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  1. #1
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    Knee Pain / Flats vs. Clips

    I have a Surly Moonlander. I ride it mainly in the winter and on slow beach or trail rides with my wife.

    The first year I had it I had to use for 6 weeks one summer when I taco'd a wheel on my 29r. I rode it with clips and had no issues with my knees.

    A few years later, I ride it with platforms on very mellow trail and beach rides. I'm finding that afterwards my knees are "sore" for the rest of the day and sometimes into the next day. It's not painful per say but I'm noticing a trend that wasn't there. I use 5/10 shoes with the platforms. The only thing I can think of is there is less float with the 5/10's and that may be causing the problem.

    I'm also wondering about moving to a narrower BB Fat bike like an 83mm BB.

  2. #2
    since 4/10/2009
    Reputation: Harold's Avatar
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    depends on what it is that's causing the knee pain.

    Might not be the float, but you still might be putting your feet into a poor position and not consciously adjusting them (you have to consciously do this with flat pedals, for sure). It might be that you didn't adjust your seat height when moving between the two pedal/shoe setups.

  3. #3
    Rocking on a Rocky
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    Old age.
    It doesn't matter what I ride as long as I ride it Rubber Side Down●~●.

  4. #4
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    I feel your pain, literally. I sold my Moonie for this reason alone. I love my 83mm Waltworks. It'll clear a 4.6 Ground Control, barely. I also had Walt machine down my Pugsley's bottom bracket to 83mm. Worked great. Both of my fat bikes run this setup with Sram 83mm cranks. Q factor is 183mm, which is quite good for a fat bike.

    As for flats - I can't tolerate them at all. I need some float and clips provide just enough for me as long as the Q factor falls within an acceptable window (I also seem to not like narrow Q factors).

    Your experience may vary. I have creaky knees. And I'm old.

  5. #5
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    Flats with super grippy pins and sticky shoes totally destroy my knees due to lack of float. I prefer being clipped in, but that's not an option for me in the winter, so I tone down my platforms with shorter, less grabby studs, and don't ride with winter boots that have too soft of a rubber compound. The pain translates to my hips as well due to lack of float - same bike with the same q factor, clipped in all summer, no knee or hip discomfort...as soon as the platforms go on, the discomfort starts.
    I would advise not taking my advice.

  6. #6
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    I'm in my 40's so I'm not young, but this seemed to be a sudden change and I don't have knee problems otherwise.

    I'm wondering if it's just the pedal change or the Q factor has become an issue with some time. Although I'd tend to think it would bother me in the early stages but who knows.

    My wife complains occasionally about hip discomfort on her Pugs so I've been thinking about doing the BB mod on hers. Not sure how much difference it would make or if we should look at new frames.


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  7. #7
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    I'd have said no way in he&$ until it happened to me. When I switched to 510s with aggressive pins I found this. I either ride clipped now or am very careful with shoe placement. Pain was back, inside of both knees. I'm 45 FWIW.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockyJo1 View Post
    Old age.
    My vote, but things are worse if I don't keep at physical activities.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    depends on what it is that's causing the knee pain.

    Might not be the float, It might be that you didn't adjust your seat height when moving between the two pedal/shoe setups.
    I say one of these.

  10. #10
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    Becoming of age sucks. Getting old too.

    I experienced knee pain once and the doctor told me stop biking for a month. I surely gave her the stinky eye for the way she looked back at me. She prescribed some pills and passed the bill.
    I cured my knee with more pedaling. However, I was 25 years old at that time.

  11. #11
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    I've had 2 knee surgeries, have arthritis, and not much cartilage. I NEED clipless and to also have the cleats in the exact right position otherwise my knee buckles when I walk. If I try platforms I never have my feet in the right spot.

    But it could be Q factor. You never know until you try everything.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by racefit View Post
    I have a Surly Moonlander. I ride it mainly in the winter and on slow beach or trail rides with my wife.

    The first year I had it I had to use for 6 weeks one summer when I taco'd a wheel on my 29r. I rode it with clips and had no issues with my knees.

