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  1. #1
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    Old man's knees + SS = ?

    Alright, I have (mostly) decided to build up a Rigid SS Selma over winter to roll over some single track in Michigan. I have a bunch of friends and "seasoned" salty dogs that tell me I will ruin my knees after a couple of years on the bike.

    I will probably run the bike 7 - 14 miles 3x a week at most; and will probably switch back to my geared Paragon for some of the rides. Anyone have any issues with your knees after a couple of years on a SS?

  2. #2
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    You won't have any problems if you remember that when the going gets tough it's time to stand .

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by abp689
    Alright, I have (mostly) decided to build up a Rigid SS Selma over winter to roll over some single track in Michigan. I have a bunch of friends and "seasoned" salty dogs that tell me I will ruin my knees after a couple of years on the bike.
    I will probably run the bike 7 - 14 miles 3x a week at most; and will probably switch back to my geared Paragon for some of the rides. Anyone have any issues with your knees after a couple of years on a SS?
    Just short of a year on SS - just over 58 on the planet. No knee issues at all. I take a joint supplement, but I have no idea if it makes a difference. I do ride geared 3 of the 6 days a week I ride per week. I do not, however, ride rigid - I use an 80 mm Fox G2 fork on my HT.

    Don't grind seated.

  4. #4
    808+909 = Party Good Time
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    1. Don't grind seated
    2. Stand on anything that remotely looks like an incline, even just a small gradient
    3. It actually can strenghten muscle around your joints and support them if you do it right
    4. It's the best fun you can have on a bike
    5. Selmas are hot bikes.

  5. #5
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    so far so good

    I have fairly advance "chonrdal erosion" ...aka arthritis (grade 4) of both knees for a fairly "young" 41 year old rider. I've been riding rigid 29er single for about 2 months, and have not noticed any increase in pain, discomfort, or the ever present grinding noise as I'm walking up steps.

    The doctors have actually told me biking is a great non impact sport.

    Now...I've only been riding this bike for two months...not long enough for a long range evaluation...but D@MN it's the most fun I've ever had.

    I do take prescription strength anti-inflamatories daily.

    Eat em like almonds.

    Some day I'll poop out my liver...I know...but all is good now.

    If anything, the increase leg strength has decrease pain, and I've actually found myself relying on the naproxen less.

    Your mileage may vary...and EVERBODY is different.

    Good luck.

  6. #6
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    i agree with one of the above statements. i stand more when riding my ss. outside of that- my knees never hurt after a ride. about the only place i can feel a (bad) difference between my geared f.s. and my rigid s.s. is in my hands/wrists

  7. #7
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    I'm not even close to old yet, (besides, that mentality is bad) and I do SS/fixed everywhere I can and my knees do alright. Besides standing, there are some other things that will make or break your experience. The first is to pace yourself getting into it and allow the tendons and muscles to build up without getting owned. Secondly, listen to your body- if you ride for a month without problems and they hurt after one ride, or during one ride, be smart and give yourself a chance at recovery and take it easy before banging something out. The last thing is to eat and sleep right to make sure your recover.

  8. #8
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    I have a friend 72 who has ridden SS exclusively for the past 2 years, almost daily.

  9. #9
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    1 yr on my SS and I think that it has actually helped my knees become much stronger. No pain after a ride and I can get up tomorrow and go do it again.

  10. #10
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    Yeah, I've got 'old man knee' (left) from wrestling, BJJ and snowboarding. I'm 34 and my knee aches when the weather changes. When I was riding a lot on geared bikes my knee would act up and limit me. Since switching to SS I have 0 problems.

    As people have said, standing up is easier on the knees than sitting and grinding. That is what causes knee pain.

  11. #11
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    I'm 53, been riding dinglespeed off road exclusively since 05. I believe SS is actually easier on the knees than geared. Give your legs time to adapt gradually though. Riding SS only occasionally may cause some issues for some.

  12. #12
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    I have been riding my SS for about a year now. I have had knee surgeries in the past and I am 37. The only time my knee get sore is when i go on big rides (60 miles or longer) I have a feeling my knee would be sore regardless of what type of bike i was on after that much time in the saddle

  13. #13
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    Not sure what issues you have with your knees, but I have a ruptured ACL that I chose not to have fixed on the advice of my surgeon. I had to be careful on the geared full suspension bike or I would aggravate it, swell up, and be out of commission for a week or two. I switched to a rigid single speed last season and have had almost no problems with my knee since. Not sure why, I thought I'd have more problems. It has been great, and I love the bike.

