some pedals have different degrees of 'float'. I assume more is better?

    Dave

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    Fred:

    Thanks very much for the info!

    Dave

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    Cyclezen:

    Thanks much for the info. Actually, I've adjusted the seat reach so my tibial tubercle is right over the pedal axle at the 3:00 position which helped I think. Seat height is for about 160' leg extension at 6:00 which seems to be 'within spec' based on what I've read.

    Actually I'm a sportsmedicine and orthopedic radiologist, and I reviewed some of what's been written on bicycle ergonomics, and it seems there isn't alot of hard science out there having to do with bike adjustments and such; just general guidelines. I think you're right, it's empirical based on your own experience.

    I like the idea of being able to internally and externally rotate at the knee. I've been using old fashioned Italian 'rattrap' pedals with those mini toeclips that don't have any straps, and they hold you pretty much in place with no knee rotation allowed.

    Thanks again!

    Dave

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    I have a pair of 50 year old knees that are extremely happy with my new
    Speedplay X/2 pedal and cleat system. The "free float" concept has really
    eliminated my knee pain, and I'm once again looking forward to every ride.
    Give the Speedplays a try.

  10. #10
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    My knees are almost 66 yo, and they greatly appreciate my Shimano mtn bike ($50) clipless (meaning clip-in) pedals mounted on my road bike with lots of float.

    They go great with my Shimano riding sandals.

    I also have two bikes with traditional toe clips, and my knees say "yes" to them also!

    But they really prefer the clip-ins!
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 07-30-05 at 10:25 AM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  11. #11
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    I'm 60 and have been riding Look pedals for about 4 years. I picked up some Speedplay Zero pedals in the spring of 2004. Whenever I had to stop for a traffic light and unclip I could never get clipped in again after the light changed. It took 3 or 4 attempts, so after a few months I gave up and went back to my beloved Look pedals.

    I have EggBeaters on my commuter.

    No knee problems for me.
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2013 Cannondale CAAD 10 2 (5) "Racing Edition"

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  12. #12
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raleigh71
    Cyclezen:

    Thanks much for the info. Actually, I've adjusted the seat reach so my tibial tubercle is right over the pedal axle at the 3:00 position which helped I think. Seat height is for about 160' leg extension at 6:00 which seems to be 'within spec' based on what I've read.

    Actually I'm a sportsmedicine and orthopedic radiologist, and I reviewed some of what's been written on bicycle ergonomics, and it seems there isn't alot of hard science out there having to do with bike adjustments and such; just general guidelines. I think you're right, it's empirical based on your own experience.

    I like the idea of being able to internally and externally rotate at the knee. I've been using old fashioned Italian 'rattrap' pedals with those mini toeclips that don't have any straps, and they hold you pretty much in place with no knee rotation allowed.
    Thanks again!
    Dave
    Sounds like you're well into the subject. As for info, you're right, finding hard science is difficult. I have some older italian and german texts devoted to cycling that spend plnety of time on 'position', but really are elaborations of what you already have done.
    Much of the fine adjustments are so individual that it does seem to take some experimentation to find what works for each of us. And it definitely changes as we age or undergo structural changes (like from accidents).
    I use the same toe clips on my commuter/mtb/casual ride bike, and I luv them. On my road bikes I use clipless (now eggbeaters) which help from having too much 'motion' (which seems also not good) at the higher cadences I ride on them.

    I'd love to hear/read more findings/results from you and others as we all continue to search for 'improvements'.
    It'd be great if this thread had a 'sticky', since it has HUGE relevancy for this forum group (olde pharts and phartettes...)
    IMHO

  13. #13
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    Raleigh71,

    As I ride behind other riders (I'm slow), I often notice that the stance on almost any set
    of pedals seems very small. By that I mean that the feet are placed very close together.
    For young competitive riders this may be fine but if the pedals are too close together you can
    get adapters that fit between the crank arm and the pedals, to effectively widen your stance.
    This does not address float but with the feet wider it might make things more comfortable. In my
    case I use toe clips but don't seem to experience the limited range of motion you mentioned.
    Good luck,

    LastPlace

  14. #14
    Papa Wheelie Sigurdd50's Avatar
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    Speedplay Frogs are great
    they were recommended to me by a local bike shop owner who has similar knee issues as my self. They are very flexible, free floating, easy to get in and out of

  15. #15
    Get A Life - Get A Bike cheeseflavor's Avatar
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    Here's a vote for Speedplay X series. My wife and I have the X/5's and both like them a lot. Easy to clip in and out of too. The ONLY complaint I have is the cleats are susceptible to dirt. We purchased cleat covers and that took care of the problem.