    A few years later, I ride it with platforms on very mellow trail and beach rides. I'm finding that afterwards my knees are "sore" for the rest of the day and sometimes into the next day. It's not painful per say but I'm noticing a trend that wasn't there. I use 5/10 shoes with the platforms. The only thing I can think of is there is less float with the 5/10's and that may be causing the problem.

    I'm also wondering about moving to a narrower BB Fat bike like an 83mm BB.
    This wasn't early season soreness, was it? I was riding my fatty early season, and did some steep climbs seated that I'd been doing at the end of last season. They are not long climbs so if it's difficult (i.e. I'm in early season form) I just grunt it out and get it over with. Well that came back to haunt my knees. So now I make sure to start my season out spinning lower gears when I'm hitting the steep stuff. This is one reason I never went SS.

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  13. #13
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    Also if you're worried about the Q factor, drop the stock crankset and get a turbine cinch that's spaced for 170 rear ends. Even if it doesn't help your knees they're way better.

    A Next SL crankset will reduce the Q factor even more.

  14. #14
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    If I pedal too much with my seat lower than optimal (ie lowered it to hit jumps) my knees talk to me the next day. If not I feel fine. I'm running Welgo's with 5/10 high tops. I'm 6'3" and 260lbs.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by racefit View Post
    I have a Surly Moonlander. I ride it mainly in the winter and on slow beach or trail rides with my wife.

    The first year I had it I had to use for 6 weeks one summer when I taco'd a wheel on my 29r. I rode it with clips and had no issues with my knees.

    A few years later, I ride it with platforms on very mellow trail and beach rides. I'm finding that afterwards my knees are "sore" for the rest of the day and sometimes into the next day. It's not painful per say but I'm noticing a trend that wasn't there. I use 5/10 shoes with the platforms. The only thing I can think of is there is less float with the 5/10's and that may be causing the problem.

    I'm also wondering about moving to a narrower BB Fat bike like an 83mm BB.
    I started experiencing knee pain after 4 years of riding my Pugs as my only bike and thought that the wide Q factor was the problem. I picked up a cross bike and had the same knee pain. Long story short I found out my knee problem was related to tight hip flexor and groin muscles and I also raised my seat a few mm's. Stretching has fixed my problem. I'm 48 years old.

  16. #16
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    I'm in the age of busted knees. And for sure being able to reposition foot on flats is better for my knee rather then being locked in a position.

    Possibly using muscles you haven't before if you tended to "cheat" while using clipless?

    Sometimes my muscle just above and to inside of kneecap feels a little "worked", but I recently switched back to flats and also tend to push bigger gears with flats.
    To keep the "feet heavy" deal you need with flats.
    And always check height of seat, should be just about locked out if you have your heel on pedal.

  17. #17
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    UPDATE

    Thanks for all the responses.

    I put the clips on and did one ride and no soreness. It's only one ride, and I did raise my seat slightly (I know, one change at a time), but it seems promising.

    I'll continue riding with clips and post back.


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  18. #18
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    FWIW, I'm 50, always ride clipped in and never have knee pain. Now this has me thinking...
    I built bikes for my dad and my brother and put flats on both bikes since I knew neither one was going to clip in. Hope this doesn't make trouble for them.
    I like turtles

  19. #19
    Rippin da fAt
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    While I have 2 junk knees and have had over 30 years, I've never had trouble with knee pain caused by platform pedals. Perhaps this is due to placement adjustments the are automated.
    Get fAt, Stay fAt, Ride fAt
    Doctor recommended...

  20. #20
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    About twenty years ago i used to ride shimano type clipless pedals. If they were adjusted wrong i would get knee pain. When CB Eggbeaters came out i switched to them. They're great! Alot more float and my knee pain went away.

    I have some flats on my road bike that are mildly aggressive but i can still where a thin soled soft shoe w them and they allow my feet to float around. Mks espirit: https://www.universalcycles.com/imag...dium/30408.jpg

    Stretching is important. My wife has been a yoga instructor and massage therapist for many years and she says if you are going to stretch just one muscle group it is the ham strings in a forward bend. Tight hams cause all sorts of trouble. Of course gentle stetching anywhere you are tight help a lot!

    The pedals kinda look like these:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Knee Pain / Flats vs. Clips-img_0272.jpg  


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