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Old 02-05-01, 10:10 AM   #1
RainmanP
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My hybrid has more or less straight handlebars. I have tried adjusting height, reach, etc., but my hands still get numb. I can sit upright, shake them out for a minute one at a time to get feeling back, but this is a pain and clumsy for pedalling. I have avoided road-type bars because I didn't think I could ever be comfortable using them. Now they are looking pretty good, and I think I may be ready. Everything I read seems to suggest that they are more comfortable because of the varied hand positions they offer. So I have a few questions:
1. I assume that I will have to give up my grip shifters and get lever/trigger shifters. Accurate assumption? Suggestions on models?
2. It seems like the brake mounts/hoods extend farther from the bar than the ones on my handlebar, providing one of the commonly used hand positions. Is this correct or just an optical illusion because of the curve of the bar? In other words will I also need to replace my brakes?
3. Traditional smoothly curved bars vs. "ergo" bars with distinct angles providing straight areas in the usual hand positions - Any comments on whether one is more comfortable than the other?
As usual, the benefit of your experience is much appreciated. I also always welcome references to books, articles, websites, etc. that might offer additional information.
Thanks,
Raymond
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Old 02-05-01, 11:12 AM   #2
steve33
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Question, have you ever tried bar ends, this will give you another position. If you look into some of the bike shps on line you will find a veriaty of diffrent bars for mt./ hybred bikes. Changign to drop bars is not impossible but, you would need to go to bae end shifters and they make little adapter do dads to change your break levers, ive seen it done but cant say i liked it. And nothing will work like it did, i would try bar ends, ive used them they work pretty good, oh yes ive even seen some that give you a drop like on a road bike, then you wont have to go to the expense or trouble of changign all the other stuff.!!
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Old 02-05-01, 12:50 PM   #3
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Got bar ends

Thanks, Steve. I have bar ends, the kind of standard angled ones. They help, but mounted actually at the bar ends, they feel awkwardly wide when I use them. I have been considering moving them inside my shifters, brakes. Then I guess they would almost be like aero bars. I haven't been able to decide if that would be a good idea or not. Guess it couldn't hurt to give it a try.
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Old 02-05-01, 01:13 PM   #4
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Drop Bars

There is a company that makes bar ends that extend out the front and also like traditional drops. I think the name of the company is "NEWT" I just saw an ad in the back of one of my magazines, I think it was Mountain Bike, or Bike. Either way it was in the classified sections. This will allow you numerous hand positions without having to change all your shifters and levers.
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Old 02-05-01, 03:26 PM   #5
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bars and shifters

I have seen grip shifters for road bars, you may be able to find them, or maybe even better there are several makers of brake lever shift systems that may be compatible with your present system.
The reason your hands get numb may not be the fault of the bars, but from a poor saddle position.
If you try road bars consider a wide "deep drop" bar- I've tried many types, this has the most room for large hands and the most amount of bar for the most positons- ie. Cinelli 66X44 (dropXwidth)
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Old 02-05-01, 08:18 PM   #6
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Numb hands

Rainman, Do you wear gloves? Be sure any wrist straps are not cinched too tightly. I learned the hard way to keep them really loose. Your ulnar nerve runs along the outside of your wrist, compression of that causes weakness or tingling in your ring finger & little finger and also in the small muscles on the top of your hand. Problems there are most common with drop bars, while straight bars are more likely to cause problems with the more familiar carpal tunnel path of the median nerve that innervates your thumb, index & middle fingers and one side of your ring finger. Try to position your hands so they are as nearly straight out from your wrist as possible. Avoid anything tight around your wrist(I know, bad time of year to tell you that). Try to keep a light grip on the bar and avoid as much weight bearing on your hands as you can. Change hand positions regularly, preferably before you start to feel any numbness. It may take several weeks for things to improve. If your work involves any repetitive wrist movements or forces that may add to the problem and make slower improvement. Hand numbness can warrent a trip to the old M.D., but be warned they will suggest you stop riding for a while. Good Luck.
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Old 02-05-01, 08:35 PM   #7
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Before trying new h-bars....

