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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 11-23-10, 02:28 PM   #1
daven1986
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Resistive braking bad for knees?

Hi,

Loving my fixed gear, the gear ratio is perfect for my commute and the ride is smooth

My question is: is resistive braking bad for the knees?

I know trying to slow down from a high speed is probably bad - I use a front brake to cut my speed down first. But I was wondering about from a slower speed, i.e. coming up to stop lights on a flat road.

Don't want to mess my knees up

Thanks

Daven
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Old 11-23-10, 02:36 PM   #2
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Listen to your knees.
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Old 11-23-10, 03:22 PM   #3
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Well, it definitely isn't good for your knees.

I just try to stretch a bit before and after. And also resist the other way too, pulling up against the strap seems better for you than pushing against the pedals.

The 1st time I end up with some severe knee pain, I will throw a freewheel and brakes on, until then I'll just keep riding and not worry about it.
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Old 11-23-10, 03:27 PM   #4
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I have a front brake and never use it. I have not noticed a problem with my knees.
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Old 11-23-10, 04:09 PM   #5
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I have noticed that pulling up while pushing down at the same time feels better and stops faster. Also less force on one knee. Will listen to my knees.

Any reason it is worse for yours knees than cycling in general?

Thanks for the advice.

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Old 11-23-10, 04:10 PM   #6
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ive had anthroscopic surgery on my left knee from compounded soccer injuries, i still ride fixed and slow down with resistive force.

the key is like said before, listen to your knees.

i find the harder/more abrupt the stopping, the more force on the knee. so i try not to do much skid stops. obviously run a brake in conjunction with riding fixed.

Spinning is good for the knees, makes ligaments and cartilage more "elastic". so get a smaller gear ratio and learn to spin like the roadrunner. Mashing high gears means more force on the knee joint.

if anything, i find more gradual resistive braking on a somewhat small gear while riding fixed to be good for the knees in that it provides good muscle workout....constantly pedaling forward works certain leg muscles, the resistive back force on fixed works others. and it is strong overall leg muscles that give support to the knee ligaments, making the knee stronger.

so yah...there is a thin line between damage and building strength, just make sure you keep well below that line and you will be all good. lay off the mashing high gears and skid stops and you will most likely be fine.
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Old 11-23-10, 04:39 PM   #7
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Well my gear ratio is 36/16 so not huge by any standards. Spinning is fun so I'll keep doing it and also work on the resistive braking - but only at slow speeds!

Thanks for the info.

Daven
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Old 11-23-10, 07:06 PM   #8
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I'm 64 and have been riding and racing fixed for 35+ years. I use backpedalling as my only way of stopping on the track and normal method on the road. I have never had serious knee problems, not even tendonitis. My gearing on the road varies from 62 to 71 gear inches. My conclusion is that slowing down and stopping a FG by back pedalling is not inherently bad for your knees. I use a front brake only for emergency situations when I need to stop very quickly or to control maximum rpms when descending a steep and or long downhill.
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Last edited by TejanoTrackie; 11-24-10 at 10:47 AM. Reason: grammar
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Old 11-23-10, 07:25 PM   #9
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If you're riding casually and take your time slowing down you should be fine. I dabble with brakeless from time to time, and it seemed like it was causing my knees stress at the high gear ratios (at or under 70 gi I didn't feel anything).
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Old 11-24-10, 03:50 AM   #10
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Well my gear ratio is 36/16 so not huge by any standards. Spinning is fun so I'll keep doing it and also work on the resistive braking - but only at slow speeds!

Thanks for the info.

Daven
36/16? That is a really small gear ratio. May want to step that up a little bit.. At least 42/16
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Old 11-24-10, 08:44 AM   #11
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36/16? That is a really small gear ratio. May want to step that up a little bit.. At least 42/16
Why?
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Old 11-24-10, 10:39 AM   #12
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If you're riding casually and take your time slowing down you should be fine. I dabble with brakeless from time to time, and it seemed like it was causing my knees stress at the high gear ratios (at or under 70 gi I didn't feel anything).
yup about 70 gi and slightly below is where i keep mine, and havn't felt any knee pain (coming from someone who has had chronic knee pain from years of soccer and snowboarding and surgeries) even when skid stopping occasionally....key word occasionally lol
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Old 11-24-10, 10:41 AM   #13
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Skid stopping on ice is uuuuber fun.


WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
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Old 11-24-10, 10:43 AM   #14
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I commuted for the past 6 months brakeless with 42x18, no knee problems except for a car hitting me...
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Old 11-24-10, 11:05 AM   #15
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Knees are all unique and what may ause some idiviuals discomfort will not bother other. The bottom line is if you ahve bad knees it can be a problem, but that can also be true for cycling in general if you ahve weak knees or previous problems with that joint. If your knee hurts, listen to it. If you ahve no pain, then keep on riding.
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Old 11-24-10, 11:10 AM   #16
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Why?
having that low of a gear limits you alot. my first fixed setup was 42 19 and going down hill was really tough cuz your pedaling so hard.
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Old 11-24-10, 11:28 AM   #17
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Learn to spin boy.
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Old 11-24-10, 11:32 AM   #18
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I'm 64 and have been riding and racing fixed for 35+ years....My conclusion is that slowing down and stopping a FG by back pedalling is not inherently bad for your knees. I use a front brake only for emergency situations when I need to stop very quickly or to control maximum rpms when descending a steep and or long downhill.
Hat's off to you my friend. I'm 58 and have been riding fixed for about 1.5 years. I do a combo of commuting, utility, touring, etc. and mix fg in my commute on light days, when I just want to get a full workout in a short distance/time crunch or when I don't have to haul very much. Can't do skids, but can hold a trackstand for about 5 secs now. I live rural and almost all of my decends are on long hills of between 4 and 6%. Back pressure is used on the way down so I don't pedal out and lose control. I do have one that's 18% on my regular haunts, but my brakes are used alternately on the way down and switchbacks on the way up. Anyway, there's no problems w/my knees at all. Don't know the formula for gear inches, but my gearing is 48x16.

My wife, who's a PT tells me that maintaining stength and balance of strength in one's legs overall and good technique will prevent stress on the ligaments and tendons that can cause pain. www.cptips.com/tech.htm Just started using this site and found it a revelation in terms of optimizing my cycling whether it's a workout or a commute.
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Old 10-03-11, 12:25 PM   #19
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I'm 64 and have been riding and racing fixed for 35+ years. I use backpedalling as my only way of stopping on the track and normal method on the road. I have never had serious knee problems, not even tendonitis. My gearing on the road varies from 62 to 71 gear inches. My conclusion is that slowing down and stopping a FG by back pedalling is not inherently bad for your knees. I use a front brake only for emergency situations when I need to stop very quickly or to control maximum rpms when descending a steep and or long downhill.
Hoping to revive this after a year, but i could use your advice.

Do you have any tips for easing down steep descents w/o having to rely on the front brake? I can reverse torque enough on gradual descents, but there's a 17º coming off the top of my hill and i find i either end up skidding or accelerating to a place where nothing good is going to happen (there's no uphill for a while, this just keeps going down).
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Old 10-03-11, 01:25 PM   #20
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I do basically all of my stopping with backpedaling. I have some knee issues on certain days, but thats because of a mixture of soccer, cycling/BMX, and Marching band (high stepping is so horrible on knees/hips). But thats just because I do too much with them.
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Old 10-03-11, 02:02 PM   #21
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For me skidding at 73 GI is easy but my knees start to hurt after a while.
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Old 10-03-11, 02:03 PM   #22
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if you pace pedal correctly, the force on your knees should be very limited. by that i mean if you have correct form, much of the stopping power will come from your leg muscles (i.e. quads, calves, and anterior tibia muscles).

FORM FORM FORM.

edit: i also really like what 'illdthedj' said.
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Old 10-03-11, 02:14 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by TejanoTrackie View Post
I'm 64 and have been riding and racing fixed for 35+ years. I use backpedalling as my only way of stopping on the track and normal method on the road. I have never had serious knee problems, not even tendonitis. My gearing on the road varies from 62 to 71 gear inches. My conclusion is that slowing down and stopping a FG by back pedalling is not inherently bad for your knees. I use a front brake only for emergency situations when I need to stop very quickly or to control maximum rpms when descending a steep and or long downhill.
Wow, props to you man. I thought Scrod was the resident old guy on BFSSFG.

Anyhow, I agree with this. I'm a cook, and we all have terrible knees. I ride fixed and most of my slowing/stopping comes from my legs with no issues. Just make sure you have a brake for emergencies, and most importantly, don't be an idiot.
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Old 10-03-11, 02:21 PM   #24
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not sure how to contribute here

be in control - use a brake with your pedaling until you aren't sloppy. I see lots of people that are all over the place trying to slow down as their bikes flop them around. I'm sure that kills their knees
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Old 10-03-11, 03:15 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeñorPantalones View Post
Hoping to revive this after a year, but i could use your advice.

Do you have any tips for easing down steep descents w/o having to rely on the front brake? I can reverse torque enough on gradual descents, but there's a 17º coming off the top of my hill and i find i either end up skidding or accelerating to a place where nothing good is going to happen (there's no uphill for a while, this just keeps going down).
If I were faced with a 17 degree descent, I'd either ride the front brake or ease down it very slowly by backpedalling. Sometimes I'm on a long fast descent and keep up the pedalling cadence and force, while riding the front brake once my cadence gets past my comfort zone. You can't ride smoothly at over about 120 rpm while simultaneously trying to backpedal.
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