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Adaptive Cycling: Handcycles, Amputee Adaptation, Visual Impairment, and Other Needs Have a need for adaptive equipment to ride to compensate for a disability or loss of limb or function? This area is for discussion among those of us in the cycling world that are coming back from traumatic circumstances and tell the world, "No, you are not going to beat me down!"

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Old 06-24-16, 05:33 PM   #1
OlympiaCycler
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Bad neck requires significantly upright handlebars - looking for lighter bike

Three years ago I hurt my neck crashing my mountain bike. My local bike store fitted me then modified Surly Cross Check with significantly upright handlebars (6 inches higher than seat). It works great - except I am so slow.

I want to speed up so that I can get back into multi day events without being on the course long past closing

While I am stuck with the poor trajectory, I think a lighter bike would enable me to keep up. I would appreciate suggestions of brands/models I should investigate. I don't have the expertise to build a bike from components and am looking for light (maybe carbon?) bikes designed for an upright rider.

Thanks for any guidance.
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Old 06-24-16, 10:00 PM   #2
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I'm sorry to hear about your neck issues. I've lived with them on and off for 45 years, so you have my sympathy.

However, I don't believe a lighter bike wil, have a very material effect, since your real issue is windage because of the upright position.

Even though it's been a while, I suggest you try to stay positive, and get a new consult and/or some physical therapy, and see if and how far you can work toward a more normal riding posture.

I don't know how old you are, but I was in my twenties when I damaged my neck, and it slowly improved over 10 years to where I barely notice it riding. But early on it didn't look that promising, and it was a long slow process before I could ride without serious and lasting neck pain.
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Old 06-25-16, 09:24 PM   #3
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I agree with FB- your upright position will slow you down due to air drag more than any weight lost from the bike. If there isn't any real physical damage, physical therapy can resolve many issues.

If not, would you consider trying a recumbent? I've been riding mine for 25 years, including times when I've had neck issues (got rear-ended while driving) and I can ride all day without a bit of pain.
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Old 06-27-16, 09:58 AM   #4
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Thanks for the encouragement in cycling, if not telling me what I want to hear!

Did PT for six months post injury with no improvement and frequent irritation. Now I am use stretching, yoga and swimming to keep my neck quiet if not better. I feel like this is working.

As we biked up a 10 grade forest road yesterday, I still reflected on how much I want a lighter bike. My companions coasted down much faster than me as well as were lugging 10 pounds less up the hill.

There was an organized ride going on and we ran into a guy with a Motobecane Cafe Century Pro with straight bars on a long stem. 18 pounds versus my 33 .... Maybe I should start by switching out the tires, removing the rack, etc.

I will continue to reflect on it. At mid-50s, we are taking our life goals and ranking by physical difficulty. My biking goal is RAGBRAI next year but will dissolve if I am on the road too long each day - I only have so many hours in me.

Thanks again.
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Old 06-27-16, 09:57 PM   #5
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Hmmm... easy things first. What tires are on your current bike? A while back I put 1.25" 100psi tires on a mountain bike. I was amazed at how fast it went.
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Old 06-28-16, 12:41 AM   #6
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Same challenges here -- bum neck, permanently damaged C2, same bike fit limitations.

After 10 months on a heavyish comfort hybrid I'm in good enough shape to kinda want a lighter bike for smooth pavement rides (I still enjoy the hybrid's softer ride and suspension fork for gravel and rough roads).

A few weeks ago I tried a Trek 7.5 FX. It was light enough that I could really feel the difference -- especially accelerating and climbing even a moderate uphill grade. But the flat bars and reach felt uncomfortable. So I'm considering a similar bike with raised drops, or maybe flipped North Road bars -- I can handle the drops for short periods, although my neck pain limits mobility so I can't really look at the road ahead. Locally I've noticed several fellows my age and older riding road bikes with drop bars elevated to slightly above saddle height, so it's not an uncommon setup.

Biggest differences I could make in my existing hybrid would be lighter wheels and tires (my puncture resistant 700x40 tires weight 1,110 gr each!), and replacing the suspension fork with a rigid fork. But, nah. I'll leave it as-is because it works and suits me fine for off-road and gravel rides. Makes better sense to put the money toward a bike that's designed to be lighter and quicker overall.
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Old 06-28-16, 10:36 PM   #7
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what about an airfoil or windshield type thingy? i mean, the problem is aerodynamics, right? not weight.

i bet you could make something pretty damn decent in a few minutes with some heavy duty but flexible clear plastic
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Old 06-28-16, 10:59 PM   #8
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Having ridden for 40+ years since a serious neck injury, I can assure you that it's possible to ride long distances and times on drop bars (personal records 380 continuous miles and 24 continuous hours).

But it takes work to improve the condition of the neck, and techniques to minimize the consequences of trying to hold your head up with drop bars.

1- learn to be s sightseer, look up, down, to both sides, and even as far behind as possible. The key is to keep your head in motion as much as possible, and spend a minimum amount of time in the fixed forward position.

2- here's my specific technique. I spend a decent percentage of time riding with my head low, rather than trying to keep it up. To do so safely, I look up and "memorize" a long stretch of the road ahead. If there's nothing happening, I can then relax my neck and I'm good that way for 10 seconds or so. Then I repeat the process, and continue that way as long as conditions permit.

