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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 11-07-07, 09:20 AM   #1
Bob_in_Midland
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Can a Clyde truly be comfortable?

Other than a recumbent or comfort bike, the question is whether a large rider can truly be comfortable on a hybrid or road bike.

I've ridden mountain bikes (Fuji, Cannondale, and Gary Fisher) and road bikes (Trek and Specialized). Each time I've tried, I've never been able to set up the bike in such a way that would get rid of the wrist and hand pain that I experience after about 30 minutes of riding. I've tried using adjustable stems, stem risers, bar ends, handlebars with more rise and sweep, and various cycling gloves. While I have been able to mitigate the problem somewhat, I've never been able to get rid of it. One thing I have not tried is drop bars, only because I have figured that if I have the problem on flat bars, then I'll certainly have it on drop bars.

Am I wrong??

Just to be clear, the problem I have is pain in the lower center of my palm, to the outer edge of my palm. The wrist pain is primarily stiffness after a period of riding.

I'm currently riding an '06 Specialized Expedition with an adjustable stem, swept back bars, and some ergonomic grips. It allows me to ride without the wrist pain, but riding so upright has obvious disadvantages. This riding position is fine when I'm out with the family, but is a bit disappointing when I'm out by myself and I feel like getting some speed going for a period of time.

Any suggestions would be helpful!

Bob
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Old 11-07-07, 09:35 AM   #2
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So many people are sooo wrong about drop bars. I know clydes with flat bars, always complaining about hand discomfort. Flat bars have ONE position. Drop bars have several. While riding drop bars, most of the time is spent upright riding on the hoods. Very comfy. I don't know why riders think that because they have drop bars, they have to ride down in the drops. One of the only times riders ride in the drops is while sprinting or some hard cranking.

I spend most of my time on the hoods. Climbing, my hands are near the stem, sometimes in the center of the top section. Sometimes I ride in the drops to rest my trunk, stretch my back or relax the legs while assuming another position.

Drop bars, the right fit, one can ride for long periods of time in comfort. I have straigth bars on my mountain bike. One of the best things I've done is add bar ends. I ride the bar ends far more than the flat section of the bars. I really have a hard time understanding how a rider can deal withonly one position on the bike.

If you insist on flat bars, at least add bar ends. I'd bet you'll soon find you spend most of your time on the ends. Then when you go with drops, you'll find riding bar ends is like riding the hoods, except that you'll have a few more postions to choose from!
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Old 11-07-07, 09:37 AM   #3
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Yes.

I do a lot of computer work so I've been very conscious of any sort of wrist pressure. Check out my sig for fitting threads (you'll see they're mostly wrists) and what I went through here. I don't have wrist problems on my roadbike and I've been in the saddle for 10 hours at a pop.

Two things I noticed in your posts:

Flat Bars. To prove this to you stand up, flap your arms around, drop them to your side. Look at your hands. The natural position is for your palms to be against your body. Now keep that position and swing your arms forward. Palms are still facing in (same position they'd be in the drops). Now pretend you're using flat bars and grip an invisible bar. You'll have to rotate your hands. So off the bat you're putting pressure on parts of your wrists that are not meant to have it.

You say you've ridden road bikes with flat bars - were these bikes you owned and had professionally fitted with flat bars installed or just hopped on a friend's bike? The biggest reason wrist pain occurs means that your body weight is landing on your wrists which is keeping you up. So two things - strengthen your core muscles to help keep pressure from your wrists and have the stem high enough that you can keep yourself up for long periods of time.

Also, I started off with a mtb trying to make comfortable for long road trips. The geometry never really let me do it (yeah, Tom was right ). Sometimes a square peg is square no matter how many times you try to shove it in the round hole.

The treking bars I posted above allowed me to keep that natural wrist position and raise the bars high enough for me to keep myself up without leaning on my wrists. They're designed for many hand positions (something else to keep in mind) to not put stress on one part.
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Old 11-07-07, 10:02 AM   #4
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Try looking at how your hands are actually hitting the bars. I occasionally get the same pain you are describing when I bench press - from the center of the heel of my hands outwards. Usually I can rack the weight, make some microscopic change to my bar/hand/wrist alignment, and the pain goes away. I usually bench without lifting gloves or wrist wraps by the way. Sorry I don't have a specific solution, but your problem sounded kinda familiar so I throught I'd through this out there.
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Old 11-07-07, 10:22 AM   #5
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Hi Bob.

Try these three things and you should see much improvement in your comfort level.

1) Have you and your bike professionally fitted.
2) Work your core. A lot! (Abs, Roman Chair Leg Lifts, Oblique twists, Lower-back ext)
3) Pedal in a gear that allows you to keep weight off your butt and hands.

I too am a rather large clyde at 6' 3" - 270. And my comfort level has gone way up after 3 months of Spin/Core classes and having my bike fit "the right way" not my way. Also #3 "Riding Light" will keep you undercarriage happ(y) (ier) on the long rides and bumpy roads.

