Front of Knee Pain & Bike Fit

by | Jan 29, 2019 | Training


Listen to Scott Kelly on The Consummate Athlete Podcast 

He is a very knowledgable and experienced mechanic, coach, bike-fitter and is perhaps the most skilled person we know at planning and executing travel! 

Anterior Knee Pain (pain in the front of your knee) is common in cyclists and runners.

There are many possible causes of this, including everyone’s favorite ‘reason’ … TOO MUCH, TOO SOON. Go from zero to ‘a bunch’ of kilometers, climbing, strength, running, stairs, squats etc. and your knees might just let you know, and keep on letting you know for weeks (or months) after. When this happens, BE PATIENT and take care of nutrition, sleep, and some basic therapy/foam-rolling focusing on building a stronger and more mobile body, not just jamming hard objects into your quad.

Before you get to this state make sure your ramp your mileage, intensity, climbing, strength, running and other ‘stimuli’ gradually. This sounds boring but you likely have time before your event. Plot a steady build, with some planned rest days/weeks and build gradually.

Being happy, motivated and healthy on the line is much better then nursing injuries/over-training to the line.

Getting a Bike Fit

I believe that most people can set their bikes up within ‘norms’ and then fine tune based on ‘symptoms’ but many of us will not spend the time or struggle with the ‘bike mechanics’ part of bike-fit. If you want to try we suggest also reading this post on simple bike-fit guidelines and symptoms to watch for. 

Bike Fitting is a very specialized skill that involves knowledge of cycling, bio-mechanics, injuries and also bike mechanics. It is very hard to find someone who is good at bike fitting, let alone performing it. 

 Scott shares several common bike-fit tweaks you can try if you are having knee pain Cleat position, Crank Length, Saddle Choice, Saddle Height and Saddle fore-and-aft go into making sure the rest of the body is comfortable (and powerful, and maybe aerodynamic too!) Saddle Height – Scott cautions that many quick bike fits included when you purchase a new bike result in a saddle height that is too low. Young cyclists often forget to raise their saddle as they grow. Both can contribute to unhappy knees.

Scott Watching me execute a (poor) one leg squat – How does your Foot/Arch Change as your leg flex?

Saddle Fore and Aft 

Scott says, “Think about the ‘Ready Position’ from Grade 9 gym class. ‘Shoulders over knees over balls of feet’. This is applicable to cycling too! If your saddle is too far forward or too far back, this will put undue stress on the knees.”

How do your feet meet the pedals? What happens inside of that shoe? Is a Cycling Pedal the same as walking/running or squatting where our heel touches the ground?


Scott makes the point that the industry, as a whole, is beginning to address this, but there are still companies who are lagging behind. Those super fancy Italian shoes you have, likely have the world’s worst insoles in them. Consider something like the Superfoot Carbon insole to properly support your foot and to mitigate the lateral travel of your knee.”   

Scott talking Molly through the pedal stroke – its not just your bike that has a role in ‘bike-fit’ !


This post features Scott Kelly who actually does not do bike fits anymore, but did at the time of the original post in 2015/2016. Scott has moved on to work in a role with Cycling Canada!


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