  14. #14
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    I'm 56 and ride SS almost exclusively along with my fixed gear bike. I have experienced no knee issues, but I would offer some advise. Gear appropriately, stand on the pedals often, and if you ride a fixed gear, use a front brake as the tension put on you knees to slow yourself down going down hill is hard on them.

    Check it out, I think you will enjoy it.
    Nobody will hurt you more than yourself

  15. #15
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    all the above advice is spot on.

    two additional points- on sections that need a dismount i need to use caution where i'm walking/running with the bike. also, a bike fit is soooooo worth the money. ensures the bones/joints are moving correct for efficiency but more important for avoiding knee injury.

    pedal choice is important also. i don't have any good reco's though.
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  16. #16
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    I have actually had less knee issues since I started single speeding. I am also strong when climbing on my road bike.
    if you don't feel like riding, that's usually when you need it most

  17. #17
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    Its always the rider, not the bike. Its how you use it. I have been on a ss steel 29er, off and on for 3 years now, no pain yet. Is sitting and spinning, twice as many times, on a geared bike beneficial? Who knows.
    The only regrets in life, are the risks you didn't take.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by abp689
    ...I have a bunch of friends and "seasoned" salty dogs that tell me I will ruin my knees after a couple of years on the bike. ...
    I'm in the antique class of rider, and I have been riding mainly SS since I was a boy. I'm still waiting for the knee problems they all talk about.

    I'm convinced that bolting your feet to the pedals has more to do with knee problems on an offroad bike than anything else.
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  19. #19
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    Thanks for all the responces team!

    I plan to ride and run for the next 35 years. After reading the reviews and thinking about it, it makes sence that the "churn and burn" I go through on my geared Fisher could create more knee damage than a SS standing and moving.

    Now it is time to lurk and decide what parts to outfit on a Selma!


  20. #20
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    Dang! Late to the party. Again

    I am 36 years young, 6 years mostly fixed gear road and 3 years SS MTB. My knee only hurts when I spin on my geared bike. Different knees put up with different kinds of abuse. Try it and see what kind of knees you have. If it doesn't work out, I'll take the Selma off your hands because that's what friends are for. Friend.
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  21. #21
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    Multiple knee surgeries with almost no cartilage left, replacement ACL's from cadavers-even a pulmonary embolism and resultant 3 week stay in the I.C.U from the last knee surgery and my knees have never felt better. I went a different route before grabbing a single speed however, I built up the muscles around my knees on the stationary bike, spin classes and weight room before I started on the two-wheeled machines. Now, my knees and legs feel better than I remember before I wiped them out on the ski slopes.

    I think finding and maintaining proper fit and seat height on the bike has been very important as well. Occasionally, on a cold, dreary morning, I will pop the NSAID or two but generally, I'm good to go.

  22. #22
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    +1 on getting out of the saddle

    51 with history of knee problems. Definitely ride more 'active" on the bike, standing and using more core/upper body.

    Experiment with the gearing so you're comfortable. My main area is all hills, so I am geared to spin out a little soon, but can make most climbs without hurting (the knees).
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  23. #23
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    43yrs old, 1 acl/mcl rebuild, almost 2 yrs on SS and no knee isues!

  24. #24
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    57, SS for 10years

    57 and SS exclusively for the last 10 years. Commute about 225 days a year on my SS. Agree that it actually strengthens the knees. Stand and haul butt, your knees will do fine. Use a wide bar to get leverage and maximize your standing effort.

    Don't forget the other benefits to regularly riding your SS, like stong arms from pulling on the bars, the cardio workout and overall you will look good from the ass on down. Just gear appropriately and maybe start with a slightly easier gear till you strengthen the body through riding.

  25. #25
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    I am on the same page with everyone else. Tore my ACL and had it repaired in January, started riding my SS in March with no problems. I think it helped my knee heal faster but that's my non-medical opinion
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  26. #26
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    Four years on my 29er SS (not exclusively) regularly do 25-30 miles and 2-3000 vertical feet on a ride, turned 60 in April 2009. Do it, it makes you strong. Just head the advice to stand and pedal on almost any uphill except very easy.

    "The physician heals, Nature makes well" - real fortune cookie

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  27. #27
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    48, no knee pains on my SS, went for a ride on my geared bike, now my knees feel weak. I definitely sat most of the time riding gears, on purpose trying to have a nice easy ride.

