Cycling long distances and climbing hills without knee pain using an electric bike

Court

Administrator
Staff member
Hi guys! This is a special topic for me, and I wanted to share my story here, because I have a physical limitation when it comes to knee health. I grew up in Colorado with a family that would go hiking and skiing frequently. I'm so thankful for those special times and have grown to love the outdoors, but years of strain and some especially hard landings and moguls has left me hurting. Listed below are some of the challenges I face in everyday life and how I deal with them. I hope this helps others and I welcome your feedback and stories as well :)
  • Cycling is fun, but longer rides and jumps can activate my knees. I had knee issues before I began commuting to work, but I figured that cycling was going to be one of the easiest activities for my knees... It wasn't until I was riding 5+ miles each day (up and down some hills) that I began to experience pain. Cycling seems so much smoother and less jarring than walking, running, or hiking... but the repetitive knee bending motion and resulting imbalance of leg muscles can cause a sharp pain in both of my knees. This is actually why I started ElectricBikeReview.com and part of what makes electric bikes so cool and special for me. Even with an ebike, I start slowly or rely on a throttle in some situations. Torque sensors and advanced multi-sensors are my favorite type of motor controller now (compared to cadence sensors) because they don't require me to pedal hard to get the bike going from standstill. Sometimes I get excited and stand up for jumps or bumpy mountain biking sections... but that can also activate my knee, so I almost always prefer a full suspension ebike to a non-suspension. One of my favorite electric bikes to own (for city riding and trail/mountain use) was the Easy Motion Neo Jumper, which did have a throttle as well as torque sensing assist. Most eMTB products now only offer pedal assist so that they can be classified as Class 1 and go on more trails. This is alright in many ways, because companies like Bosch, Brose, Yamaha, and Shimano have created torque sensors that activate near-instantly. I especially like the Bosch Performance Line CX on eMTB mode, the Brose S, and Yamaha PWX. I also prefer the lightest electric bikes I can find because that makes them easier to start and handle (as well as lift). I'm not a really large, heavy, or strong person (even though I work out regularly doing lightweight leg press, leg extension, and calf exercises with machines). Below is a video comparing some of the different electric mountain bike motors back to back. Easy Motion no longer sells the NEO Jumper model and the new EVO Jumper doesn't come with a throttle. One approach to finding a full suspension electric mountain bike is to build your own using an ebike kit.
  • Stairs are difficult for me, I almost always walk backwards and hold onto the railing. If I don't do this, my left knee will start hurting... I used to race up and down stairs, taking two at a time! When I was in middle school, learning how to skateboard, I would ollie off of stairs and sometimes jump and spin down. There were moments that I fell or twisted and experienced pain, but I figured that those hurts would heal like a bruise. Now, I'm one of the people who really appreciates ramps and takes my time with each stair.
  • Hiking is fun, but mostly on the way up, and I always use hiking poles and neoprene knee braces. I used to trail run and be one of the first people in my family to make it back to the car, going down was the easy part! I have found now, due to my knee sensitivity, that climbing or flat sections are the most comfortable. I always wear supportive hiking boots and don't bang my knees when going down slopes like I used to, I've learned how to support my knees by stepping on the pads of my feet vs. heel first.
In closing, one of the other ways that I support my knees is to take Glucosamine Chondroitin & MSM daily supplements. This dietary supplement is a joint complex meant to support daily joint use and it seems to reduce my pain. The only downside to my exercises, stretches, avoidance of overuse, and supplement intake is that I start to feel normal and forget that my knees are still vulnerable. Just this morning in fact, an ebike arrived for me to review and hurt my knee trying to lift the box and drag it around a corner into the garage. I've found that walking backwards is easier than forwards when doing stairs or lifting and pulling objects like this... Anyway, I hope that this helps you and I welcome input about foam roller for IT band stiffness or other tips and tricks to deal with knee issues or sensitivity.
 

ebikemom

Administrator
Staff member
Wow, Court, what a story! I'm so glad that ebiking has broadened your world. I had no idea the extent of the challenges you face, and it's great that you shared them here.

