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Oh, So Interesting!
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Saddle position, foot position and float are the differences... Need to lower the saddle a bit so it's the same as before. Make sure you're precise about foot position and that your legs go straight up and down as you pedal. Flats have some float but the resistance to twisting increases as the angle increases, which I like as it can be used for cornering. But the big downside of flats is it doesn't put your foot in exactly the same spot every time. The downside of clips is getting in quickly on tech downhills, occasionally being unable to unclip at just the wrong time. Both are great but I'm 100% flat pedals and Freerider Pro shoes. Works so well both on and off the bike.

I think your body will adapt if you're conscious about foot placement and form... otoh when you've used the same thing for years it can be tough to change it. When I first started riding DH, previously I rode with the saddle in a fixed position all of the time. We never lowered them, and it felt so weird riding with my saddle down 1st day at Keystone Bike Park. Of course my "friends" took me on Cowboy Up for my 1st ever DH run, lol... But anyways, it doesn't mean I should have gave up and rode DH saddle-up, and similarly I wouldn't give up on flats unless it's causing too many issues. You don't want to f#$3k up knees!
 

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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.
But everyone is different. He went from a pedal with a ton of float to one without.
As I said in my post I definitely felt a difference going from ATACs to flats and back to ATACs. Yes I adjusted my saddle as needed.
 

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OOOOOOOh Gee Are Eee
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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.
Indeed, I'm pretty skeptical that float is the entire thing here as well. I switch back and forth and never really have issues. I have on the other hand had knee pain which didn't recur after adjusting seat height.
 

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always licking the glass
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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.
Oh man that sucks. Here in Denver there’s a couple of PTs who do bike fits. I would steer you that direction, since PTs work on corrective movements for fixing pain.

I’ve had crappy fitters before. I’m sorry—that sucks :(

Definitely check your saddle height and you may need to slide the saddle position.

Biggest things to watch for: do not hyperextend your knee in the bottom foot position, and don’t have yourself without any extension either.

The reason I suggested a PT or doc is you may have something going on that none of us should or can diagnose over the internet.

With my saddle too low, i really feel it in my calves and in the front of my knees. If it’s too high, i can feel it because it hurts my hips from hyperextending.
 

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But everyone is different. He went from a pedal with a ton of float to one without.
As I said in my post I definitely felt a difference going from ATACs to flats and back to ATACs. Yes I adjusted my saddle as needed.
^Same here^
Atacs and even crankbros have much more float and side to side play than Shimano clipless.

With 5.10 Impacts Highs I got knee pain, low Impact lessen it but going to Spitfires which was like riding in moccasins eliminated my pain. Now a days on pedally rides I wear regular Freeriders. On shuttle/park days I used to go with the Impacts but with the newer wide pedals I prefer the feedback I get from the thinner shoes.

@Critter Cameraman what is your pedal / shoe combo? You could try shorter pins, thinner or less grippy shoes to give you more float and yes, less grip.
 

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furker
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It isn't just the float, it is also the lateral slide with Time pedals that you are probably missing. Float and latereral slide automatically repositions your feet like the pictures in diamonback's post twice per crank rotation.

At the the top of the pedal stroke your foot is angled like the first picture.
At the bottom of the pedal stroke your foot is angled like the second picture.

As you spin your foot it is actually naturally rotating both ways every pedal stroke. Lay on your back and "bicycle" your legs like you are pedaling. If you watch your feet closely, as you get to full extension they will naturally rotate.

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.
View attachment 1920622
vs.
View attachment 1920623
it also may just be that you aren't used to wearing flats.
 

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furker
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How much your foot rotates every pedal stroke depends upon how your knee joints are naturally built. That will change how sensitive your knees are to float and lateral slide. For example, higher q-angle will increase the natural rotation, along with other factors. You may be more sensitive than other folks. Time pedals are super kind on knee joints.

Cross training can also help with knee stresses. The pain could be greatly decreased with increasing knee strength and flexibility in more ranges of motion than your knee experiences just cycling.

A good test would be to go back to your Time pedals for a few weeks and stick to easier trails where you are comfortable clicking out and see if your knee pain immediately goes away. If that is the issue, the results should be pretty immediate and obvious.

The elephant in the room is that you are crashing a lot after recovering for a couple of years from a neck injury. Depending on the severity of the original neck injury, it might be worth looking into treating any possible underlying neck problem that may be contributing to balance problems and all the crashing? Neck injuries can be crazy weird. How is your balance off the bike? Sometimes people have to relearn/retrain their body balance after neck injuries. There are PT drills that can really help with retraining your body, and the results can be pretty impressive in a matter of months.

#not a doctor, don't listen to me, talk to a professional who knows what they are talking about.
 

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Same exact thing happened to me. I had time pedals that I had on maximum tightness and the cleats backward. Had a bad wreck where one leg did not release and hurt my hip. Swapped to flats and now my knee hurts. It is a bummer. If my hip heals I might go back to times but I will put release pressure lower and cleats back to easy release as well. Years ago I got tired of accidentally unclipping in rough stuff but I think I am past that now. Too old, if it unclips and I don't clean something oh well :)
 

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Oh man that sucks. Here in Denver there’s a couple of PTs who do bike fits. I would steer you that direction, since PTs work on corrective movements for fixing pain.

I’ve had crappy fitters before. I’m sorry—that sucks :(

Definitely check your saddle height and you may need to slide the saddle position.

Biggest things to watch for: do not hyperextend your knee in the bottom foot position, and don’t have yourself without any extension either.

