Singlespeed and knees? Please advise?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Singlespeed and knees? Please advise?

    I just purchased my first SS (GF Rig). I absolutely love the whole singlespeed experience. The first night I had a chance to ride I was only planning to take it for a short spin down the street, but it ended up being a 5 mile ride with some steep inclines. I absolutely love the challenge and workout the SS and hills provide every time I ride, however, I occassionally see on mtbr threads people bringing up knee concerns and SS's.

    How can SSing effect your knees any differently than a geared bike? Is it simply geared bikes offers "spinning" options via gears which results in less pressure on your knees? How do I prevent any adverse affect on my knees or am I being paranoid?

    Any feedback would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob T
    Is it simply geared bikes offers "spinning" options via gears which results in less pressure on your knees?
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob T
    How do I prevent any adverse affect on my knees

    Warm up with some easy spinning on flat terrain. Make sure your seat's height and fore/aft postion are perfect. Make sure your cleats are positioned correctly.
    “The only Zen you find on tops of mountains is the Zen you bring there”---Robert M. Pirsig

  3. #3
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    Really don't think SS riding is bad for the knees..But i did it alot 1997-200 & my knees pop alot,but don't hurt...I don't know i guess!
    I plan on trail running so i guess i'm not concerned really!
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  4. #4
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    Run a search on this board. There have been a dozen or more "knee" threads over the years.
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  5. #5
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    I've got bad knees, I've been putting off getting cut for years. I've done lots of SS'n over the years, lots of fixed miles too, with no knee problems. Sore knees have more to do with the fit and adjustment of your bike, not so much to do with how many gears you have. And as "the Shig" said there is lots of information out there on proper fit.
    Slowly slipping to retrogrouchyness

  6. #6
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    I've got congenitally crummy knees, my kneecaps like to slide around when doing physical activities. When I played racquetball, I got some neoprene knee sleeves to keep my kneecaps in place, and no more pain.

    I put them back on when I started riding a year ago. I have only been SSing(exclusively) for about 4 months, and still haven't had any knee pain.

    It may all be mental at this point, or it may come back to bite me in the ass when I am older.

  7. #7
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    I agree with this

    Quote Originally Posted by G-reg
    I've got bad knees, I've been putting off getting cut for years. I've done lots of SS'n over the years, lots of fixed miles too, with no knee problems. Sore knees have more to do with the fit and adjustment of your bike, not so much to do with how many gears you have. And as "the Shig" said there is lots of information out there on proper fit.
    I don't think SS is worse than any other kind of cycling for knees, and this not to imply that any kind of cycling is bad for knees.

    Does that make sense? It's hard to tell after the margarita.

    You might consider investing in a snappy pair of knickers for colder days so you caps stay toasty.

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  8. #8
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    I feel your pain...

    Its a higher climbing gear, so there will be more knee pressure. Do some searching, but if your first ride didn't result in knee pain, be glad and keep riding.
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  9. #9
    local trails rider
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    I think pedaling hard at low rpm strains knees more than doing it standing up. It feels like the knee angles and the distribution of forces are different in the "standing gear".

  10. #10
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    I had knee surgery 3 1/2 years ago. My knee hurt more on the road bike than the mtb.
    I've found that because you change your position more with a mtb, or more specifically a singlespeed, it is actually easier on your knees. YMMV

  11. #11
    All 26.5" all the time!
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    Pushing tall gears while seated is what kills your knees, regardless of single speed, geared, crank length, road or mountain.

    Gear your SS for the terrain you ride most, and stand up during hard peddaling efforts.

  12. #12
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    +1

    Quote Originally Posted by Zanetti
    Pushing tall gears while seated is what kills your knees, regardless of single speed, geared, crank length, road or mountain.

    Gear your SS for the terrain you ride most, and stand up during hard peddaling efforts.
    I am not experienced enough to have a strong opinion (only 4 months of SS'ing), but that is exactly how I feel. Standing pedalling feels very natural to me. Less stress on my knees...

    Ali

  13. #13
    just another bleepin SSer
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    Quote Originally Posted by pisket
    I am not experienced enough to have a strong opinion (only 4 months of SS'ing), but that is exactly how I feel. Standing pedalling feels very natural to me. Less stress on my knees...
    I have been riding SS for almost 10 years (don't even own a geared MTB any more), and fully agree.

    One guy I know just got a SS, and when he first rode it he said his knees started to hurt. But when we got a ride in together, he saw how I stand for most hills. He started to match this style and his knees suddenly stopped hurting.

    Will take some time to learn to ride like this (different muscles and all). Once you do, though, you'll find you can ride almost as much as you can on a geared bike.
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  14. #14
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    Try using platform pedals. I ride my SS with platforms and it allows me to float my whole foot over the pedal. When I'm climbing up steeps, I'll stand up and mash I'll sometimes slide my foot up so the middle-to-heel part of the foot is centered over the pedal. It feels to me more comfortable and I can get a few extra centimeters over the stem on those crucial moments.

    No knee problems for me, just shoulders and elbows.

  15. #15
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    To each his own

    Quote Originally Posted by johnnyb
    Try using platform pedals. ...
    Personally, I cannot imagine riding SS aggressively while lacking the ability to pull up with my "slack" leg. Obviously this requires step-in pedals. I was a relatively lame SSer until I'd developed the muscles to employ this skill.

    Not saying the same is true for everyone else. YMMV...

