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I have swapped to using SPD-SL cleats/pedals on my new bike which I have done only three long rides on. On both rides at ~90-110km ish my right knee starts getting quite painful. In both cases I have adjusted the cleats and then kept riding (slowly). After another ~70-80km or so my knee starts to feel better, but not 100% better. Although I am not sure whether adjusting the cleats solved anything or if it was just removing pressure from the knee by slowing down for 2 hours or so.
Unfortunately, it is not the sort of pain a cup of concrete sorts out. I could not put a lot of pressure on the knee without getting a sharp-ish pain. Even considered stopping and calling my wife to pick me up.
It's difficult to work out what is going on because there is nothing until ~90km or more, so I cannot test on my commute or shorter rides which have been good.
I got the tape measure out so my new bike is set up near on exactly the same way as my old bike, but I was using SPD (i.e. mtb) cleats and shoes with it. I experienced no pain - well, knee pain anyway - on the only 200km ride I did with SPDs .
I do not want to give up on SPD-SLs yet.
Any ideas on what I should do next?
Apparently it's fairly common when transitioning to another system (not necessarily just SPD-SL). I had it and I know another had it too. I understand it's a matter of fiddling the cleat position, and don't forget the stack height also varies and you may have to adjust the saddle height to compensate too. Take shorter rides and let your legs get used to the new system and avoid big rides first off.
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I came across from Crank Bros, and as for SPDs, there's a lot more float, and less stable than SPD-SL. So in a way I wasn't surprised that the more rigid platform and reduced float caused unfamiliar strains. I have not read any guaranteed solution out on the net but have just played around with the cleat position/saddle height and gradually built up my mileage on the SPD-SL over time. One needs to be a lot more critical on the cleat alignment than on those MTB cleats, or it's easy to feel the strain. YMMV with your overlapped change over but sounded sensible to me. Good luck. Since getting used to SPD-SLs, going back to CBs just felt so strange.
+1. Me too - when I changed from SPD's to SPD-SL, had to drop the seat height 2 mm at a time before it felt right. You
might also need to shift the seat back on the rails 1 mm or 2 to avoid pushing your knee too far forward of the cranks.
If you've got new shoes, also check that the alignment of your heel matches what you had before (e.g. check clearance from
the chain stay).
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If the stack height has changed, you may be pushing your knee out, leading to patello-femoral syndrome developing, or as my wife puts it, "bad-tracking knees".
Over the distances you are riding, it would only need to be a subtle change to affect you. Maybe get your knee checked by a good physio. They will be able to see if this is the problem. It's more common in women, due to their knock-kneed design.
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I linked to this from another post and realized I had not updated it with my solution, so... just in case anyone is experiencing a similar problem....
I posted the problem to the audax list and someone replied saying I probably have duck feet, i.e. my toes point out, especially if my crank arms get rubbed by my shoes (they do). So, sat on a chair and sat naturally (with my toes pointing out) and then adjusted my cleats to they were straight (instead of pointing at my toes). All good, plenty of long (~200km) rides after this with no problems.
I recently just changed my cleats too as the other ones were worn out and since then kept on getting a pain in the back of my knee and could not work out why until such time that I pushed the cleat position all the way to the back as recommended by Sheldon brown's site and within 2 rides the pain was gone and also found that I have been able to push and pull much easier on the pedals ..... The space moved was only 5mm but enough to make a big difference.....look into it you never know
+1 After reading Steve Hogg's recommendations about mid-foot cleat positioning I moved my cleats all the way back. They are no where near mid-foot but in between ball of the foot and mid-foot. It takes a load off the calves without affecting power. Actually it feels like I have a bit more. It's a real improvement.
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I also am very keen to try midfoot position. I get ITB and I have mostly sorted/managed it, but with summer around and longer rides I find I am getting a slight re-aggravation of it.
I notice in out of the saddle efforts my foot twists, inward mostly. I am a bit reluctant to try a no float setup and I don't see how a free float will fix it. But I think having a midfoot setup will minimise the foot twisting. So all i need is some road shoes, speedplay pedals and the fore/aft plate. Which i got none of for christams
Sorry for hijacking -
DO you thinkn a more backwards cleat position would put more pressure on the knee? Don't think it would but since i have changed cleat postion my knee has swollen up (back knee to start with)
I wouldn't think so. I would look at your knee tracking. If your foot sits in an unnatural (for you) position wrt fore/aft alignment and/or the angle of the sole of the foot from side to side it can affect your knee track adversely. If it was ok before you moved the cleat then you may have just twisted the cleat a bit.
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