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Old 04-16-06, 01:09 PM   #51
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It's a day of rest. Rest in front of your computer and do your research.
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Old 04-16-06, 01:49 PM   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daily Commute
I'm not so sure. Sheldon Brown argues that riding with drop bars puts your back in an arch, which absorbs shock better than when it's upright. Sheldon isn't a doctor, but that makes sense. In any case, I don't think it's safe to assume that an upright position is better for the back.

My advice would be to try something different from what you have now, and see if it makes things better or worse.

I recently hurt my back, and the key to riding pain free is to listen to my body and pace myself accordingly. If I push too hard it when it hurts, I will hurt all evening.

But most importantly, see a doctor if you haven't already. Back pain could "just" be painful, or it could be a sign of something really bad. Even if it's "just" painful, the doctor can give you meds that work better better than Advil. Since your pain is 20 years old, ask if PT would be helpful.
I had a compression fracture of my L1 when I was 18. I'm 35 now. I have an Associates degree in nursing. I can tell you that a curved back is a bad thing. Keeping the natural curvature of your spine is important for those with healthy backs & crucial for those with injuries. I use a gel seat & am soon buying a Cane Creek Thudbuster LT.

See a Physical Therapist for advice of what would work for you.
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Old 04-16-06, 04:14 PM   #53
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Strangely enough, my back pain is decreasing. Since it is caused by strained or weak back muscles, I believe adapting to longer distances is at the same time helping my muscles increase their strength.
Anyhow, next friday I will be at a concert. I am curious to see how well my back handles standing up for 4 or 5 hrs straight. One year ago I attended a modest mouse concert (before I started cycling) and my back felt like it was falling apart.
Plus, my massage therapist is always there for a bit of maintenance. Sometimes more the maintenance when I increase distances.
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Old 04-16-06, 04:33 PM   #54
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Unfortunately, research aside, I think that the best way to tell for certain would be to take your chosen flat bar bike (I'm pulling for the Sirrus sport now!) for about a 10 mile test ride...then a day or two later take your chosen drop bar bike for a 10 mile test ride.
Of course, the dilemma with that is two fold:
What bike shop will allow test rides of such length?
If you have made the wrong choice, will it hurt your back at, say, the five mile away point? (A friend in a support vehicle could help with this.)
Nothing wrong with doing research. I wish I had done the kind of research you're doing when I bought my first bike...but I was just so eager! Not to say that was bad, because I still have the first, and I love all my bikes...but in all honesty that first bike only makes it out for short casual rides. (I almost feel bad for it!)
If you're still confused about gearing technicalities, etc, feel free to PM me, and I can throw down something more lengthy and explanatory for you. Sheldon Brown's website also has a lot of good stuff on it.
By the by...Semper Fi...are you a Marine? (I know it's rude to say WERE you a Marine.) Just curious. I'm a fighter pilot by trade.
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Old 04-16-06, 04:51 PM   #55
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Back on the leaning forward thing.

Hold a 20 lb. weight next to your body for 1 minute. Now hold it at arms length for 1 minute. Huge difference. Your spine has to withstand 10x the amount of force put on it while leaning forward. Ever hear of lift with your knees, not your back? There's a reason for that saying.

Mr. Brown seems to know little about the function of the human body...nor about leverage forces either.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=back+safety

Riding upright has helped in reducing the pain/frequency of pain I experience.
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Old 04-16-06, 05:08 PM   #56
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Here's another variable for the mix. A lot of people use flat bars and upright geometry bikes for a variety of reasons, ranging from preference to medical. However, many of those people while preferring the geometry are less than happy with the hands after a while. (You can do a search and come up with lots of threads about this.)
So. For another (and hopefully final) variable in this fray, I'd like to offer this thought, which has also been widely discussed in many of those same threads.


Currently $9.95 at nashbar. Another $15 for some good squishy bar tape, and you're set!

Do a search on butterfly bars, and you'll see all sorts of unique setups on this message board. I have these on my ATB as well.
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Old 04-16-06, 05:11 PM   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prozakk
I had a compression fracture of my L1 when I was 18. I'm 35 now. I have an Associates degree in nursing. I can tell you that a curved back is a bad thing. Keeping the natural curvature of your spine is important for those with healthy backs & crucial for those with injuries. I use a gel seat & am soon buying a Cane Creek Thudbuster LT.

