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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 02-27-09, 10:25 AM   #1
breakaway9
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Wrist problems....

I just started commuting a couple of months ago on my touring bike, and have noticed that my wrists/forearms are really sore in the mornings. When I get home at night they are not. My commute is mostly downhill in the morning and mostly up hill at night. I have tried adjusting my B-17 so the nose is up a bit more to keep my weight off the handle bars and have have limited success. In it's current position it feels fine, I slip forward just a hair if I am riding no handed, the problem is if I tilt it back just one more notch it's is extremely painful... I do carry a messenger bag, perhaps that is putting more weight on my hands on the downhills? I am hopefully switching over to an Arkel commuting pannier this weekend so we'll see if that will help.

I have commuted for along time on my mtb with the same saddle with no issues...

Any ideas on a good place to start for fixing the problem? Get a new raised stem? Go for a bike fitting? I have included a picture the bars are not much if any lower than the seat... I am at a loss...
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Old 02-27-09, 10:47 AM   #2
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Check the fore/aft position of your saddle in addition to it's height (refer to any number of bike sizing charts/methods for details). You may also shorten your reach to the bars with a shorter stem. Height of bars is more easily adjusted but yours look to be relatively high compared to your saddle, a typical touring configuration designed for comfort over speed. Use padded gloves and change hand positions often. I doubt your bag is causing this unless it's extremely heavy, if so, you may want to opt for panniers, get the weight off your back. If these methods fail, try a fitting, it may be that your frame is too large/small and adjustments just haven't been effectively compensating for a long top tube, for instance. You should be able to dial it in one way or another, there's no reason that you can't continue to commute.
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Old 02-27-09, 10:50 AM   #3
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In looking at your setup and reading the description of your problem, you don't need to raise your bars; it sounds to me like you need a shorter reach on that stem. It's impossible to troubleshoot it 100% without actually being there to see, but if you're too far stretched out on the bike, you're going to use your arms too much for support.

The test that I use for determining handlebar placement is this:
- Start riding with your hands on the hoods
- Move to riding with your hands in the drops
- Both hands at once (very important!) move from the drops to the tops

Did you have to push yourself up from the drops? (Similar test if you can ride no-hands is to go from hoods to no-hands). If you can't just sit yourself up into either of those "upper" positions, then you're too heavily weighted over the bars.
Since your bars are already above the saddle height, raising them further isn't going to help with the reach. I suggest giving a shorter stem a try. Keep in mind, if you go too much shorter on the stem, you'll need to increase the rise angle to keep the bar height consistent with your current setup.
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Old 02-27-09, 10:54 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjw16 View Post
Check the fore/aft position of your saddle in addition to it's height (refer to any number of bike sizing charts/methods for details).
If you're comfortable with your current saddle position, don't move it forward/backward. That's going to introduce one more problem to an already complex situation: Changing the fore/aft adjust on the saddle will change the bend angle of the knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke, and you'll have to adjust the saddle height and cleat placement to get it all dialed-in again.
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Old 02-27-09, 11:14 AM   #5
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Your bars look to be sloped forward slightly. If you ride with your hands on the hoods a lot, it also looks like the angle of your hoods would jack your wrists upward an an awkward angle. I see a lot of bikes set up that way these days, but it is not comfortable to me.

I like my handlebars set up such that the tops of the hoods feel flat in relation to the bar when my hands are on the hoods, and the entire top of the bar is a parallel to the ground. This gives me many more hand positions to choose from, and allows me to do things like rest some of my weight on the outside of my wrists while my hands are on the hoods.

I suggest the above, because I suspect that you are spending too much time supporting your weight with your hands in the "grip" position. Which is optimal for controlling the bike, but is not required the entire time that you are riding.



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Old 02-27-09, 11:21 AM   #6
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Judging by your observation that on your mtb there was no problem, I'd say switch over to flat bars or risers.
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Old 02-27-09, 12:15 PM   #7
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I would say that besides moving things around and adjusting your setup you may need to strengthen your core muscles. Start doing sit-ups and push-ups every morning and night and I think it should help you in addition to trying some of the advice of others.
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Old 02-27-09, 01:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjw16 View Post
I doubt your bag is causing this unless it's extremely heavy, if so, you may want to opt for panniers, get the weight off your back. If these methods fail, try a fitting, it may be that your frame is too large/small and adjustments just haven't been effectively compensating for a long top tube, for instance. You should be able to dial it in one way or another, there's no reason that you can't continue to commute.
My bag is not very heavy, just a change of clothes and occasionally my laptop... I won't stop commuting I am way to stubborn for that... LOL... Just don't want to have sore wrists when I am done..


