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Riding position - flat bars

sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
edited March 2009 in Commuting chat
Please don't tell me to get drop-bars, that's out of the question at the moment!

Basically my wrists get achey during my 8 mile commute.

I've tried to tip the saddle nose up a tiny bit, but my current stem only allows adjustment in notches, and the next position is just a bit too hard on my soft lady-bits.

If I think about it while riding, I can put more weight on the saddle and pull a little more off my arms/wrists, but feels a bit forced and unnatural.

So is it just a pain I'm going to have to get used to, or that will eventually stop hurting now that I should be back in the saddle for a decent stretch?

The other thing I'm considering is bar-ends, so I can at least change my hand position every now and then. Anyone got any recommendations?

Cheers!
Sara
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Posts

  • edninoednino Posts: 684
    CANE CREEK bar ends will change everything :)
  • fnegronifnegroni Posts: 794
    edited March 2009
    Did you try moving the saddle back a bit? (this helped me)
    Have you tried placing the handlebar grips a little narrower?
  • thropethrope Posts: 69
    Padded gloves help.

    Perhaps the handlebars are just to low - what is the drop from your saddle to the bars? You could get a different stem or stem riser to make the bars higher.

    Made a big difference to me on my probably too small old mountain bike turned commuter. Drop from saddle to bars was about 18cm and I was getting pain like you describe.
    Got one of these:
    http://www.evanscycles.com/products/del ... gn=froogle

    so the drop is now around 12cm and it's made the world of difference. Depending on your bike it might be easier to replace the stem though.

    I was also advised to point the saddle up, but that was a big mistake... was getting pain and numbness down there which is not a good thing...
  • sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
    fnegroni - The saddle was a bit further back for a bit as a test, but it turned out I only ended up riding further forward on the saddle, so my sit bones fell off the cushion and I got pain in my squishy bits - not nice! Oh, and the grips don't move, they cover the ends of the bars. I do occasionally move my hands inwards a bit on them just for a change.

    ednino - oh aye, did you have the same problem?
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  • sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
    thrope - got the gloves already! Pain's not in the fleshy bit of the hands really, but around the wrist. I'm wondering if it's just a muscular thing which will go away once they get used to it and get a bit stronger. My other bike used to be more of a sit-up-and-beg position.

    Stem riser's interesting - I'll go back to where I got the bike and ask them if it's possible (I'm a little clueless still) or whether it'll actually help me. I'm not sure I want to raise my hands enough to put more pressure on the saddle, though.
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  • thropethrope Posts: 69
    the gloves should help with the wrist as well - the idea is they should stop the vibration that causes pain in the wrist rather than just padding the palm of your hand for friction or whatever..

    if the bike is new you might be able to get them to change the stem... now I remember I think I needed to get the raiser because my bike is old and I couldn't find any cheap stems to fit the 1 1/8" headset.

    you can get stems that you can change the angle on, so you can start with the bars high and then lower them as you get stronger... I don't think its ever really comfortable to have a flat bar too low though.
  • snookssnooks Posts: 1,521
    Just a thought...Are you covering your brakes a lot?

    So rather than holding onto the bars you're resting you hands on them

    If so....

    Adjust your brake leavers so they are roughly in-line with your arms when your cycling...so your wrists are straight rather than kinked :)

    Had the same problem myself :D

    Padded gloves will take a lot of the shock out of the bars, and bar ends will give you some variety and move your wrists about
    FCN:5, 8 & 9
    If I'm not riding I'm shooting http://grahamsnook.com
    THE Game
    Watch out for HGVs
  • sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
    Already had padded gloves for some time - so I'm afraid I've got that help already - unless I should be getting super-duper-wuper padded gloves!

