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I'm a 65-year-old male. And I have osteoarthritis in both my knee joints.

I've Fuji Absolute 1.9D bike and I use it every day for one hour for my morning exercise.

I don’t use it to go places.

  1. When riding on a level road, what is the best gear combination for me ?

2:6 (front gear 2 and back gear 6)

or

3:8

  1. Why?

  2. Will 3:8 combination, harm my knee joints?

As you know, 3:8 combination increases the tension and reduces the speed while 2:6 combination does the reverse.

Thank you for your help.

  • 2
    Especially with knee problems you need to keep your cadence up vs applying a lot of force with your legs at a lower cadence. The precise gear ratio to use depends on your condition and the condition of the road. – Daniel R Hicks Nov 2 '16 at 11:31
  • Completely agree here, you want to keep the pressure down and the cadence up.. it's more efficient anyway and moves the strain from your legs more to your lungs! I don't know how fit you are so you might want to chat with your GP (doctor) first before smashing it. – John Hunt Nov 2 '16 at 11:41
  • Thank you, Daniel Hicks andn John Hunt. Followng your advice, I will go for a easy gear ratio. Thanks again. By the way, physically I'm fit as a fiddle. – Ali Nov 2 '16 at 12:18
  • BTW, when discussing gear ratios, the important points are the number of teeth on the two cogs being used, plus the rear wheel diameter. Which precise gear you are in, in terms of, say, derailer position number 3 on a 6-cog cluster is not really relevant, since clusters (and front cogs) vary as to the number of teeth for a specific derailer position. – Daniel R Hicks Nov 2 '16 at 16:28
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Cycling is generally considered a great exercise for someone with knee problems or osteoarthritis in the knee joints because it doesn't jar the joint like some other activities. But like your question suggests there are some concerns. At a lower cadence (60-75) and higher gear inches your knee will flex fewer times, but at a higher level of stress on the joint and the muscles and tendons that surround it. Switching to the higher cadence (80-85 or higher) and lower gear inches you will decrease the stress on the joint, but significantly increase the number of repetitions. So, to minimize knee problems, all other things being equal:

  1. Make sure that your fit and position is dialed in for an efficient pedal stroke with no bio-mechanical abnormalities.
  2. Use the easier-to-pedal gear with a higher cadence.
  • Thank you, Gary Ray. Your comments were very helpful.You answer came to my email inbox only today. Hence the delay. – Ali Dec 4 '16 at 5:13
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The number of gears does not determine the available gear range of the bike. Normally a 3x8 would have a wider gear range than a 2x6, and would therefore be a better choice, but you could also have a situation where the smallest front chainring on the 3x8 is 30 tooth, and the biggest rear cog is 28, giving you gear ratio of 1.07. The 2x6 could have a 24 tooth chainring with a 32 rear sprocket making your lowest gear ratio 0.75, which would be much easier for getting up hills.

If you have knee problems and don't really care about speed too much, you should pick the bike with the easiest gear ratio so that you aren't stuck in a situation where you have to apply a lot of force to the pedals.

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