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  1. #1
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    Athena handlebar setup?

    I'm hoping to get some advice on how to set up bikes to be more comfortable for my wife.

    I'm a Clyde, but other than weight I don't (physically) have much in common with my wife.
    I'm most comfortable with my handlebars near to, generally a little lower than, the level of my saddle.
    Her favorite bike has the grips about 6" higher than the saddle.

    I have a preference for swept back bars that give a more neutral, comfortable shoulder and elbow position. But I tried a variety of bars to come to that decision. She's very reluctant to have anything changed on her bikes. She's had issues with hand numbness. I switched her stock semi-ergonomic grips to Ergon gp1 grips and she says that helped some, but she still gets numbness.

    Right now she has a 2" riser bar, and is reluctant to have me change it. Frankly I think her reluctance is because she likes the aesthetic and doesn't think a swept back bar will look as nice. I think ergonomics trumps aesthetics, but it's her bike (and the best bike is the one you ride).

    I'd really like to know what other Athenas have found works well for them.
    And pictures may be especially helpful in convincing my wife to try something different.
    Quote Originally Posted by sprockets View Post
    I talk to myself regularly - crazy is the technical term I believe. The only time I shut up is when I'm riding. (that's the best time to listen to all those voices in your head :D )

  2. #2
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    I first had a comfort bike where the handlebars were much higher than the seat. I found that bike to be very uncomfortable and I also got numb hands and had other problems. It turned out that the bike itself just did not fit me well--the reach was too far. I never tried new handlebars, instead I got a new bike, a hybrid. I use Ergon grips on that bike. Picture here: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...1#post14414890

    The other issue and maybe most significant issue was lack of core strength and doing core exercises really helped with comfort on bikes, including issues like numb hands.

    I've had two other bikes, a Madone road bike which of course does not have high handlebars. No hand issues. I had a Downtube Nova, which is a folder but partly due to my size the handlebars are well above the seat. I do not find that bike very comfortable for longer rides. I gave that bike away to my sister.

    Here is my favorite core exercise illustration: mayoclinic.com/health/core-strength/SM00047
    Last edited by goldfinch; 06-29-12 at 12:19 PM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the response.
    I'm sure core strength is part of the issue. I don't know that my wife ever had great core strength, but she had surgery a little more than a year ago and, while she is regarded as fully recovered, I'm sure her core strength now is less than it was before. It's something she's working on, but it takes time, and I'd really like to find some way to reduce/eliminate the numbness issue sooner rather than later.

    She has several bikes:

    A Huffy Stone Mountain, identical to one she used for a paper route in her early teens

    A Miyata 512, which is pretty and fast, but (especially with DT shifters) is uncomfortable for her to ride (it'll probably get bar-end shifters and a stem with more rise). The issue is largely core strength, but that will take time and work.

    A PT Cruiser bike, which will be getting sold soon. It was a good price and came with some nice extras, but it's heavy and slow.

    A DiamondBack Traverse with 1.5" slicks. Old lower end LBS rigid MTB. What I would consider a good city bike for a high theft area (like here). She likes it, but it's not her favorite. I don't think she's done more than five miles at a stretch on this one.

    And a DiamondBack Edgewood. It's an older model with much better components than the new Edgewood. She loves this bike. I generally dislike comfort suspension, but she's happy with it. She frequently uses it to walk our Schnauzer, so speed isn't the goal. But she'd like to use it for longer rides and the numb hands is a major issue. She has the same issue with the Huffy.

    The Edgewood has about the same reach as the Stone Mountain, buy about 2.5" more rise. I think the reach is probably about right. She prefers the higher rise.

    After about five miles she starts moving her hands to the ends of the bars and flexing her hands, and by 10 to 12 miles it's bad enough she has to stop.
    She's agreed to try some bar ends, but (with what I have available) they'll make the main hand position narrower (I'm not sure how much of an issue that is) and the added hand position will be more forward, which I don't think will help. I know there are bar ends that would likely be better suited, and other styles of handlebars that would offer more and possibly better hand positions, but she doesn't want me spending money on something that may not help and that she may not like the look of.

