Cycling With Bad Knees – What You Need to Know

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Biking is one of the best ways of cardio. It’s fun, it can be done in multiple environments, including the gym, or your home, with a stationary bike, and in the park, or the street, with a regular one. But some people need to take special care when cycling, and if you’ve suffered a knee injury in the past, you’re probably one of those people.

In this article, we will get into the most important things to take into consideration when riding a bike with bad knees.

All the claims made in this article are science-based, you can find the links to the relevant data at the end of this article.

 Benefits of Cycling

 1. Low impact: Cycling is one of the safest ways of cardio training. The low impact whether you are using a cycle outdoor bike or even an indoor cycle bike, both are low-impact workouts that allow you to work the muscles without the added stress to the bones and to your body as a whole.

Cycling in fact is the preferred method for rehabbing knees and lower body injuries because of the lack of shock to the body. Indoor exercise cycle bikes designed like these are actually specifically designed for those who are in need of muscle stimulation but can not handle the force that comes with other equipment such as treadmills, rowing machines, and even ellipticals all still place stress and shock on the body.

2. Easy: Most people know how to ride a bike as they most always start at a young age. If you don’t, it’s never late to get started! Most adult people learn how to bike from scratch in less than two weeks. But for some, it can be more difficult and the muscles will need to be strengthened first. For those of you who fit in this category, you can learn in just a few simple steps how to ride a bike properly and safely to strengthen your knees.

3. Good for strength and stamina: Depending on the location you choose for your cycling session, everything can turn quite challenging fast. Doing it on an irregular surface will demand you a lot more core strength, and the inclination of the path you choose will also imply different degrees of leg strength involvement in your session.

Don’t be afraid of facing new challenges when it comes to cycling, as, if done safely, it will most probably pay off.

4. As intense as you want: When riding your bike, it’s you who will decide how demanding you want your cycling session to be. At a lower pace, cycling can be great to recover from injury or to get the blood pumping after a heavy squat session. When done more intensely, you can achieve high energy expenditure on a session, which will help you create a bigger caloric deficit if fat loss is what you’re chasing.

5. A fun way to get fit: The adventure and buzz you get from coasting down hills and being outdoors mean you are more likely to continue to cycle regularly, compared to other physical activities that keep you indoors or require special times or places. Regularly going for a ride with your friends can be a great way to get fit!

6. Time-efficient: As a mode of transport, cycling replaces sedentary (sitting) time spent driving motor vehicles or using trams, trains, or buses with healthy exercise. Also, when the traffic is congested, you’ll once again, thank yourself for riding a bike.

Check out in details the Benefits of Riding Bikes

What if I have bad knees?

1. Try Cycling Indoors

While outdoor cycling can be really fun, doing it at home can be as enjoyable and also a lot safer. Cycling itself is safe by itself, whether it be indoors or outdoors. Most of the dangers regarding riding a bike are external factors that we can obviate by using a stationary bike or an elliptical.

If you have bad knees, it would probably be best to practice indoors cycling. Irregular surfaces can bring some discomfort to people with previous injuries. If you’ve had any knee problems in the past, you should ask a doctor if becoming an active bicycler is a good idea.

As per a report published in the US National Library of Medicine, genetics may significantly increase a person’s risk of developing knee pains and more detrimental joint problems, including osteoarthritis of the knees. Heredity along with wrong cycling practices can raise the risk of severe injuries. But, using proper gear and reducing the amount of time spent, as well as the level of pressure you put on the knees, can help reduce the risk of knee pain and other injuries while cycling.

2. Use a recumbent Road bike!

Many cyclists have encountered a recumbent bike either out on the roads or in their local shop but haven’t taken the time to get to know them. Recumbent bikes are pieces of equipment that let the rider rest on a reclined position while cycling instead of doing it upright. This can be a lot more comfortable, and more gentle on all your joints. Your lower back is supported by the bucket seat and your knees and ankles are protected from potential injurious impact.

From here there are variations but the overall concept is the same. These bikes are often favored for their ergonomic designs which reduce the amount of stress that a rider’s weight places on the points of contact with a bike.

On traditional bikes, a rider’s weight comes down onto three contact areas: the sit bones, the hands, and the feet. The majority of the rider’s weight comes down over the sit bones where they make contact with the saddle. What a recumbent bicycle does is recline the rider into a seat (not a saddle), effectively spreading out the rider’s weight over a larger surface area that makes contact with the bike.