    Also worth noting, my SS rides are on flat to rolling trails. When the trails turn up, I pull out the gears. So that probably has something to do with it too - more exertion on my part when riding gears, whether standing or sitting.
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  28. #28
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    Singlespeed rocks! 46 y/o newbie racer with history of Crohn's and related knee issues. Just completed my first season of short-track xc and LOVED it! Raced in Beginner class with women half my age (almost all of them on multi-geared bikes) and finished near the back of the pack but quite respectably. I will be racing 'cross on the same bike this fall: an older Kona Fire Mountain "Race Light", fully rigid, converted with Stylo cranks, Soulcraft Convert kit and Crank Bros 5050 flat pedals (those knee issues prevent my using clipless pedals).

    I rode BMX back when the earth cooled (ca. 1972, before it was a nationally-sanctioned sport). Even though I'm slower now, my bike-handling skills have come back to me and I am having more fun than ought to be legal! I am totally committed to SS and can't wait to see what it will be like to race 'cross on this thing.

    (Photo: Portland Short-track Mountain Bike series, June 2009)



    Happy riding!

  29. #29
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    Take a bong rip and go SS biking. It's arguably the only way to fly!
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  30. #30
    I have red hair
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    First of all, Aaron, you're not old

    Second, you'll have no problem riding a SS rigid, Mr. Mountain climber

    Thridly, wanna ride Luton on Tuesday?? (this might be my last ride with you guys this year...)
    "I don't believe in brakes, all they do is slow you down"

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by illnacord
    Take a bong rip and go SS biking. It's arguably the only way to fly!
    Bong hit? This is a Geritol thread you young codger.....

    I think we need to change the title to old man's and old woman's knees now too, huh?
    "The physician heals, Nature makes well" - real fortune cookie

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  32. #32
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    42 years-old here. I've had knee issues since injuring them in high school playing hockey. I used to do a lot of mountain running and never had a problem. Recently just started riding my ss rigid karate monkey and have had no issues whatsoever. Interestingly, I have had some knee pain riding my geared road bike - esp. if my saddle height isn't dialed in just right. To me, the key is strength-training the muscles around your knees - leg lifts, squats, etc. I try to do a legs workout once a week at the gym which really helps the knees, imo. Standing & cranking on your ss takes the pressure off your knees & really utilizes the hamstrings, quads & calf muscles. Plus, it's a lot of fun! Go for it, dude.

  33. #33
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    I'm 45 and I've been on my SS since Nov. My knees are fine but standing is the best advice for your knees. But here is one thing that happened to me after I converted to SS, I got bad tendonitis in my right elbow from pulling so hard on climbs. SSing is a total body workout. I found small bar ends were the answer. I was able to climb with my had in a differnt position that didn't put as much stress on my elbow.
    Have a blast, old dude!

  34. #34
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    What's better on your lower back, sitting and spinning a FS bike or standing and hammering on a SS rigid bike? My lower back has bothered me ever since I started Mtn biking 2 years ago (never any problems before). Know I'm 48 and thought of trying the single speed rigid thing to possibly help with my back pain. I thought the riding style and riding position may help. Someone from our club mentioned he has had cronic back pain all of his life and going to a 29" ss from a 26" bonger greatly reduced his pain.

    What do U SS riders think?

    David

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedGreen
    First of all, Aaron, you're not old

    Second, you'll have no problem riding a SS rigid, Mr. Mountain climber

    Thridly, wanna ride Luton on Tuesday?? (this might be my last ride with you guys this year...)
    RedMan, You are not done for the season, are you? Thanks for the vote of confidence - I am looking forward to the SS

    See ya Tuesday?

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Cheswick
    SSing is a total body workout. I found small bar ends were the answer.
    I could not agree more!

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    "The physician heals, Nature makes well" - real fortune cookie

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  37. #37
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    Your back muscles do get stronger and suffer less from fatigue.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_slacker
    Yeah, I've got 'old man knee' (left) from wrestling, BJJ and snowboarding. I'm 34 and my knee aches when the weather changes. When I was riding a lot on geared bikes my knee would act up and limit me. Since switching to SS I have 0 problems.

    As people have said, standing up is easier on the knees than sitting and grinding. That is what causes knee pain.

    I like BJJ's!

  39. #39
    SS or Die
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    Only been riding SS on my converted Mamasita for about 3 months now and these are my findings:......

    More Fun!
    More Strength!
    More Grins!
    More Speed!
    and after knee surgery a couple of years ago...
    No Knee Pain!

    Im finding that SS not only strengthens the Knees, but your arms, core and back. I ride Rigid in a rather rocky place with steep climbs and its a real test of skill and endurance but still faster than any of my other geared bikes.