    Have emailed the bike shop, they're pretty good with replying to enquiries :) Not sure the handlebar height is too bad - as really they're no lower than the saddle if at all.

    snooks - already thought of that - angling the brakes and gear shifters was one of the first things I did after a couple of rides! Smart thinking though.
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  • Robmanic1Robmanic1 Posts: 2,150
    Have you tried "nosing" your saddle up a little? Try small increments at a time, this should help relieve the stress on your wrists, or not.
    Pictures are better than words because some words are big and hard to understand.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3336802663/
  • Rich158Rich158 Posts: 2,348
    It sounds like your brake and gears are in the wrong position in relation to your fingers as Snooks says. This can have a major impact upon your wrists, ideally you want your fingers to fall naturally onto the levers without any wrist rotation nedded to operate them, you may need to adjust the reach as well if you can.

    From the look of your photo, the grips are rotated to far back (if that makes sense), and when you rest you thumb pad on the grip its forcing you into an unnatural position with the wrists dropped to much. However the brake levers don't look too bad, do you have to change your hand position to reach them? I'd get get the grips moved first and then change the brake levers to suit.

    I'd also get bar ends just to give yourself another position, and give the wrists a rest from time to time, it will make a huge difference and is a more natural position for your hands.
    pain is temporary, the glory of beating your mates to the top of the hill lasts forever.....................

    Revised FCN - 2
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    Sara

    I am sorry, I am going to ignore your direct order!

    My touring bike (converted mtb) has flat bars with bar ends. I get aching wrists as you describe on anything but short rides. The position that flat bars requires is pretty unnatural, if you hang your arms by your sides your palms don't face backwards, but this is the position that flat bars impose. In effect, my wrists have to turn inwards about 30 degrees more than is comfortable to hold the bars. Look at those very old fashioned bikes with flat bars, they had swept back ends, for good ergonomic reasons. Bar ends do help, but when riding in town you won't be able to use them much because you need to cover the brakes.

    Drop bars, when holding the hoods, are far more natural for the wrists, whilst brakes are covered at all times.

    I know you didn't want to hear this, and I am sure there will be a load of disagreement with this, but it is from 15 years of experience - flat bars hurt me, drops don't. I have given up touring on my flat barred bike.
  • wgwarburtonwgwarburton Posts: 1,863
    Sara,
    I suggest bar-ends that let you rest your hands with the thumbs at the top and palms facing inwards. This seems a more natural position, especially if your handlebars arn't too wide, and should take much of the pressure off your wrists.

    Cheers,
    W.
  • sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
    Robmanic1 wrote:
    Have you tried "nosing" your saddle up a little? Try small increments at a time, this should help relieve the stress on your wrists, or not.
    As said, done that. And further nosing-up hurts me on the bits that shouldn't get hurt!
    Rich158 wrote:
    From the look of your photo, the grips are rotated to far back (if that makes sense), and when you rest you thumb pad on the grip its forcing you into an unnatural position with the wrists dropped to much.
    Already done - that picture was taken the day I got the bike so they've been moved since. Might give them another look-over later just in case I can't drop them further!
    alfablue wrote:
    Sara
    I am sorry, I am going to ignore your direct order!
    Knew someone would! I just can't afford it, it'd require quite a lot of work and new shifters, etc - can't do that any time soon. Otherwise, I might consider in future.

    It sounds like bar-ends of some kind may be the most useful, albeit maybe short-term solution.

    From a bit of research I have learned that bullhorn bars are apparently "out of fashion" - do we know why? And are they something I ought to consider?
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  • Robmanic1Robmanic1 Posts: 2,150
    Sounds odd, but are you in a position to try a different saddle? A more comfortable saddle/ seatpost combo could allow you more freedom to "experiment" with saddle angles.
    I had a similar problem with wrist discomfort, my saddle is fairly nose-up (see sig) and this really helps take the pressure of my girly wrists.
    Pictures are better than words because some words are big and hard to understand.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3336802663/
  • stuaffstuaff Posts: 1,736
    Another thing that might help- Ergon grips (or equivalent). I have Ergons on both mine, and they're excellent, never had a problem even on 40-50 mile rides. The GR2s have integrated bar ends as well.
    Dahon Speed Pro TT; Trek Portland
    Viner Magnifica '08 ; Condor Squadra
    LeJOG in aid of the Royal British Legion. Please sponsor me at http://www.bmycharity.com/stuaffleck2011
  • snookssnooks Posts: 1,521
    alfablue wrote:
    The position that flat bars requires is pretty unnatural, if you hang your arms by your sides your palms don't face backwards, but this is the position that flat bars impose.

