Increased leg stress and short cranks?

Don’t have knee pain, either muni or roads, on 24"/150mm or 29"/165mm. Do sometimes have minor knee pain on downhills on 29"/137mm (no brake).

This is especially the case recently, because my seatpost is rusted into the 29 frame at a position too low for 137mm but too high for 165mm. (Yes, that was well done.)

Thinking about a new 29 with brake.

How long have you been riding with the longer cranks? Sounds like a year at least? You may need to take more time to ease into shorter cranks. Obviously the shorter cranks are going to affect the way your knee and muscles are working. Maybe keep your regular rides with the long cranks and start substituting short crank rides until you switch over. Not sure if that makes sense??? You have dogs right? Like switching your dog to new food, you start with 75% old food with 25% new food, then work your way up.

Anton, this is a year old thread…

but in answer to your question, yes, I did ease into short cranks and as I did my knees hurt more, so eased back out of short cranks and am now running 165’s on my 29 and 36.

Since going back to longer cranks my knees hurt less, though I did find that there was a point of diminishing returns when I got up to 180’s on my 36er where I just felt so “herky-jerky”, so I backed all the way down to 165’s to regain the dual hole position.

I may go back to 170’s or 175’s, though I feel like the 165’s provide a nice balance of stability, power, and smooth spinning.

Also, I notice that a wider pedal position feels better, so running the 125mm Oegon hub on the 36er is very comfortable and stable.

oops! Doh!

Never mind then! :slight_smile:

I rode a single ride with 125mm cranks on my 29er, versus 150mm which I’ve been mostly using for the past 4 months.
I barely used my brakes because of a bad position I recently changed the lever to be in.
My right knee is hurting…even though my left knee had been in discomfort for the previous few days.

I think it was because of a slightly too low seat and increased stress on downhills. However, couldn’t figure out why it’s my right knee. Then, I realized that I almost always land my right foot first when I fall, and I had a decent amount of UPD from atop the 29er on the trails.
I realized this when I dismounted at intersections on the way home and found myself in pain from landing on my right foot.

So, if you are like me and try to always land on your feet when you fall, and fall often without good reaction/reflexes to land well, this surely could be a cause pain.

Very interesting thread! I have tweaky knees but haven’t been able to figure out why. Will now consider Q factor.

Strengthen up those braking muscles by putting a twist in the chain of your b*ike ( link the chain so it goes from the top of the chainring to the bottom of the sprocket…to cycle forward you pedal backward…this is a great workout to develop those back pedal/brake muscles.
Have fun…:slight_smile:

Once in a while i get a little out of tweaked on my left or right knee. Sometimes from a strenous ride of previous day. Sometimes from taking 3 or 4 days break from riding. I discovered that to alleviate that ache is to just get back into the saddle and do an hour, hour and a half riding, and the pain is gone. So far i ride majority of the times 150 and 165 mm cranks on the twin forks 125mm hubs, so i dont have shorter cranks to compare with.

Its nothing compared to my ridiculously week knee before unicyling, that was aching after a good day’s work of bending.

What a great debate!

I would suggest that it depends on what your knees are hurting from, my experience says that there are 2 main knee problems that unicyclists have. This is either from the twisting at the knee or from the pressure… and sometimes from both.

Ok… Let start. This is unicycle, not bike. They are different in significant ways for this.

When you ride a unicycle you weave side to side. This is because you are pressing on the pedal out from the centre line and you do not have another wheel to keep it in a straight line. This action twists the knee at the point of greatest load - ie when you are pushing it downwards. This is the main factor in the cause of unicycle knee problems. As unicyclists we solve this problem various ways.

We can do it by the way we ride:

  1. Experience allows us to control pedal pressure better.
  2. We move our body and hips to follow this flowing action (this is common in Muni).

We can do it by mechanical changes to our unicycle.
1.The saddle on unicycle has a bulbous front on it; this is there to help counter this weave and control the unicycle. The position and size of this pressure point (type of saddle and tilt of the saddle) changes the effect.
2. We can use a handle to help keep the wheel going straight line (common on 36" schlumpf and muni)
3. We can shorten the cranks, this reduces the amount of twist in the knee for any given rotation that is exerted on it by the unicycle.
4. We narrow the Q-factor as I seen on freestyle and race unicycle.