    Gear choice is the key so I keep 2 cogs on hand for different ride gradients.

    Best fun you can have on a bike IMO.
    "Be the Gear..."

  40. #40
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    I'll toss in my .02, for what it's worth...


    Uncle Sam pays me for my mangled knees (disable Vet...20 years of running, jumping, falling, krazy stuff). My knees sound like bubble wrap going up and down stairs, etc....


    Anyhooo...been riding MTB for 12 years, started as cross training for Tri, and got "bitten by the bug" (knees started going out in 02)...


    I've done all kinds of riding/raciong, from XC, 12/24s, "Hundies", etc...


    On geared bikes, my knees hurt MORE after along hard event that on my SS...my knees suffer more from sitting and spinning, griding the gears, than SS.


    One thing I always notice is that my lower back doesn't hurt as much after along event on my SS than it does on a geared bike (I ride both, but I ride my SS a LOT more)...and my knees felt/feel fine. Remember, being out of the saddel a lot more (SS) has it's advantages!


    Case in pioint. I did the Mohican 100 on my singlespeed...didn;t turn in a supersonic time, but repsectable...I felt GREAT the next morning...


    I just did a Mountain Bike Marathon (50 miles) yesterday on my geared bike, and I woke up this morning feeling like I got hit by a Bus...



    After the race yesterday, all of my future ultra-endurance events will be singlespeed, and my beautiful geared bike will be for long easy training rides...


    again, my knees feel WORSE after a long, hard effort on my geared bike...sitting and spinning those gears can mangle your knees...I feel it lures us into staying seated (on geared bikes) and gettiong up to climb helps in many ways...



    Just my .02


    Hope this insight helps.


    R
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    .

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by RSW42
    I'll toss in my .02, for what it's worth...


    Uncle Sam pays me for my mangled knees (disable Vet...20 years of running, jumping, falling, krazy stuff). My knees sound like bubble wrap going up and down stairs, etc....


    Anyhooo...been riding MTB for 12 years, started as cross training for Tri, and got "bitten by the bug" (knees started going out in 02)...


    I've done all kinds of riding/raciong, from XC, 12/24s, "Hundies", etc...


    On geared bikes, my knees hurt MORE after along hard event that on my SS...my knees suffer more from sitting and spinning, griding the gears, than SS.


    One thing I always notice is that my lower back doesn't hurt as much after along event on my SS than it does on a geared bike (I ride both, but I ride my SS a LOT more)...and my knees felt/feel fine. Remember, being out of the saddel a lot more (SS) has it's advantages!


    Case in pioint. I did the Mohican 100 on my singlespeed...didn;t turn in a supersonic time, but repsectable...I felt GREAT the next morning...


    I just did a Mountain Bike Marathon (50 miles) yesterday on my geared bike, and I woke up this morning feeling like I got hit by a Bus...



    After the race yesterday, all of my future ultra-endurance events will be singlespeed, and my beautiful geared bike will be for long easy training rides...


    again, my knees feel WORSE after a long, hard effort on my geared bike...sitting and spinning those gears can mangle your knees...I feel it lures us into staying seated (on geared bikes) and gettiong up to climb helps in many ways...



    Just my .02


    Hope this insight helps.


    R
    R,

    If I read between the lines, your back feels much better riding a SS? I.e, sitting and spinning is harder on your back than standing and hammering? I'm willing to try a SS if it will help my back pain during and after a ride. I'm about ready to find another sport/hobby. The only other problem I have is in our area North East, we have alot of tree roots that create a very rough riding.

    thanks for any input,

    David

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mojo Man
    If I read between the lines, your back feels much better riding a SS?

    Yes, it does.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mojo Man
    I.e, sitting and spinning is harder on your back than standing and hammering?

    Yes, it is...for me. I find being up and out of the saddle in all different ways (on SS) keep my back and knees guessing, and don;t get ground up in any one position, etc...


    Quote Originally Posted by Mojo Man
    I'm willing to try a SS if it will help my back pain during and after a ride. I'm about ready to find another sport/hobby. The only other problem I have is in our area North East, we have alot of tree roots that create a very rough riding.

    Just did a wicked 50 miler on tons of wet roots
    .




    .

  43. #43
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    I'll second that....

    I have degeneration of the lower spine and find that sitting and spinning on my geared bike gives my ageing back a workout.

    SS'ing has you up and out of the saddle providing more bloodflow to the lower back area and also gives the muscles a break and shares the load better.

