Pain at the front of the knee when cycling?
Could your saddle be too low? One of the most common bike set up issues we see is the saddle being too low. Being too low or too high will often cause pain at or around the knees.
We are only focusing on being too low in this blog.
If your saddle is too low it will reduce your ability to produce power as you cannot straighten your leg sufficiently and the key muscles involved in straightening your leg never reach their optimum length for power generation.
In the photo the saddle is significantly too low.
It also becomes harder to start pushing down at the top of the pedal stroke as your knee is overly bent.
When your knee is overly bent it creates excessive force across the knee joint as you start to push down.
Cyclists with their saddles too low often develop pain at the front of their knee due to this excessive force. To compensate for the low saddle position people sometimes push their heels down excessively in an attempt to extend their knee more and sometimes tilt the saddle up at the nose in an attempt to make the saddle seem higher.
The correct height will vary from person to person and depends on a variety of factors. When performing a bike fit we are aiming to get the riders knee angle between 140-145 degrees at the bottom of the pedal stroke and above 68 degrees at the top of the pedal stroke. If we can achieve one of these angles but not both then the next step is to look at saddle for/aft position and crank length.
If you experience pain at the front of the knee then try raising your saddle in 5mm increments and see how it feels when riding. If you continue to experience pain then it is recommended to have your bike professional fitted.
If you experience pain at the back of the knee then it’s possible that your saddle might be too high. We will discuss this in the next blog.