See a Physical Therapist for advice of what would work for you.
I think there's a semantics issue here with people getting terms mixed up. The "arched back" mentioned in Sheldon's article should be called "leaned over" or some such. Yes, I think the back should be straight too, not arched. But it shouldn't be vertical, which is what Sheldon was preaching against as well. If you're bent over at the hips with the back straight, say 45-degrees or even 90-degrees over, the weight of the upper-body is supported by the arms rather than the back. Then when road-shocks come up through the seat, the spine is no longer compressed vertically by the weight of the upper-body. It's like wiggling your finger sideways up & down, rather than stabbing it vertically into the ground.
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Old 04-16-06, 06:30 PM   #58
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All good stuff guys. It's nice to see that this thread has draw such interest and taken off the way it has. I've learned quite a bit and hopefully others have as well. Keep em commin.
And yes Banzai, once a Marine, always a Marine. I'm sure you feel the same way about the USAF... and what a thrill it must be to be an F-16 Pilot!

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Old 04-16-06, 08:55 PM   #59
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You may have gotten all the good advice you can handle at this point, but here is my two cents. I was diagnosed with a herniated disc (L3/L4) about a year and a half ago. After I first found out my natural thought was to try to ride in a more upright position. This actually made my back more painful so eventually tried the opposite -- flipped the stem and moved a much more forward position on the bike. I found this aleviates the back pain on all but the longest rides (50+ miles). My physical therapist explained it by saying that if you get your back into the right position, it will bend in an even arc from pelvis to skull and by doing so, the spine acts like a spring and the shock from the road is spread evenly along the whole spine as opposed to being absorbed in the bottom vertebra when sitting in a more upright position.

So for me, I flipped the stem, and now ride either on the hoods or in the drops and all seems to be well. Hope this helps!
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Old 04-16-06, 09:25 PM   #60
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I never really understood why most hybrid/comfort/any bike with an upright geometry bike manufacturers continue to make bikes with flat bars. At least sell them with handlebars swept back for a more natural wrist position.
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Old 04-17-06, 06:37 AM   #61
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I never really understood why most hybrid/comfort/any bike with an upright geometry bike manufacturers continue to make bikes with flat bars.
Fashion and cost. It's cheaper to use the same bars for MTBs and hybrids and swept back bar designs are not fashionable.
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Old 04-17-06, 11:30 AM   #62
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Has anyone tried the Specialized Sequoia Bars and, if so ,are they really any different from regular drop bars? It's diffucult to tell from the picture on their web site.

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Old 04-17-06, 01:43 PM   #63
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Has anyone tried the Specialized Sequoia Bars and, if so ,are they really any different from regular drop bars? It's diffucult to tell from the picture on their web site.
Ok. So drop bars come in a variety of flavors, sizes, and colors. I'll break it down into my own four categories. This isn't "official", but it's how I break it down to friends, so while there may be technical disagreement, I think this is fairly concise.
The four are: Ergo, Traditional, Flat-top, and Oddball.

Ergo: That's what's on the Sequoia. If you look closely, you'll notice that it's not a continuous curve, but rather has "steps" in it, with some straight portions. Those portions are the ergo bends for your hands. Some people love them, others don't, and others are just retro-grouches. I use a slightly older version of the Specialized Body Geometry bar on my bike, and I like them. Ergo bars are pretty much the most common anymore.

Traditional: Find a picture of some older handlebars an you'll see that the drop is deeper, with a continuous curve to it, and sometimes a shallower "reach" (that's front to back). There are people who swear by these. Wife had these briefly on her bike, but replaced them with Ritchey Biomax ergos. Said the larger curve cramped her hands.

Flat-top: If you look at the pic of the Sequoia again, you'll notice that the tops slant downwards a bit, until they hit the "brifter" hoods? The Flat-top bar, (I think made only by Bontrager and Easton) is designed to be purely horizontal to the hoods, then a sharper vertex with shallower drops.

I run a Body Geometry Ergo bar, with the tops angled only slightly down (not as steep as the ones in the pic. See how the ends are parallel with the top tube? Mine point just hight of my rear hub). I thought for a while that I needed flat-tops, but once I got this dialed in, I became quite happy with it.

Odd-balls: Midges (really really short flared drops), Randonneurs (wide and deep flared drops), Track (don't even consider it.)

Hope that answers the question.
I hope you can test-ride both that and the Sirrus Sport extensively. When testing the Sequoia, see that the handlebars are adjusted to an angle you'll like for the test...or else you'll get a false impression.

Here's my setup:
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Old 04-17-06, 04:52 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by banzai_f16
Ok. So drop bars come in a variety of flavors, sizes, and colors. I'll break it down into my own four categories. This isn't "official", but it's how I break it down to friends, so while there may be technical disagreement, I think this is fairly concise.
The four are: Ergo, Traditional, Flat-top, and Oddball.

