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Life's a Garden, dig it!
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know this has been bandied about forever, but what have you all noticed about your knees?

I've found that riding SS not only does NOT "bother" my knees, but actually has lessened any knee issues I previously had. My experience is that riding SS has actually strengthened them. Are there any studies out there to either prove the harm, or disprove the myth?

I ask because, I recently was directed to the rules at NICA which disallows singlespeeds, by rule.

NICA Rule #4.2 actually states:

"Pushing big gears has been shown to be detrimental to the joints
(specifically the knees) of young student-athletes. Bikes must have
multiple gears including at least five cogs in the rear."

It's "been shown". Really? I want to see this study.
 

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I can see it causing some issues with the young ones since their muscles and joints are still growing and trying to work out their natural bio-mechanics. I think, but don't really know, but would assume (heh) if you "over strengthen" certain muscles too soon it can change direction of joint movement and put strain on soft tissues that would otherwise not take that path during natural development. But that's just my thought on to why they have such rules for youngsters. I have been SS for a long while but I didn't start till I was like 26 years old and it's true what you say that I find it helps to ride single speed my legs feel more strong but by the time I started my body had already worked out its most efficient paths of movement.
 

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I don't think it's a myth, my knees usually don't bother me but I do have issues with them from time to time and when I do pushing bigger gears is definitely worse.

It makes sense to me that young riders in the developmental stages or just new riders in general that haven't yet built up their muscles that support the knees and other joints would be more prone to damaging them by pushing bigger gears.
 

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Life's a Garden, dig it!
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I rode single speed bikes my entire childhood and never damaged my knees. Believe it or not, I rode the same park I ride today, way back when I was in the 4th grade. 20 inch tires, one gear. Somehow, I survived.

Color me skeptical.

Technique is everything for SS.
 

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i think knee pain on a bike generally comes from bad setup or grinding in too big a gear sitting down. i know many present former singlespeeders and none complain of knee issues.
 

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Yeah different strokes for different folks, not everyone is built the same, or grow the same, or pedal the same, or talk the same. I think when you put it like that I think the nica rules kind of try to cover the masses in order to protect these kids who are learning to push their limits in competition. I rode the crap out of my little bmx bike growing up but I guess I never really tried to climb any mountains with it. It was mostly urban stuff and in and out of irrigation ditches.
 

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Up In Smoke
Dirt Roadë
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Never any pain on a single speed MTB but when I would ride a fixed road bike I did notice a bit of ache most likely from using the cranks to brake since I would ride without brakes. I've since sold the fixie.
 

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HA! But the footballz is perfectly okay for the adolescents? :skep:
Absolutely not but those types of sports were deeply ingrained into our culture before much understanding or cautions were taken to protect the kids development. Even still football and other like sports are way behind in Rules and safety equipment needed to protect the kids. Cycling sports are fairly new to our elementary, middle and high school sports programs and they already have a great understanding of what and what is not good for young athletes, or maybe you can call it a better safe than sorry approach?
 

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SS Pusher Man
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Lots of long SS miles......lots of big ascent in those SS miles.....

Only time my knees ever give me an issue is when I try to sit and grind away a climb on too big of a gear.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
i think knee pain on a bike generally comes from bad setup or grinding in too big a gear sitting down. i know many present former singlespeeders and none complain of knee issues.
That's my take as well. There's so much more at work here such that it seems pretty irresponsible for NICA to just put out a blanket statement without understanding the issues that factor into knee injuries.

On the other hand, I suppose that if you're going to err, err to the side of caution.

To me, if they really wanted their athletes to get stronger/fitter, I can think of almost no better way than to train and/or race SS.
 

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The rule in the OP mentioned is relative to kids... that's what we are talking about right? if we are talking about grown ass adults than yeah I have never had any knee issues even when riding in the saddle pushing a big gear. But again I have been doing it only since the ripe young age of 26 I am 38 now and still no issues. I still don't think that rule should be discredited as a myth because its meant as a precautionary rule for kids who are still growing.
 