I think your story is also a cautionary tale for parents of able-bodied and athletically talented children. We live in a society that worships sports and extreme physical fitness. But, bodies wear out. Our knees and backs and other body parts don't have little usage meters to show us how much pain-free time they have left! How can we help kids to have healthy physical activity without destroying their body parts? How can caution be introduced to those who feel the invincibility of youth? I doubt this topic is ever even discussed in health class in middle schools, for example. I don't know the answer to these questions.

Thanks for sharing! :)
 

jhoblo

Member
Thank you, Court for creating this category and posting this. I didn’t know that your situation was this difficult, but I suspect that you are speaking to many people who are dealing with their own challenges related to their love of outdoor activities. You have good suggestions here (that I should be doing- why do I work harder than smarter?)

My knees aren’t as bad, but an injury when I was on a USFS AD fire crew 20 years ago sometimes prevents me from riding a bike. I didn’t get surgery, and am still trying to not re-injure it to forestall going under the knife until I absolutely have to.
Torque sensors and throttles are wonderful...

My next e-bike is a trike. I’m a little afraid of how well I can manage its weight (RadBurro, 375 lbs with the larger cargo box.) It won’t be my daily commuter, so I can hopefully learn how best to make it work for me as a work trike. The throttle and stability of a trike will help a lot.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Just a couple of thoughts... while my situation is nowhere near what @Court is experiencing, I still have accumulated my fair share of dings over 40+ years of biking, hiking, skiing, &c.

The first and most important thing I'd say is that if your bike is improperly adjusted for you, especially the seat height and position, then your bike will likely end up being very tough on your knees. So get your bike properly fitted if you can (actually a 101-level introduction to fitting your bike would make a good addition to these guides...).

The second and nearly as important point is that it is critical to stay properly hydrated. The goo in our joints is basically a water-based lubricant, and an improperly lubricated joint is at best much more prone to injury and more often painful, often agonizingly so. You can perspire a liter of water in an hour of cycling, and that is enough to cause serious injury. So keep drinking. Electrolyte replacements also never hurt and often help.

Find a good doctor and physical therapist. "Good" in this sense is that they should be at least peripherally acquainted with the activities which you do and will understand (and respect) your desire to do them as much and as long as you can.

Finally, sometimes different gear choices can make a dramatic difference if you have had an injury. Different bikes will imply different body positions that will change the loads and stresses on your body, often in surprising ways -- tiny changes in headset and stem position or a different bike saddle can strangely make a dramatic difference in how your knees operate. Similarly, different shoes or footbeds can make a dramatic difference for the hiker or skier.
 

PowerMe

Well-Known Member
> Glucosamine Chondroitin & MSM daily supplements

Just an added FYI to what Court said about taking joint supplements. Joint supplments are *excellent* for our 4 legged friends. I gave my beloved golden a Glucosamine Chondroitin & MSM supplement daily for several years since larger dogs often suffer from joint maladies as they age. It's good to start them when they're about 3 or 4 yrs old just to help prevent problems. I would dip the pill in some peanut butter and my dog thought, "best treat ever!" Cats can benefit from Glucosamine too, btw.

So any mammal who has knees, hips and joints can benefit! :)
 

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
@PowerMe, agreed! My vet recommends Synovi G4, a soft chew with tasty things like chicken liver that doggies just woof down. It can be broken into pieces, as I do with my tiny 19 yr old Italian Greyhound and added to any meal or given as a treat. It comes with all of the above supplements you and Court mention plus Boswellia serrata, various vitamins & minerals, turmeric & vitamin E much like the joint supplement I take :D Colin can still walk several miles a day and does pretty good speed dashes after skunks & bunny rabbits, so it seems to help.

