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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 09-21-10, 03:50 PM   #1
donquixote17
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Biking is good for the knees right?

So, I've always heard and strongly agree that biking is really good exercise for your knees. It's low impact usually and your knees are in constant motion, working hard (which is also called exercise, commonly accepted as a good thing).

I've seen some posts on this forum mentioning how things like hills or applying backward pressure on a fixie is bad for your knees.

I think this is total B.S. I think that 90% of biking is really good for your knees. My guess is that fixie skid-stops and technical mountain biking without suspension aren't too good for your knees. But the majority of riding is great for them.

What does everyone think? Is biking bad for your knees?
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Old 09-21-10, 03:58 PM   #2
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Riding in general yes, if you have a correct fit. Fixed gear riding, not at all. Wait til' these kids are down the road they're going to be having knee problems for sure.
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Old 09-21-10, 04:11 PM   #3
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i agree about yes, with correct fit.

also, gearing is another consideration.
Higher gears and mashing, especially with SSFG and start up/accelerating, means more force on the knee, which isn't very good for it.
Lower gears are much better for the knee, promote elasticity.

spinning = good
mashing = not so good

or so i gather.

gradual back pressure to gradually slow down on a low geared FG isn't so bad and probably good because it is working opposite leg muscles, but harder back pressure on a high gear and the sudden and explosive backwards force needed to skid stop are probably not so good.


i have had a series of knee injuries from playing soccer a huge chunk of my life, have had meniscus surgery, and cycling is great physical therapy as long as you focus more on spinning and ride lower gears and keep the skid stopping to a minimum.
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Old 09-21-10, 04:11 PM   #4
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Riding in general yes, if you have a correct fit. Fixed gear riding, not at all. Wait til' these kids are down the road they're going to be having knee problems for sure.
you got it, doc.
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Old 09-21-10, 04:14 PM   #5
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Riding in general yes, if you have a correct fit. Fixed gear riding, not at all. Wait til' these kids are down the road they're going to be having knee problems for sure.
are you saying fixed gear riding is not at all good for the knees or "not at all" in reply to Op saying "fixie is bad for your knees." ?
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Old 09-21-10, 04:15 PM   #6
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I'm 40. 81 gear inches. Obsessive about fit. My knees are in better shape than when I was 26. I do fixed centuries no problem.

Spin. Watch saddle height.
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Old 09-21-10, 04:17 PM   #7
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I'm 40. 81 gear inches. Obsessive about fit. My knees are in better shape than when I was 26. I do fixed centuries no problem.

Spin. Watch saddle height.
do you use back and/or front brake to stop? i assume no skidding? use back pressure to gradually stop? ie. street riding FG....
would you say higher or lower saddle height being detrimental to the knee?

just curious for my own knee health.
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Old 09-21-10, 04:25 PM   #8
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I ride brakeless yes. Not much of a skidder, it's smart to just plan my deceleration. If something unplanned occurs in front of me I can skid with ease but I still wouldn't "skid". Skidding is not the fastest way to stop.

My rides take me over a couple bridges every day and the descent works muscles that keeps my knees happy.

Saddle height chart:

- saddle
- knee pain
-
- perfect height for saddle
-
-
-
-
-
- too low, knee pain
- seat post clamp

Perfect saddle height is a bit variable but you get the optimum JUST before it is the worst. i have a 32" inseam and my BB spindle to saddle height is just a hair over 75.2cm. I need to dial it down maybe 3 or 4mm since building the new bike. Literally, saddle perfection is a matter of millimetres.
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Old 09-21-10, 05:14 PM   #9
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I think eating peanut butter is dangerous, because you can get salmonella.
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Old 09-21-10, 05:15 PM   #10
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I'm 39. Riding fixed (77.6 gear inches, brakes) daily about 100km per week. My commute involve 3 climbing hills with 5% and 7% grades. Have knee problems, quit running about 2y ago. Still, after serious hike or ski tour trip I barely can walk, but never have problem riding. I have a road bike as well and do not see any difference between geared and fixed in terms of knee problems.
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Old 09-21-10, 05:16 PM   #11
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As mentioned, if you ride with your saddle too low it will hurt your knees. If you ride with it too high it'll probably be uncomfortable and you'll lower it. Pedaling in too high of a gear is also bad. Spinning is good.
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Old 09-21-10, 05:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Banzai View Post
I ride brakeless yes. Not much of a skidder, it's smart to just plan my deceleration. If something unplanned occurs in front of me I can skid with ease but I still wouldn't "skid". Skidding is not the fastest way to stop.

My rides take me over a couple bridges every day and the descent works muscles that keeps my knees happy.

