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  1. #1
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    More suspension better for bad knees ?

    I got back on my Santa Cruz Heckler 4 months ago after 10 years off the bike with injuries.
    I have had 10 joint surgeries on my hips and knees and now have cartilage implants in both kneecaps. This means that I have to stay in low gears when pedalling- fast spinning rather than standing in the saddle.
    It also means that I am sitting on the saddle a lot more when doing downhill as my knees can't handle me standing on the pedals when doing small drops etc.

    My local area is more trail than all mountain but I am wondering whether I would be happier on a bike with more suspension due to my knees.
    Looking at the SC Solo 125mm vs SC Bronson 150mm,

    Any advice appreciated. Thanks.
    Last edited by thabo; 01-04-2014 at 03:38 AM. Reason: Shorter title

  2. #2
    FKA Malibu412
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    I'd say for more in-saddle spinning, a 120mm-130mm travel 29er would be a worthy consideration. A little better rollover with the larger wheel size, maybe less having to lift and unweight the bike to get over obstacles and less hanging up at the rear wheel as you go over obstacles.
    Everything that kills me, makes me feel alive

  3. #3
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    Good question. This sounds like something you'll have to figure out by experience.

    However, If I were in your position, I'd look for a good sports therapist...which is exactly what I did for my herniated disk(s). They may or may not be able to answer your question completely, but at least you'll have some insight into what to expect.

    Oh, and my therapist is still surprised at how many falls I've taken without injury, considering he originally told me I'd probably never work again, much less do action sports.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glide the Clyde View Post
    I'd say for more in-saddle spinning, a 120mm-130mm travel 29er would be a worthy consideration. A little better rollover with the larger wheel size, maybe less having to lift and unweight the bike to get over obstacles and less hanging up at the rear wheel as you go over obstacles.
    Thanks Clyde.
    I have not really considered 29ers. My local trials are more flowing singletrack between narrow trees with some jumps. I am concerned about maneuverability but I will try to take a 29er for a testride.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by oopsthathurt View Post
    Good question. This sounds like something you'll have to figure out by experience.

    However, If I were in your position, I'd look for a good sports therapist...which is exactly what I did for my herniated disk(s). They may or may not be able to answer your question completely, but at least you'll have some insight into what to expect.

    Oh, and my therapist is still surprised at how many falls I've taken without injury, considering he originally told me I'd probably never work again, much less do action sports.
    Thanks oopsthatur. I am in the UK and not sure if thre are good cycling/mtb therapists around.
    I have been to see Andy Pruit in Boulder Centre for Sports Medcine a few times in the past but this issue never really came up. Can really recommend him for a general bikefit though.

  6. #6
    Rogue Exterminator
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    Quote Originally Posted by thabo View Post
    Thanks Clyde.
    I have not really considered 29ers. My local trials are more flowing singletrack between narrow trees with some jumps. I am concerned about maneuverability but I will try to take a 29er for a testride.
    Sounds like my trails and although there is a good mix of bikes in my area, I would still say way more 29ers.

    With more or less suspension, I don't know if more front will help or not. I mean how much of the front wheel energy actually transfers to the knees? As far as rear suspension goes, I could see it going either way. Heavier bike with pedal bob is harder to pedal and will ad more stress to the knees. However the suspension can absorb some of the bumps taking some of the stress off the knees.

    My opinion would be a light weight XC 29er rear suspension you have to weigh out for yourself. If you do get rear suspension though you may find a remote lock to be nice.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  7. #7
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    Thanks kjlued.
    You have convinced me on the 29er and I will add a SC Tallboy LT to the testride list.

    Still not sure about the amount of suspension. You are right- more suspension would mean more pedal bob and thus possibly more stress on the knees. Weighing that up against a plusher ride...

  8. #8
    Keep on Rockin...
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    More suspension than the Heckler to buffer you ailments?

    A Princess and the Pea proposition.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    More suspension than the Heckler to buffer you ailments?

    A Princess and the Pea proposition.
    No , look at my initial post.

  10. #10
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    I've had 7 knee surgeries (6 separate meniscus removals, 1 plica band removal) and a shoulder surgery (large SLAP tear and a smaller Bankhart) and have learned that spinning in low gears is my friend. As far as the bike goes, I actually went backwards in technology and suspension and found things to be greatly improved. I started on a C-dale "Uber V" (6" travel version of the venerable Super V) that behaved great in the technical terrain of the North East and wound up on a Surly Ogre with a 3" wide Knard up from and a 2.4" wide tire in the back. The ride quality on the Ogre is really good- the frame sucks a lot of the vibrations the trail imparts and fat tires provide a reasonable amount of "suspension" without the extra weight of a real suspension system. I even had the Ogre up at Highland mtn bike park in NH hitting jumps and going faster than I could on my Coiler.

