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Fitting and knee pain

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Fitting and knee pain

Old 01-04-20, 03:56 PM
  #1  
tedlemme
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Fitting and knee pain

Hi all,

I'm sadly at the point of considering that I might just not be able to ride a road bike anymore. As background: Years ago, I used to race in college, and since then, I've been off-and-on over the years between military deployments and just exploring other exercise options (running, CrossFit, karate, and a few others).

Anyway, I got back to riding last summer and got a new bike. A great bike, actually! But bike fitting and me have never really "gotten along" too well. The issue is that my leg/torso ration is WAAAAYYYYY weird. As in, I looked at a chart of thousands height/inseam ratios and I'm the most statistical extreme outlier on that chart. By the numbers: I'm 5'9" tall, and I have an inseam of 36.25". By the population male average, I should either have an inseam of 31" or I should be 6'7" tall. I've been told that for my inseam, I probably should have a 60-62 cm frame, but for my torso length, I should probably have a 52 cm frame. Good luck finding enough micro-adjustments to bridge that gap!

So, I get that fitting me to a bike is an extreme challenge. I've worked with the local bike shop and the guys there have done about the best they can: I've got an extra-long seat post pulled almost to make extension, with a stem that's about 1.5" long with a 20-degree rise. 56cm frame, otherwise the reach would just be way too much. As it is now, my handlebars are something like 6" below the top of my saddle.

I'm not sure what anyone on here might be able to suggest, so I'm really fishing. But I've always loved cycling, and I'd really not like to give it up. It's an important part of my exercise routine (weightlifting, yoga, cycling), and obviously you all know how great of a fun exercise it is. But I can't keep on with painful knees. I'll be 42 in a couple months, and I shouldn't feel like I'm 72. Unfortunately, barbell squats don't make my knees hurt, but 45 minutes on my bike does. Apparently.

Is it possible that there are some of us out here who just can't be properly fitted on road bikes with modern geometries? Or maybe I'm just at an age where things are too tight and brittle that I just can't get away any longer with a bike that's fitted "as close as possible."

So, anyway, if anyone out there might have any ideas that I haven't thought of, even outside the box, I'd love to hear it. Thanks,
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Old 01-05-20, 05:23 PM
  #2  
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Well you sure have extreme dimensions. It occurs to me that an extra long seat post would actually move you further back from the handle bar and this would mess up your reach. If your saddle is in a reasonable position in relation to the pedals, then I would look for a new and uncut fork. Forks generally come longer than they need to be and are cut down at the bike shop. A new fork would be, say five inches or so longer than what you have now and may be enough to fix the fit. Alternately, there are fort extenders that raise the bars.

It may also be that your saddle is not in a reasonable position and is the cause of knee pain. Seat posts come in a variety of configurations, such as a large amount of set back so the saddle can be moved way aft, or with no set back at all. It may be you need a more experienced bike fitter. Some physiotherapists do bike fitting, something to look into. And at worst, you might need a custom bike and there are plenty of people who build bikes.
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Old 01-06-20, 12:00 PM
  #3  
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Originally Posted by tedlemme View Post
Hi all,

I'm sadly at the point of considering that I might just not be able to ride a road bike anymore. As background: Years ago, I used to race in college, and since then, I've been off-and-on over the years between military deployments and just exploring other exercise options (running, CrossFit, karate, and a few others).

Anyway, I got back to riding last summer and got a new bike. A great bike, actually! But bike fitting and me have never really "gotten along" too well. The issue is that my leg/torso ration is WAAAAYYYYY weird. As in, I looked at a chart of thousands height/inseam ratios and I'm the most statistical extreme outlier on that chart. By the numbers: I'm 5'9" tall, and I have an inseam of 36.25". By the population male average, I should either have an inseam of 31" or I should be 6'7" tall. I've been told that for my inseam, I probably should have a 60-62 cm frame, but for my torso length, I should probably have a 52 cm frame. Good luck finding enough micro-adjustments to bridge that gap!