Stretching, yoga, watching what I eat and regular ebike rides & walks keep me going (and I'm no spring chicken any more ;))
 
Thanks Court! My younger years took a toll on me and I don't want to go into all the details but my Doctor said it was time to stop riding. I was devastated! I grew up on a BMX bike then moved into dirt bikes and Quads (yes the ones with engines) and then got back into Mountain Bikes. I stumbled onto the Electric Bike about 2 years ago when Vintage Electric Bikes was at a car show, I did a test ride and fell in love. Then started doing some research and finally found EBR and Court, what a valuable resource! It did take a while and I told my doctor I was going to start riding again he cringed but I filled him in on the details and he gave me the green light to try it, I searched for the most comfortable bike that I could find ended up with the Specialized Como 3.0 (it checked the important boxes) in June of 2018 today middle of August 2018 I have 575 Miles on the Odometer! And medically I have no negative issues resulting from my ebike, and I just had a checkup with the doctor and he is OK still. My problem wasn't Knees, I had internal issues that a conventional saddle seems to aggravate, this bike has me back in the saddle and I couldn't be happier. I'm so grateful to what Court has started here, THANKS AGAIN COURT! (take care of those knees!!!)
 

AlanDB

Well-Known Member
Congratulations Electrarider! What an inspiring story ... thanks for sharing it! And best wishes for many more years and miles of ebiking to you.
 

jhoblo

Member
> Glucosamine Chondroitin & MSM daily supplements

Just an added FYI to what Court said about taking joint supplements. Joint supplments are *excellent* for our 4 legged friends. I gave my beloved golden a Glucosamine Chondroitin & MSM supplement daily for several years since larger dogs often suffer from joint maladies as they age. It's good to start them when they're about 3 or 4 yrs old just to help prevent problems. I would dip the pill in some peanut butter and my dog thought, "best treat ever!" Cats can benefit from Glucosamine too, btw.

So any mammal who has knees, hips and joints can benefit! :)
I haven’t tried that- I probably need to!

A note on dealing with any underlying cause- I didn’t think about this until recently when a program on Lyme disease reminded me that swollen knees are one of the main symptons of infection. I know that I was bit in Humbolt Co. 30 years ago, but after the rash went away I did nothing. Stupid, but I hate doctors and there wasn’t a lot of info about it back then. If you bike off-road, do be mindful of ticks. Lyme has been found in ticks in all of the lower 48 states- don’t know about Alaska, though.

I wonder now, since I know that I was infected maybe my knee problems are related to Lyme? Maybe its time to finally see a doctor about this, well- when I get insurance...
 

ebikemom

Administrator
Staff member
Maybe its time to finally see a doctor about this, well- when I get insurance...
I hope you can do that. We only get one body in this life. It stinks that we don't have universal health care coverage here. When I lived in Japan I was amazed that I automatically had health insurance, even as a foreigner there working in contract jobs. I'd go to the doctor and the bill would just be a few dollars. My husband got sick in Japan as a tourist, and had to go to the doctor and the bill was about $50.00. I know this isn't the place for healthcare discussions, but lots of people here in the US die or get disabled because of lack of attention to medical needs, caused by the problem that they don't have insurance.

Take care. :) We want you around here for a long time!!
 
I hope you can do that. We only get one body in this life. It stinks that we don't have universal health care coverage here. When I lived in Japan I was amazed that I automatically had health insurance, even as a foreigner there working in contract jobs. I'd go to the doctor and the bill would just be a few dollars. My husband got sick in Japan as a tourist, and had to go to the doctor and the bill was about $50.00. I know this isn't the place for healthcare discussions, but lots of people here in the US die or get disabled because of lack of attention to medical needs, caused by the problem that they don't have insurance.