    After a long geared ride Im in usual suffering, after a long SS ride I feel much more relaxed and less fatigued.
    "Be the Gear..."

  44. #44
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    Another question if your guys don't mind?
    Since you get fatiqued quicker on a SS, don't you have more of a tendancy to sit down on the bumpy stuff and/or get sloppy in your riding, thus creating more back pain?

    David

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mojo Man
    Another question if your guys don't mind?
    Since you get fatiqued quicker on a SS, don't you have more of a tendancy to sit down on the bumpy stuff and/or get sloppy in your riding, thus creating more back pain?...
    Doesn't happen with me. I ride 24 hours events like that and I'm fairly average in fitness for a SS rider.

    You really need to have your riding position setup so you can lift out of the saddle easily - possibly a more vertical riding position than a geared rider.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  46. #46
    Ovaries on the Outside
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mojo Man
    Another question if your guys don't mind?
    Since you get fatiqued quicker on a SS, don't you have more of a tendancy to sit down on the bumpy stuff and/or get sloppy in your riding, thus creating more back pain?

    David
    Kind of a tempo thing- on a geared rig you can bang it out and suddenly realized you are about to die, downshift and recover a little. On SS you kinda find and know your pace for different terrain. I don't have back pain on either set up, but I like SS because you have times to sit down and times to stand up and climb so my arse never gets sore.

  47. #47
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    Wishing I could agree, time was when i would've. But just this season, every time I'd stand to hammer on my SS,the cartilage under my r. knee would get irritated. Every time.
    Finally had to hang up the SS, ride my 1x8 this season. Even standing on the 1x8 would do the same thing; had to sit and spin like a dork. Can feel myself getting weaker....gah!
    But...I'm starting to be able to stand again on the 1x8,so I'm hoping I can ease back onto the SS. There is no question it makes you stronger, all around, to SS. I'm not going to give up yet. Winter is coming, and that's when it's 'SS only'. I hope I can do it.

  48. #48
    Glass Breaker
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    Swap the bikes occasionally between geared and ss. Note any differences on your normal rides. If entering a new event, go with whatever was more comfortable for you during your last few rides.

    I'm of the opposite opinion of a few people here. I'm 26 been riding ss for the last 6 years and just switched to 1x8. I saw my father get a double knee replacement recently and realized I need to avoid that as much as possible. I've had an increase in knee noise over the last few years both riding and walking around. Currently ride both ss and geared based on my mood and location and now have less mental fear of knee destruction than when I was ss exclusively.

    Keep a balance with bikes, and you'll keep a balance on the knees.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mojo Man
    Another question if your guys don't mind?
    Since you get fatiqued quicker on a SS, don't you have more of a tendancy to sit down on the bumpy stuff and/or get sloppy in your riding, thus creating more back pain?

    David
    I've not found that, Mojo. After you have done it for awhile, you learn lots of different ways to stand/get out of the saddle when singlespeeding. Sometimes you can actually rest and recover a bit while pedaling standing (more of an upright posture using your body weight on the pedals).

    Singlespeeding helps you become a better rider too (I'm talking hardtails, here), because you use your body to help you with technical moves more.

    I've fought back pain and knee pain for year and, like most here have said, as long as you pay attention to bike fit, overall fitness (including stretching) and proper alignment of spine, hips, knees (not a bad idea to get checked out by a good DO or chiropractor), singlespeeding won't hurt you IMHO. I've had more pain trying to stay in the saddle and grind up stuff on my FS.

    Give it a try - you'll find you're stronger, a better rider and enjoying flying by dudes with gears

    E

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by agentorangemen
    Swap the bikes occasionally between geared and ss. Note any differences on your normal rides. If entering a new event, go with whatever was more comfortable for you during your last few rides.

    I'm of the opposite opinion of a few people here. I'm 26 been riding ss for the last 6 years and just switched to 1x8. I saw my father get a double knee replacement recently and realized I need to avoid that as much as possible. I've had an increase in knee noise over the last few years both riding and walking around. Currently ride both ss and geared based on my mood and location and now have less mental fear of knee destruction than when I was ss exclusively.

    Keep a balance with bikes, and you'll keep a balance on the knees.
    Wise words from a young man! I'm probably about the age of your father; my father has had one knee replaced twice already, and I'm trying to avoid the same fate. Heh....you talk about knee noise. Had this damn clicking sound in my drivetrain recently. Happened on the downstroke, especially when climbing. Took apart, greased and tightened everything. It persisted. Yep....I finally figured out it was my left knee cap. You speaketh the truth....

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