Ergo: That's what's on the Sequoia. If you look closely, you'll notice that it's not a continuous curve, but rather has "steps" in it, with some straight portions. Those portions are the ergo bends for your hands. Some people love them, others don't, and others are just retro-grouches. I use a slightly older version of the Specialized Body Geometry bar on my bike, and I like them. Ergo bars are pretty much the most common anymore.

Traditional: Find a picture of some older handlebars an you'll see that the drop is deeper, with a continuous curve to it, and sometimes a shallower "reach" (that's front to back). There are people who swear by these. Wife had these briefly on her bike, but replaced them with Ritchey Biomax ergos. Said the larger curve cramped her hands.

Flat-top: If you look at the pic of the Sequoia again, you'll notice that the tops slant downwards a bit, until they hit the "brifter" hoods? The Flat-top bar, (I think made only by Bontrager and Easton) is designed to be purely horizontal to the hoods, then a sharper vertex with shallower drops.

I run a Body Geometry Ergo bar, with the tops angled only slightly down (not as steep as the ones in the pic. See how the ends are parallel with the top tube? Mine point just hight of my rear hub). I thought for a while that I needed flat-tops, but once I got this dialed in, I became quite happy with it.

Odd-balls: Midges (really really short flared drops), Randonneurs (wide and deep flared drops), Track (don't even consider it.)

Hope that answers the question.
I hope you can test-ride both that and the Sirrus Sport extensively. When testing the Sequoia, see that the handlebars are adjusted to an angle you'll like for the test...or else you'll get a false impression.

Here's my setup:
Lots of different bars will mix and match things like shallow drops, flares, ergo bends, shallow or deep ramps. I don't think your categories are very illuminating. For example, Ritchey Biomax have probably more in common with Nitto Randonneurs than they do with another "ergo" bar like the Ritchey Pro.

Bars are hard to buy because bike shop stock is often limited and they don't commonly have enough specs listed. What I'd really like to know before choosing bars is not only the width, drop, clamp and "ergoness", but also flare, rise, ramp and reach.
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Old 04-17-06, 06:30 PM   #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by halfspeed
Lots of different bars will mix and match things like shallow drops, flares, ergo bends, shallow or deep ramps. I don't think your categories are very illuminating. For example, Ritchey Biomax have probably more in common with Nitto Randonneurs than they do with another "ergo" bar like the Ritchey Pro.

Bars are hard to buy because bike shop stock is often limited and they don't commonly have enough specs listed. What I'd really like to know before choosing bars is not only the width, drop, clamp and "ergoness", but also flare, rise, ramp and reach.
Quite so. However, I did say that those were my four categories to "keep it simple". You can quite obviously start breaking down all the details, which in the end will only lead to describing each manufacturer, model, and their specifics.
When friends of mine seek help outfitting their bikes, that's usually how I explain it to them. In the end, it's almost a non-issue with a stock bike, as almost all of them come with "ergo bars." (And, before that is contested, I did say "ALMOST all").
That's just how I conceptualize it, and it is a rather simple model.
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Old 04-17-06, 08:19 PM   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banzai_f16
Quite so. However, I did say that those were my four categories to "keep it simple". You can quite obviously start breaking down all the details, which in the end will only lead to describing each manufacturer, model, and their specifics.
When friends of mine seek help outfitting their bikes, that's usually how I explain it to them. In the end, it's almost a non-issue with a stock bike, as almost all of them come with "ergo bars." (And, before that is contested, I did say "ALMOST all").
That's just how I conceptualize it, and it is a rather simple model.
The "ergo" bars that come on Trek's C-series bikes, for example, are very different from the "ergo" bars that come on the "regular" versions. They both have an ergo bend, but the shapes are not the same.

If you know what result you're after, it's a lot easier to describe the characteristics than it is to try to fit into an artificial and inaccurate categorization.
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Old 04-18-06, 07:25 AM   #67
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I'm 55 (birthday was yesterday) and have had the back problem for 20 years. Most of the time I'm ok because after all this time I pretty much know what I can and cannot do. ?
I'm 47. Had a laminectomy 19 months ago and then an emergency L4/5 fusion about 7 months ago. When I started riding again (after 4 weeks) I bought a new Giant OCR1. For a few weeks I wondered whether I made the right choice as I was getting some back issues. I raised the bars a bit and dropped the seat a few mm's. I perservered and find I can now ride up to about 2.5 hours (70kms) without back pain. Actually I could probably go further but it's not my back stopping me

The only time it's a problems is when I push _very_ hard up hills. I rarely use the drops but I find the hoods way more comfortable than my old MTB with bar ends and I really like the STI shifters.

I should point out that for the first 3 or 4 months after surgery I swam 1.5 kms every day. I still swim 2 or 3 times a week and I find it complements riding quite well - I'm sure it's contributed to much more stability and core strength. (The swimming was at my surgeon's recommendation).