Good luck,
Frank

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Old 11-07-07, 10:30 AM   #6
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Air hit it. Strengthening your core muscles will take a lot of weight off your hands. Move your hands around on the bars. At times I ride with open hands; the heels of my hands resting on the bars with fingers draped over the brake levers (flat bars). Bar ends are great with flat bars, also.
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Old 11-07-07, 10:37 AM   #7
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Did you try a set of bar ends for your flat bar bikes? They would allow you keep your hands aligned as Air suggested, plus they would force you to sit up a bit more transferring some of your weight off your wrists.

besserheimmerpha, when you get that pain in your wrists from benching look at your hands while your under the bar. I would bet that your wrists are cocked back when they should be straight. It's hard to get the hang of benching with straight wrists, it feels like the bar might slip out of your hands but it wont. Wearing gloves will make the slipping sensation worse, if the pain still persists check out the wrists wraps by Inzer.

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Old 11-07-07, 10:39 AM   #8
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pdg 5oh

Drats, I've been foiled again. Must remember to refresh comments prior to posting

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Old 11-07-07, 11:30 AM   #9
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Yes, drop bars can be comfortable. It's all about bike sizing and making sure it properly fits.
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Old 11-07-07, 12:09 PM   #10
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+1 on the drops. After a few miles on a "comfort" bike my hands are done with butt not far behind.

And if all else fails recumbents can be great fun. My trike, for example, not only eliminates hand and butt issues but gives me a comfortable lawn chair wherever I go.
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Old 11-07-07, 01:58 PM   #11
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So many people are sooo wrong about drop bars. I know clydes with flat bars, always complaining about hand discomfort. Flat bars have ONE position. Drop bars have several. While riding drop bars, most of the time is spent upright riding on the hoods. Very comfy. I don't know why riders think that because they have drop bars, they have to ride down in the drops. One of the only times riders ride in the drops is while sprinting or some hard cranking.

I spend most of my time on the hoods. Climbing, my hands are near the stem, sometimes in the center of the top section. Sometimes I ride in the drops to rest my trunk, stretch my back or relax the legs while assuming another position.

Drop bars, the right fit, one can ride for long periods of time in comfort. I have straigth bars on my mountain bike. One of the best things I've done is add bar ends. I ride the bar ends far more than the flat section of the bars. I really have a hard time understanding how a rider can deal withonly one position on the bike.

If you insist on flat bars, at least add bar ends. I'd bet you'll soon find you spend most of your time on the ends. Then when you go with drops, you'll find riding bar ends is like riding the hoods, except that you'll have a few more postions to choose from!
+1

All my flat bar bikes have bar ends, the one I just set up has bar ends that I cut down so they are shorties I don't use them to climb rather to allow my hands and arms to change positions.
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Old 11-07-07, 02:37 PM   #12
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I ride road, mountain and a flat bar commuter. I think my road bike is most comfortable for long rides, but I have had to get an adjustable stem for every road bike I have had to get the top of the bar level with seat hight. Also I have put B17 saddles on my road bike and commuter, my MTB rides aren't long enough to worry about the seat. And I have put horns on my commuter to give me an extra hand position. So I guess my keys to comfort are:

properly fit bike
adjustable stem
decent saddle
multiple hand postions

And I think you can achieve those on just about any kind of bike and handle bar.
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Old 11-07-07, 05:47 PM   #13
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I am very comfortable on both my road bike and my mountain bikes. I routinely do century rides on the roadie and my biggest complaint are my feet but everything else is OK.

You can get comfortable. It's a matter of proper fit and conditioning. No one feels great right off the bat. You have to condition your arms, hands, shoulders, neck, back, legs and feet to be comfortable. Work on your positioning, adjust often, go get a fitting. Just keep riding. Eventually you will get comfortable. Riding is sortof like learning to play golf. It takes time, practice and patience and eventually everything else will fall into place.
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Old 11-07-07, 07:37 PM   #14
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I'd mention how seat angle affects weight distribution, but you people slammed me for that last time.
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Old 11-07-07, 07:42 PM   #15
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Actually my understanding if the angle of the seat is pointed downward that forces more weight upon the arms/hand causing discomfort. Again why a good fitting/positioning is so important!
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Old 11-07-07, 10:35 PM   #16
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besserheimmerpha, when you get that pain in your wrists from benching look at your hands while your under the bar. I would bet that your wrists are cocked back when they should be straight. It's hard to get the hang of benching with straight wrists, it feels like the bar might slip out of your hands but it wont. Wearing gloves will make the slipping sensation worse, if the pain still persists check out the wrists wraps by Inzer.

bau
I don't have any wrist issues when I bench, I'm talking about an acute pain that sometimes occurs right in the center of the heal of my hand. It happens only very occasionally, but particularly with close-grip bench, JM presses, stuff like that where my hands are just barely shoulder width apart, my hands end up not wrapped totally perpendicular to the bar - the bar crosses my palm at something other than 90° - and that can cause some palm pain with heavier weights for me. You're right though, benching with straight wrists is MUCH better once you get the feel for it.