Now all of these “solutions” effect other things.
The saddle position and type effects comfort, the shorter cranks cause higher pressure when riding hills (this can also cause knee problems in it self as has been also explained, but possibly not the same pain?) and narrow q-factor is often not appropriate for Muni riding where it is used to partly steer the unicycle.

When doing lands end to John O’Groats both me and Sam had terrible knee problems from day 2 onwards. Ibuprofen, knee braces, tubular knee bandages and riding techniques helped - but mostly gritted our teeth.

Sorry, no conclusion how to solve knee problems, just thought I would add more to consider.


Sorry, reviving this old thread again.

So for the update. Couple of weeks ago received the 110’s and had them installed on my Qx 29er/145mm. I got somewhat used to riding with them, but I figured the small rotations isnt suited for me, especially with the great loss of leverage. So that meant I had the 145mm QX available to switch out on my 36" /165mm. Made the switch today. I guess shorter cranks isnt for me. It takes more effort, smoother, but a cost of leverage and control. And now my right knee is a little bit achy, of which it hadnt before.

I guess my lesson to myself, why change a good thing, when its already working well.:wink:

Also, earlier today, on my Oregon 26er/165mm ride. I have always wanted to hit at a higher candence.
Haha, I have finally discovered how. Remember I was still practicing the arms behind back? Well, accidentally discovered i can hit a lot higher cadence if I leaned alot forward, even with my arms back. I cant exactly explain how( maybe some can explain it), but i was sure able to spin much faster, and at the end I had an abrupt dismount at full speed but still able to catch the saddle by automatic reflex.
So, my long 165 cranks stays put on my both rides, and now I can hit a higher candence/speed.

Sceptical? Why are some road unicyclist handlebars really low, for speed maybe? ( it looks odd how they can maintain balance, but they do!)
Also, check out again on Peacemaker’s 2nd posted race video (the " your average speed" thread) what was the signifacant difference in the winner, posture maybe?

Thanks for reviving the thread, UPD. This is an important issue. My crank length is on the long side for all my wheels. When I heard you were experimenting with 110mm cranks, it made me hurt just thinking about it. When my balance improved enough to place both hands on the seat of my 20", I noticed an immediate increase in my cadence. The same applied to putting both hands on the bar ends on my 26" mUni. There has been a fair amount of talk regarding improving cadence with shorter cranks. Before moving to shorter cranks, however, stabilizing the unicycle with the hands should be explored. UPD, you figured out how to increase your cadence by leaning forward; I think the technical term for that is “pedal-faster-to-avoid-a-face-plant”.

Nah, that “pedal-faster-to-avoid-face plant” is not in my case. I pedal faster not because I have the feeling or the fear of flopping on my head, but rather, I all of the sudden realised I had the balance and stability to do so.

I havent feared face plants from riding, because Ive always been able to out run them, through hundreds of deliberate practice. What I was surprised today was how far I can lean foward, increase much cadence and remained balanced-- at the same time decreased bounce effect from the long cranks and the higher speed. Also, is amazing how fast and precise we can catch our saddles, in a millisecond. The had to be a thought process, but it had to have happen pretty darn fast! Im simply amazed of how quick our brain can process from visual to muscular impulses.

Too bad I ran out of time and had to return to work or I would have further practiced.

Riding with the 110s on the 29er isnt hard, just a lot more effort, i cant throw it around as easily , and climbing takes too much energy. Maybe if my ride on the terrain was all flat, it would be better suited, but if I see a hill I would always want to climb it.
I dont know, I just like the larger revolutions on the larger cranks. Though, I still have them on the 29er and practice some more. My 26er will retain the 165, so will the 36er for road and muni.

Like someone else said, “your either a spinner, or a slogger”
I dont like to slog, unless its steep and done with long cranks. Besides my knees are no longer young, however my pedal strokes are getting much smoother.:wink:

I’m dreadful with long cranks - I slop around and ride like a snake. Short cranks help me to go in a straight line far easier.

Leaning forward helps a lot too - I think this is because you need to lean forward anyway to not tip backwards, and well, that balance of falling backwards slightly, leaning forward, pedalling etc. while subconscious will affect your riding. Leaning a bit further forward than you’re used to keeps you leant forward as opposed to your pedalling pushing you backwards slightly. Plus there’s far less snaking side-to-side when you’re holding onto something and keeping your arms locked in place by a handlebar or the seat handle.