By keeping my neck in motion, and giving it as much "off" time as possible, I'm able to avoid the cycle of pain/muscle spasm/pain that used to be par for the course.

So, DO NOT GIVE UP on riding long distances with drop bars. It may not be easy, but it is possible in most cases, if you work toward that goal.
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Old 06-30-16, 01:10 PM   #9
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Jeff Willis -
Sorry for my delay in posting.

My Surley Crosscheck has
Alexrims etro 622x18 adventurer
specialized infinity 700x35 35-622 armadillo

Do you recommend changing them out?
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Old 06-30-16, 10:40 PM   #10
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Jeff Willis -
Sorry for my delay in posting.

My Surly Crosscheck has
Alex rims ETRTO 622x18 adventurer
specialized infinity 700x35 35-622 armadillo

Do you recommend changing them out?
IMO, the Specialized Armadillos are very flat-resistant, but bog slow. I would try a set of 700 x 32 Continentals Sport Contacts:
https://www.biketiresdirect.com/prod...t-ii-tire-700c
In my experience, the Continental tires are a good compromise between rolling resistance and flat resistance. I have tried Panaracer Paselas, which are very supple and amazingly fast, but I found them to be too fragile on local roads.
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Old 07-02-16, 08:00 PM   #11
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Speeding up is the antithesis of sitting Up, as air resistance of your chest is an impediment..

May be time to start looking at Recumbents. (or Letting Go of the need for speed)


OK tires .. .you consider time by the roadside fixing a flat tire part of Speed?

Because... when you go to light supple tires your vulnerability to punctures goes Up.

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Old 07-02-16, 08:12 PM   #12
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RE Carbon , just to have a Lighter bike.

In Trek FX bikes *, 7.7 is Carbon , but they cut the steerers short in the assembly Specs,
so you need the dealer to get a replacement fork with an Un cut steering tube ,
point of sale at the local shop.

*it's the brand my LBS Sells (and has for 28 years)
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Old 07-04-16, 08:23 PM   #13
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If you want to look for a lighter bike with a geometry that suits you, have you had a bike fit?
A good fitter can give you a chart with the lengths of various frame pieces and angles, and you can look for a bike with close to that geometry.

A good bike fitter told me a few years ago that I should be buying 51/52cm frames instead of the 54cm frame that my leg length would indicate (due to short torso for my height).
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Old 07-14-16, 10:44 AM   #14
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I explored most of these ideas and implemented.

My local Trek dealership had little stock so I drove down to Portland shop with great staff and inventory. While I was uncomfortable test riding bikes in their traffic/road construction, the fitting and advice was spot-on. Loved the Trek 7.5 2015 women's pink sparkly color (my fashion muse is a 5 year old) but it wasn't the handling and pick up I am craving. I fell in love with the 7.7's ride and will learn to appreciate its classy carbon color. We put a Bontrager Ajna Elite women's saddle and Shimano PD-M8 peddles on it. They recommended I give it some rides and return to explore any stem/fork adjusting necessary.

Since I have been having flats with the Surley's Specialized Armadillos (many unproven theories why), I went ahead and upgraded to Continental Gatorskin 28s as my new ride there.

The 2016 Trek FX carbon models have not been released but the store was willing to give me a great deal and quick turnaround on the work.

Taking the Trek for a first local ride over lunch then this evening using the Surley for a SUP relay (paddle one way, bike back on rough roads).

I appreciate the ideas and opinions from the forum. It gave me great starting points for finding what I need.
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Old 07-14-16, 10:46 PM   #15
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I explored most of these ideas and implemented.

My local Trek dealership had little stock so I drove down to Portland shop with great staff and inventory. While I was uncomfortable test riding bikes in their traffic/road construction, the fitting and advice was spot-on. Loved the Trek 7.5 2015 women's pink sparkly color (my fashion muse is a 5 year old) but it wasn't the handling and pick up I am craving..
Well, you know the old saying: "Portland has two seasons: 'rain' and 'under construction'".

I'll assume you ended up at Bike Gallery. They have great fit people. Their "master fitter" has gone on to set up his own business: Bicycle Fitting Services | . He helped me with tuning the fit on my recumbent- something many fitters wouldn't touch.
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Old 07-15-16, 08:57 AM   #16
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Bad neck post jumped out. Me too. Congrats on your new bike. I gave up on my steel road bikes and settled on a FX, mine a 7.4. I added a very short upright stem and Bontrager Race bar ends. With them on the end of the bars I felt like a wind scoop but still used the added hand position most of the time. Then I moved them inside the grips, perfect for me, the position is nearly like riding on hoods but higher. Either way, to be able to move your hands, body around is most helpful on a flat bar.
If your FX is like mine, the bar end needs an adapter to go on the not round end of the bar with those funky grips. Sounds like your bike shop is better than the one that made fun of me for mounting them inside the grips. To try that is simple. I've also considered a trekking bar but what I've got is working better than I imagined.
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Old 07-15-16, 12:42 PM   #17
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Yes, I was a Bike Gallery on 10th.

Sail, I will note your advice. I ended up riding 3 hours on the FX 7.5 yesterday and I will need to modify. It is a joy to ride and at least in my mind, I am significantly faster. In my opinion it lacks low gears for extreme hills but I knew that going in.
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