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  16. #16
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    Aside from the harder climbing gear ratio, I thought knee stiffness came from fully rigid SS's ?

    Which leads me to ask, how do you get more speed downhilling on a rigid Single ?

    I don't want to get front shocks, but I have no ability to hold onto the bars when I DH because I get bounced off the bars.

    Tony

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony_J_Ross
    Aside from the harder climbing gear ratio, I thought knee stiffness came from fully rigid SS's ?

    Which leads me to ask, how do you get more speed downhilling on a rigid Single ?

    I don't want to get front shocks, but I have no ability to hold onto the bars when I DH because I get bounced off the bars.

    Tony
    Brake less.

    I find the harder I brake, the more the front end starts to chatter and I get bounced around bad, especially over washboard type stuff. I have discs, which may or may not affect this. Also have a carbon fork which flexes a considerable amount fore and aft under braking. (Its actually frightening to pull on the front brake and watch the fork move back underneath you)

    It's much easier to just float over stuff than brake during the rough sections. Also, if I have to brake, I'll put more pressure on the rear brake, which obviously will not give you as much stopping power, but it definitely reduces the chatter and arm fatigue. I never figured any of this out until I went rigid, but the difference is quite obvious to me now. Try it.

  18. #18
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    Clipless SS riding opens chakras?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sparticus
    Personally, I cannot imagine riding SS aggressively while lacking the ability to pull up with my "slack" leg. Obviously this requires step-in pedals. I was a relatively lame SSer until I'd developed the muscles to employ this skill.

    Not saying the same is true for everyone else. YMMV...

    --Sparty
    Sorry to beat this dead horse, but a short antedote: On my first SS ride I decided to go off the trail and test the bike's climbing ability on an extremely steep hill. The last 10 seconds of this climb were probably the most surreal 10 seconds of my biking life.

    After my momentum ran out I kept pedaling. Eventually my pedal cadence slowed to where I normally would have unclipped and bailed, but didn't and kept pushing/pulling the clipless pedals. And the bike just kept going, albeit very, very slowly. My focus increased as I tried to balance and creep further upward. Just then my consciousness seemed to vacate my head and reappear in my legs and feet where the push/pull motion seemed to disappear, replaced by the perfect unison of two legs creating mechanically efficient, counterbalancing circles unlike anything I've perceived. Very heady! I learned that I've long been a sloppy/inefficient clipless pedaler, and that I have long limited myself psychologically as to what I can climb. Some first ride...

    While I'm talking nonsense, on subsequent rides on my SS, I have felt this very primal source of physical power unleashed. It gets stronger and stronger through the ride and lasts for an hour or two afterwards. I've always gotten a post ride "high," but this sems of a different quality and greater intensity. It seems more akin to the opening of one of the lower chakras (Hinduism). Its very satisying, but not absent of anxiety b/c the power demands a pathway of release - not a problem while riding b/c you can just channel it back into riding, but afterwards can be a bit nerve racking, not only for me, but also once for my platonic female roommate who became disconcerted by my agressive actions towards her. I know little of the Chakra system, and use it as an analogy for lack of a better one, but the experience does resemble some of the descriptions I've read.

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  19. #19
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    i had some knee pain, until i took a minute to set up the bike. i'd say at least 80% of my time is spent standing and hammering, yet for some reason, until my seat height was correct, that 20% (or less) saddle time was what hurt my knees. i haven't put too much thought into it, if my everything dosen't hurt after a ride, i kinda feel let down. i also think i've learned to just let the bike ride - it always knows what to do, if you let it. fighting the bike is not very efficient in my opinion

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony_J_Ross
    I don't want to get front shocks, but I have no ability to hold onto the bars when I DH because I get bounced off the bars.

    Tony
    If you're riding a stock Kona Unit with Maxis Ignitors, you could switch to a larger volume tire. The Ignitor is pretty voluminous for a 2.1, but the Rampage, Nevegal and others are definitely fatter (rationalize the purchase by convincing yourself that you will run the removed Ignitor in the back when the first wears out). Should provide more cushion and traction, and steady the steering a bit, all of which should help on downhill runs. Regardless of front tire, run its air pressure as low as possible without problems (pinch flats, rim bottoming, squirrely handling).
    2017 Diamondback Haanjo
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  21. #21
    BMX'er getting big wheels
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    Quote Originally Posted by freerider33
    Really don't think SS riding is bad for the knees..But i did it alot 1997-200 & my knees pop alot,but don't hurt...I don't know i guess!
    I plan on trail running so i guess i'm not concerned really!
    Popping can just be lots of calcium in your diet, my knees pop all the time, and when I walk around barefoot, my ankles sould like bubble wrap but don't hurt. My friend has been playing football forever and thought that was why his knees popped, doctor just told him to cut some calcium out of his diet.

  22. #22
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ross W.
    Brake less.

    It's much easier to just float over stuff than brake during the rough sections.
    I thought it was a general rule of thumb to avoid braking in the rough stuff, whatever the vehicle. When driving my car, I brake before the bump and release just before it. That helps to smooth out the impacts. Braking just puts you out of balance and reduces the amount of traction you have available.

  23. #23
    Bend, OR
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    I thought it was a general rule of thumb to avoid braking in the rough stuff, whatever the vehicle. When driving my car, I brake before the bump and release just before it. That helps to smooth out the impacts. Braking just puts you out of balance and reduces the amount of traction you have available.
    Yeah, you're right, it just becomes a lot more obvious on a rigid than a FS or hardtail.

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