Quote:
Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
In looking at your setup and reading the description of your problem, you don't need to raise your bars; it sounds to me like you need a shorter reach on that stem. It's impossible to troubleshoot it 100% without actually being there to see, but if you're too far stretched out on the bike, you're going to use your arms too much for support.

The test that I use for determining handlebar placement is this:
- Start riding with your hands on the hoods
- Move to riding with your hands in the drops
- Both hands at once (very important!) move from the drops to the tops

Did you have to push yourself up from the drops? (Similar test if you can ride no-hands is to go from hoods to no-hands). If you can't just sit yourself up into either of those "upper" positions, then you're too heavily weighted over the bars.
Since your bars are already above the saddle height, raising them further isn't going to help with the reach. I suggest giving a shorter stem a try. Keep in mind, if you go too much shorter on the stem, you'll need to increase the rise angle to keep the bar height consistent with your current setup.
That looks like a good test I will give that a shot on the way home. I am trying to remember if I have to push off to ride no handed... I will just have to try it tonight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CliftonGK1 View Post
If you're comfortable with your current saddle position, don't move it forward/backward. That's going to introduce one more problem to an already complex situation: Changing the fore/aft adjust on the saddle will change the bend angle of the knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke, and you'll have to adjust the saddle height and cleat placement to get it all dialed-in again.
Hmmmm... I am not sure if I am in the correct position when pedaling, it feels alright, I should probably get a fitting done at some point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pinyon View Post
Your bars look to be sloped forward slightly. If you ride with your hands on the hoods a lot, it also looks like the angle of your hoods would jack your wrists upward an an awkward angle. I see a lot of bikes set up that way these days, but it is not comfortable to me.

I like my handlebars set up such that the tops of the hoods feel flat in relation to the bar when my hands are on the hoods, and the entire top of the bar is a parallel to the ground. This gives me many more hand positions to choose from, and allows me to do things like rest some of my weight on the outside of my wrists while my hands are on the hoods.

I suggest the above, because I suspect that you are spending too much time supporting your weight with your hands in the "grip" position. Which is optimal for controlling the bike, but is not required the entire time that you are riding.


I was curious about the bar position also at first it looked kind of dumb to me, but figured that must just be how touring bikes are now... Now that you mention it though when I put my hands over the hoods it kind of kinks my wrist... maybe I will try rotating them down a touch.


Quote:
Originally Posted by frankenmike View Post
Judging by your observation that on your mtb there was no problem, I'd say switch over to flat bars or risers.
Hmmm interesting, i had thought about that too, I have a flat bar on my fixed gear also and have had no wrist issues, I am not sure why but I was hoping to keep the drop bars, partially because I would end up having to change out the shifters and brake handles then too...
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Old 02-27-09, 01:26 PM   #9
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I had a similar issue with pain in my wrists and numb hands. I had a fitting done, and they actually moved me and the bars further apart-not something I would have considered, but it worked.

Around here, the cost of a fitting (one that tweaks your position and requires no new parts) is only around 30$. If you're going to be riding this bike a lot, the benefits are well worth the cost. Just ask around to find someone who knows what they are doing.

Good luck.
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Old 02-27-09, 01:37 PM   #10
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Engo - $30.. That is very reasonable. The store I bought the bike at wanted over $100.00 and said it would take several hours I would also have to schedule it several weeks out... I thought that was ludicrous and passed...
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Old 02-27-09, 03:18 PM   #11
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Big difference between a basic fit and the more involved one. The basic fit is more sight and probably only takes about 10-15 minutes. The more advanced one is measurements and most likely changing of stems and shims for cleats, etc. I did one and it took 4 hours. I paid $400 for it also.
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Old 02-27-09, 03:21 PM   #12
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On my newest bike, I ended up rotating my bars slightly upward, while at the same time sliding my hoods further down. They originally set it up in a similar position as the picture of your bike shows. It was also harder to apply the brakes with the hoods as high as they were before, especially when I was in the drops.

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Old 02-27-09, 04:02 PM   #13
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Pinyon... Do you have to redo the bar tape to slide the hoods down?
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Old 02-27-09, 04:22 PM   #14
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Pinyon... Do you have to redo the bar tape to slide the hoods down?
No, you should be able to loosen the stem nut and rotate the bars forward a little bit. This will put the hoods in a flatter position.
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Old 02-27-09, 04:26 PM   #15
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he was saying that he rotated his bars up then slid the hoods down... It seems to me like you would have to remove the tapes and reapply once the hoods were moved...
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Old 02-27-09, 05:28 PM   #16
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The bike was new enough, so I just unwrapped the tape from be bar-ends to just above the levers, and re-wrapped them after I moved the levers down. No biggie. If you have been riding it for lots of miles, or the tape has been on there a long time and is stretched out, you may have to get new tape. I just buy modern Specialized brand tape, because I know that it is long enough to fit my bars.
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Old 02-27-09, 05:50 PM   #17
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Engo - $30.. That is very reasonable. The store I bought the bike at wanted over $100.00 and said it would take several hours I would also have to schedule it several weeks out... I thought that was ludicrous and passed...
I could see if you bought the bike somewhere else and brought it in to your LBS for a fitting, however if you bought the bike there, they ripped you off. It should be free service.
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Old 02-27-09, 06:32 PM   #18
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I say what a bunch of do do. I been riding my bike to work for like forever. Last year it was 13 miles downtown and 13 miles back. This year it's 22 miles each way, and less stray dogs, that'll chase you full speed for 1/4 mile.

