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Old 01-15-06, 01:04 PM   #1
phoebeisis
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Upright riding position-gimpy necks-backs

I'm new to this forum,and should probably stay quiet for a while,but....I have a gimpy neck(wrestling-football-54 yo),and had to quit biking years ago because of the seating position and pounding my neck and body were getting from the skinny tires no suspension bikes of the late 70's early 80's.I discovered suspension bikes in 2000,and that took care of the pounding,but not the bent over position.I can't be the only oldster that hates the bent over position??It absolutely kills my neck and does no favors for my back either.
With a road bike there are 3 modifications
1)Riser bars with plenty of pullback-4" or so
2)Biggest tires you can fit-35-38 mm will fit on most-so you can drop the pressure-soften bumps
3)Swan stem-adds 5 or so inches
4)If you start with a frame that is too big ,the seat will be relatively lower than the Handlebars.Of course-this has some downside-careful with the top tube.
MTB bike-same story
1)riser bars-
2)stack steering tube extenders and add 10" or so
3)Riser stem-45 degrees or so
Here is a picture of my NRS-yeah-it is the strangest looking bike you have ever seen-but it allows me to ride,so.
This is my old Mercian-sitting for 20 years(77 frame-components 78-79-some real period components-weight nut stuff-HI E hubs)-it has the riser bars-swan stem-yes it looks weird-I will be putting it back on the road(you folks have shamed me into it).I agree it is a shame to hybridize the Mercian,but...
Hope I can post these pictures.Thanks.Charlie
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Old 01-15-06, 02:07 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by phoebeisis
I can't be the only oldster that hates the bent over position??

Thanks.Charlie
I'm sure you're not. I ride a hybrid, not because I hate the bent over position, but because of my back problems. Riding hasn't made my back any worse, but it hasn't really helped either. I read a lot of posts in the forum about back and/or neck problems, so you can be sure it is fairly common.

A few years ago I had both an orthopedic surgeon and a neural surgeon tell me I needed back surgery, but I opted not to have it. Instead I have been doing my own therapy - stretching, swimming, biking - and as I stated above, my back hasn't gotten worse, but it hasn't gotten much better either.

I am curious if anyone on this forum has gone through the 22-day decompression therapy on the DRX-9000 machine. If so, did it help?
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Old 01-15-06, 02:11 PM   #3
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Hi Charlie!

If you ever want to try a new bike with upright position, check out the Electra Townie. If you want more comfort than what you get with your current rigs, look at RECUMBENT bikes with suspension systems! Like pedaling from an easy chair, so I've been told. I plan to ride a variety of recumbents this Spring and see if the hype is true.
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Old 01-15-06, 02:34 PM   #4
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Hi Charlie!


If you want more comfort than what you get with your current rigs, look at RECUMBENT bikes with suspension systems! Like pedaling from an easy chair, so I've been told. I plan to ride a variety of recumbents this Spring and see if the hype is true.
I am not a fan of Recumbents and could not see a real use for them. ( I ride offroad and they do not work there) However- if there was ever a bike that you should Try- It is a Recumbent. I have tried one- admittedly a trike Tandem recumbent, Definitely not for me but that comfort is superb. I have a back problem so even my MTB's are set up with high stems, but that recumbent was ideal for the back after a 20 mile ride.
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Old 01-15-06, 03:24 PM   #5
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I've been a die-hard roadie since '82 and always looked down my nose at recumbents until 2003 when medical problems temporarily forced me off of my diamond frame bikes and on to a recumbent.

One of the unexpected side benefits was that some nagging neck problems went away.

Anyway, long story short, I've since sold my uprights. There are many styles of bents for all kinds of riding. One of the bents I own is of the high-racer style and is similar in characteristics to a road bike. It does very well with road bikes on group rides.