    Another issue with the lower handlebar position is finding a bra in her size (I think 38F) that provides the needed support without digging in to soft tissue. I wasn't really intending to ask about where to buy sports bras for Athenas, but I guess it actually is a good question (I really need to get her to start posting on here).

    Any input on what has worked well for others is appreciated.
    Any pictures that will give her an idea how a given handlebar setup will look are greatly appreciated.
    Quote Originally Posted by sprockets View Post
    I talk to myself regularly - crazy is the technical term I believe. The only time I shut up is when I'm riding. (that's the best time to listen to all those voices in your head :D )

  4. #4
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    My favorite sportsbras for large chested women (which I once was) are the Moving Comfort bras, specifically the Maia: http://www.amazon.com/Moving-Comfort...ort+sports+bra

    It took me only two, three weeks of core work to start to see significant improvement.

    There are a few guys here who have had numb hand problems, maybe they can chip in and talk about their handlebar solutions. I know for me bar ends did not work, it felt like my arms were splayed out too wide on the bar ends. But others love them so they really seem worth trying.
    Last edited by goldfinch; 06-29-12 at 12:36 PM.

  5. #5
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    Grips almost parallel to the top tube

    Quote Originally Posted by NightShift View Post
    I'm hoping to get some advice on how to set up bikes to be more comfortable for my wife.

    She's had issues with hand numbness. I switched her stock semi-ergonomic grips to Ergon gp1 grips and she says that helped some, but she still gets numbness.

    Right now she has a 2" riser bar, and is reluctant to have me change it. Frankly I think her reluctance is because she likes the aesthetic and doesn't think a swept back bar will look as nice. I think ergonomics trumps aesthetics, but it's her bike (and the best bike is the one you ride).

    I'd really like to know what other Athenas have found works well for them.
    I started riding a hybrid again 2 years ago, after 25 years off my bike (I also hang out in the 50-plus forum). I was having terrible numbness on the flat bars, and felt like riding on bar-end grips kept me too far from the brakes. I rode anyway, with numbness starting after about 8 miles, and getting bad by 25-30 miles. Eventually, I developed enormous pain at the base of my thumb, and had to stop riding. After a couple of months of physical therapy, I switched to mustache bars with bar-end shifters, and they were much better; instead of numb hands at 10 miles, I could ride a century with at most occasional numbness which went away when I got off the bike for a minute. I did have significant elbow pain, which was because the mustache bars were too wide for me. I eventually switched to narrow, (40 cm) short and shallow drop bars, and ride on the hoods 90% of the time. No numbness, no elbow pain, and multiple hand positions.

    However, I had very bad single-bike crash 6 weeks ago, and today will be my first attempt at a ride since multiple broken bones and internal injuries. It could have been worse; I wasn't an organ donor, though I'm told I would have been had I not been wearing a helmet. I crashed at the start of a 60 mile long, 4500 foot up ride. For me, that would have been an all day ride. I'm planning to try 10 flat miles today. I might not get 10 feet. Wish me luck!

  6. #6
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    I may be a little late but good luck teacherlady.


    Thank you both for your responses.

    I'm a fan of mustache bars. She's still reluctant to let me put them on her bike.

    We'll see how the bar-ends work out. If they don't help I'll try to get her to try mustache/northroad/something.



    My favorite bar-ends are a Control Tech set, longer, with a bend. Two or three hand positions. The closest position (with the setup on my mtb) feels wide; not good for prolonged riding, but good for out of the saddle climbing. The farther forward position isn't as wide, but is very stretched.
    Quote Originally Posted by sprockets View Post
    I talk to myself regularly - crazy is the technical term I believe. The only time I shut up is when I'm riding. (that's the best time to listen to all those voices in your head :D )

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