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Knee Pain

Old 06-07-08, 07:29 PM
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Knee Pain

Hello there, I'm new here. Seems like a great, friendly forum you have.

About a month ago I got back into biking after about 10 years of not having a bike. I'm a little heavy, mid fourties, but able to exercise hard for an hour or more. I had multiple reasons for getting a bike. My primary reason is I really wanted a utility bike to cut down all the short trips in the car which were very excessive for me. For one thing, I live close to a lot of shopping. There are two shopping centers within a half mile, banks, groceries, etc. I drive an 8 cylinder SUV since my family runs a mobile food cart that requires a robust vehicle to move the cart twice a day. The food cart business has a lot of little errands--going to the bank to get change or going here and there for groceries and whatnot. It was really dumb to drive that vehicle for most of those trips.

I also wanted a bike that would allow me to get more exercise. Ideally, I ought to just have several bikes, but for now that isn't an option, so after debating I ended up getting a Schwinn Coffee with a 3 speed SRAM internal hub. I put Wald folding racks on the back and built a homebrew light system with a Malibu 14W light in front and a zenon strobe in back and a loud car horn powered by a 3.5 LB SLA battery. The bike itself is somewhat heavy with the steel frame, fenders and rear rack; with my additions and my 250 pounds and it makes for a heavy rig.

It has been working out great as the utility bike. I've been using it on average about 2-3 times a day for trips that I would previously have used the 4 runner, and my gas consumption has been cut in half. So that part of it has been awesome and I am motivated to keep that going, year round if possible.

I've also been taking it out for some good hard rides about four or five times a week for 60 to 90 minutes. This is where the problem is for me. The three speed transmission works fine for short errands, since most of those trips do not require going up hills or pushing the bike hard. Even when I have it loaded down heavily I do not feel as though the bike or I am really stressed, although it may be pushing the limits of what the rear wheel can handle. I generally take it nice and slow.

The problem I have with the longer rides is that I often end up going up hill. The Coffee really isn't geared very low, and in first gear I am putting a lot of torque into the pedals going up hills. Not only am I stressing the drive train, I'm also putting a lot of pressure in my joints and I feel some pain about an inch underneath my knees after a hard ride. I try as much as possible to plan out routes that are fairly flat so that I can avoid going up hill as much as possible, but it is hard to avoid them completely. I feel like I've made a lot of progress physically in one month. I've got a lot more strength and endurance than when I started.

In retrospect, an old touring bike might have been a better solution for me. It probably would be robust enough to work as a utility bike, and ought to have low enough gearing to get me up the hills without hurting it or me. I'm going to try to save up a little money and keep my eyes open for an old touring bike in a few months. The problem is, with the Fixie Craze, the old 70s and 80s road bikes are selling for way more than they are worth, so it won't be easy to find a good one in my price range. Any thoughts on this? What brand would work well for me?

In the short run, do you have any suggestions what I can do to minimize the knee pain? I really can't afford to get a serious injury, but I do want to continue to use my bike for getting a good work out.
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Old 06-07-08, 07:32 PM
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You need a lower gear so you can spin easy going up the hill.....best I can offer. Given the location of the pain, you might want to consider saddle height as well. You should be able to place your heel on the pedal at full leg extension. Any bend in the leg with your heel on the pedal indicates your saddle is too low.
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Old 06-07-08, 07:34 PM
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What he said. Knee pain is nearly always from using the wrong gear or having your seat too low.
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Old 06-07-08, 07:34 PM
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Don't know your height, but this is on Craig's List, Madison. Tubes and some slicks for road use and it'll be a nice bike.

https://madison.craigslist.org/bik/711526397.html
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Old 06-07-08, 09:02 PM
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+1 on the saddle being too low. I had the same pain. Also, when you first start adjusting seat height, its easy (well it was easy for me) to not tighten it enough and have it slip down during a ride.
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Old 06-07-08, 09:51 PM
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Yeah, my seat tends to slip down while riding. The Coffee has one quick-release mechanism and it is on the seat post. That makes a lot of sense for an urban bike.

How hard is it to swap out the quick release mechanism on a seat post?
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Old 06-07-08, 09:52 PM
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Easy, just switch the bolt out to an Allen or Hex bolt.
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Old 06-07-08, 11:22 PM
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+1 on using a lower gear and spin.

Hi I'm a recovering Masher. Until the end of last year I was a masher and my knee killed me after rides, this year I've gone to a lower gear and spin like mad. I find this has helped me a lot, not only do my knee not hurt but my endurance is much better. I have a 21 spd and I spend most of my time in 2-5 or 2-6. The only time now I'm in 3-7 is if I'm going down hill.

But also check your seat hight, my knees will bother me if my seat is not at the right height.
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