Saddle height chart:

- saddle
- knee pain
-
- perfect height for saddle
-
-
-
-
-
- too low, knee pain
- seat post clamp

Perfect saddle height is a bit variable but you get the optimum JUST before it is the worst. i have a 32" inseam and my BB spindle to saddle height is just a hair over 75.2cm. I need to dial it down maybe 3 or 4mm since building the new bike. Literally, saddle perfection is a matter of millimetres.
I agree with this. I am not 40, but I did notice when building my new bike that my saddle height was too low. I was having some pain in my knees but I thought it was something else. adjusted the saddle height and now I am feeling a lot better! It seems much more comfortable. I ride 82.7 gear inches
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Old 09-21-10, 05:21 PM   #13
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I think eating peanut butter is dangerous, because you can get salmonella.
I eat a tablespoon a day and I'm still alive. I'm interested in your secret to longevity...
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Old 09-21-10, 05:29 PM   #14
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All I know is that knees are good for cycling.
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Old 09-21-10, 05:42 PM   #15
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I think this.

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All I know is that knees are good for cycling.
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Old 09-21-10, 05:45 PM   #16
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I eat a tablespoon a day and I'm still alive. I'm interested in your secret to longevity...
I dunno. Probably a combination of good luck and avoiding steroid fed beef. But seriously, both my parents died in their early 50's, my dad from a heart attack and my mom from cancer (she smoked about 3 packs of cigs a day), so I've always been determined to avoid that fate if at all possible. I believe that you are what you eat and that humans were not meant to eat a lot of red meat. I've been cycling for health for about 40 years and the competition is just a motivator to get out and ride a lot. Oh, and just to get back on topic, my knees are great, despite riding and racing fixed for over 30 years. That includes backpedalling to slow down and stop on the road and doing full power standing starts on the track in 90+ gi. I think most knee injuries are due to bad form and not building up your knee strength with gym work.
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Old 09-21-10, 06:00 PM   #17
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I'm 39. Riding fixed (77.6 gear inches, brakes) daily about 100km per week. My commute involve 3 climbing hills with 5% and 7% grades. Have knee problems, quit running about 2y ago. Still, after serious hike or ski tour trip I barely can walk, but never have problem riding. I have a road bike as well and do not see any difference between geared and fixed in terms of knee problems.
Hey, you're from FixedVan as well.

I agree with the Doc, good saddle height will avoid knee pains...

Since we are kind of on topic, do many of you use the "knee over pedal spindle" to determine aft/fore position?
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Old 09-21-10, 06:07 PM   #18
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pretty much the only thing that has hurt my knees while riding ,besides tall gearing and bad fit, is actively trying to stop the bike with my legs. My knees have always been bad and riding has been really nice to them. I'm sure riding, my road bike at the time, helped my knee after I was hit by a car, I could hardly walk but I could ride just fine.

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Old 09-21-10, 06:08 PM   #19
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Since we are kind of on topic, do many of you use the "knee over pedal spindle" to determine aft/fore position?
It's a good place to start, but varies depending on the type of riding I do. When racing sprints on the track my saddle is farther forward and it's easier to spin high rpms that way. For climbing seated on the road at a lower cadence, I like my saddle farther back so I'm pedalling more recumbent style.
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Old 09-21-10, 06:22 PM   #20
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My femurs are relatively short, I couldn't get my knee over the spindle without putting myself in front of the bottom bracket. I read the Peter White's fitting method and said it was okay...is it okay?
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Old 09-21-10, 07:14 PM   #21
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It's a good place to start, but varies depending on the type of riding I do. When racing sprints on the track my saddle is farther forward and it's easier to spin high rpms that way. For climbing seated on the road at a lower cadence, I like my saddle farther back so I'm pedalling more recumbent style.
Just wandering, how much your saddle travels between those two positions?
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Old 09-21-10, 07:21 PM   #22
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My femurs are relatively short, I couldn't get my knee over the spindle without putting myself in front of the bottom bracket. I read the Peter White's fitting method and said it was okay...is it okay?
Everyone is a little different and there are other factors such as crank arm length that affect saddle location. The knee plumb bob to pedal spindle is a good starting point, but it's not something written in stone. I really don't think you need to sweat this any more than any other position parameters. Like others have said, saddle height is a lot more important, and I have all my bikes set up within millimeters of each other in this regard.
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Old 09-21-10, 07:27 PM   #23
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Just wandering, how much your saddle travels between those two positions?
Well, the saddles and seatposts are somewhat different, so it's difficult to say precisely, but I'd estimate somewhere between 1 and 2 inches.
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Old 09-21-10, 08:37 PM   #24
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I..... have had meniscus surgery, and cycling is great physical therapy
I'm in the same boat. I've had a couple surgeries for meniscus tears and cysts. For a good part of my life walking was an issue. Biking daily has all but fixed that for me. If riding fixed bombs my knees when I hit 40 at least I got my 20's back because I had thought I was done.
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Old 09-21-10, 09:27 PM   #25
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I'm 55, ride 46x17x700c (70.7 gear inches) x165mm cranks and find my knees in great shape.

N.B. not too many hills around here, though.
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