    The knees and shoulder haven't *****ed at all despite the loss of travel, while its not for everyone it works for me.
    Alea Jacta Est

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbbr View Post
    I've had 7 knee surgeries (6 separate meniscus removals, 1 plica band removal) and a shoulder surgery (large SLAP tear and a smaller Bankhart) and have learned that spinning in low gears is my friend. As far as the bike goes, I actually went backwards in technology and suspension and found things to be greatly improved. I started on a C-dale "Uber V" (6" travel version of the venerable Super V) that behaved great in the technical terrain of the North East and wound up on a Surly Ogre with a 3" wide Knard up from and a 2.4" wide tire in the back. The ride quality on the Ogre is really good- the frame sucks a lot of the vibrations the trail imparts and fat tires provide a reasonable amount of "suspension" without the extra weight of a real suspension system. I even had the Ogre up at Highland mtn bike park in NH hitting jumps and going faster than I could on my Coiler.

    The knees and shoulder haven't *****ed at all despite the loss of travel, while its not for everyone it works for me.
    I can definitely agree with you on going Granny and spinning those pedals. It gives a good workout and is friendly on the knees.I have also gone for fat tires with low pressures- they just suck up the really small stuff and good for grip as well.
    However I am surprised to hear about you being happy on a steelframe nil suspension bike !
    Sounds like that is the best combination for you though.

  12. #12
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    Rigid steel is crazy but it works for me. Since I don't go off anything higher than a foot or so (ends poorly most every time), I can't see the extra travel as being needed. The terrain in my neck of the woods tend towards fast flowly trails interspersed with nasty little rock gardens and technical climbs. The Ogre (and my Troll) handles it great, never had a pain issue coming off a ride.
    Alea Jacta Est

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by thabo View Post
    No , look at my initial post.
    I think you misunderstood my meaning.

  14. #14
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    I can't compare full suspension to hard tail, as I only have FS. I had a pretty bad injury 1.5 years ago (tibial plateau fracture) which effed up my knee pretty bad. It took a good 9 months to get back in the saddle with any level of comfort. But when I did I was glad to have full suspension - for the reasons mentioned by others, namely that FS makes it much easier to sit and pedal. Anyone with knee issues will say that sitting and spinning hurts less than hammering standing up. Trying to sit and spin on a hardtail over bumpier terrain is not always feasible. Additionally, landings are softer on a FS, so less impact on the joint occurs.

    My advice: definitely 29er Full Suspension.

    The 29 inch wheel will allow you to stay seated more often than with a smaller wheel.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by tedlove View Post
    I can't compare full suspension to hard tail, as I only have FS. I had a pretty bad injury 1.5 years ago (tibial plateau fracture) which effed up my knee pretty bad. It took a good 9 months to get back in the saddle with any level of comfort. But when I did I was glad to have full suspension - for the reasons mentioned by others, namely that FS makes it much easier to sit and pedal. Anyone with knee issues will say that sitting and spinning hurts less than hammering standing up. Trying to sit and spin on a hardtail over bumpier terrain is not always feasible. Additionally, landings are softer on a FS, so less impact on the joint occurs.

    My advice: definitely 29er Full Suspension.

    The 29 inch wheel will allow you to stay seated more often than with a smaller wheel.
    Yes, I can agree with using suspension to make landings and bumpier terrain easier on the joints. It also means that I can sit in the saddle (drop-post) on fairly steep downhills. Sitting takes the hammering out totally...

  16. #16
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    Full suspension may help a little, by far the biggest factor for saving my knees is to keep my seat as high as possible. Yes, that means I have to lower it for descents but oh well (no fancy dropper here). The other thing that helps tremendously is to, in general, shift to a lower gear and spin a little more RPM rather than hammer a big gear. Also paying attention to where my feet are and how my knees are tracking. Knees in, heels down, feet straight.

  17. #17
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    When my knees went south due to old age I went back to platform pedals and that has made a great deal of difference as I can move around and adjust the load as needed.

  18. #18
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    I found a dropper post hugely and I do mean hugely helpful re my dodgy knee. Means I can keep my ride posture much improved, tweaking it so the height of post is just right throughout the whole ride.

    Full susser certainly doesnt hurt, I think it defo helps by stopping the vibrations and impact of rock gardens/jumps going through the bikes frame and into my worn bones

  19. #19
    fat & decripit old guy
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    My knees may not be as bad as some here but have had my share of operations.
    Had to give up my DeKerf Team SL cause my knees could not take the punishment any more.
    I now have a Norco Sight a 140mm bike, right now this bike is a knee saver for me where my knees don't bother me for days after a ride like the hard tail would.
    I think that for me, too little travel would transfer too much of the trail chatter to my knees making my rides not quite as fun."
    I found out that having a nice 2.3 tire also helped my situation a bit.

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