Fat bikes and knee pain- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Fat bikes and knee pain

    I am looking to get my first fat bike. I am a long distance trail runner who has been experiencing some knee issues. I am looking for a new trail activity, and a fat bike looks like a good option for me. Recently, I read about some people having knee pains from fat bikes due to the wide stance.
    Can anyone comment on this? Since I'm already struggling with knee issues, I'm nervous about this.
    Thank you,
    Michael

  2. #2
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    Suggest you read further as knee pains are an issue of cycling in general and not specifically related to q-factor. Can't really understand why someone would expect or want to have the q-factor of a roadie on a fatbike...

  3. #3
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    Stay away from clipless pedals and you likely wont have any issues.

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAKC Ind View Post
    Stay away from clipless pedals and you likely wont have any issues.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
    Actually, clipless pedals allow for more float, whereas flats - especially with sticky pins - significantly prohibit float through the pedal stroke and can lead to an increase in knee issues.
    I would advise not taking my advice.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by watermonkey View Post
    Actually, clipless pedals allow for more float, whereas flats - especially with sticky pins - significantly prohibit float through the pedal stroke and can lead to an increase in knee issues.
    Speaking of pedal stroke do consider eliptical chainrings if still interested in a fattie. In my experience it affords a kinda "constantly spread" pain instead of a cyclic one.

  7. #7
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    I had bilateral knee replacements 5 or 6 years ago, which became infected and were explanted about 2.5 years ago. I still have the mobile spacers they placed as temporary knees while the infection resolved. I currently ride my Crossrip about 60-80 miles/week on the road and spend a few hours on my Fatboy/Bluto on the pretty extensive and pretty technical trail system here, an IMBA Silver-level ride center.

    My fat bike has a little lower seat than my road bike, and one of my knees is always initially sore at the top of the pedal stroke from the greater flexion. Then it loosens up. I've found that the more I ride, the less my knees hurt. Currently, I would rate my knee pain in that one knee from fat biking as "present, but non-intrusive". Doesn't hurt after riding...only for the first couple of miles.

    I use clipless pedals with 4 degrees of float (A530) on my Crossrip and flat pedals (RaceFace Chester) on my fat bike. Neither have been an issue as far as my knees are concerned.

  8. #8
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    I ride flats on my fatty, but I have tried clipless. I had to adjust the cleats quite a ways from "straight" (for a "regular" bike) to "toes out". That adjustment done, I was very comfortable. I am 6'-3". I have heard that some short people are sometimes more sensitive to the angles created by a wide Q-factor.

    Try to get some demo rides if you can. During the ride, you might even try different shoes, mess with the seat position, or even the handlebar position/height.

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

  9. #9
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    Everyone is going to be different. I had hip pain from riding a wide Q fat bike. My current fatties have a Q of 201 and 183. The 183 feels better and pedals better. I use both flats and clips, haven't had knee issues with either

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAKC Ind View Post
    Stay away from clipless pedals and you likely wont have any issues.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

    Please stop spreading ignorance and misinformation.

  11. #11
    RAKC Industries
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    Actually its not either. Clipless is well documented causing knee and ankle pain. I spent serious money trying to fall in line with you people and clipless. All it did was make long rides miserable.

    So before making ignorant comments, do some research. Theres a reason why more and more are going to flats. And why half the riders i know have knee and ankle pain complaints.

    If you dont fit the "mold" for a cyclist, clipless doesnt play well with your joints.

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  12. #12
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    It's not the clip vs clipless that is damaging to the knees , it's the absence of floating.

    Just chooses clipless pedals that have a lot of floating , same thing on the road.

    I use Speedplays on MTB/Fat/ road bikes (X1 and Frogs)
    "There is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over" -FZ

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAKC Ind View Post
    Actually its not either. Clipless is well documented causing knee and ankle pain. I spent serious money trying to fall in line with you people and clipless. All it did was make long rides miserable.

    So before making ignorant comments, do some research. Theres a reason why more and more are going to flats. And why half the riders i know have knee and ankle pain complaints.

    If you dont fit the "mold" for a cyclist, clipless doesnt play well with your joints.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
    You don't have to "spend serious money" to make clipless work. You just have to understand basic concepts about how cleat placement affects the pedal stroke, and then be willing to experiment.

    Knee pain when cycling is not new, and not limited to fatbikes. People that experience knee pain when riding fatbikes tend to attribute it to pedal width (aka Q factor) when in reality it's much more likely that they're using their normal mtb (or road?) shoes, and the cleat placement and rotation needs to be amended to work with the wider foot placement.

    Suggesting that flat pedals are a panacea for cycling knee pain is beyond ignorant. The lack of float in a flat pedal/shoe system is known to be a direct cause of knee pain, not a solution.

  14. #14
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    I spent money getting professional help to try and make it work. Told they see this problem often.