The reason I suggested a PT or doc is you may have something going on that none of us should or can diagnose over the internet.

With my saddle too low, i really feel it in my calves and in the front of my knees. If it’s too high, i can feel it because it hurts my hips from hyperextending.


Are those PT's also riders who specialize in bike fits? I'd see a PT for pain and physical therapy but unless they were expert bike fitters too I wouldn't let them adjust my saddle height.

Personally I've found that I can tolerate fairly significant seat height changes and experience no knee pain. It's hard for me to imagine that the op's pain is related to a seat height change due to going from clipless to flats.
 

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Saddle too high usually causes pain behind the knee due to hyperextending the knee joint at full pedal extension.
 

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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.
There are definitely bad fitters. There are certifications and industry training, but they're not standardized and they're not necessarily required to call yourself a bike fitter. Some of them are also gimmicky and specific to some fancy equipment, but don't necessarily mean you're good at what you do. The more specific and difficult your problem, the more skilled a bike fitter you need. I bought my road bike from a shop that included professional fitting services. The guy who did it wasn't all that highly trained, though he did learn from a guy who was a very good fitter. I wasn't necessarily a difficult fit, but he did improve my bike setup for me.

OP here, with these issues, I would say would present a bigger challenge to a fitter.

I would adjust saddle height as necessary as a first step, but acknowledging that what's going on is probably a foot position/movement issue. Platform pedals have the "great" feature of allowing both more and less foot movement than clipless pedals. When you are placing your foot on the pedal, you have a MUCH larger range of possible foot positions. You can pretty much put your foot on the pedal however you want. But once it's there, it doesn't move at all. So if you place it wrong (for your body), then it's going to be more difficult to adjust your foot position to address that.

IMO, the biggest advantage of clipless pedals is that you get your foot in the same position every time without thinking about it as much. On platforms, you have to think and train yourself to get your foot in close to the same position, but you'll never have quite the same level of precision you get from clipless pedals.

I'm not particularly sensitive to the float a pedal allows (or not) once you're on it, but I could definitely see some people being more sensitive to that than others. Which is funny, because I have lingering knee issues that go back more than half of my life from playing soccer, and which forced me to stop playing soccer. The PT I had when the problems were first diagnosed was certain that riding bikes would hurt my knees more. But it didn't. I'm definitely thankful for that.

What does bother my knees some is when I've been inactive for awhile and then start to increase my activity levels. Doesn't seem to matter what exactly I'm doing, whether it's biking, hiking, running, if I'm moving my knees, they'll be sore for a bit. But the more I move them, the less pain I have. I will also say that it seems that pushing big gears bothers my knees regardless of which pedals I'm using. That has forced me to spin more, which isn't a problem.
 

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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.
Actually, isn’t he, in effect, raising the seat height by lowering the foot closer to the pedal and therefore increasing the distance between the pedal and the seat. If so, than wouldn’t lowering the seat height a few millimeters (up to 10, as you say) be the correction to try?
I actually agree with others though that your foot position might be incorrect becaise you’re not “locked in” and in consciously shifting your foot to the wrong position. If the first tip doesn’t help, I’d also recommend getting fitted.
 

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I was going to suggest seat height has that is a common reason for patella tendon soreness.

Looks like many others have already indicated why -so I'll just add in that for reasons above, play with your seat height.

My road bike was equipped with clipless. When I wore normal shoes while riding around in the street after maintenance.....the reach (to the pedal) was noticeably different.

Make small adjustments and after a series of short rides you should have it dialed in. If you are too impatient, adjust the seat height during a ride but with that, you should take measurements so you know where you started after 7 adjustments in one ride looking for the sweet spot. That's difficult to accomplish on a single ride as conditions continually change your riding position.

I do not think float has anything to do with what you are talking about since it is easy to move your foot around during a ride unlike clipless where you are literally in the same position the whole ride.
 

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I do not think float has anything to do with what you are talking about since it is easy to move your foot around during a ride unlike clipless where you are literally in the same position the whole ride.
Riding my platforms (OneUps) with dotties my feet don't move at all.. especially compared to the speedplays on my road bike (or even the SPDs on other mountain bikes). They're stuck, unless I consciously move them, which requires lifting .. there is no just shifting.
 

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I agree that the foot is pretty well locked with our flats.... but we have the ability to constantly move it.
Maybe I'm just weird, but if I told you that my feet were in the same position when I returned the the parking lot 2 hours later, I would be a bold faced liar. MY feet are moving around all the time because I sit/stand/dab or lean to a side with one leg for balance. Chances of the foot going back to the same place is minimal.

To me, that means that I'm not acting robotic. I was a robot on my road bike when I'd do the same exact circle for the duration of my ride.

Flats offer too much freedom, in my opinion to say the rider is in the wrong foot/pedal position.
 

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Disgruntled Peccary
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That's true. But think of it this way, your knees are not a perfectly shaped joint for spinning in a circle. Which is why most clipless systems have float built into them. When you're in that cycle, you're placing stresses on the tendons and ligaments in the knee. Your knees may not notice, on long rides mine do. Some are likely much more sensitive than mine are.
 

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I do not think float has anything to do with what you are talking about since it is easy to move your foot around during a ride unlike clipless where you are literally in the same position the whole ride.


But flats don't allow your foot to float throughout the pedal stroke like clipless can, with a good sticky flat you're pretty much locked into wherever you step on the pedal.

I'm guessing that might be more of an issue for the op than the slight seat height variance but that's just a guess. Very likely it's neither.
 
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