Cycling with knee pain or osteoarthritis

Knee pain, arthrosis and cycling / e-bike

 The problem with cycling is - if the leg is rested because of knee pain or arthrosis, the leg muscles are hardly used. If the leg muscles do little, the heart and lungs also have to do little. The fitness effect is lost when cycling with few leg power (e.g. with a normal e-bike). The cardiovascular system is hardly trained. 

Cycling with knee pain or arthrosis

 Varibiking is the solution for cycling with knee pain or arthrosis. When varibiking, leg strength can be reduced to protect against knee pain. At the same time, the biker can use his full arm strength to drive. In total, many muscles are active and the upper body muscles are even in heavy use. The heart and lungs have to do a good job. The cardiovascular system is fully trained. At the same time, the knee is moved and still rested. With reduced leg strength + full arm strength, many muscles are active and the heart and lungs have to do a lot of work. The cardiovascular system is trained. 

Interview with Klaus Kehl


How long have you been riding Varibike?  I've been riding the Varibike for 4 years. 

How did you come up with the idea of buying a Varibike?  There were 2 reasons for everything that moved me: 1. I didn't just want to train my legs. I wanted to exercise my whole body without having to go to the fitness studio. Many years ago I was looking for alternatives to the classic bicycle. 2. I have had osteoarthritis of the kneecap in my right knee for several years and could no longer pedal with this leg - not even with an e-bike, so I had to stop cycling 5 years ago. I really missed the sport itself and the exercise in the open air. I researched a bike like the Varibike for a long time, but found none that convinced me and suited my needs; until I came across Varibike. The great advice from Martin Kraiss and his great effort to adapt the Varibike individually to my needs ultimately convinced me. I was also impressed by the top quality of the bike and its design. I haven't found anything even remotely comparable anywhere. 

Does your Varibike have special equipment because of your knee osteoarthritis?  I have a pendulum crank for the right leg with which I can move the knee with it, but have to bend it much less than with a normal crank. The crank means that the leg is only moved up half as far as with a conventional crank. In my case, this leg only moves passively without having to exert any strength. In order to be able to cope with longer distances and inclines with one leg and two arms, I also had an electric motor installed. What do you use the Varibike for?  I use it to go to work regularly, around 37 kilometers a day and often on weekends for excursions and tours. 

And with your Varibike you can also get up inclines?  I can manage smaller inclines without a motor, but larger ones only with the help of the motor. If I could pedal with both legs in addition to using my arms, the motor would not be required. 

With the Varibike you can switch between different drive styles. For example, cranking with your arms synchronously, or asynchronously, or just driving with your legs, etc. Do you often switch between the drive styles on the Varibike? I change regularly. Sometimes I only pedal with one leg or both legs, sometimes I only pedal with my arms (mostly asynchronously). Especially on the mountain I use arms and legs at the same time, which is the most fun. 

What do you like about Varibiking?  Arms, legs, abdominal and back muscles are trained. The force with which, when I use both legs for a short time, to drive up the mountain or literally float on the flat at 45 kilometers per hour, is enormous fun. 

Wouldn't a normal e-bike have done it too?  There is no comparison, because there is no upper body training and the coordination training with all 4 limbs at the same time is practically "hands-free" without holding onto the steering wheel is a great feeling. 

Do you have training or rehab goals for Varibiking, or is it more just for fun?  At first it was about being able to continue doing sports. In addition, this enabled the knee to be moved without putting any strain on it, which led to pain relief for a long time. By varibiking, I was able to postpone the use of an artificial knee joint for 4 years and even go on short hikes again for a long time. What have you been able to achieve for yourself by varibiking? 3 months ago I received an artificial knee joint and since then I have been able to use the Varibike for my rehab, initially on the home trainer, and now on the road again. This has helped the recovery tremendously and accelerated it. I'm looking forward to the coming months when I can use the Varibike for beautiful and longer tours without any motor assistance. I never want to be without the Varibike again. 

Did it take you a long time to learn Varibike?  Thanks to your one-hour briefing, I was able to ride it safely after another 3-4 hours of my own practice, although at first I only used the cranks on bike paths. After 2 to 3 weeks of practice, I was able to ride it just as easily in traffic and cornering as with any other bike. 

Do you feel safe on it?  Yes. Switching arms and legs, as well as changing from the arm cranks to the steering wheel, as well as the gears and the brake levers, worked after a short while in my sleep - like clutching and shifting a car. 

In the city too?  Even in the city. There, however, I use the arm cranks a little less, as you often have to be ready to brake faster and have your hands on the brake levers quickly. 

Do people watch when you ride the Varibike?  Many look at me with big eyes when I approach them and often look after me. I am approached by other cyclists almost every time I ride, or by pedestrians at traffic lights and at crossings. People are fascinated and ask a lot of questions. 

Do you have an advice for Varibike beginners?  The first 2 to 3 hours are not easy in terms of coordination and also physically demanding, but then the Varibike is more fun every day. So: just show some stamina at the beginning .... 


Photo: Klaus bike with spcial adaptions for his knee arthrosis