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  1. #1
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    Riding position via handlebars

    I'm wanting to get a new set of handlebars for my bike but I'm not sure what they will do to my riding position. I'm looking at Nitto Albatross, Nitto Mustache, Velo Orange Left Bank and Velo Orange Tourist bars.

    In the current position (stem raised all the way) I will experience hand numbness on any ride approaching more than a handfull of miles. My hope is that the Albatross, Left Bank and Tourist bars will provide a little more rise over what I already have but it won't be much. The other concern I have is length of the so-called "cockpit". If I use a bar with a lot of pullback am I likely to feel "cramped"?

    I've never experimented with different handlebars and I'm hoping to gain from other people's experiences and knowledge in what I might expect.


  2. #2
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    This is pretty counterintuitive, and you might not believe me. But numbness in the hands usually means your saddle is in the wrong place (for you). I might have this backwards, but I think the first thing to do is move your saddle backwards. Your weight is supported by your saddle, legs, and hands, obviously, but if the proportions are wrong, and too much weight rests on your hands, they'll go numb.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    This is pretty counterintuitive, and you might not believe me. But numbness in the hands usually means your saddle is in the wrong place (for you). I might have this backwards, but I think the first thing to do is move your saddle backwards. Your weight is supported by your saddle, legs, and hands, obviously, but if the proportions are wrong, and too much weight rests on your hands, they'll go numb.
    For me, numbness has more to do with the angle of my wrists than with how much weight is on my hands. When I have too much weight on my hands, my palms get sore and my teeth rattle. When the angle of the bars is wrong, my hands do numb. For me straight, flat bars are particularly problematic. My hands used to go numb in 20-30 minutes on the mountain bike, whereas I could ride the drop-bar road bike for hours without problems. Turned out I needed a flat handlebar with more "sweep" so that my wrists were in a more neutral position. I think the bars I ended up with have a 15- or 20-degree sweep compared to the 4- or 8-degree sweep with most standard bars.

  4. #4
    Senior Member zandoval's Avatar
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    I eventually had to go to Bull Horn handle bars with tektro levers - They offer me the most comfort for my heavy weight and bad back...

  5. #5
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Put a set of these bars on your bike and ride in supreme comfort with no back aches or numb hands ever again!

    I run these bars on all 3 of my bikes to avoid any pain at all. (we are similar body shapes.)

    http://www.amazon.com/Nirve-Cruiser-...006951&sr=8-17

    P.S. If you need more cockpit room look into a "setback" seat post. I also use them on my bikes to taylor the bikes to me.
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  6. #6
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    corwin1968, You maybe able to add a set of bar ends for an alternate hand position to switch to and back from. I'm not sure I like the saddle height, though it maybe just the photo. Have someone ride behind you to see if your hips are rocking side to side. If so, lower the saddle slightly and retest.

    Brad

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    Quote Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
    corwin1968, You maybe able to add a set of bar ends for an alternate hand position to switch to and back from. I'm not sure I like the saddle height, though it maybe just the photo. Have someone ride behind you to see if your hips are rocking side to side. If so, lower the saddle slightly and retest.
    Brad
    corwin, I have an old set of bar ends lying around. You pay for shipping and they're yours. Just let me know.

  8. #8
    Senior Member bud16415's Avatar
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    Corwin1968
    It’s nice to see someone asking for advice posting a photo. I took a long look at it and tried to compare it to some bikes I have had in the past and things I did to help with fitting them.

    Without doing anything to your bike first off how you grip the bars can sometimes contribute to numbness issues. When riding properly only a light pressure is needed to be exerted gripping the bars and the point on your hand that takes the weight is key to relieving numbness. I try and concentrate on keeping the pressure located on the pad on the opposite side away from the thumb pad. Frequently open your grip and extend fingers straight out and wiggle them a little. If you feel this causes you to feel out of control then do it one hand at a time. They also make grips that have a paddle ends that has helped many spread the weight out on the hand.

    As to fitting your posture now on the bike is upright and it’s hard to tell in the photo but your seat looks to be about right height wise. When I see a good 5 or 6 inches of seat post extended and judging by the spacing between the top tube and the down tube, you have a fairly small frame. That causes two things it makes the point where your stem starts low compared to where your seat is and a smaller frame has a shorter top tube. The shorter top tube is what’s giving you that claustrophobic feeling with going to a swept back bars. (Seattle Forrest) is correct I think in asking about saddle position front to back it is very possible to be in an upright position and still have your hands carry a lot of the upper body weight. Think about the location of the crank and your legs as the only real fixed point on the bike that can’t be adjusted. Then picture a recumbent bike where all the weight is on the butt and the feet are way out front. The idea is to get the butt back just enough that you find a balance point for the feet, butt and the hands become less involved and can relax and control the bike and not support or only slightly support. The part that feels strange then is you think you are reaching even more for the bars and that reach makes you feel you are loading the hand even more when you are not. The experiment I like to tell people to do is stand with your heals to a wall and lean forward using a chair to support yourself by placing them on the seat. Without the chair and no room for your butt to go back you will fall face forward in doing this and you will feel half your weight on your hands even slightly bent at the waist. Now move out from the wall 6 inches and do it again and this time your natural instinct to balance will cause knees to bend slightly butt goes back and core muscles start taking weight hands can rest on the seat without taking as much weight. That same felling is what you want to feel on the bike.

