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  1. #1
    No I'm Not a Pirate! Bionicycle's Avatar
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    Pedal forward and Knees? Good, Bad?

    Well I found out the other day that I have advanced Arthritis in both of my knees; the left one is in particularly bad condition, and will need replaced in the next couple of years. This comes as no big surprise to me, as I have already had my left hip replaced, and seem to have degenerative Arthritis in most of the joints in my body… I’m only 48, but I’ve had a rough life. Oh well, we play the cards we are dealt.

    But, enough of that… My question is: Are “Pedal Forward Design” bikes easier on the knees, or rougher on them?…I’ve heard both sides of this argument from several people in bike shops, so I thought some of you may have some experience with this issue… I’m thinking of buying a new bicycle by the end of this summer, and I have been looking at many of the “Pedal Forward Designs” such as the Trek Pure, Giant Sued, and the Electra Townie, just to name a few. If the “Pedal Forward Designs” do not offer a significant advantage, I may just see about putting a triple crank on my Fuji Mixte so I can spin easier up those hills.
    A bird can roost but on one branch, a mouse can drink not more than its fill from a river.

  2. #2
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    Just from my own personal experience pedal forward bikes are easy on the knees if, and that is a big if, you use them for what they were designed to do. They are cruisers and MUP bikes or around town errand runners. At least mine was and I could use it for trips of around 20 or 30 miles if I had the time. But they are not for trying to keep up with friends on road bikes or climbing hills and your legs and perhaps knees will tell you about it.

  3. #3
    bikes are sexy Lebowski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Foster View Post
    Just from my own personal experience pedal forward bikes are easy on the knees if, and that is a big if, you use them for what they were designed to do. They are cruisers and MUP bikes or around town errand runners. At least mine was and I could use it for trips of around 20 or 30 miles if I had the time. But they are not for trying to keep up with friends on road bikes or climbing hills and your legs and perhaps knees will tell you about it.
    pretty much anything that requires standing up just doesn't work well on those bikes. i agree they are for crusing around, not racing around. i rode my dad's one time because my commuter was in the shop, it took me for ever to get to work, it was super awkward to try and climb out of the seat. they do descend rather nicely though.
    [2010] Specialized P3 - [09] Origin8 Scout 29er - [08] Specialized Epic Comp - [08] Specialized Allez - [06] - Specialized SX Trail II - (((In Pieces - '08 Jamis Parker -- '07 specialized Hardrock Sport -- 2005 KHS DJ200)))

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    A key for your knees is to use VERY easy gears. Learn to spin fast (100 RPM) in a very easy gear (say, 60 inches). Having BMX pedals spreads the pressure on your feet over a wide area and that seems to reduce stress on the knee. Ride every single day, even if for only an hour. As you build up leg muscles, those muscles seem to help take a load of the knees.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rustyoldbikes View Post
    A key for your knees is to use VERY easy gears. Learn to spin fast (100 RPM) in a very easy gear (say, 60 inches). Having BMX pedals spreads the pressure on your feet over a wide area and that seems to reduce stress on the knee. Ride every single day, even if for only an hour. As you build up leg muscles, those muscles seem to help take a load of the knees.
    True, but with a pedal forward bike you canít get your weight over the pedal going up hills. The spinning recumbent legs, so many talk about, is harder because you donít have anything to push against like a seat back. My Revive at least had a back rest but spin as I might hills were a long slow process. Not that I am a jack rabbit with a traditional DF bike.

  6. #6
    No I'm Not a Pirate! Bionicycle's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the inputÖ I guess Iíll have to test ride a bunch of bikes and see if any of them feel right. The main trouble is that they may feel great dawdling around a bike shop parking lot, but get them in the real world for a day, and it may be a different story.

    The only thing I can relate to a pedal forward bike, would be my old stingray (30 years ago) with a banana seat where you could set back over the rear wheel. It was great for doing wheelies, and for cruising, but when it came time to put some power down, I had to slide forward and stand up on the pedals. So, I can see where a pedal forward bike could be less efficient when it comes to that, but if it would help me get a mile or two more out of my knees, it may be worth it.
    A bird can roost but on one branch, a mouse can drink not more than its fill from a river.

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    I have a RANS Fusion which is another pedals-forward bike. I can't pedal it very well while standing, and even just standing on the pedals to coast over stuff is a bit of effort. It can be pedaled hard but you have to stay on the seat and pull on the handlebars. And it's not very aero unless you're really thin and can bend over forward easily. It's my around-town commuting bike. I don't ever take it on very-long rides, but mainly because I put some heavy thick puncture-resistant tires on it, that don't roll real easily.

    It's also nice as a "guest" bike because it's as easy to ride as a "normal" bike but doesn't cause as much seat pain, and the hand and neck strain are minimal.

    --------

    I did put Rotor Q-rings on both my bikes, because I found that it was easier on my knees. With round chainrings I had problems with knee pain on the upper-half of the pedal stroke on longer rides (75+ miles). The Q-rings are oval chainrings and the original idea was to orient the long axis so it would hit halfway through the downward pedal stroke, minimizing the dead spot (but increasing the load during the pedal stroke). I turned mine "backwards" about 70ļ so that the long axis hits about three-fourths of the way into the pedal stroke. This shifts the stress partly out of the upper-half of the pedal stroke when your knees are most bent, and into the lower-half when your knees are more-straight. I do not know or care if I am going any faster with them, I don't race at all but I do know that I can ride longer with less knee pain.

    I put them on my long-distance bike first, and later put a set on my city bike too because to me they felt better than normal chainrings, even on moderate rides.

    Rotor said that they temporarily stopped making triples a while back, when the Tour de France was going on and demand for the double sets surged. So you might not be able to get a triple-mid ring, but you could get a double set and just live with the lousy small-to-mid shifting.
    ~

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