    OK, type something on you keyboard, anything, how are you hands orientated now ;)

    Yet millions of people all around the world have their hands in this position every day, it's hardly an unnatural position, it's not like you're sticking your foot behind your neck is it? :D

    I ride with drops and flats, and don't suffer pain in my wrists on either
    FCN:5, 8 & 9
    If I'm not riding I'm shooting http://grahamsnook.com
    THE Game
    Watch out for HGVs
  • sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
    Robmanic1 - not sure - to be honest, my saddle's quite good - I'm not really sure it's the issue. If I had a saddle with a lower nose, say (does such a thing exist?), I'd only end up angling it further back again for the same effect - and squishy bits are again squished!

    StuAff - Ergon - my grips already have that sort of meat-pad section on them.

    Bar ends (or maybe bullhorn handlebars, hrrm) are still looking like something worth trying. Also will see what the shop says about the stem - I've looked at the manual but not sure I can figure it out...
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  • rally200rally200 Posts: 646
    Sara What photo? what shape are your bars?

    I get similar pain on my flat bar - the bar ends are swept slightly up & back. i'm wondering if that plus the bar width relative to my shoulders is putting my hands and lower arms at an unnatural angle & that maybe a straighter bar would help.
  • tonye_ntonye_n Posts: 832
    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/SPECIALIZED-CARBO ... 240%3A1318

    Try these bar-ends. I've got a Spesh Sirrus, and it has the same bar grips as your bike. Shoud be able to move the grips inwards and fit the bar-ends. These ones allow you to fit your thumb over the top of the bar-ends when gripping, and I find that this makes a huge difference on post 10mile rides.

    Spesh do the same shape of bar-ends in cheaper non-carbon if you prefer. Exactly the same shape and benefits.

    Go to the Specialized Concept Store at the bottom of Park Street, Bristol Center and ask.
  • Robmanic1Robmanic1 Posts: 2,150
    I think I see your problem, you've clearly damaged your wrists by attempting to arrest the fall you had, tripping over those carelessly discarded shoes! :wink:
    Pictures are better than words because some words are big and hard to understand.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3336802663/
  • jongingejonginge Posts: 5,945
    snooks wrote:
    alfablue wrote:
    The position that flat bars requires is pretty unnatural, if you hang your arms by your sides your palms don't face backwards, but this is the position that flat bars impose.

    OK, type something on you keyboard, anything, how are you hands orientated now ;)

    Yet millions of people all around the world have their hands in this position every day, it's hardly an unnatural position, it's not like you're sticking your foot behind your neck is it? :D
    And, funnily enough, loads of people develop RSI and carpal tunnel.... :roll:
    snooks wrote:
    I ride with drops and flats, and don't suffer pain in my wrists on either
    Good for you. Others are not so lucky.
    FCN 2-4 "Shut up legs", Jens Voigt
    Planet-x Scott
    Rides
  • nationnation Posts: 609
    You might think about trying "extreme sweep" riser bars (they're sort of M-shaped, have a look at the "Mary" bar on this page.

