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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 08-11-08, 09:40 PM   #1
MAK
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SS/FX and knees

The guy at my LBS told me that I should be cautious about riding a fixie because they are bad for your knees. I plan to get a flip flop hub so I can easily make changes and I don't plan to ride terrain that is "hilly". Flat to rolling but not hills other than the occasional RR bridge or highway overpass. What are your experiences with physical effects of riding fixed? Thank you
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Old 08-11-08, 10:13 PM   #2
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This comes up alot and the debate never really gets solved either which way. One thing that is a fact is that if you set up your bike with a gearing that is way too tall you are going to put a **** ton more stress on your knees than you would with a geared bike working in lower gears. That's more a bike setup question than a matter of riding fixed or not though, if you're on a geared bike and you're mashing at every stop you'll kill your knees that way too.

The other issues revolve around the mechanics of fixed gear pedalling and in my very short time riding fixed I've had no issues
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Old 08-12-08, 11:54 AM   #3
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My own personal experience. I had my right knee scoped 2 1/2 yrs ago in the winter. When srping came, I began riding my fixed gear bike and was fine so long as I was on a flat surface or going downhil. Anything up hill or any low speed riding would set my knee off so bad I would need to stay off for a few days. On a geared bike, I couldn't even use the larger chain ring. I though my biking days were done. My knee hurt constantly and biking only made it worse


This continued for 6 mo. I then purchased an IRO SE and geared it really low--69 gear inches---In the low gear I had almost no pain. I rode my IROSE almost exclusiuvely from March to June this year. My knee has never been better and I can ride my higher geared fixed bikes and well as my geared bike.---Not to say the knee is 100% or doesnt hurt sometimes, but it is WAAAAy better than before.


My own non medical opinion is that spinning contanstantly in a really low gear increased the blood circulation and allowed my knee to slowly heal itself and build up more load tolerance.

Botton line: Fixed gear at low ration = good for knees; fixed gear at high ratio/constantly mashing= bad

Oh, and the whole skidding thing is not good for the knees either.
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Old 08-12-08, 12:14 PM   #4
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Yeah, it's not so much fixies as it is hard gearing+low cadence.

There's a lot on the subject... http://yamabushi.wordpress.com/2007/...or-your-knees/ it's a good article.

Fixie skidding is definitely bad for your knees.

When you're looking for peer reviewed articles on the subject, don't look for "fixie" stuff proper, rather check out cycling and knees, gearing and knees, etc.
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Old 08-12-08, 12:41 PM   #5
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I had knee problems when I thought I would be badarse and run 90 gear inches. Settled for mid 60's for winter and mid 70's for summer and haven't had a problem since.
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Old 08-12-08, 12:58 PM   #6
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So what's gear inches about anyway?
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Old 08-12-08, 01:04 PM   #7
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Knees

I have had NO cartilage in my right knee for years, (non cycling related), and ACL issues as well. I have ridden my Hour close to 1000 miles or so this year, 100 plus this weekend with some 11% grades, on either a 68" gear or a 72" gear and have had NO problems...That said you have to LISTEN to your body. Be sensible -Run lower gears and spin easy and make your changes one tooth at a time. Dont worry about what gearing people say they run. Run a front brake and take it easy on the skid braking. Do it if you must but just think about it and how your body is functioning. How long do you want to ride? 5 years?, 10?, 20? You will need your knees for a while.
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Old 08-13-08, 11:13 PM   #8
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If you have your fixed gear bike properly set up with a comfortable gear you will not have knee issues - at least not from riding. I'm 56 years old and ride a fixed gear to work (11 mi. round trip) five days a week and never have knee pain. In fact I was diagnosed with some arthritis in my right knee a few years ago and the smooth fixed gear style of pedaling has all but cured my arthritis.
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Old 08-13-08, 11:26 PM   #9
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Wow, I've never came across this topic until now. I'm new to fixies, what would be an ideal setup for a pretty hilly area? I'm a Division 1 NCAA catcher and the last thing i would want to do is hurt my knees with a bad setup. I find this interesting though because when I injured my knee a year back, the trainer had me on the bike for almost everyday.
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Old 08-13-08, 11:55 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by malpag3 View Post
So what's gear inches about anyway?
here is what you need to know

