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GALATIANS 2:20
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been off the bike for a few years due to shoulder, neck injury. Got back on and was riding hard with my SIDI shoes and Time ATAC pedals both of which I have always loved. Everything going great and feeling great for a few months till I started trying to do more technical stuff that was pretty scary and I just couldn't clip out fast enough to have the confidence to do some of the gnarly technical stuff, sooooo I thought I will switch to a set of flat Chesters while I get my technical skills/confidence back so I can just bail off easy. Anyhoo... that is not for discussion here, what is is that my knees expecially the front kneecap area hurts badly now that I am riding flats... any ideas why? It seems like it would be the other way around if I was riding clipless and my cleats weren't set right or something, but why would my knees hurt with flats? I am dumbfounded and about to say screwit and put my TIME ATAC pedals back on the bike... but sheeeeeeit am I crashing alot right now and would prefer to keep the flats for a few more months... all advice welcome! Thanks!
 

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It seems that maybe the clipless pedals were set up perfectly, and your flats have too much leeway, leading to too much time spent pedaling with your foot on the pedals any which way instead of in the optimal position.

Can you adjust the release tension on your clipless?

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Maybe you are not getting the float you had with the clipless? I had the same issue riding a friend's bike. He has aggressive flats and I ride speed play frogs on my bikes because they give a lot of float for your knee and ankle to move through the pedal stroke. I kept having to pick my feet off the pedals and move them into a different position but it didn't help.
 

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I agree with the others. Flats don't have an float. Your foot is ending up in a position that is causing the knee pain.

What may help, is being more conscious of your foot position on the pedal, picking your foot up to disengage the spikes, and moving your foot into a better position, and then reengage the pedal.

For me I find that I tend to point my toes out/heels in. I rub the crank arm a lot with the inside of my foot. The crank arms are polished shiny. When I do this my knee tends to push to the outside. This over a lot of riding will cause my knee to hurt. So I started trying to be really councious of my heel position. I focus on having my heel further outboard than my toe. It's probably more straight back toe to heel, with maybe the heel just a tad bit further outboard. This brings the my knee inboard quite a bit. This helped reduce my knee pain. YMMV. On my clipless pedals this is very easy to do. just twist the heel out a bit. I have a lot of float as I am running egg beaters with very worn in cleats. When I run my flat pedals - also Chesters - I have to really pick the foot up off the pedal to make a similar adjustment.

Hope you figure it out.
 

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always licking the glass
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Go get a professional fit. This way they can see what’s going on.

Clipless limit your foot movement, so clear placement is key. When i ran clipless, I had to have them further back toward the arch and at an angle since my feet pronate so it wouldn’t hurt my knee. I also had to change my saddle height and position depending on which pedal type I was running.

Flats allow you to pick up and place your foot wherever you want, so even the spiky pedals with sticky shoes aren’t as locked into a position the way clipless pedals are.

If that doesn’t work, go see a doctor or PT and have your knees checked out.
 

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Stack height between clipless and flats is different. With clipless you have the thickness of the sole of the shoe plus the added height of the cleat. When you switched to flats you reduced your stack height in effect lowering your saddle height which typically causes pain in the front of the kneecap. I know it might not seem like much but a few millimeters (possibly as much as ten with cleats) can be an issue especially for pedaling seated for long periods of time. Try raising your saddle a few millimeters at a time and see if that helps.
 

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Keep things simple
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@stripes or anyone. The professional fit. Tried it. My hopes for success were squashed. After my fitting, I ended up better off fixing my knee/fit issues by trial and error. Not optimal and by no means my first choice.

Is there some sort of accredited process to be a bike fitter? I think there are bona fides out there, but scarce.
 

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I think the problem is your seat height. If you have decent flats then there is now a bigger distance from your seat to where your foot is on top of the pedal. Also there is a tendency to have your foot sit farther forward on the pedal since having your pedal actually under your instep instead of the ball of your foot probably works better with platforms. Having you foot farther forward also increases the distance between the seat and where your foot ends up. So your saddle is now a little too high, which can cause various pain very quickly. Lower your seat 10mm and see what that does. If it helps then you could see about easing it back up.
 

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Stack height between clipless and flats is different. With clipless you have the thickness of the sole of the shoe plus the added height of the cleat. When you switched to flats you reduced your stack height in effect lowering your saddle height which typically causes pain in the front of the kneecap. I know it might not seem like much but a few millimeters (possibly as much as ten with cleats) can be an issue especially for pedaling seated for long periods of time. Try raising your saddle a few millimeters at a time and see if that helps.
This. I switched from clips to flats recently and it took me awhile to figure this out. I kept my seat height the same after the switch assuming there wouldn't be much difference. Was getting knee pain and sucking on the uphills. Raised my seat a few mm and it feels like a whole different world. When I think about it it makes sense - the thicker sole of the shoe and thicker pedal requires raising the seat.

Saddle too high usually causes calf or hip pain. Saddle too low causes knee pain.
 

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Murica Man
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MAKE SURE your feet are pointed straight. i see people riding with their toes point out and their heels on the crank arms like @Krapper2 mentioned. it is very uncomfortable and limits your ability to do stuff.
1920622

vs.
1920623

it also may just be that you aren't used to wearing flats.
 

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Look at your seat height. Do you need to adjust it for the pedal change?
My pedaling seat height needs to be exact or my knees start blowing out.

