Ok, first off let me start by saying that i have patella tendentious which will make this thread go by a lot easier. I have been a messenger now for close to 2 years and my knee problems all started when i started riding this oversized track bike (59 cm) which i got a good deal on. Also i noticed that the stock gear ratio was a little bit much for me 48/16.
Many adjustments have been made since then buying s smaller bike 56 cm, moving the seat forward, etc. etc. And these adjustments have helped a lot, however the knee problems have not gone away (im riding 46/16 now). I think i did everything i my power to shake them from riding a three speed hub, to a free wheel. I think the problem was my cranks were too big 170 mm, i bought 165's already. A lot of messengers i noticed were pushing really low ratios like 38 - 16 or 42 - 18, i figured they did it was they were wimps or wanted to skid stop or whatever the reason it was slow and consisted of a lot of ****ing spinning downhills all day.
My thing, i like the speed and the rush and the ability to blow most guys out. The other problem is my dispatcher is always on my ass making me speed up hills, giving me all these triple rushes and ****. Today i did an exclusive rush and that really took it out of me. The last three days my knees have been swollen and i even felt pain today while riding (jus a lil bit).
I've been to a therapist about it and have been taking supplements for joints and wearing leg straps, icing my quads every day; its tough. Recently i got a front brake and **** too, like 2 weeks ago. I'm thinking of gearing down, some people tell me i'm having problems because my legs are weak, has anyone had similar problems how low of a ratio should i go?
Don't suggest get a bike fit or stop riding fixed or quit being a messenger because i know all of those are options but none of which are viable at the moment.
Not a doctor, or gear ratio expert. But, if 75ish gear inches is hurting you, I would gear down to like 65ish for starters and see how that goes. The lower the gear the easier it will be on your knees. Simple as that.
Do whatever it takes to stop the pain ASAP. The longer it hurts the longer you're gonna be f'ed. I had bad tendonitis In my elbows one winter and I switched to some cruiser bars for three months. Problem went away. I have afriend who refuses to switch his bars and his elbows are getting torn up.
You need to stop the pain so your body can start to recover. You're not weak, but you're body is using strength to avoid further injury, possibly causing anatomical changes that can be a b itch to undo. Get the pain gone, then you can use your strength to heal. After you are healed you can probly push the big gears again.
Srsly, your quads will start to pull your kneecap out of its tracks (illiotibial something or other) and that rehab sucks and is boring as hell.
No advice on ratios... Make it easy, take it easy, get another brake. Get four. Whatever it takes.
I would lower your gear ratio, and learn how to spin fast. If you are geared too high (and I think you are a bit high), you will have better top end, but your average speed is going to be slower. There is a lot of slow down and speed up in urban riding, and a lower gear is going to help.
Do you use clipless pedals? You should, as this will enable you to spin better and more importantly allow you get your power from the upstroke rather than just mashing (and stressing your knees).
If you ride clipless and can work on a smooth stroke (i.e. not mashing) you will take a lot of stress off your knees.
Wait - you stated that your knees have been bothering you for some time and that you are now noticing it when riding as well. So, were they not always bothering you when riding - only during the off the bike time? If so, this sounds like a recovery issue. Are you stretching properly after the rides? If not, it will only be a matter of time until it catches up to you/us. I always be sure to stretch after riding. If I do, I am good. If I don't, I feel it later that night and the next day(s). The knees are the pain collectors from the hamstrings, quads, calves, and tendons being too tight.
nah, my saddle height was a little low but i fixed it, it was only low by like 5 mm. Yeah, it kind of is a recovery issue because I had stopped messaging for about 6 months, then went into food delivery (on a bike) to build up to it again. Problem was food delivery was like barely 7 miles a day with breaks in between while the messaging job is an easy 30 - 35 miles with no breaks at all. I do stretch my quads, hamstrings and IT band at least 4 - 5 times during work, further more I am properly hydrated during the day as I am always drinking water, and i eat a lot of food too.
I think the problem was trying to ride the way i rode when i last stopped messaging ( back then i worked for a year and a half for three companies so my legs were stronger ). It has taken a toll on my knees and even thou my legs are getting like giant, my knees were like swelling up and i was getting to the point of wondering if i made the right choice in either riding fixed or just riding a bike every day again.
Recently, i spoke to this guy at a bike shop who has been a bike messenger for 10 years and he told me he rides a chain 67 inches long as appose to my 77 inch chain. He was also bragging to me that he took 7th in monster track ( not sure how much of an accomplishment that is thou ), he was trying to explain to me that you can reach high speeds on lower ratios because on higher ratios you spend too much energy trying to turn the pedals so over a longer period of time you won't be maintaining your average speed especially when you have to hit hills.
I have decided to change my ratio from 46/16 (77 inch) to 46/18 (69 inch). As for the comment about clip-less pedals, i tried that before and the shimano spd pedals i got were too narrow forcing my legs closer to the frame than necessary (Q factor), also i realized that they made my body uncomfortable as the adjustment over the ball of the foot is critical and can really **** up your knees. (i would need to spend at least 120 dollars to get that **** fitting for sure). Right now i just ride without clips or straps, however i'm thinking of getting some nice clips.
The other problem with clip-less pedals is that i tried to rock these Vans BMX shoes which looked really cool, but then i learned later that because they didn't have carbon fiber support that they were really bad for riding as well as walking (even the chromes are the same ****). So i would probably have to spend close to 300 dollars to buy new pedals and shoes an investment that's not worth it right now, but i do agree with you about the pedal strokes how they can become smoother.