To elaborate on something Pat mentioned...
If your hands are getting numb, I would re-visit your bike setup. First, a disclaimer. Numbness can happen on long rides, no matter how well set up your bike is or what kind of h-bars you use. The advice you get is to move your hand position frequently, stretch your hands, etc. etc.

It doesn't sound like that's your situation. When you're riding, how much weight are you putting on your hands/wrists? It shouldn't be so much as to be uncomfortable. You shouldn't even think about it (i.e. it shouldn't be the least bit bothersome or annoying, much less causing numbness). In general, to reduce the weight you probably need to get into a more upright position. First, see if you can slide your seat forward some. If you do this, you'll probably also need to raise your saddle a little. You can usually raise the bars some, too. (Be careful not to raise them too much.) Then again, maybe the opposite will help. Slide the seat back. Lower the bars.

Spend a few days tweaking your set-up. Changing the bars involves new cables, shifters, possibly a new handlebar stem, wrapping, etc. You can dump a bundle, and it still might not help!


[Edited by newtbob on Feb 5th at 09:47 PM]
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Old 02-06-01, 11:04 PM   #8
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You might want to consider aerobars. I have a hybrid with barends, and different hand positions help the numbness which I get even with gloves. With the aerobars you can rest your weight on your forearms, and have a loose hand position on the bars. The bent over posture takes a little getting used to as does balance with the different weight distribution on the bars, which is more to the center of the bike. However you will also notice a speed increase of as much as 5-6 km/hr. depending on your initial speed, road conditions etc. I got my set last year and love them. Start out on smooth roads with little traffic until you get used to them.

Dave.
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Old 02-11-01, 07:48 PM   #9
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Gel grips and gloves

Yup! I know exactly what you are talking about. Many bikers have experienced bikers palm palsy.

Some easy and cheap things to try are big, thick gel grips an good bicycling gloves.

For me, the grips had a bigger improvement than the gloves.

The bigger diameter the grips and the softer the better(mine are "gel" grips - or that was the claim).

Drop style road bars will give you more hand position possibilities and that is a help. If you are spending most of your long rides on roads, you might as well switch to a road bike with drop handlebars anyway.

I sure know your frustration, though, numb hands are aggravating.
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Old 02-19-01, 02:15 AM   #10
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Hi Raymond,

I had a similar problem and found that a riser bar, rather than a straight bar helped me a lot. I think the reason is that a riser bar will give you a more upright position, so some of your weight shifts from your hands to your backside. Most riser bars are designed for downhill use and are heavy and/or expensive due to their superior strength, but there are riser bars specifically for road and are much cheaper than proper downhill bars (usually come with a "not for offroad use" label.)

Other things you might consider, using the same logic is getting a shorter, higher stem (or adjusting it if your bike can take that sort of adjustment.)

cheers,

claude


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Old 02-20-01, 10:53 AM   #11
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Drop bar advice:
The normal position with drops is about 4" forward of the stem. You may need a shorter stem to maintain a more upright position. Drop bars do not mean you have to ride in a low racing crouch.
If you are going for separate brake levers and gear controls, get DiaComp long pull levers. These will pull more cable, and mate with your cantelever brakes better than standard drop bar levers.
Hybrid frames lack a gear tensioner on the down-tube. This wont matter for bar-end levers, but if you use integrated gear-brake levers, you will find the adjustment of cable tension limitted. You can fit old-fashioned down-tube shifters onto the bars near the brake hoods, using a Kelly Take-Off.

Touring style drop bars such as Modolo Morphe have lots of extra curves for easier riding on the tops, and they have smaller radius drops. You only use these on descents and in strong winds, and they are more comfortable.
Racing drops can feel a little distant for regular riders.

You can fine-tune your position by rotating the bars in the stem, and the brakes up and down the drop. You can also rotate the brake levers to point in a tad, which I like.


Looking at bar-extensions on your current bars, the Newk
bars look awkward and may interfer with your knees.