Also on flats your foot sits further forward on the pedal. This could be part of the issue too.
 

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I had same issue... knee pain on flats, fine on clipless (Time pedals with good float!). I was using Five10 shoes with SUPER sticky soles. I switched to Shimano shoes with Michelin soles that were NOT as sticky and knee pain went away. Now I primarily ride flats on my trail bike.

What shoes are you using?

I agree with the others. Flats don't have an float. Your foot is ending up in a position that is causing the knee pain.

What may help, is being more conscious of your foot position on the pedal, picking your foot up to disengage the spikes, and moving your foot into a better position, and then reengage the pedal.

For me I find that I tend to point my toes out/heels in. I rub the crank arm a lot with the inside of my foot. The crank arms are polished shiny. When I do this my knee tends to push to the outside. This over a lot of riding will cause my knee to hurt. So I started trying to be really councious of my heel position. I focus on having my heel further outboard than my toe. It's probably more straight back toe to heel, with maybe the heel just a tad bit further outboard. This brings the my knee inboard quite a bit. This helped reduce my knee pain. YMMV. On my clipless pedals this is very easy to do. just twist the heel out a bit. I have a lot of float as I am running egg beaters with very worn in cleats. When I run my flat pedals - also Chesters - I have to really pick the foot up off the pedal to make a similar adjustment.

Hope you figure it out.
 

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CEO Product Failure
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99% certain its a seat height, foot position issue. Every pedal / shoe combo has the potential raise/lower your ride height incrementally. Add to that equation the fore/aft position of your foot (via cleat position) and the repetitive nature of pedaling. A fit by a professional is the best way to solve this.

On the same bike, you will have a different saddle height with your Sidis/ATAC than you would with flats/other shoes.
 

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GALATIANS 2:20
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
WOW, I LOVE ALL of YOU! Great info! I honestly thought I was going insane or body was just falling apart and was really feeling low about this. I spent almost a year building a vintage dream bike and have been really excited about getting good again and then this... y'all have given me hope and alot of homework to do! Thank You! I'll let you know how it all turns out. I am having some major issues since COVID knocked me down for 6 weeks and just really want to get rolling! Thanks!
 

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Part of it is the float that Times have.

I rode ATACs for years. Went back to flats a few years ago because I noticed my technique slipping. With Crampons and 5/10s shoes I'm basically glued to the pedal, no float and knees have started developing pain.

I'm back on ATACs. love the float.
 

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OOOOOOOh Gee Are Eee
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I honestly thought I was going insane or body was just falling apart and was really feeling low about this.
It's likely this plus some combination of the above.

Usually for me, knee pain is due to seat height and the comments about the pedals changing the distance between your extended leg and your seat are spot on.
 

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Self Appointed Judge&Jury
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Maybe you are not getting the float you had with the clipless? I had the same issue riding a friend's bike. He has aggressive flats and I ride speed play frogs on my bikes because they give a lot of float for your knee and ankle to move through the pedal stroke. I kept having to pick my feet off the pedals and move them into a different position but it didn't help.
I’m not even going to read any further. This is what’s going on. After all, Time ATACS have the most float out of all clipless pedals. With flats [tooth flats] your foot is planted in a position that you can’t move while in all situations. This add’s stress to body parts [the knees] that are not meant to be restricted with all movements. With float in a clipless pedal [which Time ATACS provide] you have some leeway with each crank stroke or stationary position. It is a minuscule movement but it does make a BIG difference with how the knee handles impact.

Same reason football players playing on fake turf have knee issues. There’s no impact leeway [which acts as a shock absorber for the knees]. Put them on natural grass / turf where there’s some shock absorbing qualities and there’s be farrrrr less knee problems.

Float in a clipless pedal is like suspension. It takes up the hard hits, with knees twisting just a little upon all impacts, it makes a big difference.
 

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This happens because you put more downforce on your pedals as you can no longer pull the other pedal up. The higher downforce will cause your knee cap to rise and put more pressure on the lower ligament. The more your leg is bent, the worse the effect. This higher pressure on your ligament can cause it to become inflamed. That's when you feel the pain. To reduce this effect you need to raise your seat in order for your legs not too bend as much. However, very high seats can also cause accidents on very technical terrain. Perhaps get a dropper post so you can ride at the highest position and then just drop it for technical bits.
 

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BOOM goes the dynamite!
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I’m not even going to read any further. This is what’s going on. After all, Time ATACS have the most float out of all clipless pedals. With flats [tooth flats] your foot is planted in a position that you can’t move while in all situations. This add’s stress to body parts [the knees] that are not meant to be restricted with all movements. With float in a clipless pedal [which Time ATACS provide] you have some leeway with each crank stroke or stationary position. It is a minuscule movement but it does make a BIG difference with how the knee handles impact.

Same reason football players playing on fake turf have knee issues. There’s no impact leeway [which acts as a shock absorber for the knees]. Put them on natural grass / turf where there’s some shock absorbing qualities and there’s be farrrrr less knee problems.

Float in a clipless pedal is like suspension. It takes up the hard hits, with knees twisting just a little upon all impacts, it makes a big difference.
This is interesting and probably part of the equation, but changing pedal/shoe combo affecting the saddle height shouldn't be ignored. A lot of us ride flats all day long without knee issues. OP should be able to do so also.
 
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