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Old 03-17-09, 03:00 PM   #1
Digital Gee
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Are 'bents easier on the knees?

I ask, because my knee problem seems to be coming back. It had me off the bike for seven weeks a couple of years ago, then cleared up, but now it's barking every now and then. Not too bad, and I can still ride, but I'd like to know my options.

If I ever go 'bent, it will be low-end to start because they are so expensive! What's a good first 'bent? I'd be doing 15-20 milers on it, mostly in urban environments. Thanks!
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Old 03-17-09, 03:30 PM   #2
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Gary, I don't know the answer to your question in regards to the knees as I've been fortunate to not have problematic knees, yet. Remember, you're still moving the same mass with same engine.

What got me hooked was the great seat comfort, the relaxed feeling I have in my neck and the elimination of weight on my wrists. Oh yeah, and they're just so damned fun to ride!!

As far as recumbent research is concerned the Bicycle Man has a good site explaining a lot about the different types and quality levels of recumbents from various manufacturers. He's a bit too far away for you to shop at his shop but I believe you'll find his reviews very interesting. At the very least, it's a place to start the learning process. NOTE: Some of his prices are not current, but you can find prices on the manufacturers sites.
http://www.bicycleman.com/

Good luck in your quest, Sir DG.

p.s.
As you may have noticed on an earlier thread I just put my wife on an entry level recumbent. We went out for a five miler today and she loves it.

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Old 03-17-09, 03:39 PM   #3
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DG, I have a LWB recumbent, and it's about the same on the knees. When my knees started barking, I moved the seat back as far as I could and still have everything work. Same as raising the seat on a DF. I changed the cranks from 170s to 160s which also reduced the angle on the knees. Next, I got in the habit of gearing down and spinning faster. The final change was to stick to flatter ground and avoid routes with lots of hills. These solved the problem.

Try a few of these before going 'bent. They are expensive and harder to transport. Also, you end up with a new bike that needs yet more $$$ to get everything dialed in.

If you want to try out a LWB, check out the EZ Sports and Rans Stratus LE's. Both are good entry level 'bents. bk
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Old 03-17-09, 03:42 PM   #4
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I know where you can get a really GOOD deal on a never ridden brand new Bacchetta Belandare:
http://www.bacchettabikes.com/recumb...bellandare.htm

Lemme know and I'll hook you up.
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Old 03-17-09, 03:52 PM   #5
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Here's another shop site I like. Go to "Bikes" and click on the spinning Crank and you'll find a bike comparison tool. http://www.johnadamscycling.com/

You'll need to know your X-seam. Learn how to measure it at http://www.hostelshoppe.com/recumbent_catalog.php just go to Help Guides and then scroll down to Tech. Tips.
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Old 03-17-09, 03:56 PM   #6
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I've been told by two knee specialists that recumbent exercisers are easier on one's knees than upright cycling machines. I have no information beyond that. How much easier and whether it would be enough of a difference to make a difference for you, who knows? It may well depend upon what the specific issue is with one's knees.

The standard entry recumbent brand is SUN. Their new X-1, which is what Cranky just purchased for his wife, is their mid-line bent. There are many EZ-1's around, which can be had for as low as mid-$500's new. Frequently $300's used. A heavy'ish, slow recumbent, but comfortable and easy to ride. Not something I'd want to do 50 miles on, but people do it.

Here's a link to the EZ-1:
http://basicallybicycles.com/itemdet...fm?LibId=34905

I saw three SUN EZ-Sport bents on sale last fall in the $600-$750 range.

Another lower cost line is ActionBent, which is an on-line importer. They don't offer many (any?) long wheel models.

I have a RANS Stratus. It's wonderfully comfortable. Been around since 1979. They can pop up at good prices on Craigslist, as do the SUNs. Also the now defunct BikeE lines, which are good entry-level bent. More info on them here:
http://www.bikee.org/

The BikeE was the most popular recumbent ever made, but they experienced a number of business problems and actually went under as the then-current #1 seller.
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Old 03-17-09, 03:57 PM   #7
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I know where you can get a really GOOD deal on a never ridden brand new Bacchetta Belandare:
http://www.bacchettabikes.com/recumb...bellandare.htm
I've ridden a Bellandare and liked it.
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Old 03-17-09, 04:24 PM   #8
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Interesting Craigslist ad here:

EZ-1

and here:

Easy Racer Javelin

and also here:

Cannondale

although the last one is more than I'd care to spend just to see how I like it!
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Old 03-17-09, 05:06 PM   #9
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Gary, do you want to go through all the bikes you went thru before Ruby. Just go ride a few of the better bents because when you go bent, you'll never go back. I've got a Moots and a bike friday with flat tires sitting in the closet. The bent is slower up hills, be sure to get low gears for your knees.