Take care. :) We want you around here for a long time!!
I don't think universal Healthcare would've ever helped me in any way, I was just plain fearless when I was younger and just did a lot of damage, really never thought I would make it to 40, somehow I made it to 40 and well past that mark now. Paying for the playing I did when I was younger. So far my e-bike is better than any medicine, and it isn't tearing up my body(or should I say not doing further damage), I'm too old to do the crazy stuff I used to do, age has a way of knocking sense into you, others call it self preservation. I guess I'm a slow learner but I'm happy to be back on a bike, an e-bike! :eek:
 
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PDoz

Well-Known Member
I became a convert to glucosamine when our crippled dog started chasing the ball, but became aware of the potential cost when she died from a heart attack. It's a drug, and like all drugs comes with potential side effects - most importantly it increases blood sugar - so watch out if you are diabetic etc. It also seems variable in who it works on , I'd love to know why.

Court, you're describing pattelofemoral issues - have you spoken with a decent physio +/- podiatrist?

I destroyed my knees playing squash as a young teen ( plus bmx / skateboards etc) , then consolidated the damage by kicking a rock at 80 k 25 years ago...then broke a few bones in my foot 2 years ago. It was the foot injury that got me back into cycling - I needed a way to get the small muscles in my foot working again, and walking just wasn't an option with these knees. I've been amazed at how much different shoe choices / pedalling technique affects my knees and foot. As an example, I can ride flowing mtb trails in soft soled shoes for hours, but if I want to get up on the pegs and attack some decent down hill trails my foot fatiges very quickly in those soft soled shoes and then my knees pay the price. Stiffer shoes seem to help with the downhill work, but my knees pay the price after an hour of flowing trail!
 

AngeloP

New Member
Hello everyone, my name is Angelo im an italian boy, i write this post because i have a similar problem in this topic, problem with stairs are difficult for me, I almost always walk backwards and cling to the railing, i strain to get up on the chair, problem to walk a long distance, problems with the knees...i have a "Haibike Fullnine" 2018 with Yamaha motor but the assisted pedaling did not help me and I got tired after a few miles. last year i bought a trike Azub T-tris 26. Now the answer is... which is the most powerful engine? Is a good kit the "BBSHD BBS03 48v 1000W Bfun Bafang?? Is much better the MID or Rear Kit??


Thanks for all
 
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ebikemom

Administrator
Staff member
I'm sorry the bike you bought didn't work for you. In the US we have "Class 2" ebikes that have a throttle AND pedal assist. This is a great solution for a person who can pedal some of the time, but also needs to rest.

You said you are Italian--do you live in Italy? I'm not sure if there are ebikes with throttles available in Italy. In the US, these are ebikes that are classified as bicycles (not mopeds) so have a limited maximum speed to 20mph.

I don't have the knowledge to answer your questions about bike kits. Someone should chime in soon. If not, you can start a new thread with your question.
 

AngeloP

New Member
I'm sorry the bike you bought didn't work for you. In the US we have "Class 2" ebikes that have a throttle AND pedal assist. This is a great solution for a person who can pedal some of the time, but also needs to rest.

You said you are Italian--do you live in Italy? I'm not sure if there are ebikes with throttles available in Italy. In the US, these are ebikes that are classified as bicycles (not mopeds) so have a limited maximum speed to 20mph.

I don't have the knowledge to answer your questions about bike kits. Someone should chime in soon. If not, you can start a new thread with your question.
Thanks for your answer ebikemom, yes im living in Rome...in Europe the kit is similar (assist and trottle) I do not know but the limit should be about 25 km in europe...I do not know which is the best power kit for 1k.
 
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ebikemom

Administrator
Staff member
Great that there is a throttle option. Throttles take a lot of battery power, so, depending on how far you need to ride daily, be sure to get a battery with ample capacity. Capacity diminishes with time, so more capacity is better. :)
 

AngeloP

New Member
Great that there is a throttle option. Throttles take a lot of battery power, so, depending on how far you need to ride daily, be sure to get a battery with ample capacity. Capacity diminishes with time, so more capacity is better. :)
Ok :), but which type of battery is better? 750wh 48v is a good capacity?
The motor i have find this https://www.amazon.it/dp/B01I52L6FW...olid=12ONSLHE86GKG&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it on amazon or this https://www.amazon.it/dp/B076V2PR5L...olid=12ONSLHE86GKG&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it but is a rear motor
 