Obviously, they are not for everyone, but they do solve a lot of bike fit issues.
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Old 01-15-06, 03:30 PM   #6
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Thanks for the post and welcome to the forum! Please don't hesitate to share your opinions. That's how a lot of us learn. Diversity generally is very welcome and greatly appreciated here.
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Old 01-15-06, 04:26 PM   #7
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Welcome to the forum, phoebeisis. I'll second what Trsnrtr said about recumbents. I have a bad back, degenerative discs that just won't take any pounding at all, even a few steps of running, but in my first full year of cycling, I rode 5000 miles on recumbents. I have been very happy with my weight loss and fitness level from that cycling. I think both have helped my back, as well.

I hadn't cycled in 40 years; my back was already bad, so I just ride recumbents. However, I've seen a number of people who love their new recumbents, but still put in plenty of miles on their old uprights, as well. The recumbent miles, it seems, keep them pain free enough to ride their old bikes, too, as long as they don't overdo the upright mileage.

My advice is to test ride a variety of recumbents, to see what you like. They take some getting used to, so go back for a second test ride after you've ridden a few others. You may or may not decide to get one, but pain free riding is their strongest suit.

Good luck!
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Old 01-15-06, 05:56 PM   #8
phoebeisis
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Thanks all.I always thought recumbents weren't for me-you know-look funny,sit too low,hard to transport etc-.However,I will have to give it a bit more thought.I have an exercise "bike-machine" that is essentially semi recumbent,and it is pretty comfortable.
I haven't finished tweaking the upright MTB bike.The "stem" is actually too high-I will put a bar with more rise and a lot more pullback on it so I can remove at least one stem extension.Thanks all.Charlie
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Old 01-15-06, 07:41 PM   #9
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Something like my V-Rex, which has a moderately-reclined seat, would probably be a great solution to your neck problem. This pic of me is on the RANS website. It has a 20" front wheel and a 24" rear wheel, while modern ones have a 26" rear. V-Rexii are not the fastest bents out there, but neither are they slouches. I turned my first 2.5-hour 50 miler on this one. And rider satisfaction is enormous. Moreover, almost anywhere you live, a dilligent search will turn one up for a test ride.

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Old 01-15-06, 08:00 PM   #10
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Welcome Charlie. Yea, I have neck pain and I've had neck surgery. I find the upright position works well for me. I see you're customizing your bikes to meet your needs. That's great. With regard to your comment about staying quiet, why? I sure don't, (although I'm sure some others wish I did!) Jump in any time. Best of luck on your return to cycling.
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Old 01-15-06, 09:08 PM   #11
phoebeisis
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Blazing-thanks for the picture;I must say,it looks pretty comfortable.It also looks like eyelevel would be about 48" or so,not bad.I was kinda concerned that eyelevel would be so low that you wouldn't get a good look down the road(bumps,potholes,cars etc).On that recumbent eyelevel would be very close to the fully bent over position if you are in the drops on a "normal" road bike.
Rocco-have you midified your bikes to get the upright position?I was just pretending to be polite and displaying fake humility on the " staying quiet"-ha,ha.
Thanks all.Charlie
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Old 01-16-06, 02:44 PM   #12
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I started riding a long wheel base recumbent about a year and a half ago, having not ridden since I was a kid 50+ years ago. I had had 2 back surgeries, a mild probably migraine related stroke, and a further hospitalization with 2 more discs. I couldn't ride an upright but my brother in law talked me into trying a recumbent. (Burley Koosah) Since then I've put about 3500 + miles on it, and can even ride an upright a bit, now. The only disadvantages to a recumbent is 1)mine being a long wheel base is more difficult to transport and store - a short wheelbase would be the same as an upright 2) they don't do as well as uprights uphill so you have to gear down and spin. Otherwise I think they are at least equal to wedgies on the flat and downhill. 3)their entry level costs are more than uprights
To make a long story short, I find that if I don't ride 10 - 15 miles per day (tough to do in ND in the winter) I get recurrent back pain. My LWB recumbent is the single most useful therapeutic thing I've ever had for my back troubles. I think it is great for neck pain as well, as my wife rides mine when her cervical disc flares up. Wish I'd have discovered it years ago.
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Old 01-17-06, 12:40 PM   #13
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You are doing what you need to do. All of us are as we age. I have modified my old MTB for lots of the same reasons. Someday, I'll try a recumbent. Those guys are always smiling. Do they know something we don't?
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Old 01-17-06, 01:54 PM   #14
phoebeisis
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bobkat and jcm-yeah,bikes are fun,and actually help my various age-wear and tear related shortcomings.
I wondered about the long wheelbase-short wheelbase deal.Blazingpedals recum. look a lot different than others I have seen-I didn't remember seeing the crank way up above and in front of the front wheel;I remember the crank being in a normal-more or less-position-between the wheels.Blazing-is your bike a short wheel base?Thanks.Charlie
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Old 01-17-06, 02:35 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by phoebeisis
...Blazing-is your bike a short wheel base?Thanks.Charlie
Yes, a V-Rex is a 'classic' short wheelbase design. As opposed to newer 'highracer' variants which use large wheels in the front, too. Large front wheels tend to recline the rider more and raise the pedals further. That makes them faster, but may exacerbate an existing neck problem. Other makers are Lightning, Burley, Barcroft, Bacchetta, and a few other smaller makers. Also, Sun markets a huffy-esque SWB model.

