Tandem Cycling - numb hands
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02-03-08, 08:55 AM
We have an '06 Cannondale tandem. I can't avoid my hands going numb, even on short rides. Will a suspension fork help? Should I just put better/more padded tape on the bars?
02-03-08, 09:25 AM
Numb hands usually has more to do with your riding position being such that it's putting too much weight on your hands, e.g., stem too long, bars too low, or saddle set-back not quite right.
Saddle set-back (nose over cranks) is where you start, everything else falls out from that point. For example, if your saddle is too far forward, you'll end up with more weight on your hands and bars than you would if your body's center of gravity was a bit further back. If you're already stretched out too far, you'd then need a shorter stem + saddle adjustment and so on. Then again, sometimes just tilting the nose of the saddle up 2% (and then lowering the saddle a few mm to off-set the change in ride height) will often times solve the problem. Everyone is a bit different and very small changes sometimes make a very big difference.
The archives and web is filled with useful information on bike fitting. I'd start there before reaching for your wallet to pay for placebos or "comfort" devices.
02-03-08, 11:00 AM
Paulandyael... welcome to the forum!
+1 on TG recommendations....
the link below is an easy reading 'bike fit process article', there are many other good ones out there...the sequence of setting things is real important with the seat position being #1, as you probably already know.
On my C'dale, I ultimately raised my bars and shortened the stem to help with numb hands and a stiff neck. For what ever reason, my more laid out road bike position that I like and still use on the single, just dose not work for me on the tandem particularly on rides lasting a couple of hours or more.
Good luck and have fun..
02-03-08, 10:59 PM
It''s the same for me; the positioning on my road bike just doesn't work on the tandem. I can raise the bars pretty easily by flipping the stem over; guess I'll start there. Thanks!
One of the big advantages of road (drop) bars over ATB or comfort bars is the multiplicity
of positions available: hands on the straight parts, on the beginning of the curved part,
on the hoods of the brifters and on the drops in several positions. Each of these shifts
the pressure points to a different spot in the hand. There are two nerves that can be
affected: the median nerve in the center of the flexion side of the wrist and the one
involved in carpal tunnel problems which provides sensation to the index and half (more or less)
of the middle finger, and the ulnar nerve which covers the rest of the middle, and all of the
ring and small fingers. You are more likely to have median nerve problems, and these would be
less likely with the hands on the curve of the bar or on the brifters. In addition to bike adjustments
mentioned by prior posters,
heavier padding in gloves or increasing the diameter of the bar by adding foam wrap can reduce
the pressure on the hands. Best results in my experience are just by moving the hands periodically.
Straight bars make this difficult.
I find that tandem riding involves a lot less standing, and thus changes saddle requirements and positioning needs. Starting with identical setups seems like the way to go, but dealing with the issues should probably be addressed ignoring the other setup.
02-04-08, 11:09 AM
As said, proper fit, and multiple hand positions are the key.
Because you tend to move around less on a tandem it becomes a bigger issue. Try to keep your upper body relaxed, keeping your elbows bent, and light pressure on your hands.
Watch how your wrist is cocked. If your wrist is bent back it can entrap the nerve, so try to keep a relaxed angle at your wrist.
also pressure right at the base of your palms can entrap the nerve. So try moving around what portion of your palm presses on the bar.
One position that relieves pressure on the nerves is to put your fingers over the brake hoods, with the hood resting between your index and middle finger. While it's not very comfratable, it gives your palms a complete break for a minute or two.
Ride one handed gently shaking the other hand for a minute or so.
Make sure the bike fits, relax, and move your hands around a lot, and you should be fine
02-05-08, 07:34 AM
So are they flat bars or drops?
I had that trouble with our first tandem, a Trek T100 with flat bars. I was used to drops. I mounted aerobars and that helped, gave my hands a chance to rest at higher speeds (over 25 km/hr). Tweeked the riding position, and then rode it a lot. Significant rididng I think is what really solved the problem, then I went to drops, which to me are much more comfortable than flat bars as long as you stay on pavement.
Suspension fork? I doubt that will solve the hands problem, and you should only to consider it for off-road use.
02-11-08, 04:53 AM
Well, I raised the bars about an inch and things are much better! Thanks to everyone for your input.
Agree with the other posts on fixing position issues first. Some other suggestions which may help:
- You could try some fancy carbon or alu drop bars with flattened tops, like TG has on his Calfee. I have Syntace carbon bars on mine and find the wider top makes quite a difference.
- More training - I used to get numb hands on my Colnago after not riding it for a while. Some back extensions later and more on the bike training I found my pedalling and back were strong enough to support my torso without putting so much weight on my hands.
- More bar wrap. In the same vein as the flattened bars, more wrap will have the same effect, particularly if Campag shift cables are giving an annoying lump at the back of the bar. If there's an issue I like to lay 2 layers of old bar tape above the shift cable and secure with a couple of loops of electrical tape before wrapping the bars. Alternatively Fizik and Marsas make anti vibration gel inserts that do the same job.
- Buz kill bar ends. These are a harmonic vibration dampener, which supposedly damps vibrations in the handlebars. The idea is not new, and works in a larger scale in bridges like the new(ish) wobbly footbridge across the Thames in London and buildings subject to wind loads like the Burj El Arab hotel, so it should work. I remain sceptical as I don't think the improvements will be measureable.
- gloves - those with some padding may help.
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