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I recently bought my first road bike, a secondhand 2014 Specialized Allez. I've so far cycled roughly 250km over the last 4 weeks. I'm 195cm, 87kg. The frame is a 58cm.

I'm struggling to determine whether the very dull ache I have in my knees is due to my body adapting to the new motion of cycling, or if there is an inherent problem with my riding position. I had previously not been exercising regularly.

On a typical ride, I cycle around 30-40km at around 25km/h.

I know cycling should not cause pain, which could indicate a poor fit. However, the feeling I have in my knee is less of a pain, and more of a light dull ache.

Should I find time to have my bike fitted or ride it out (see what I did there?) and wait for my legs to strengthen? I have followed a broad fitting guide online previously.

  • This is actually very similar to my own recent experience. Got a new road bike (so far daily bike commutes and some enduro/MTB) and I also experienced some aches in my knees. Interested to see what answers will roll in here. – fgysin reinstate Monica Aug 18 '16 at 13:35
  • Beware of sports injuries, especially the meniscus of the knee are not renewable. It is important to NOT putting pressure on your knee : e.g. standup ridding on slope, or any "bicycle pedal force push" that will grind the meniscus. – mootmoot Aug 18 '16 at 13:53
  • consider en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athletic_taping . I.e. tape the surrounded muscle to prevent pressure build on the knee. – mootmoot Aug 18 '16 at 16:06
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One simple rule of thumb stated before in this Q/A:

  • If your knee hurts in front, your seat is too far forward.
  • If your knee hurts in the back, your seat is to far backward.

Remember that small changes of just a millimeter or two can make a big difference. So make small adjustments and try them out for a bit before adjusting again.

While none of these are your exact question, we have frequently discussed knee pain here, with responses about both bike fit and exercises that can be used to stretch and strengthen the connective tissue. You might want to check out the following questions:

How to adjust seat saddle and saddle position for knee pain?

How to avoid knee pain when cycling

What are some good exercises to prevent knee pain?

3

The two most common mistakes of novice cyclists are having the seat too low, and cycling in too difficult a gear. Both are apt to produce knee pain.

The seat should be high enough that your knee is almost straight at the bottom of the pedal stroke (though not so high that you must rock back and forth in the saddle to pedal).

You should choose a gear that lets you maintain at least 60 revolutions per minute (one turn a second) on the pedals (this rate is known as "cadence"), and ideally 80 RPM or so. Or another rule of thumb is to get at least one and preferably two turns of the crank for each breath you take.

  • Yea but since the having seat too low got so widespread, the rebound effect makes that many other that think they are doing it well have it adjusted way too high :) – gaurwraith Aug 18 '16 at 19:17
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Well, if you did your own preliminar fit, it is time to tweak it based on how you feel. You don't mention if you are using clipless pedals, but if you do, those can be a source of knee problems even when the rest of elements are roughly well fitted. From experience, I have noticed that people doing their own fit tend to have the seatpost a tad high, because this is something that gets remarked a lot and in making sure it is high enough we usually overdo it, if just for a little.

So, a centimetre or even less of adjustment of the seat height or sliding it forward or backwards in the rail, can make the difference between pain / discomfort or a pain free ride.

Go for a ride with your tools and see how slight modifications affect your riding, but it is an ongoing experience, since even with a professional fit you may need tweaking, more so with your own fit. I kind of start listening to my body and have changed my cleat position like 6 or 7 times in a year, always getting a bit better. Saddle tilt is also something to pay attention to. All in all, if you don't want to go for a pro fitting session, experiment and note down what your body says in order to make or keep changes. Again, even a slightest tune up can make up for a change you wouldn't imagine.

Remember that easier gearing is also easier on the knees, pedalling cadences of around 90 are recommended, and having good support muscles will also help your knee so work them a bit, like walking upstairs, riding other bikes without cleats.. there are many exercises for strengthening the knee area, even dreaded squats.

Experiment, don't take the first fit as the definitive fit !

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I had this when I first started last year. I solved it by using easier gears and pedalling faster and raising the seat just a bit. Mostly the easier gears and faster pedalling did the trick I think.

I also took a few days rest in between until the ache had gone. Once I started pedalling faster and got used to it everything felt good.

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