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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 07-17-08, 09:37 AM   #1
hankwk
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Fixed gear and knees Ouch!

So I am a recent noob in the fixed category. I own a new kilo tt that I am changing up parts to give it a better ride.

After riding on the new bike for a week, I noticed that my knees are feeling kind of funny. It is harder to stand for longish periods of time (10 min+) and when going back to riding my road bike, my knees were definately weak to the point where they would hurt a little after putting any sort of pressure on the pedals. I dont think I hurt anything seriously... I though maybe I was straining muscles that haven't been used before to stop a bike.

There are no breaks on the bike now, but I am considering putting one on.

Now I am aware that riding fixed puts a whole new set of pressure on the knees, and after riding for a long time, it can mess up your knees pretty bad, but I was wondering if there was any way to remedy this problem.

I am taking it easy off the fixed for a week or two while my knees recover. Any comments would be helpful! thanks!
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Old 07-17-08, 09:44 AM   #2
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Single speed FTW.
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Old 07-17-08, 09:47 AM   #3
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Sorry but riding fixed will not mess up your knees you've got some common sense. Lower your gear, put a brake on, don't overdo it and try to spin more. After some time things will get easier and you'll get used to the fixed gear.
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Old 07-17-08, 09:47 AM   #4
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Try it with brakes. Some people (myself) develop knee problems with back pedaling pressure. Skipping was my nemesis. Even with a front brake I did a lot of skipping. Had to switch to SS. No knee problems anymore.

(side note... it was only my right knee that gave me problems)
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Old 07-17-08, 09:50 AM   #5
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Fixed-gear riding introduces several new factors that can accumulate into knee problems, but most can be controlled or eliminated with rider's care.

First, make sure your fit is right: seat post and seat position. If you are not familiar with proper riding positions, study up.

Second, braking places compressive stress on the knee during the back portion of the pedalling cycle and shearing stress during the front portion of the cycle. If your legs haven't been accustomed to these new forces, your knees can pay for them.

Third, fixed-gear demands constant pedalling, resulting in more mechanical work than that from a bike that can coast. More mechanical work, more wear. If wear rate excedes recovery rate (biological rebuild), then you have problems. In this case, you need to introduce fixed-gear riding to your legs/knees gradually until your muscles and connective tissues build up to it. It's like physical training -- no one suddenly places 225 pounds on their back to squat, when they've never performed a back squat before.

So, essentially:

1. use a front brake.
2. start out slowly.

Good luck!
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Old 07-17-08, 10:35 AM   #6
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I'm more worried about taking pedal to the knee from a fixed gear than I am about over-stressing the joint.
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Old 07-17-08, 10:57 AM   #7
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it sounds like you havent been riding bike for long?

condition your legs. they'll grow stronger. dont over do it.
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Old 07-17-08, 10:59 AM   #8
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btw, i take about 1500 mg of glucosamine, daily. the stuff lubes your joints, promotes cartilidge growth, etc.

http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/herb...lucosamine.htm
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Old 07-17-08, 11:05 AM   #9
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Now I am aware that riding fixed puts a whole new set of pressure on the knees, and after riding for a long time, it can mess up your knees pretty bad, but I was wondering if there was any way to remedy this problem.
Ill fitted bikes mess your knees up, not riding fixed. The notion that it messes up your knees is one of the biggest false facts about riding fixed.


Riding actually makes my knees and ankles feel better and I know I am not the only one.
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Old 07-17-08, 11:06 AM   #10
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btw, i take about 1500 mg of glucosamine, daily. the stuff lubes your joints, promotes cartilidge growth, etc.
In some percentage of the population this is true. But if you're a part of the group that it does nothing for, and that's no small percentage, that's a lot of money to be throwing away.
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Old 07-17-08, 11:15 AM   #11
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(if bike is fitted correctly then...)
the main reason your knee's will hurt when you begin to ride fixed is because you had not ever ridden a fixed gear before.

If all the bikes were fixed gear, you wouldn't have knee pains, because you are now using more of the muscles in the your knee. instead of the few muscles you have used and built up riding with a freewheel. So the muscles you have never used riding a bike before are being strained. Just go slow, dont crank or spin hard, enjoy being out there.
try counting how many different colors of flowers you see...
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Old 07-17-08, 11:23 AM   #12
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+1 on glucosamine -- it can do wonders for cartilage regrowth (its one of the very few supplements that has been formally accepted by the medical community)

that said, even with glucosamine and a front brake, my bad knees couldn't handle the constant stress of daily fixed gear riding and i made the switch to ss. the pain quickly subsided. cartilage regrowth is a very long, slow process, and couldn't keep up with the wear and tear.
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Old 07-17-08, 11:28 AM   #13
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+1 on glucosamine -- it can do wonders for cartilage regrowth (its one of the very few supplements that has been formally accepted by the medical community)
As I indicated in my earlier post, every legitimate study I've read on it concludes that it's something of a wonder drug for a subset of the population, but for everyone else it does nothing.

I suppose it's worth trying to find out if you're one of the people it works for, but even then it might be determine whether the results you're observing are psychosomatic or a genuine improvement in the condition of your cartilage.
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Old 07-17-08, 11:45 AM   #14
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(if bike is fitted correctly then...)
the main reason your knee's will hurt when you begin to ride fixed is because you had not ever ridden a fixed gear before.