    Take care,

    Steve

  16. #16
    Recovering Retro-grouch CRUM's Avatar
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    Speedplay X pedals. That is their road version. The wider platform on the shoe spreads the pressure from the pedals over a wider area of your foot. Add in the float factor and IMO, they are the best road pedals out there. Frogs are ok if you want to walk normally off the bike, but many of my customers who use them on the Mtn Bikes like the X pedals better for the road because of the wider platform.
    Keep it 'tween the ditches

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  17. #17
    370H-SSV-0773H linux_author's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LastPlace
    As I ride behind other riders (I'm slow), I often notice that the stance on almost any set
    of pedals seems very small. By that I mean that the feet are placed very close together.
    For young competitive riders this may be fine but if the pedals are too close together you can
    get adapters that fit between the crank arm and the pedals, to effectively widen your stance.
    This does not address float but with the feet wider it might make things more comfortable. In my
    case I use toe clips but don't seem to experience the limited range of motion you mentioned.
    - interesting you mention this... i just went clipless after using toeclips on a new road bike (have used toeclips since the early '70s)...

    - in my case, there was a definite improvement [read: knee pain GONE] with the cheap clipless pedals ($24 .98 Wellgo MG8s)... they apparently added an outward extension on each pedal, widening my stance 20mm on each side from the default manufacturer-included platform pedals and toe clips!

    - amazing that (as others have mentioned) a small adjustment can make such a big difference!

  18. #18
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    I think any pain related to clipless pedals is do to misadjustment not the pedals themselves.

  19. #19
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fmw
    Look into the Speedplay X series. You can twist your feet quite a bit while riding to find the most comfortable angle. I've used 5 or 6 types of clipless pedals and the Speedplays are the best I have used.
    Dito. I have Speedplay Frogs. 20 degrees of float - great
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  20. #20
    Macaws Rock! michaelnel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeR
    Dito. I have Speedplay Frogs. 20 degrees of float - great
    I too use Frogs, after experiencing knee pain with Shimano SPDs. Not only do the Frogs have huge float, it is not spring-loaded float, it's totally free float.

    Frogs take some getting used to. At first the totally free rotation makes it feel as if your feet are going to come unclipped... but they don't (unless you want them too).

    After switching to Frogs, no more knee pain for me.
    ---

    San Francisco, California

  21. #21
    Senior Member Wildwood's Avatar
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    Here's a vote for Look with red cleats. Actually I also have the Nashbar and Performance knock-offs as well as the Look brand on 4 different bikes. Been using them for nearly 15 years with no problems as I like the wide platform of this pedal. Owned 1 pair of Speedplay when they initially came out, but sold them to a collegue. Look's red cleats give 6 deg of float (believe that was the original spec) and as they wear my guess is the float increases. 20 deg of float does not seem necessary to me, but YMMV.

    Finding a good pair of shoes may be harder than the right pedal.

  22. #22
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    My 62 year old badly worn knees prefer Speedplay X-series pedals. My wife and I ride X1's, I think they are the quickest and easiest to get on and off. The double sided entry make them safer when re-starting in heavy traffic.

    Al

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by CRUM
    Speedplay X pedals. That is their road version. The wider platform on the shoe spreads the pressure from the pedals over a wider area of your foot. Add in the float factor and IMO, they are the best road pedals out there. Frogs are ok if you want to walk normally off the bike, but many of my customers who use them on the Mtn Bikes like the X pedals better for the road because of the wider platform.

    Thanks very much for the info!. I'm now the proud owner of X-2 pedals and am waiting for the shoes. After 34 years riding my Raleigh Supercourse I finally made the plunge into clipless pedals.

    Dave

  24. #24
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    Thanks for the info. Actually I took the advise of numerous repliers to my inquiry and decided to get Speedplay X/2 road pedals and I set the cleats to maximal stance distance, and I think it's helped to lessen the symptoms. Not gone but a heckuva lot better. Thanks!

    Dave

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    Thanks!

    I now have Speedplay X/2's and am pleased with the results.

    Dave

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