    There is a lot of disproved propaganda around clipless and its well known that clipless can cause problems for people where as flats cause none for the same people. Flats have less associated issues with joints as you are not locked into a very narrow space for adjustment and movement. Makes exact adjustments and fitting much more crucial and being forced to be locked into that position. Fixing any issues with flats is easier. I know knee pain can come from flats, dealt with it alot when i first started riding. Saddle position and half way correct foot position fixed it.

    Im going off professional fitting and my physical therapist. Both say they see it more than they'd like to admit. They tell most to ditch clipless for offroad use. Road use is a totally different beast.

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  15. #15
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    Cleats in the wrong position can hurt. Cleats in the right position don't. Cleats in the right position will force your feet into the right position, where platforms allow you to put your feet wherever they land. I don't know who this guy is, but he's wrong and he's making me agree with Mikesee which just makes things worse.

    Also, every knee issue is different. I've had 2 surgeries and my knees were fine fat biking. I recently broke off more cartilage and it's floating around in my knee, so now I can't deal with 175mm cranks or riding hills sitting. I'm stuck on my gravel bike until my next 3 surgeries (cartilage removal/biopsy, cartilage implantation/TTO, and bolt removal) are done.

    Your best bet is to identify your knee issues, especially before they get worse. Then, do a bike fit. If you go into a bike fit with a bunch of pre-existing mechanical issues the fit will be a waste of money. Professional fitters aren't doctors and don't know what's going on inside your joints.
    You change your own flats? Support your LBS and pay them to instead.

  16. #16
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    But it's true, since I changed from clipless pedals to platform pedals, my sex life has improved, my dog no longer runs away, and gosh darn it, people like me!

    Okay, well, the first part was never an issue, and honestly, the stupid dog needs to just stay gone the next time he runs off, and about that last part, well, I guess it depends on who you ask

    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Please stop spreading ignorance and misinformation.

  17. #17
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    So, to the OP:

    First question: Why do your knees hurt from running?

    I used to be an ultra runner, had plenty of back, hip, and feet pain, but never knee pain. Yet, sometimes my knees hurt when I ride... I ride flats.

    I split my time between a "normal" mountain bike and a fat bike, but have ridden fat exclusively, and all I notice that's different about a fat bike is pedal clearance. If you're not a biker now, I'm not sure I'd suggest a fat bike from the git go, but that's just my 2 cents.

    So, back to the knee thing: There are reasons why a knee hurts, it can be structural, it can be technique, it can be a use issue (overuse, conditioning, imbalance, etc...)

    If you can think about ways you have adjusted your running style/stride/foot placement that have improved knee pain, then that same concept can be applied to riding.

    I don't believe the Q factor (width between the pedals) or pedal style (clipless or platform) will change much if you have unresolved knee pain.

    Number one: Figure out why your knees hurt, see an exercise physiologist.

  18. #18
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    Got this from here some time ago and saved the bookmark. Very concise explanation and IMHO a must read for all bikers.
    Bike Fitting Specialists - Cycling Knee Pain
    OP seems to have some need for info of this kind as I've noticed he asks in another thread about brands and models instead of frame sizes and fitment. Definitively try before buying and if looking hard at web only offerings like the Framed keep in mind those frame (sizing) numbers are nominal and do not correspond to any standard. Always refer to the manufacturer's geometry sizing info (and, sometimes, that with a pinch of salt) for actual sizing.

  19. #19
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    I am now on flats having always ridden clipless. I changed because I ride a fatty now in lots of sand and prefer to be able to dab simply if I get in trouble.
    I tend to spin in a fairly low gear (perhaps because I started on road bikes where 90+ rpm was the norm), and found either pedals gave me sore knees if I tried to grind too high a gear.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by hectorlandaeta View Post
    Got this from here some time ago and saved the bookmark. Very concise explanation and IMHO a must read for all bikers.
    Bike Fitting Specialists - Cycling Knee Pain
    OP seems to have some need for info of this kind as I've noticed he asks in another thread about brands and models instead of frame sizes and fitment. Definitively try before buying and if looking hard at web only offerings like the Framed keep in mind those frame (sizing) numbers are nominal and do not correspond to any standard. Always refer to the manufacturer's geometry sizing info (and, sometimes, that with a pinch of salt) for actual sizing.
    Thanx for that link , informative.
    "There is a big difference between kneeling down and bending over" -FZ

  21. #21
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    Try renting one for a weekend.
    :thumbsup:It doesn't matter what I ride as long as I ride it Rubber Side Down●~●.

  22. #22
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    Thank you.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mboswell View Post
    I am looking to get my first fat bike. I am a long distance trail runner who has been experiencing some knee issues. I am looking for a new trail activity, and a fat bike looks like a good option for me. Recently, I read about some people having knee pains from fat bikes due to the wide stance.
    Can anyone comment on this? Since I'm already struggling with knee issues, I'm nervous about this.
    Thank you,
    Michael
    As a new biker - be sure to ride in a low enough gear so that you can get power by spinning the pedals quickly. I get knee pain when I try to ride in too high of a gear.

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