If all the bikes were fixed gear, you wouldn't have knee pains, because you are now using more of the muscles in the your knee. instead of the few muscles you have used and built up riding with a freewheel. So the muscles you have never used riding a bike before are being strained. Just go slow, dont crank or spin hard, enjoy being out there.
try counting how many different colors of flowers you see...
you're right -- building up muscles around the knee (not "in your knee" because there are no muscles in your knee) will help prevent muscle soreness. however, i'm pretty sure that the long-term destructive effects of fixed gear riding relates to cartilage loss due to impact of backpedaling. i don't think that continuing to ride more is going to prevent it. it'll just make it worse.
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Old 07-17-08, 12:00 PM   #15
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Then don't back pedal and use a brake.
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Old 07-17-08, 12:05 PM   #16
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Then don't back pedal and use a brake.
im sorry, i don't really see a point to ride fixed if you're not going to be able to back pedal and you're using a brake. thats just me. thats why i switched to ss. what made fixed riding fun was controlling the speed of the bike with my legs. when my knee pain prevented me from doing that, it stopped being fun, so i switched.
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Old 07-17-08, 12:08 PM   #17
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Ill fitted bikes mess your knees up, not riding fixed. The notion that it messes up your knees is one of the biggest false facts about riding fixed.


Riding actually makes my knees and ankles feel better and I know I am not the only one.
I have to agree with this based on my personal experience. Old sports injuries messed up my knees pretty bad, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to ride fixed gear when I first tried. But as it turns out, my knees are better than they've been in many years because of fixed gear riding. Just start slow, with an easy gearing and a brake, and build your strength. Make any changes gradually. If you wind up going brake-less, use an easier gearing than you would if you were riding with a brake.
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Old 07-17-08, 12:13 PM   #18
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im sorry, i don't really see a point to ride fixed if you're not going to be able to back pedal and you're using a brake. thats just me. thats why i switched to ss. what made fixed riding fun was controlling the speed of the bike with my legs. when my knee pain prevented me from doing that, it stopped being fun, so i switched.
I have a brake and use it to stop. But I use my legs to adjust speed both up and down. The forces on knees are much greater if using legs to stop, especially if stopping in a reasonable distance.

I can get knee pain if I regularly don't use a brake to stop, but never get it from daily leg speed control.

Hand brake for stops. Leg resistance for slowing down.

Al
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Old 07-17-08, 01:08 PM   #19
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glucosamine was snake oil for my bad knees (I draw no general conclusions though, on a sample of one)
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Old 07-17-08, 01:13 PM   #20
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Ill fitted bikes mess your knees up, not riding fixed. The notion that it messes up your knees is one of the biggest false facts about riding fixed.


Riding actually makes my knees and ankles feel better and I know I am not the only one.
There is truth in this but it is not THE truth.

Sure, a poorly fitting bike will give a rider of any kind of bike, fixed or not, all kind of problems. I had knee problems riding fixed. I got professionally fitted by the guy who fit me on my road/racing bike. Still, no relief for my knees riding fixed. Switched to SS on the same frame/fit and the problem went away.

There are just a number of factors involved in the fixed gear/knee issue. Fit is one. Gear ratio is one. Back pedaling is one. Age and fitness or rider may be one. Etc.
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Old 07-17-08, 02:10 PM   #21
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I have to agree with this based on my personal experience. Old sports injuries messed up my knees pretty bad, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to ride fixed gear when I first tried. But as it turns out, my knees are better than they've been in many years because of fixed gear riding. Just start slow, with an easy gearing and a brake, and build your strength. Make any changes gradually. If you wind up going brake-less, use an easier gearing than you would if you were riding with a brake.
thanks for all the responses. again, it has only been a week since i started really riding fixed at all, so i plan on putting a front brake on, having some fun, and working my way up to riding brakeless.
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Old 07-17-08, 06:45 PM   #22
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My knees actually improved after riding fixed for about 9 months. My legs got stronger and my spin technique improved dramatically. Select an appropriate gearing and concentrate on good spin would be my advise. I also run a front brake so that might be part of it too.
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Old 07-17-08, 06:52 PM   #23
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Gear down. Most bike come geared to stiff for the road, especially if you are a new rider. Aim for 70 gear inches to start. After awhile you will figure out how much more, if any, you can handle.
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Old 07-17-08, 10:11 PM   #24
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A properly fitted fixed gear bike will make the rider's knees healthier.

Running, golf and skiing put some real loads on knees.

Riding a bike makes knees healthier.

Start fitting your bike by moving your saddle fore or aft until you have your knee cap over the pedal with level cranks; and, lower your saddle so that you still have a bend in your knee with the pedal full down and your heel lowered.

Look at the Tour de France riders.
They all look like they have their saddles too low; and, they don't have their saddles too low.
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Old 07-18-08, 11:45 AM   #25
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i'll be reiterating what's already been said but your saddle height is critical. if your saddle's too low, often the "front" of your knee will hurt (what i imagine is happening to you), if it's too high, the "back" of your knee will hurt. a very slight bend in your knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke is a good place to start.

also, do what it takes to increase your cadence...if you're getting well below 80-90 rpm on flat ground without too much effort, you're average cadence is probably too low...and your cadence isn't so much about preference as it is overall efficiency and comfort...it really does matter if your cadence is too low, it means you're having to push too hard. if you can increase your cadence by doing squats, by all means, do them haha...but you'll also need to spin at a higher cadence anyways to condition your legs to get used to going around at that rate. on my geared road bike, if i push 52-12 or higher all the time, my knees do hurt after a while.
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