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Old 05-31-09, 05:35 PM   #1
bikegeek57
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Upgrading the engine...

Have been having trouble with numb left hand since bumping my commute from 6 miles/day to 20+/day.

Went to LBS and thinking to replace the straightbar handlebar on my Fuji Absolute 4.0 to drop bar. I asked some questions was informed it will cost more to upgrade bike than the bike cost originally. It was politely recommended I do pushups. Yeah, I'm not the most robust looking guy. thin is my middle name. The rationale was that I am riding on my pectoral muscles supporting my weight on my hands and that I need to strengthen my upper body to better support myself and not over stress the pec's (where the nerve runs through going to my hands?) causing my hands to go numb?

Is this likely?

I know, I know, I will continue upgrading the engine but wonder if this upper body strength issue causing hand numbness is likely or not.

dropping and doing 20 well maybe 5... lord am I out of shape here.
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Old 05-31-09, 05:52 PM   #2
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Could be a lot of things. I have one pair of gloves that tend to make my hands numb on long rides. In general I shake my hands every once in awhile while riding. Try a few things first - you may find another solution.
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Old 05-31-09, 06:07 PM   #3
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Most of us could benefit from increased upper body strength but that's not guaranteed to solve your numbness issue. Different gloves, fine-tuning your position, moving around more, shaking your hands, etc. all might help. Some folks do have better luck on drop bars, especially the 'comfort' road bikes that have developed over the last few years.

If all else fails, you could look into those recombinant bikes. Never a thought of hand numbness issues on my V-Rex.
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Old 05-31-09, 06:10 PM   #4
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well I have tried most of the common things. move more, shake out from time to time, relax, relax, relax. the straightbar only has a few positions to use compared with drops so that was to be my next option. bar ends just don't appeal as they would really be wider than I am comfortable with. I do not regularly use the end of the grips as they are wider than my shoulder spread? I tend to use the section of the grips closer to the twist grip shifters.

I am not quite ready for N+1 yet but that is coming down the road maybe next year?
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Old 05-31-09, 08:06 PM   #5
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I bought a new pair of gloves with gel padding. Where the padding is on either side of the valley in your hand. Seems to work well so far. They weren't cheap, about $30.00.

Condorita suggested I replace my ergonomic grips with a more standard grip. So far I seem to be doing better. But I'm not doing really long rides either.
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Old 05-31-09, 08:26 PM   #6
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Another (cheaper) option than going to drop bars is to get a Trekking bar. Nashbar used to sell them but there is a thread in the touring forum saying they're no longer selling them. I bought one there for use on an old Mountain Bike; I think it was only about $17, and you can use the same shifters and brake levers as on a flat-bar bike (thus the conversion is much, much cheaper than going to drop bars).

Here's on available from the UK - somebody said REI carries these for about $30.

http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/product.a...S&currency=USD


Advantage of Trekking bars is you get more hand positions than on a flat bar. If you stretch out and use the farthest hand position you also get down low and more aerodynamic, which is helpful if you're encountering a headwind.

I still prefer drop bars, but, as I said, these are a less expensive conversion
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Old 05-31-09, 08:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bikegeek57 View Post
The rationale was that I am riding on my pectoral muscles supporting my weight on my hands and that I need to strengthen my upper body to better support myself and not over stress the pec's (where the nerve runs through going to my hands?) causing my hands to go numb?

Is this likely?
Sounds very specious. If you're bent over then you want to support your weight partly with your butt on the seat and partly with your hands. The alternative would be to try and hold your weight off your hands using your abdominals which would put all the weight on your butt. That would result in both a sore butt and a sore abdomen. Your hands are getting numb because there's pressure on your palm and that's putting pressure on a nerve. The solution is to vary your hand position and drop bars are only one possible approach. There are also a variety of flat bars that provide multiple hand positions and even just adding barends would give you more options.
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Old 05-31-09, 09:53 PM   #8
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I had the same problem in the same hand. My MT suggested I try stretching more and it has helped. Here is the stretch she suggested.
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Old 05-31-09, 09:58 PM   #9
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I ride in the drops almost all the time and both my hands get numb routinely after the first 3 miles. I shake them out regularly, which helps for a while. My doctor suggested a narrower bar, but I haven't spent the money to do that.

My hands also sometimes get numb driving a car, and also occasionally while in bed. I just live with it.
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Old 05-31-09, 10:02 PM   #10
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I drafted a long reply complete with glossy pics and all kindsa stuff but as happens to me a lot, the system ate it. Bottom line is I had hand numbness with a flat bar that I solved by switching bars to Velo Orange Milan bars

and adding ergonomic grips (which I think made the real difference). If doing it again, I would start with the grips before changing bars.

Good Luck,
Pete
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Old 05-31-09, 10:29 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by bikegeek57 View Post
bar ends just don't appeal as they would really be wider than I am comfortable with.
You mount the bar ends so they are curving inwards. That will offer you the same narrow position to which you are accustomed. Also, you can cover them in the foam sleeves made for drop bars. Solved my numbness problem.
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Old 05-31-09, 11:04 PM   #12
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I tend to agree that Trekking bars are a good option. You can use the same shifters you already have and the same brake levers. And the cost is not that high. But donít rule out bar ends all together. Many people that have problems with flat bars are simply putting too much weight on their hands because of the position of the saddle verses the bars. I had some of the same problems as you described when I had my Haro MTB. Even Bar ends didnít help. But my LBS replaced the stem with a but shorter one that had more of an upward rake and like magic I could ride more than 5 or six miles without going numb in the hands. When I got the Trek MTB the stem was already set at the same rake or angle so the problem never developed to the same degree.

If your balance is as equal as you can make it between the saddle and your hands then all you need is more positions to relieve some of the tension you are describing. If you LBS is telling you that you need to do pushups to avoid had fatigue then they are simply placing the blame on you rather that your equipment. Take the bike to another LBS and explain it to them and see if they donít have another suggestion.

My backup bike is a flat bar with an adjustable stem and I can ride it 50 or 60 miles almost as easily as my drop bar bike. And I didnít need to do pushups for weeks to do it either. If you are worried about the width of the bars remember some bars are not as wide as others. And like someone posted there are other bar choices that will allow the same controls to be used.
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Old 06-01-09, 04:43 AM   #13
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The topic of different bars was discussed in length here:
Flat Bar Alternative Handlebars
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Old 06-01-09, 08:05 AM   #14
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great posts everyone. thanks. will be off researching the links and ideas.
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Old 06-05-09, 06:18 AM   #15
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I wanted to update this.
I was wearing a watch on my rides. Not doing that now.
I also picked up on the core body supporting my weight and not my hands. It works. Though I would not have been able to do this a year ago with my very weakened body condition.
I am holding the bars very lightly pulling very gently backward and sitting very very upright (look like that nasty character riding her bike in Wizard of Oz I am sure.) Using my body to sit up straighter. Noticed I use more of my legs when doing this and am going up the hills faster as a result. Nice consequence.
No more numbness as I am not leaning over the bars weighing down my hands.
Works for me. YMMV
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