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Cycologist
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Never any pain on a single speed MTB but when I would ride a fixed road bike I did notice a bit of ache most likely from using the cranks to brake since I would ride without brakes. I've since sold the fixie.
I've got a fixed gear but it has brakes. I've always somehow felt that using the cranks to brake wasn't a good idea for my knees, though I'm really not sure about that. I don't know that single speeding is any worse for your knees than any other exercise that requires your legs pushing. I would think the impact of running would be worse (which I also do).
 

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SS Pusher Man
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Jr’s have had gear restrictions for quite some time.

Look into track racing, the cannot exceed 90 or 100 inch gears under 16 years old.

Road racing up to certain age they aren’t allowed to run the traditional 53/39 rings....they maxed out at 50t ring.
 

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Jr’s have had gear restrictions for quite some time.

Look into track racing, the cannot exceed 90 or 100 inch gears under 16 years old.

Road racing up to certain age they aren’t allowed to run the traditional 53/39 rings....they maxed out at 50t ring.


Part of the reason for that is to level the playing field, cyclists at that age can be at very different levels of development and without gearing restrictions some more mature riders could just motor away from everyone else.

I think that knee pain from pushing big gears is a reality for some and no issue for others. Just because some have no problems with it does not make it a myth.
 

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Life's a Garden, dig it!
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Jr’s have had gear restrictions for quite some time.

Look into track racing, the cannot exceed 90 or 100 inch gears under 16 years old.

Road racing up to certain age they aren’t allowed to run the traditional 53/39 rings....they maxed out at 50t ring.
I do understand for seated riding. Offroad (especially climbing) SS is so technique driven though that I think they're missing out on some awesome training opportunities (both mental and physical).
 

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Never any pain on a single speed MTB but when I would ride a fixed road bike I did notice a bit of ache most likely from using the cranks to brake since I would ride without brakes. I've since sold the fixie.


Riding a fixed gear around town for a few months messed up my knees pretty bad. Lots of people have no problem with it but for me a fixed gear bike is for velodromes only.
 

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Like many organizations NICA is imperfect. I might suggest in this case if we "read between the lines" this rule could be about things other than just knee health.

One possibility that aligns with what I have seen on rare occasion is a kid participating in organized events on a clunky, junky, single speed department store bike. The subtle hint the rule provides is, there is a minimum level of equipment to prevent injury. If there is a rule in place against SS then the conversation about quality vs money vs bike shaped objects doesn't have to be all written out in a rule. The rule states we must find a way to get kids on at least a 5 speed bike, and that gets us past a bunch of hurdles.

I've probably almost ridden the circumference of the earth on SS bikes by now and my knees are fine, and that includes many years on the crappy department store bikes I rode as a kid. It is a data point of one.

Like others, I'd like to see the data on this "Pushing big gears has been shown to be detrimental to the joints (specifically the knees) of young student-athletes". I suspect its origins are just as anecdotal as my one data point. On the other hand I think the NICA rule is for the best. I don't see a rule that a young rider has to shift. They can use one speed all they want if they want to try that approach.
 

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Life's a Garden, dig it!
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Like many organizations NICA is imperfect. I might suggest in this case if we "read between the lines" this rule could be about things other than just knee health.

One possibility that aligns with what I have seen on rare occasion is a kid participating in organized events on a clunky, junky, single speed department store bike. The subtle hint the rule provides is, there is a minimum level of equipment to prevent injury. If there is a rule in place against SS then the conversation about quality vs money vs bike shaped objects doesn't have to be all written out in a rule. The rule states we must find a way to get kids on at least a 5 speed bike, and that gets us past a bunch of hurdles.

I've probably almost ridden the circumference of the earth on SS bikes by now and my knees are fine, and that includes many years on the crappy department store bikes I rode as a kid. It is a data point of one.

Like others, I'd like to see the data on this "Pushing big gears has been shown to be detrimental to the joints (specifically the knees) of young student-athletes". I suspect its origins are just as anecdotal as my one data point. On the other hand I think the NICA rule is for the best. I don't see a rule that a young rider has to shift. They can use one speed all they want if they want to try that approach.
These are the things that make the most sense to me, as well. As I said earlier too, if you're going to make a mistake, let it be to the side of caution/safety.
 

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If you get off and walk when you're down at low walking speed, your knees are safe IMO.

And I've been doing this a long long time...
 
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