BTW, I've got a a WHITE Gold Rush Racer. If you order one, you can talk to Fast Freddie Markham--he owns the company now.
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Old 03-17-09, 06:00 PM   #10
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Interesting Craigslist ad here:

EZ-1

and here:

Easy Racer Javelin

and also here:

Cannondale

although the last one is more than I'd care to spend just to see how I like it!
The EZ-1 appears to be the low end bike of the bunch.

The Javelin will fit an X-seam of 41"-47", and is a much better bike.

I don't know anything about the Cannondale...though it has a 20" rear wheel, may be slow depending on the gearing. It's short wheel base will be a fun to manuver bike.
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Old 03-17-09, 06:57 PM   #11
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You can abuse your knees on just about any bike but with a 'bent there is no temptation, or ability, to stand up and put your body weight on the downstroke. Of course, you can still push bigger gears that you oughta. Head over to bentrideronline.com and you will find a forum full of 'bent advocates plus, for no extra charge, links to lots and lots of 'bent retailers and manufacturers.
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Old 03-17-09, 07:05 PM   #12
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With the same length cranks, the recumbent position actually has me using my knees more when my seat is fairly upright. Leaning back more aleviates that. Going to 160mm or shorter cranks will help your knees. You could also try shorter cranks on your Roubaix. The shorter your cranks the straighter your leg will be throughout the stroke. One thing that comes up a lot on bentrideronline is that the knees of most people like a decent amount of float on a recumbent with clipless pedals.

I would definitely test ride any recumbent before buying it. The EZ-1 lists for $799 MSRP. That's what I've seen it for in shops. You could always test ride the one on Craigslist. I got a Cycle Genius Sparrow in January, $799 MSRP. Due to waiting on a wrist injury to heal I don't have many miles on it. It's similar to the EZ-1, but has two 20" tires. My Lightning Cycle Dynamics seat bag fits over the back of the seat.

I don't have any pictures of my own Sparrow yet, but here's the web site. My Sparrow is the color of the Falcon LS in the pic above it. It looks like People Movers in Orange, Ca might be the closest dealer to you. I've never seen a Sparrow for sale on Craig's List.

http://www.cyclegenius.com/models.html
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Old 03-17-09, 07:42 PM   #13
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I remember you having a knee problem, what was the Rx for it? I would try chondriten sulfate/glucosamine and high dose fish oil and see if it clears up.
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Old 03-17-09, 08:06 PM   #14
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You can actually stress your knees more on a recumbent than an upright. The reason is that on an upright, gravity limits the amount of pressure you can put on the pedal, but with a recumbent, you're pushing against a seat back.

On any kind of bike, the distance from seat to pedal can be really critical for some people, when it comes to avoiding knee pain. Good pedaling technique helps, too. A higher cadence does more of the work with your cardiopulmonary system, and puts less stress on muscles and joints.
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Old 03-17-09, 08:25 PM   #15
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I remember you having a knee problem, what was the Rx for it? I would try chondriten sulfate/glucosamine and high dose fish oil and see if it clears up.
I went to three docs, and by the time I'd been to the last one since it took a while to get appointments, it was already feeling much better. That said, I spent 7 weeks off the bike and then it was fine. This was in 2006 I believe.
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Old 03-17-09, 08:27 PM   #16
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You can actually stress your knees more on a recumbent than an upright. The reason is that on an upright, gravity limits the amount of pressure you can put on the pedal, but with a recumbent, you're pushing against a seat back.

On any kind of bike, the distance from seat to pedal can be really critical for some people, when it comes to avoiding knee pain. Good pedaling technique helps, too. A higher cadence does more of the work with your cardiopulmonary system, and puts less stress on muscles and joints.
I guess I could try tweaking the fit again, although it works and I haven't changed anything for so long I don't remember when I did. But I can try playing with the saddle height, etc.

One other factor could be the fact that I switch back and forth between two bikes, the Roubaix and the Globe, and while I think the fit is fine on both of them, they ARE different bikes and have a different feel to the fit. And I'm bi-clipless -- that is, I'm clipless on Ruby and platform on the Caped Crusader.
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Old 03-17-09, 09:01 PM   #17
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Did you ever have a pro fitter help you?
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Old 03-17-09, 09:02 PM   #18
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I guess I could try tweaking the fit again, although it works and I haven't changed anything for so long I don't remember when I did. But I can try playing with the saddle height, etc.

One other factor could be the fact that I switch back and forth between two bikes, the Roubaix and the Globe, and while I think the fit is fine on both of them, they ARE different bikes and have a different feel to the fit. And I'm bi-clipless -- that is, I'm clipless on Ruby and platform on the Caped Crusader.
Good luck!

General guidance is if you have knee pain in the front of your knee, the saddle is too low. And if the pain is in the back of your knee, it's too high. I find the "too low" pain is made worse by not spinning fast enough. I don't find that saddle fore/aft matters very much in terms of knee pain.
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Old 03-17-09, 09:10 PM   #19
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Did you ever have a pro fitter help you?
No pro fitting, but the bike shop did a pretty thorough job (IMHO).
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Old 03-17-09, 09:43 PM   #20
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I've had knee pain both on the bent and on the DF, but it has been less on the bent. I suspect this is primarily because I'm not tempted to be as much of a masher on the 'bent; I keep my cadence up above 70 almost all the time.