Sheldon Brown

It is a pretty stupid measurement that relates to nothing really useful. Just the ratio of your front chainring to rear cog and then multiplied by your diameter or radius of your wheel. You think it might tell you how far you go with each revolution of your crank, but it does not.
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Old 08-14-08, 01:56 AM   #11
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So what's gear inches about anyway?
Best online calculator:

http://software.bareknucklebrigade.c...it.applet.html
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Old 08-14-08, 02:02 AM   #12
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The guy at my LBS told me that I should be cautious about riding a fixie because they are bad for your knees.
The guy at your LBS doesnt know what he's talking about.
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Old 08-14-08, 07:31 AM   #13
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I've ordered a new cog to gear down a little. While the NYC area tends to be flat, there seem to be just enough hills to justify going up a tooth or two (from 48x16). Also, seatpost height is crucial for knee health. Definitely raise it as high as you're comfortable with.
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Old 08-14-08, 07:39 AM   #14
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I went up to 48x18 yesterday and hills weren't even an issue. I find I'm actually faster on the flatts just because I can spin faster without having to really push as hard on the pedals and it's alot better on the knees. Alot of people I see riding fixed around the city are spinning really low cadences
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Old 08-14-08, 07:48 AM   #15
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Nice -- I'm gonna try 48x17 first, but 48x18 doesn't sound like a bad idea either.
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Old 08-14-08, 07:57 AM   #16
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Yeah there's a cadence calculator here which is fun to plug numbers into

http://www.velocide.com/cadence_calculator_new.html

a 700c x 23 wheel is about 26.3 inches. Running 48x18 I'd be spinning 144 rpms to hit 30 mph which realistically means I'm never going to be really spinning out on flats. Once you start plugging numbers in you realize that smaller gears aren't anywhere near as "slow" as some people make it out to sound.
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Old 08-14-08, 08:01 AM   #17
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Ah -- potential spinning out was my main concern (with 18t)... I don't yet have a full grasp of realistic/normal cadence ranges.
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Old 08-14-08, 08:17 AM   #18
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I have been riding a fixed gear for awhile. 46/16-18 flip flop fix/fix. The only time I really had any knee discomfort is jamming a fast stop without a brake. I put on a front brake. Problem solved. I got old knees, 59.

Last edited by movingmountain; 08-14-08 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 08-14-08, 08:32 AM   #19
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Ah -- potential spinning out was my main concern (with 18t)... I don't yet have a full grasp of realistic/normal cadence ranges.
On a downhill your legs are gonna be flying, and now and again you'll want to use your front brake to keep things in check, but realistically, 30 mph is sprinting speed and 144 rpms is reasonable for short bursts. A fast cruising speed of 20 mph gives you a cadence in the 90s which is getting around most people's optimal.

Point being though is you're almost definately not going to be spinning out on flats
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Old 08-14-08, 08:36 AM   #20
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I found that the shorter 167.5mm arm length on my track crank vs. 175mm on my road bike feels significantly easier on the knees. You can buy short road cranks too but track bikes often come stock with short crank arms. Just another factor to consider when buying / building up your new ride.

I agree with all of the posters who have said that easy gearing + no skidding on a fixed = no knee problems.
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Old 08-14-08, 09:16 AM   #21
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i have been riding fixed since april and i haven't noticed any lasting knee pain...i have been on some longer rides too...i try to keep up with running and riding my bike so i can switch up activities and it seems that running and riding fixed are similar in that the legs are always in motion, i do skid sometimes but i don't use the skid when riding to work...my ratio is perfect for now...48x19
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Old 08-14-08, 10:43 AM   #22
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I have an arthritic knee which caused me to limp much of the time before I started cycling. Cycling reversed the arthritis and actually got a doctor say it was OK to start running again.

When I ride my geared bike, I get a little knee pain. With my fixed gear I get none.

My gearing is low - 44/17. I use brakes to stop. Even a little reverse power mashing will cause some pain.
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Old 08-14-08, 12:30 PM   #23
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I am 49, I came to fixed gear riding when I have torn ligaments in my right knee when skiing. I did have occasional pain initially despite low gearing (48/19). Now, my knees are stronger than ever, I am riding 38/18 or 38/17 off road and winter, 48/18 city and 50/17 hilly, 10 miles one way commute with just 3 traffic lights.
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Old 08-14-08, 04:08 PM   #24
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they're not bad for your knees. as long as the bike is sized right, and you're not pushing a bigger gear than your leg's muscles are ready for, you will be fine.
knee pain is this weird myth about fixed gear riding that only non-fixed gear riders seem to know about...
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