I find that it's all about how you balance yourself on the frame. The handle bars to saddle balance. I find that when my forearms gits sore I'm a putting to much of my body weight to the handle bars. And straight arming the handle bars does that. I have to put that angle back in my elbow.

This only happens, sore forearms, because of something stressful at work throws me of cadence. That's when I have to slam down an energy drink to take the edge off.

later
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Old 02-27-09, 07:49 PM   #19
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I could see if you bought the bike somewhere else and brought it in to your LBS for a fitting, however if you bought the bike there, they ripped you off. It should be free service.
Yeah I was pretty disappointed with the bike shop... their service was not good, and hasn't been since either. The thing is the bike retails for $1599 and I ended up picking it up for $749... i got a great deal on the bike, and wouldn't mind paying $30-$50 for a proper fitting but $100...So I definitely got screwed on service, but made up for it in the price of the bike. They do have free tuning for a year but I will probably take it to the bike shop up the street rather than haul it across town for more lousy service.


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I say what a bunch of do do. I been riding my bike to work for like forever. Last year it was 13 miles downtown and 13 miles back. This year it's 22 miles each way, and less stray dogs, that'll chase you full speed for 1/4 mile.

I find that it's all about how you balance yourself on the frame. The handle bars to saddle balance. I find that when my forearms gits sore I'm a putting to much of my body weight to the handle bars. And straight arming the handle bars does that. I have to put that angle back in my elbow.

This only happens, sore forearms, because of something stressful at work throws me of cadence. That's when I have to slam down an energy drink to take the edge off.

later
ray
Mine is not so much that my arms are getting tired or sore when I am riding it's that the joint at the base of my thumb hurts about half an hour after riding.... It's the kind of sensation like shin splits except in my thumb joint/wrist...

I did rotate my handle bars so the hoods were parallel to the ground for the ride home and that felt good, a little weird at first, but that may help. I am also going to measure the distance from the center of my seat to the hoods on my touring bike then the same measurement on my mountain bike and see what the difference is....
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Old 02-28-09, 12:10 AM   #20
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Big difference between a basic fit and the more involved one. The basic fit is more sight and probably only takes about 10-15 minutes. The more advanced one is measurements and most likely changing of stems and shims for cleats, etc. I did one and it took 4 hours. I paid $400 for it also.
+1

For a basic fit they'll usually adjust the saddle and bar height, and maybe the fore/aft position of the saddle. 15 minutes, including a couple loops around the parking lot to make sure it's right.

A full fitting involves measuring flexibility angles, checking your ride position (often with video analysis software), checking power output throughout the pedal stroke (for consistency after each adjustment), adjusting saddle height/fore/aft, selecting and adjusting the right handlebar and stem combination, adjusting brake hood placement (and reach, if applicable), cleat placement and shimming... Yes, it can take upwards of 3 - 5 hours. My fitting took 3 hours, cost $200, and $100 was refunded against the purchase price of my bike (my LBS offers a 100% fit refund for bike purchases over $3000, but that's not exactly my price range.)
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Old 02-28-09, 12:13 PM   #21
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Don't hesitate to fit your self. It's gonna take some time but it is the most effective way because then you'll KNOW what works and what doesn't. Just keep experementing and eventualy you'll figure it out. Keep adjusting EVERYTHING.

Also, as you keep riding your body changes over time and you'll still have make changes and who better do it then you, as you are the one who knows your body, your bike, or the way you ride, the best.

Last edited by spock; 02-28-09 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 02-28-09, 06:37 PM   #22
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Well rotating the bars down a bit (so the hoods were parallel to the ground) seemed to help, I took it on a ~40 mile ride toady and the wrists feel much better... The ramps are pointed down more than I would like so I will unwrap the tape and slide the hoods down a bit and rotate the bar back up to get the ramps closer to parallel with the ground. I did start to get sore wrists/forearms towards the end of the ride, but the wrist pain itself is minimal now...
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