What I did notice, and big time, is that I no longer have the kind of back pain I was having on the DF. Yes, mine was fitted and the fitter swore that it was perfect for me, but I still had back pain. After a long ride (70+ miles), it would be almost unbearable. No such pain on the 'bent.

For my money, the 'bent is a far better ride overall than the DF ever was. I've been full-time on mine for over a year now and don't ever plan to go back.
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Old 03-17-09, 11:15 PM   #21
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Interesting Craigslist ad here:


Cannondale

although the last one is more than I'd care to spend just to see how I like it!

The Cannondale Bent is a great example of design by committee. It was built of high quality parts & designed to be a comfortable ride. It incorporates a mid-drive, a suspension, and an unusually low bottom bracket for its wheelbase.

The result was a bent that is of very good construction quality, a cushy ride, but tending toward being heavy and on the slow side. The cushiness and lack of performance made it unappealing to bent enthusiasts, the high quality parts made it too expensive for the typical buyer looking for a comfortable ride & who didn't care much about performance. Original list was $1999 back around 2004.

End result: Amazingly low sales for a major brand. Cannondale offered the bike for 3 years, adding a lower-end model at $1499 with cheaper components and later admitted that they sold less than 500 total in North America. Any Cannondale LBS that sold as many as 3 of them per year, were star resellers.

It is quite common to see sellers pushing the Cannondale name and quality of parts to get premium used prices. But kind of funny given that the bike completely bombed in the marketplace. For the right buyer, it is actually a very nice bike.

Ironically, Trek made many of the same mistakes on their ill-fated recumbent.
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Old 03-17-09, 11:25 PM   #22
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DG,

With what I know of San Diego, you want a bent with really really low gears and high gears. Just a few mid gears for transition. So some custom ratios might be a good idea. You'll have to be kind to your knees no matter what you get. Since you can push from the hip, you can put a lot of torque on the old knee if you pedal badly.

The reason to have a bent is that it is fun. I like my Bacchetta Giro 20.

Actionbents seem okay if you have the facilities and patience to sort them out. I got my Bacchetta instead because I was new to bents. But now that I know, I'd probably go for an Actionbent if I'm looking for a cheap bent. I did get to ride a friends Actionbent after buying my Bacchetta Giro 20, and I was impressed at how lively and fast it was. That doesn't mean that if I had more, I wouldn't be tempted by higher end bikes.
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Old 03-18-09, 05:04 AM   #23
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If you want to get a 'bent, get one. But if you want to make your knees stop hurting, figure out what is causing them to hurt and fix that. Could be a simple adjustment or two. Could be as simple as riding more often.
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Old 03-18-09, 05:59 AM   #24
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I've followed Deeg's bike-swapping for a few years, wondering if he'd eventually end up on a 'bent. Uprights can be things of beauty, but they're sure not for me. And DG, don't just buy one and hope you like it, TEST RIDE FIRST. Compared to 'bents where each one is noticeably different, all uprights are virtually identical to each other. Test ride many different brands, models, and styles. Low and high, long and short, fast and slow, cheap and ridiculously expensive. Don't be shy, try to get test rides on everything you can lay your greedy hands on. Then compare notes and start all over again. Bye the end of the second round, one of them will have spoken to you. No, I mean it. You will know. I just hope when you find her, you can afford her!

Regarding the Cannondale AND the Trek: Why, oh why, do the major DF brands think a 'bent must be suspended in order to be comfortable? They're ROAD bikes, fer cryin' out loud! I think it must be a carry-over mindset because their normal products are so inherently UNcomfortable. But with 'bents it's compensating for a problem that doesn't exist. In the 'bent world, active suspension is mostly for control on bumpy roads. Trek ruined a basically good design, while Cannondale designed their pig from the ground-up. Both were low performance and high price. Like Tom wrote, the people willing to pay the price expected performance. The Trek was overpriced but was selling pretty well in spite of it. Then the main supporter within the company died and the model was immediately pulled.

I occasionally get knee problems. Doc says it's because muscle imbalances cause my kneecap to track improperly. So, whenever I have issues, I do my exercises and in a few days I'm good to go again.
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Old 03-18-09, 07:39 AM   #25
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If you want to get a 'bent, get one. But if you want to make your knees stop hurting, figure out what is causing them to hurt and fix that. Could be a simple adjustment or two. Could be as simple as riding more often.
Yes! Sometimes it's hard to figure out knee issues and the fitters don't know everything. In my case, I had knee pain and couldn't use clipless pedals until I realized I needed to toe-out, way out. At first I drilled new holes in my shoes so I could move the cleat enough and eventually had some custom spacers made, like Kneesavers. This was in 1989 and my knees have been pretty happy since despite all the miles and climbing.
I guess my point is that everyone is different and your knees might be asking for something special.
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