You are correct, seat height is 25" and eye level is about 48-50", which puts me eye-level with most cars. As far as transporting a SWB, I've carried mine for years on a simple 2-arm bumper-mount bike rack. Wheelbases for SWBs range from 40-48", so standard fork-mount roof racks will often work, too.
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Old 01-17-06, 05:51 PM   #16
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Thanks all.48" eyeheight-not bad-you get a pretty good view at that height.Thanks.Charlie
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Old 01-17-06, 06:25 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by phoebeisis
Blazing-thanks for the picture;I must say,it looks pretty comfortable.It also looks like eyelevel would be about 48" or so,not bad.I was kinda concerned that eyelevel would be so low that you wouldn't get a good look down the road(bumps,potholes,cars etc).On that recumbent eyelevel would be very close to the fully bent over position if you are in the drops on a "normal" road bike.
Rocco-have you midified your bikes to get the upright position?I was just pretending to be polite and displaying fake humility on the " staying quiet"-ha,ha.
Thanks all.Charlie
Sorry, I was off this thread when you responded. I've made only slight modifications to some bikes. As an example, I have an old Nishiki mountain bike (my baby) that I ride on MUPs, I lifted the quill stem up about 1 1/2 inches and adjust the seat during a ride to alternate between comfort and leg extension. I did not modify my old Raleigh Record, I don't ride it. I purchased a used Trek 720 Hybrid for 'road' riding with upright handlebars. I've made no modifications to the Trek. When I decided to buy a new mountain bike, I purchased a slightly smaller frame than most people my height. I'm somewhere aroung 5' 8-9". I was advised to buy a 18-19" frame. I purchased a 17" Rockhopper. The LBS installed a 2 inch stem and tilted the handlebars very slightly toward me. I've adjusted the Rockhopper and the Nishiki so that I can comfortably ride in a mostly upright position or lean forward to a more aggresive position.
I also found that when I'm starting out cold, I sit straight up. When the body heat starts building and the endorphins are flowing, that's when I can lean forward without pain. I found, from a therapist, that much of my neck pain was related to muscle tightness. I was given neck muscle stretching exercises that I perform before I ride, much like others do with their legs.
I experimented, went to a therapist (who rides a hybrid himself) and listened to others from this forum. If there is anything else I can share with you or any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Hope this helps.
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Old 01-17-06, 11:43 PM   #18
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roccobike-thanks for the info.I've been using a home cervical traction device for~15 years.It works.I was very skeptical;why should a device that slightly stretches your neck for 15" help you for the next 23:45.Frankly,I'm not sure-maybe it breaks up a reflex arc(injury-pain-spasm-pain-spasm-pain)??Who knows,but it works.I also use topical "pepper cream"-I have my doubts about it also.
Thanks.Charlie
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Old 01-18-06, 09:35 AM   #19
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Hello! I had some trouble riding a standard hybrid so now I have a "flat foot" type bike. While I gained comfort and control I lost speed and hill climbing power.
Although the Mercian might be more comfortable with a seat, looks like you've made and are making changes that work for you and that is the bottom line.
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