I've got a set of wrist wraps (Harbinger, bought at Scheels), but I try to limit their usage to the heaviest sets so I can build some stability and strength in my wrists.

Well, I just got done with my bench max-effort workout (Westside Method, baby!), and I need to take my yummy protien drink
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Old 11-07-07, 11:52 PM   #17
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Yes, as mentioned in my original post, I've tried bar ends. The bike I referred to was a Specialized Sirrus with flat bars, which I bought from a Specialized dealer. We worked for an hour on the bike, trying different stems, etc.. Finally, we went with the adjustable stem. Maybe it still wasn't fitted properly?

I do agree with what some of you have mentioned about strengthening my core. I do need a lot of work in this area.

And yes, I have been very conscious about seat angle with my current diamond frame. I do feel the difference with slight differences in seat angle, and seat position fore and aft. I did not experiment that much with the Sirrus, other than to put a different saddle on it.

I also understand what some of you have referred to in terms of arm angle. I really noticed it when I rode my wife's Giant Suede when my bike was in the shop for a few days. With the handlebars on this bike set right, I had no pain whatsoever. They were at a comfortable angle. I also noticed it when I switched from the stock handlebars that came on my current bike, over to a set which swept back more. The angle, along with some ergonomic grips, made a huge difference.

Someone else on another board had mentioned the use of trekking bars that they picked up from Nashbar. I've looked at them and have thought seriously about trying them, just to get different hand positions, and to get a better position for climbing and riding into the wind.

One other thing, which led to my posting this thread in the first place. I was thinking back to when I had a 10-speed back in high school. It had drop bars. I used to ride that thing all over the place, and I don't remember any problems with these pains. Now, that was 30 years ago when I was 100 pounds lighter, and I wrestled. Yes, most of my riding was on the hoods.

The manager of the local Specialized dealer is supposedly a certified fit specialist. Maybe it's time I go pay her a visit.

Thanks for all of your input thus far. I'll let you know what I come up with.
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Old 11-08-07, 12:28 AM   #18
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Other than a recumbent or ...Any suggestions would be helpful!
Bob
How about a recumbent TRIKE???

Get a Greenspeed and you'll be smilin' like the guy in the Enzyte commercials!

These are my 2. One for the family & one for just ME!
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Old 11-08-07, 01:29 AM   #19
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Old 11-08-07, 05:28 AM   #20
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I'd mention how seat angle affects weight distribution, but you people slammed me for that last time.
Huh? When did this happen? I've been a proponent of proper saddle angle, height and width, all dimensions must be right!
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Old 11-08-07, 07:25 AM   #21
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How about a recumbent TRIKE???
A) Too expensive (for MY budget).

B) Too difficult to transport when taking all the family bikes somewhere.

C) One of the reasons I moved away from recumbents was because I prefer the ability to stand on the pedals to "float" over bumps. I got tired of my backside being the primary shock absorber.

Oh Snap! As I look out the window, IT'S SNOWING!!!
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Old 11-08-07, 09:26 AM   #22
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I'd mention how seat angle affects weight distribution, but you people slammed me for that last time.
+1 to Tom's post. This shouldn't have happened. It's proper fitting technique.
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Old 11-08-07, 09:45 AM   #23
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One of the reasons I moved away from recumbents was because I prefer the ability to stand on the pedals to "float" over bumps. I got tired of my backside being the primary shock absorber.
I've never ridden one, but have heard that 'bents with steering controls under the seat allow rider to push butt off saddle when approaching bumps.

I agree drop bars are more comfortable, provided you have the proper size... and your bike has been fitted to you by a pro fit tech.
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Old 11-08-07, 11:07 AM   #24
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I agree with what most said above about standard road bars. I prefer standard road bike bars in a wider width than normal, and have my stem jacked up and out further (up, but stretched out works best for me). Play with the stem height, angle, and forward position to find what works for you. You may also have to change your position, depending on your weight and where it is destributed on your body. When my stomach is...biggish (every winter...ahem), I have to make the stem taller; and when I lose a few, I have to drop the bar down and closer to the body.

Have fun out there!
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Old 11-08-07, 02:56 PM   #25
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I have not read all the posts so forgive me if I am repeating. I put aero bars on my hybrid primarily for the comfort. I too was having hand pain and numbness. I even added bar ends before the aero bars and that helped a little but not much.

Anyway, now that I have the aero bars, no more pain. It is not that you need to be in the aero position all the time, just enough to releive the pressure and provide another position.
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