    They give you a ride position that's more upright, with elbows tucked in somewhat and straighter wrists. It's not very aero, but apparently quite comfortable. This kind of set up is growing in popularity for long-forked MTBs.
  • snookssnooks Posts: 1,521
    JonGinge wrote:
    And, funnily enough, loads of people develop RSI and carpal tunnel.... :roll:

    Not many people cycle 8 hours a day, every day, 5 days a week though ;)
    FCN:5, 8 & 9
    If I'm not riding I'm shooting http://grahamsnook.com
    THE Game
    Watch out for HGVs
  • sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
    edited March 2009
    tonye_n - ooh, cheers. It's that very store that I got my bike from, and have sent an email to. Nice chap in there called James tends to help me out :D

    rally200 - the one in my sig, here: http://sarawallen.com/photos/photos/Ran ... kebike.jpg
    I imagine if your bars are swept slightly back, that the hand angle is even worse than dead straight!
    EDIT I lie, for some reason my brain's going backwards! Maybe a sweep in would be comfier...
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  • DonDaddyDDonDaddyD Posts: 12,689
    Hi Sara

    I'll read through your posts later, but my immediate thoughts were gloves.

    I'm sure you are wearing gloves to commute but what gloves are you using, what's the quality and the padding like.

    The reason I ask is because I had the same probably as you back when I rode the M2 (15stone of me on the wrist when holding a flatbar is a lot to take). I bought these fingerless gloves and I've had no hand cramps pains or sore wrists since.

    I've got gloves since but none are as comfortable as the aforementioned gloves.
    Food Chain number = 4

    A true scalp is not only overtaking someone but leaving them stopped at a set of lights. As you, who have clearly beaten the lights, pummels nothing but the open air ahead. ~ 'DondaddyD'. Player of the Unspoken Game
  • sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
    edited March 2009
    Robmanic1 wrote:
    I think I see your problem, you've clearly damaged your wrists by attempting to arrest the fall you had, tripping over those carelessly discarded shoes! :wink:
    Oi :P

    DDD - As said a few times, I have gloves, well-padded, not padded, and in between. It doesn't /feel/ like a problem a glove would solve, you know? It feels more like a wrist/position thing.

    I'm wondering if it's like the whole saddle thing - people ride, get saddlesore, and then 'just' as their sit-bones are getting used to it, they change saddles or cycling shorts and voila - they're the best invention ever - when really it's just a time thing.

    Could it be that my wrists might just strengthen up soon?

    Otherwise I'm liking the idea of having some choice in my hand-position...
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  • White LineWhite Line Posts: 887
    Another one for the bar-ends.

    Maybe try some Ergon grips. 8)
  • sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
    nation wrote:
    You might think about trying "extreme sweep" riser bars (they're sort of M-shaped, have a look at the "Mary" bar on this page.

    They give you a ride position that's more upright, with elbows tucked in somewhat and straighter wrists. It's not very aero, but apparently quite comfortable. This kind of set up is growing in popularity for long-forked MTBs.
    I like the idea, but I'm not really sure I want to be more upright.
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  • sarajoysarajoy Posts: 1,675
    If I went for the bar-ends, which is preferable out of http://www.specialized.com/OA_MEDIA/equ ... 0110_l.jpg and http://www.specialized.com/OA_MEDIA/equ ... 3610_l.jpg ? I imagine I'd stick some tape for cushioning around the latter - but the extra position with the curl at the top is interesting...
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  • laughingboylaughingboy Posts: 248
    Bar ends and gloves will help, but my first instinct is that your body weight is not well balanced on your bike.

    If you think about it, the most comfortable position to be in on a bike is sat upright. Now, that's not the ideal riding position because we want to get out of the wind/be aerodynamic. But, if you try too hard to get out of the wind, you shift your weight forward too much, and your wrists, not your sitting bones, are supporting your weight. I think that that is what is causing you pain in your wrists.

    One possibility would be to raise your handlebars, but you say that your handlebars are at the same height as your saddle. So, is your stem too long? Are you over-reaching? Is your saddle in the right position?

    In any case, I'd recommend reading Peter White's page on being comfortable on a bike. It might give you a few clues.

    For instance:
    "Try this test. You'll need a friend to hold the bike up, or set it on a wind trainer. Sit on your bike with your hands on the handlebars and the crank arms horizontal. If you have a drop bar, hold the bar out on the brake hoods. Try taking your hands off the bar without moving your torso. If it's a strain to hold your torso in that same position, that's an indication of the work your arms are doing to hold you up."
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