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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 05-25-05, 10:50 AM   #1
craiginho
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fixed gear and bad knees

i plan on building my wife a bike and she is thinking about a fixed gear.
she's got bad knees though.
is this not a good fit for her?
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Old 05-25-05, 10:55 AM   #2
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as long as she uses brakes to slow down rather than back pressure, it could work great. to me, fixies are sort of easier on you in a way since the bike pulls you along in a sense.
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Old 05-25-05, 10:59 AM   #3
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at least front break and smaller gear, around 74 or less.how bad are her knees? riding a bike is better for knees then running for me.
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Old 05-25-05, 11:08 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by armia
at least front break and smaller gear, around 74 or less.how bad are her knees? riding a bike is better for knees then running for me.
they're not terrible, but they get sore sfter long rides.
running is out of the question.
too much pounding.
isn't aging grand?
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Old 05-25-05, 11:20 AM   #5
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2 knee surgeries, no issues riding fixed 2+ years. As stated, have her start out with small gear and front brake. And teach her to skip, which is much better on your legs than backpressure and skidding. Good luck!
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Old 05-25-05, 11:21 AM   #6
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we talked about this somewhere else, but...

1) bike fit is crucial (including cleat/pedal fit)
2) low gearing.
3) front brake (if not both)
4) keep 'em warm

someone above mentioned a drivetrain around "74 or less". i would definitely consider something less than that for someone with bad knees. but the gearing you choose depends alot on the strength and fitness of the rider, as well as the terrain that you'll be riding.

you might also want to clearly articulate (between the two of you) what the purpose of riding fixed is. in other words, to go fast or to improve pedal technique and suppleness?

for someone with knee pain/soreness, the latter is better. in my experience, once you get the bike fit and gearing sorted out, riding fixed strengthens the knees and makes your legs more supple. all of the feedback from the pedals helps you get smooth.

my knees (veterans of several operations) feel better after my 16.5 mile (one way) commute when i'm riding fixed versus the rare days when i ride my 'cross bike.
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Old 05-25-05, 11:37 AM   #7
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I fully agree with all 4 statements from svwagner.. Especially bike fit... I just got done tweaking in my fixed gear and its so much easier on my knees. I also wear those defeet kneewarmers and use olbas or icyhot before cold morning rides...

take care-
Jim
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Old 05-25-05, 11:49 AM   #8
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If she uses clipless pedals make sure they are set up properly (go to a LBS and get fitted if neccesary) and I highly recommend pedals with lot's of float (Speed plays).

If you live someplace hilly I would not recommend fixed gear for someone with bad knees. Too much stress going up and down.
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Old 05-25-05, 11:56 AM   #9
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My knees are pretty much shot, but I have no problems riding with brakes and mid-sixties gearing.
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Old 05-25-05, 12:20 PM   #10
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I had some weird stuff goin on with my knee's I was concerned at first when I started riding fixed, but things have actually improved, I ride about 10-15 miles a day and my gearing is 48x18 seems to go fine for me!
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Old 05-25-05, 01:42 PM   #11
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With my knees, I definitely needed at least a front brake and preferred both, though that took some of the fun out of riding fixed!

I found that hills killed my knees on fixed - I had a mid-70s gear. I also jog and that never troubled me thus far. But long slow seated climbs did.

I would love to ride fixed again but I would definitely be pushing no more than a 2:1 ratio (eg, 42x21, some where in the mid 50s) and would probably use an even lower gear. Sounds wussy I know but I would absolutely be going for the feel/experience and building a nice spin.

By the way, stick to short cranks too. My hack bike which I am currently considering building into a fixie has 140mm cranks!!! It sounds wacky but once i get used to them my mtb feels insanely long with its 170mms. I'd think 160 or so is plenty short for most folks; 140 is just what came on this bike.
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Old 05-25-05, 01:48 PM   #12
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Hey, for keeping the knees warm look for old baseball unis - I have some old 50/50 wool & poly pants I use on the bike. They are old school, come to just below the knees; they look remarkably similar to what you'll see Merckx wearing in those old winter training photos!. The wool is gr8 and they are a nice weight /length for spring and fall and on cold mornings. They work well over padded bike shorts too due to low profile seams. Kinda hard to find in wool (most are longer length in addition to being all polyester) but worth the hunt.
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Old 05-25-05, 03:35 PM   #13
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I agree with the short cranks, low gearing, knee warmers, speedplay.

I thought I had bad knee's until I changed to 165 cranks and speedplays... now I never get a twinge.
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Old 05-25-05, 04:11 PM   #14
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A couple points.

First of all, it was me that started the last thread. Due to several previous accidents I already had shoddy knees, but was beginning to feel the pain again.

I have done a few things since posting last. All of which have helped me ride the last few days completely ache free.

1. I started actively concentrating on my spinning technique. moving my legs in circles as opposed to mashing the pedals. So much so that I started chanting circles in my head as some kind of odd mantra.

2. I put clipless pedals back onto my bike. I know that traditionally clipless are supposed to me harder on your knees, but I think my foot was adopting an odd position on the platforms, the clipless more or less keeps them in the right place.

3. I took a few days off to let the soreness go away.

That said, I just got back from doing about 15 miles. I know its not a huge distance, but I am still happy that my knees feel fine.
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Old 05-25-05, 05:43 PM   #15
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http://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixed-knees.html
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Old 05-25-05, 09:37 PM   #16
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I've got a 40t chainring on my project bike to be and plan no smaller than a 20t cog in back. cool article!
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Old 05-25-05, 11:10 PM   #17
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Another nice thing about fixies vis a vis multi-geared bikes is that they generally have a lower q-factor (tread), which may be less detrimental to both knees and ankles.
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Old 05-26-05, 12:58 AM   #18
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I have had knee issues in the past.
I presently ride 47X17, about 72 inches, and that gives me the best of all possible worlds where I ride and given my age and body.
I focus on my spin, trying to bring my hips and buttocks into it more and more, and my thighs less and less.
That works for me.
I have improved my spin considerably by visualizing the circle my heels make.
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