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  1. #1
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    flats or clipped in or not after knee surgery

    I know the debate about flats or clipped in has been beaten to death, I don't want to argue about that, what I'm interested in is anyone that has had similar knee surgery and their return to riding XC/all mountain in rocky technical terrain. I'm not doing big drops or any serious DH riding

    I'm 5 months post op from complete ACL/MCL/PCL tear including both menisci after a spill on my KTM dirbike. The PCL broke off a piece of bone at the Tibia and that healed on its own. They Reconstructed my ACL and MCL using grafts taken from the same leg (Patella tendon for the ACL and Hamstring for the MCL)......so there is a lot of recovery going on in my left knee....but the doc says I can resume sports at 6 months, which is coming up fast now.

    I bought a road bike to help with rehab and endurance. and I'm doing 30 mile rides in very hilly terrain using shimano m545 pedals (multi release clips) to get used to getting in and out of spd's.

    the road is a VERY good workout but to me it's all work and no play so I can't wait to get in the trails. some of my buddies cross train dirtbike by riding mtb in some very technical rocky terrain. most have turner six packs. (they like the high BB clearance (14.25") and ability to climb well and descend well....lots of hills and rocky/rooty terrain around here

    I recently picked up a Turner Six Pack based on their advise, and they are all telling me I need to use the clipless pedals...and I can see the advantages for climbing and rocky technical terrain.

    However my concern is this: I have no problem unclipping on the road bike, but that seems to be a much more predictable exit. you see something coming and you have time to think about unclipping.

    I can see situations off road where something unexpected happens and you need to get your foot out quickly, and I know this becomes second nature eventually.....what I am worried about is that initial learning curve and the inevitable tip overs that happen to all noobs.

    I don't want to mess up my knee and start all over again, so should I be thinking about a good set of flats (at least initially)??

    Or am I worrying too much about this??

  2. #2
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    TL;DR....cliffs?

  3. #3
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    I've not had your problem, but it seems the safer choice would be flats. Being clipped in may or may not be a problem, the flats almost certainly wont be, from the standpoint of twisting forces.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZeroSkillet View Post
    TL;DR....cliffs?
    ????

  5. #5
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    Re: flats or clipped in or not after knee surgery

    Take a look at some time pedals, they offer better freedom of movement. I believe it is 15 degrees each way before they unclip. They are perfect for bad knees.


    Sent from my PG86100 using Tapatalk 2

  6. #6
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    If I were in your situation I'd go with flats, at least for now. I've ridden both quite a bit and the few milliseconds extra it takes to get your feet off of the clipless pedals can come into play sometimes and there really isn't that much trade off as far as pedaling power goes. If your buddies do have to hold up and wait for you on the trail flat pedals won't be to blame.

  7. #7
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    any particular model time pedal? or do they all work the same?

  8. #8
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    Re: flats or clipped in or not after knee surgery

    They all work the same. Another benefit - they shed mud very well, if it is important to you. Very reliable pedals.

    Sent from my PG86100 using Tapatalk 2

  9. #9
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    I used to run Times - one thing I did not appreciate with them was you could not adjust the tension of the unclip - and I found they always required more effort to disengage.

    With knee problems, I really do appreciate my flats.

  10. #10
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    Re: flats or clipped in or not after knee surgery

    They do have a tension adjustment. 3 position screw on mines. I ride them in the easy release setting and have no problem whatsoever to unclip fast. Of course they are not going to be smooth from the beginning, I always try to brake in the clips before a ride at home just clipping and unclipping several times. But its a question of new clips, not the pedals.


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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzanova View Post
    They do have a tension adjustment. 3 position screw on mines. I ride them in the easy release setting and have no problem whatsoever to unclip fast. Of course they are not going to be smooth from the beginning, I always try to brake in the clips before a ride at home just clipping and unclipping several times. But its a question of new clips, not the pedals.


    Sent from my PG86100 using Tapatalk 2
    I gave up clipless ages ago, so that may be newer/good upgrade. The time atacs I used to have offered no tension adjust.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by 006_007 View Post
    I used to run Times - one thing I did not appreciate with them was you could not adjust the tension of the unclip - and I found they always required more effort to disengage.

    With knee problems, I really do appreciate my flats.
    I still have a pair of non-adjustable original ATACs. The newer ATACs are adjustable. I have knee problems (chrondromalacia and arthritis not tears, etc.), and I really like the ATACs.

    That said, I think, if it were me, I would be on flats for a long time after knee surgery before I considered clipless for mountain biking.

  13. #13
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    You are already use to clipless ,not much of a learning curve with the pedales. You could take your spd's and put them on your MB and go for a ride by yourself to see if it's to iffy for you.

  14. #14
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    Flats. Much more comfortable after my ACL replacement than clipless.

