Bicycle Mechanics - Question about fit - my arm situation. . . (one is shorter than the other)
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03-26-11, 12:19 PM
Hi, after messing with my stem, seat, and rise of handlebars, I realized (dumbly) that my left arm is about 2 cm shorter than my right fully extended. I broke my left arm so much as a kid, well, that is the way it healed.
It never clicked in my head that might be the reason I'm have ulnar compression and numbness so bad on my right side (duhhh). It makes sense now that my right hand is taking the brunt of the weight. I've been doing extended rides of 60 miles and up. Wanting to go touring this summer.
Here is what I did today.
I double wrapped my handlebar on the left side (standard Surly Cross Check drop bar). I'm guessing that this might help even out my reach? Maybe even triple wrap it, I don't care how 'dumb' it looks.
I'm up for most anything, do any of you guys have a suggestion that might be a 'duh' moment for me - something else practical I can do, etc? There are no 'pro' fitters anywhere around, I live in rural south. I don't mind a little tinkering, I'm just tryinging to think of something for my situation.
03-26-11, 12:31 PM
Assuming you have drop bars I'd rotate the brifter on the left side a bit although it sounds like you don't really ride on the hoods. Although it might look a bit different you could actually rotate the handlebars slightly.
03-26-11, 12:34 PM
When you say rotate the handlebars, you mean loosen stem at post and move the handlebars like a cm off true toward my left arm? Am I visualizing that right?
03-26-11, 01:45 PM
Yes, rotate the bars a bit, maybe less than 1 cm initially, measured at your normal hand position. Worth a try anyway.
03-26-11, 02:36 PM
I'm up for most anything,
would that include a hiring a custom made stem?
For a different purpose I cut 2 handlebars in 1/3-2/3 mirror images,
In my case I wanted a wider Randonneur bar . and had 2 narrow ones..
But by cutting a bar in half, then combining the 2 pieces in a stem with that 2cm offset
you may make the fit what you need
By adopting the oversize (it's 1.25") standard, and having the center piece
made such as to clamp in that bar clamp ..
only the core would be made , the stem itself off the shelf.
Bike friday uses a split bar scheme, they sleeve inside the bar
and have the bar outside diameter joined
within a sleeve.
In both situations, Mine and Bike friday's the desire was compact packing
by reducing bar width to go in the carton and fly out of the country.
I have some discomfort in my right hand, I believe due to nerve damage. I have considered rotating the bars so that the left hand side takes a greater weight if hands are on the hoods but have not tried this yet. What has helped that I've tried to to change hand position when the problem crops up. Since the left hand feels no discomfort at all, I move it further back which has the effect of putting more weight on it and relieving the right hand. Sometimes I'll move the problem right hand to the drop while leaving the stronger right on the top. So far this has been enough modification of hand position for me. Good luck with this and post your solution.
You didn't say what kind of setup you have, but moving the left brake lever UP on the bar, towards you will reduce the reach on that side. Might be worth a try?
03-26-11, 04:58 PM
Perhaps a 1-2cm thick handlebar orthotic could be fabricated out of e.g. balsa wood, attached to the trailing edge and upper drop on the left side of the bar to compensate. Wrap tape over it and it should work.
I have a suggestion that may help. Try moving your saddle back a little bit. Sit on your bike like you ride, either put it in a rack, or have someone hold it for you. Lift hour hands off the bars. you should be able to hold yourself in your riding position without much effort. If you are falling forward, your seat needs to be moved to the rear. I know it sounds weird, but the farther back your butt is, the less pressure on your arms. I don't think 2cm is worth getting custom bars made. I would move your left brake up the bar slightly and ride on the hoods to relieve pressure occasionally. But if you are riding in the right position, 2cm is pretty minimal.
03-26-11, 05:32 PM
If you wear gloves, try one with more padding or thicker gel insert.
03-26-11, 08:20 PM
Have you consulted with a local orthopedic specialist? They can have great ideas, especially since so many MD's are cyclists. You may get lucky. Having a deeper understanding of the issues may help you going forward, in a more comprehensive manner.
03-26-11, 09:04 PM
If it were me I'd just angle the bars such that the reach is more equal for each arm and then play with the brifter positions to fine tune them to what feels "right".
Without some custom made bars or an angled back and up stem for the short side you won't get a truly "custom" fit but I'll bet with some playing with the angles and brake lever positions you can get it "close enough" to where you don't feel any discomfort when riding.
For all this work I would just not bother covering the bars with foam grip tape. If you find you can ride the hard "raw" bars with a good degree of comfort then when you actually foam them you'll feel like you're in heaven. If the slipperyness bothers you then some cheap cloth hockey stick tape can be wound around much of the bars but leave a bit of bare metal to allow shifting the levers around.
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