Best Outdoor Recumbent Bikes

1. Ice Sprint X – Sports Recumbent Trike


When looking for a recumbent road bike, the vast amount of options there are in the market can get pretty overwhelming. The Ice Sprint X Trike is a piece of equipment in which you can blindly trust.

This trike was designed to bring the rider the most comfortable experience possible. It’s one of those pieces that you feel like they were designed just to suit your needs.

Their easy access swept cruciforms allow you to get your feet further under you for a more stable entry and exit of the trike, this also creates improved heel clearance for smaller riders.

The Sprint X also counts with the benefit of folding. The Compact Flat Twist Fold is based around a lightweight piece of aluminum hinge on the mainframe. You can simply remove the seat, fold the handlebars flat, and undo the quick release lever to fold the frame. As the frame folds, the rear wheel pivots to fit flat between the front wheels. The CFT fold allows the trike to be quickly folded and works with all ICE accessories.

If you can afford a Sprint X and decide to go for it, you’ll most probably not regret it.

2. Ice Adventure – Relaxed Recumbent Trike

Icestrike Adventure

Ice Trikes met the expectations of the most refined recumbent bike riders with this design. The Ice Adventure bicycle will provide you with a pleasant ride and it’s ideal for everyday users that ride medium to large distances. Its versatility allows the rider to enjoy their journey even on irregular surfaces. The mild elevation of the seat allows a comfortable declined sitting position. The mechanically smart design of this trike will also remove a lot of stress from your joints and points of contact.

This trike also counts with a handlebar clamping system with indexed clamps to ensure the handlebars remain fixed in position at all times and return to the position it was before folding the trike.

This piece provides a high level of comfort and back support. It also offers breathable fabrics, which are meant to maximize airflow and are easily adjustable.

Integral Sidepod mounts in this trike, eliminate the need for over-the-seat straps. And as an extra, it also has a handy top pocket for small items.

This bike is around $1000 cheaper than her bigger sister, the first one on our list. So if you’re looking for a, still top shelf, more affordable bike, this is the one you’re looking for.

3. Mobo Triton Pro

Best recumbent bike

Last, but not least, we have the Mobo Triton Pro, a tricycle that’s a lot more affordable than the previous two and, while costing almost seven times less, it can probably put a smile on the face of any trike rider!

With a great F1 type of design, the Triton Pro will not only serve you with a comfortable riding experience but will also make you feel like you’re competing in the rally!

Mobo Cruise is a company known for creating high-fidelity, long-lasting trikes that will allow you to enjoy your trips with a high level of comfortability, and you don’t need to invest thousands of dollars to own one.

This is just a well-rounded, comfortable and affordable trike. If you’re on a budget and want to acquire one, this may be an option for you to consider!

Check out Benefits of Cycling for Seniors

FAQ – Cycling And Exercising With Bad Knees

During this last section, we’ll do a quick round of frequently asked questions about the topic of this article, including straight-to-the-point answers to all of them.

Is cycling good for bad knees?

Cycling is a low-impact exercise and can benefit people with osteoarthritis. A daily routine of bicycling helps strengthen the quadriceps and hamstrings in your legs, both of which support your knees. Though, an irregular riding road can make everything a little more complicated for people with bad knees. This kind of surface can increase the impact on your knee joints after a cycling session. A sudden increase in training volume can also lead to knee pain.

That said, cycling in a controlled environment, at a medium pace, and for not-so-long distances, can be beneficial for some knee conditions.

What is the best exercise for someone with bad knees?

There are many different exercises for people with bad knees but my favorites are water aerobics, cycling, swimming, yoga, and strength training all help to improve the symptoms associated with arthritic knee pain and knee pain in general. Squats, unweighted to begin with, are a great exercise for strengthening your quadriceps muscle, which is going to help aid a bad knee.


What exercises should you avoid with bad knees?

If you suffer from bad knees, it’s better to avoid machine leg extensions and full-deep lunges. These motions can be quite damaging for someone who’s already got problems with their knee joints.

Is cycling good for arthritic knees?

It is. A study published in the Journal of Rheumatology cycling reduced joint pain, stiffness, and physical limitations, and enhanced quality of life in middle-aged and older adults with osteoarthritis.