JayVee

Well-Known Member
Hello everyone, my name is Angelo im an italian boy, i write this post because i have a similar problem in this topic, problem with stairs are difficult for me, I almost always walk backwards and cling to the railing, i strain to get up on the chair, problem to walk a long distance, problems with the knees...i have a "Haibike Fullnine" 2018 with Yamaha motor but the assisted pedaling did not help me and I got tired after a few miles. last year i bought a trike Azub T-tris 26. Now the answer is... which is the most powerful engine? Is a good kit the "BBSHD BBS03 48v 1000W Bfun Bafang?? Is much better the MID or Rear Kit??


Thanks for all
You could start a topic in the custom builds section of this forum to get other opinions. Make sure to state it’s a trike. There are a couple of people on the forum who have made builds with that kind of vehicle.

My personal opinion: go with the BBSHD. It’s powerful and won’t require pressing on the pedals too hard. I think that’s what you want. There’s a problem though: as far as I know your build will be illegal in Italy as it’s over 250W. Your only option would be to have the vehicle classified as L1e-a (but you need to stay under 1000W). However that could get very complex for a custom build.

Essentially your Haibike was a bicycle, but your trike is L1e-a. That’s because it’s over 250W and will maybe have a throttle.

It’s explained here (in Italian):

https://www.google.ch/amp/s/www.tou...icletta-elettrica-e-bicicletta-a-pedalata?amp

In a nutshell it’s this:

- Le L1eA sono cicli a due o tre ruote progettati con la trazione a pedale ed equipaggiati con motore elettrico ausiliario di potenza nominale inferiore a 1000 W e in grado di esprimere velocità non superiori a 25 km/h.
- Le L1eB sono i cicli a due o tre ruote dotati di motore elettrico con potenza nominale continua massima sino a 4000 W e velocitàdi costruzione non superiore ai 45 km/h.

P.S. I can imagine that maybe you don’t care about the legal aspects, but we have a duty not to misguide you. After that you can do what you want with the info. I’m sure you understand what I mean... ;)
 

AngeloP

New Member
You could start a topic in the custom builds section of this forum to get other opinions. Make sure to state it’s a trike. There are a couple of people on the forum who have made builds with that kind of vehicle.

My personal opinion: go with the BBSHD. It’s powerful and won’t require pressing on the pedals too hard. I think that’s what you want. There’s a problem though: as far as I know your build will be illegal in Italy as it’s over 250W. Your only option would be to have the vehicle classified as L1e-a (but you need to stay under 1000W). However that could get very complex for a custom build.

Essentially your Haibike was a bicycle, but your trike is L1e-a. That’s because it’s over 250W and will maybe have a throttle.

It’s explained here (in Italian):

https://www.google.ch/amp/s/www.touringclub.it/notizie-di-viaggio/che-differenze-ci-sono-tra-e-bike-bicicletta-elettrica-e-bicicletta-a-pedalata?amp

In a nutshell it’s this:

- Le L1eA sono cicli a due o tre ruote progettati con la trazione a pedale ed equipaggiati con motore elettrico ausiliario di potenza nominale inferiore a 1000 W e in grado di esprimere velocità non superiori a 25 km/h.
- Le L1eB sono i cicli a due o tre ruote dotati di motore elettrico con potenza nominale continua massima sino a 4000 W e velocitàdi costruzione non superiore ai 45 km/h.

P.S. I can imagine that maybe you don’t care about the legal aspects, but we have a duty not to misguide you. After that you can do what you want with the info. I’m sure you understand what I mean... ;)
Thanks JayVee for the information, yes it is true but the problem is for example my Haibike with the Yamaha PW-System 250W is only with assistance and requires a little 'pressure to activate the electric motor, I want to find a kit in which I can operate pedaling and at the same time resting. But the BBSHD have the trottle??I can use only the assistance and only the trottle?:rolleyes:

p.s thanks for the link in the description :)