    So how far leaning into an aero position should you be? I would say just as far as you can go without your upper legs and knees constricting or running into the upper body and where you can breath freely. To get to that on a frame that’s a little small you have to get the bars up and back some amount. You said you already have them adjusted as high as you can. (Be careful not to go past the safety point marked on the stem.) Changing stem or bars is all possible or a combination of both. Doing that might mean cables will be too short or how your shifters mount on straight bars might be different on different bars. Bar ends are another possibility they were designed for a different reason but many of us have used them with grips to get another hand position while seated to help with hand pain etc. I have done all these things mentioned above on different bikes with different size frames and in almost all cases I have been able to get a pain free ride I even have one bike with cruiser bars and it’s a pleasure to ride. You will be really fighting a head wind that upright but your hands will be feeling good. An hour or two riding bolt upright will be not to bad but beyond that the benefit to the hands will be traded off to other places.

    Hope some of this helps and I have pictures of different mods if you want to see some I can post.
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  9. #9
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    bud16415 offers some good advice. What you may be able to do is to go bike shopping and try to ride some cruiser bikes. If you like that hand position then buy some handlebars. Long term would be to start doing some core exercises. Having a strong core will aid comfort in many ways.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    For me, numbness has more to do with the angle of my wrists than with how much weight is on my hands. When I have too much weight on my hands, my palms get sore and my teeth rattle. When the angle of the bars is wrong, my hands do numb. For me straight, flat bars are particularly problematic. My hands used to go numb in 20-30 minutes on the mountain bike, whereas I could ride the drop-bar road bike for hours without problems. Turned out I needed a flat handlebar with more "sweep" so that my wrists were in a more neutral position. I think the bars I ended up with have a 15- or 20-degree sweep compared to the 4- or 8-degree sweep with most standard bars.
    This has been my experience, too.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  11. #11
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    I've ridden a few straight bar hybrids and the Ergon GC2 and GR2 grips have been a Godsend. With traditional MTB grips I was good for 30 minutes or so and by 60 minutes I was absolutely miserable. I have GC2 grips on my current hybrid and have the bar ends set at an angle that approximates the angle you would have riding the hoods of a drop bar. The Ergon grips also have a widened palmar surface which I have set to keep my wrists in a neutral position when on the flats. By switching between the flat and the bar end positions every few minutes, I can ride for extended periods with very little discomfort. If I do get a tingly hand, I just hang it down for a few seconds opening and closing my fist and I'm good to go. Good riding gloves with an adequate ulnar groove (keeps the pressure off the ulnar nerve and artery thus preventing numb fingers) are another good investment. You don't have to have expensive gel padded gloves as its not the padding, it's the design of the glove that aleviates pressure points. I use some leather-palmed Bontrager gloves that were relatively inexpensive and they work just fine.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for all the input. The seat may or may not have been at the appropriate height. I literally stuck the seat on and rode past the house a couple of times for my wife to photograph me. I just got the bike and need to do some adjustments to the seat angle and will experiment with seat height but 73.5-74 cm is where I've been on previous bikes.

    I was riding a 19" version of this same bike but just this week was lucky enough to find a 21" version so I snagged it. I'm sure a 23" would be too big and anyway, they are even more rare than the 21" version. I have no problem with replacing the stem and have been looking at the larger Nitto dirt drop but I'm not sure if it will give me more than a centimeter or more of rise over what I've got.

    I've decided not to use bar-ends on this particular bike since I'm going for a particular "aesthetic" that is more retro than modern. I am considering bar-ends for my FX 7.2, though.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    What do you think about adjustable stems, Corwin? They don't have the best aesthetic (or gravitational!) qualities, but they can be extremely useful while you sort exactly this sort of issue out.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    What do you think about adjustable stems, Corwin? They don't have the best aesthetic (or gravitational!) qualities, but they can be extremely useful while you sort exactly this sort of issue out.
    I've definately considered an adjustable stem as a way of testing different positions. I think I'll pick a set of handlebars and install them and then figure out if I need to adjust the stem. I'm thinking that something like the Albatross bar, while not providing any more rise, might put me more upright just from the fact that the grips will be several inches closer to me.

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