Spinacci extensions by Cinelli are neat, but check the diameter of the clamp.
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Old 03-10-01, 06:44 AM   #12
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Want to see some gorgeous bicycle handlebars?

Look at the SmartBar from SRAM. You can see an ad for it on page four of the April 2001 Bicycling magazine.

Oooooo drool!
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Old 03-10-01, 09:35 AM   #13
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Raymond,

I thought of something, but it will be a bit difficult to keep it hidden from your wife!

I am looking into recumbent bicycles. I rode one (a BikeE, not my best choice, but good for testing) and wow! I felt (forgive this choice of words) like I was driving a car! The position is soooo comfortable, with no crouching: a sort of natural, heads-up sitting position, yet very slightly reclined. I could see EVERYthing around me! When I stopped, I just put my feet down, and they reached the ground with no problem, which made me feel very secure and in control.
And as you know, hand numbness comes from pressure, which in turn comes from part of our weight being supported by our hands. In a recumbent, all your weight is well distributed along your back and seat bottom. No more neck pain, butt pain, or hand numbness! I've heard many satisfied riders say that they now can ride for much longer because of the comfort. And the aerodynamics are helpful, too.

Downside, I have read (in this forum) of some people complaining of foot numbness, but also an equal number who said they had this problem whether they rode a recumbent or a regular, "upright" bike.

Go out to the bike shop and try one out. At least it will be fun, even if you never buy one.

Peter
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Old 03-10-01, 09:39 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by mike
Want to see some gorgeous bicycle handlebars?

Look at the SmartBar from SRAM. You can see an ad for it on page four of the April 2001 Bicycling magazine.

Oooooo drool!
Mike, you like that thing?! I havent used it, but i really dont like the looks, dosent click for me
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Old 03-10-01, 02:08 PM   #15
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Hi,

I used to ride a MTB and I recently god a new bike with road type handlebar. On the plus side, there are indeed as many always point out a wider variety of hand position available which really helps and some position are also more aerodynamic. However, I feel that many hands position are not so confortable or at least they take some time to get used to. It seems that holding a dropped handlebar requires a less natural hand position than just holding a straight (or nearly straight) bar. I really need gloves anyway.
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Old 03-10-01, 03:31 PM   #16
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Thanks again, gang! I am still kicking this around. For now, I have repositioned my barends inboard of my grip shifter and brake levers. It feels much better than having them on the ends of the bars with just felt too spread out. Now they are kind of like mini aero bars.

From some of your posts and other reading, it looks like there would be some difficulty using brake levers intended for drop bars and V brakes to pull cantilevers. Not enough pull? So I couldn't use Shimano 105 STI levers? Those would be my first choice as they seem to be a reasonable price/quality combination. A lot of people seem to upgrade 8 speeds to 9 and sell the 8s which would be fine for me. Is there any workaround or alternative in case I do decide on the drop option. Any drop type brake levers work with cantilevers?

Recumbents are very interesting, but I think I would want a trike if I did that. But then it seems like some shortcuts and minor obstacles I regularly encounter might be very difficult on a recumbent of any configuration. I don't see how you could "hop" one if you need to. Still, they sure look comfortable.

Those Smartbars look interesting, too, in a retro kind of way, but it seems like you are kind of locked in on where things are located. I tend to shy away from proprietary combination devices. You don't seem to have any options if parts need replacement, if parts can even be replaced. As I have said in other places, I look at repairs/replacements as upgrade opportunities.

I continue to welcome opinions and suggestions on this bar issue. One thought that occurred to me recently. With your elbows more or less at you sides and forearms and hands held out in a relaxed way more or less parallel to the ground, look at the position your hands naturally take. Kind of a 45 degree angle, about like holding a car steering wheel at the old 10 o'clock/2 o'clock positions. I was thinking some barends above the bar, angled in like that at an appropriate width and height might be worth exploring. Anybody seen any radically angled barends like that?Every position I have tried with hands on bars or bar ends as well as repositioning the barend more forward, more upright and everything in between just seems to put my wrists at somewhat unnatural angles. I guess I just can't leave things alone.
Regards,
Raymond
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