So, I get that fitting me to a bike is an extreme challenge. I've worked with the local bike shop and the guys there have done about the best they can: I've got an extra-long seat post pulled almost to make extension, with a stem that's about 1.5" long with a 20-degree rise. 56cm frame, otherwise the reach would just be way too much. As it is now, my handlebars are something like 6" below the top of my saddle.

I'm not sure what anyone on here might be able to suggest, so I'm really fishing. But I've always loved cycling, and I'd really not like to give it up. It's an important part of my exercise routine (weightlifting, yoga, cycling), and obviously you all know how great of a fun exercise it is. But I can't keep on with painful knees. I'll be 42 in a couple months, and I shouldn't feel like I'm 72. Unfortunately, barbell squats don't make my knees hurt, but 45 minutes on my bike does. Apparently.

Is it possible that there are some of us out here who just can't be properly fitted on road bikes with modern geometries? Or maybe I'm just at an age where things are too tight and brittle that I just can't get away any longer with a bike that's fitted "as close as possible."

So, anyway, if anyone out there might have any ideas that I haven't thought of, even outside the box, I'd love to hear it. Thanks,
1) A 6'' saddle to bar drop is a lot. How's your back after a long run?
2) Just like anything else, there is always the exception to the rule. I fear that that you might be that exception. Bikes are manufactured in a few sizes that suits most body types, but not all of them. An alternative would be to get yourself a custom built bike. Of course, more expensive, but worth it on the long run. Did you consider? If you can't afford it, you will unfortunately need to work with the bike's limit, and select a size that'll be as close to your optimal specs as possible.
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Old 01-06-20, 02:57 PM
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Knee pain has nothing to do with your odd dimensions. Or with saddle to bar drop. Similarly, your back has nothing to do with knee pain. Two things cause bike knee pain: Incorrect fit and leg muscle imbalance. Incorrect fit causing knee pain also has nothing to do with saddle fore-aft position. Were that not true, recumbent riders would all have sore knees and no one could ride a feet forward comfort bike. So where exactly is the knee pain? What shoes and pedals are you using? Do your knees always track exactly over your feet as you pedal, no wobbling? Do you pronate or supinate, toe in or out while walking? Something else is going on.

That said, of course a custom bike would be better as long as it were built by a builder who understands how to build an efficient road bike. But probably wouldn't help your knee pain, though it might improve your bike handling, general comfort, and safety. New uncut fork would be a good stopgap between now and a custom bike.
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Old 01-11-20, 09:03 PM
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A saddle that's too far forward could cause knee pain. A smaller frame often has a steeper seat tube angle, and since your legs are so long, you'll likely need a fairly large setback. (I have about a 36" inseam, tip of saddle is 9 cm behind BB, which places my knee a few mm behind the pedal spindle.) Check to see if your knee is at least in line with the pedal spindle, if not a bit behind it.
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Old 01-12-20, 02:06 AM
  #6  
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If you can do barbell squats and they don't bother your knees but the bike does than you can be 90 percent sure your knees are OK but your bike fit is not.

With your measurements, a custom-built bike MAY be your only solution. I know of one person with similar all legs and a short torso and that is what he had to do. (I don't know about his arm length.)

Good luck on being able to modify a stock production bike to meet your needs and knees.

Last edited by BengalCat; 01-13-20 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 01-13-20, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by BengalCat View Post
If you can do barbell squats and they don't bother your knees but the bike does than you can be 90 percent sure your knees oar OK but your bike fit is not.

With your measurements, a custom-built bike MAY be your only solution. I know of one person with similar all legs and a short torso and that is what he had to do. (I don't know about his arm length.)

Good luck on being able to modify a stock production bike to meet your needs and knees.
The OP hasn't answered my question about the location of the knee pain. Thus all this discussion is academic. Without knowing that, it's impossible to give sensible advice.
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