    Be aware that some of your bike fit might be a little different when you get back to riding a lot. I found for the first 6 months to a year after my surgery that I liked my saddle up another .5-1". Lowered it back down about 6 months ago and noticed myself getting a lot stronger but it was really uncomfortable immediately after surgery and physical therapy.

  15. #15
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    I tore my acl from years of soccer and basketball. I was only 23 when it went but I only had a scope done and gave up sports. I started riding shortly after that with clipless pedals. Acl finally tore all the way 7 years later. After 7 hours of surgery, grafts from the patella tendon and bone plugs with 3 titanium screws, therapy for 3 months I was back on the mend. Toyed with clipless but soon switched to flats. I ride Velocity Components 001 pedals with replaceable pins. Super grippy and no fear of not being able to unclip in time. I ride mostly trail/xc with some jumps and some nasty stuff thrown in. I have no problems with the stuff I ride (northeast PA : rocks, roots, hills).
    LOVE THE RIDE!

  16. #16
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    Flats. After my knee surgery I was cleared to ride, did an easy loop and when I came to a stop could not quickly get my operative leg out of the cleat, fell over and now I have as sight tear to my rotator cuff. That one bad decision ("I can handle clipless") set me back nearly 9 months while I worked through the PT and frozen shoulder. I would not take the risk.

  17. #17
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    I was leaning toward flats to be on the safe side, however the more I read about flats I find that some people have problems with the hamstrings after switching to flats. I guess you use more hamstring than you would think with platforms? I would have thought the opposite.

    This is also an area of concern for me as the hamstring harvest site (medial/inside back side) is the most painful after a hard hamstring workout.

    Can anyone comment on the effect of using platforms on the hamstring? I really would not have thought this to be a problem with flats as much as clip-less???

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzanova View Post
    Take a look at some time pedals, they offer better freedom of movement. I believe it is 15 degrees each way before they unclip. They are perfect for bad knees.


    Sent from my PG86100 using Tapatalk 2
    Are you saying that there is more movement required until they unclip? Sounds exactly the opposite of what the OP needs.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by smithcreek View Post
    Are you saying that there is more movement required until they unclip? Sounds exactly the opposite of what the OP needs.
    I think he was suggesting that they had more "float" before they unclip which may be better or worse depending on your needs.

  20. #20
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    Flats, at least untill your technical skills are well sharpened and you're confident enough to push your limits. Then give clipless a go and see what you prefer. Don't rush it though.

  21. #21
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    I have a buddy that had 2 knee ops and he rides clipped pedals in the same conditions as you explained and he said he would not ride flats. I would say try a set of adjustable clipped pedals and try them on the loose setting. See how you feel and one more thing I don't know how much you get on and off the bike while you ride but usually when I stop I leave a foot clipped in. Maybe try leaving the leg you had knee surgery on clipped in so you are not messing with it to much until you can tell on how your knee feels. Best of luck to you!
    WHEN IN DOUBT?!?! PEDAL OUT!

  22. #22
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    I had knee surgery two years ago, acl, mcl, lc and menisci (dirtbike). been riding now for a year solid using egg beaters, due to the amount of float. just do your PT and you will be good as new.

  23. #23
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    I mostly use flats since having knee surgeries a few times. I have bad arthritis in the right knee, so there is continuing pain that you likely won't have.
    No issues being clipped in, aside from a couple of times. On XC trails, clipping in can let me rest my knee by compensating with the other leg.
    Clipped in I have occasionally "saved" myself in a technical situation using the attachment of my feet to the pedals, and caused pain that took more than the usual icing, and a week of discomfort after.

    You just have to judge the comfort level you have, and try clipping in.

  24. #24
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    Several ACL repairs, doc told me to stay with clips as they stop the foot from possibly rotating/being in a bad position for pedalling long distances. I used flats for a couple months until the physio told me it was ok to twist out of the pedals

    I adjust them for highest float (spd) and spend some time setting up new pedals/shoes/cleats to put my knee in the right position (for me!)

    Talk to the physio they are more likely than the doc to understand cycling specific needs (maybe your doc rides though)
    what would rainbow unicorn do?

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ferday View Post
    Several ACL repairs, doc told me to stay with clips as they stop the foot from possibly rotating/being in a bad position for pedalling long distances. I used flats for a couple months until the physio told me it was ok to twist out of the pedals

    I adjust them for highest float (spd) and spend some time setting up new pedals/shoes/cleats to put my knee in the right position (for me!)

    Talk to the physio they are more likely than the doc to understand cycling specific needs (maybe your doc rides though)
    I've had 3 ACL replacements and I've never had a problem with clips. It was said earlier to do your PT and you'll be good as new. Very true words. Might not be good as new but should be pretty damn close. I keep mine really loose just in case but the twist isn't all that big a movement anyway.

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