Now I'm not advocating you dive in and get your back bolted together but for me, my back is the best it's been in over 5 years - no pain at all in everyday things - it's great.

good luck

//kak
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Old 04-18-06, 08:48 AM   #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by halfspeed
The "ergo" bars that come on Trek's C-series bikes, for example, are very different from the "ergo" bars that come on the "regular" versions. They both have an ergo bend, but the shapes are not the same.

If you know what result you're after, it's a lot easier to describe the characteristics than it is to try to fit into an artificial and inaccurate categorization.
Quite so. Then call them characteristics if you will, it matters little. The entire point is to not discuss the individual variations of every single drop bar, which are seemingly infinite, but rather to conceptualize the characteristics. I said in my lengthy post exactly the point you've been trying to make, in an effort to both disclaim and to avoid an entire discussion on EVERY SINGLE possibility. This is silly. Perhaps we should start a new thread: "Describe in detailed measurement and shape the varied and multitudinous drop bars available to the bicycle consumer."

Semper Fi...since this is about your back and your bike, I hope you've had the opportunity to test ride the models you've been eyeing.
And, of course, if down the road you decide that maybe you should have chosen differently...well, that's what's so great about bikes (at least to me): they satisfy the tinkerer hiding inside. A little money and some wrench work at home can transform a bicycle into something totally different.
Both the Sirrus and the Sequoia are good bikes dude...and both good choices. You've heard countless opinions, and it may be to the point where only some good test rides will answer for sure.
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Old 04-18-06, 10:59 AM   #69
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I do plan on test riding again this weekend...hopefully will try the Sequoia, Sirrus Sport and give the Trek Pilot 1.0 another go. I am now (once again) considering a drop bar bike. How could I not after so many members with back problems have them and find them to be comfortable?
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Old 04-18-06, 11:50 AM   #70
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Good luck, and let us know how it goes!
Remember in climbs and winds to downshift appropriately so you're not mashing with your legs and pulling on the bars for leverage. That may unduly strain your back...
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Old 04-19-06, 08:32 AM   #71
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Oh No!...rain is forecast for the entire weekend...there goes my test rides. I wish I could just take a day off from work but that's not possible right now. I'm really anxious to test the Sequoia and as I stated previously would like to try the Trek Pilot 1.0 one more time. Those would be my two choices for a road bike...at least for now.
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Old 04-20-06, 11:53 AM   #72
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Should I be concerned with buying an 8-speed road bike over a 9-speed? I would hate to think that I have wasted many hours doing research and test riding various bikes if 8-speed bikes are going the way of the dinosaur. The reason I ask this question is because I've read several posts in another thread (tried to find it again but couldn't) stating that the 8-speed will be obsolete soon because 10-speeds are becomming more prevalent and that replacement parts for an 8-speed bike will be hard to come by. Also that for the money spent to convert an 8-speed to a 9 or 10 speed you could buy a new bike. If this is indeed the case I could live with the time I've wasted but would like to know for sure before I plop my money down.
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Old 04-20-06, 03:26 PM   #73
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That's a good question...and perhaps I should research that. I have an 8-speed. (And by the way I love it...wouldn't "upgrade" it for anything). Haven't had any problems.
I think it depends on who you ask. Under Shimano's plan of forced technical obsolescence a lot of things were supposed to go away...but you can still buy 8 speed bar-cons from them. (An LBS told me they weren't made anymore. I told them to look it up. They were pleasantly surprised.)
The other question is what is the supposed "timeline" for this? Five years? (doubtful) Ten years? (Who cares at that point?)
Basically, I don't know if it's true or not, but I doubt you'll be looking for a part next year and find that they're all gone.
I hope they don't disappear...I really prefer 8 speed.
In fact, I changed my rear cassette not too long ago. Walked into the bike shop and said "I need an 8-speed 11-30." They said sure, here ya go. No problem finding replacement parts.
If 8 speeds were going to disappear very soon, I'd say you're right to be concerned. But I don't think it's soon at all. (I can still actually find 7 speed stuff!)
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Old 04-20-06, 04:20 PM   #74
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Eight speed will be around for a while and most eight speed components can be replaced with nine speed parts without trouble. Cranks, hubs and derailleurs are completely interchangeable. Nine speed shifters should shift eight speed cassettes (not using one gear of course). Chains are backwardly compatible (nine speed chains work perfectly on eight speed drivertrains.)

I haven't tried it, but I suspect that eight speed shifters will even work on a nine speed cassette sans one gear. In any case, if you're worried, buy a spare cassette or two and you'll be fine for many years, probably until nine speed is gone. Even then, ten speed also seems mostly compatible.
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Old 04-20-06, 05:01 PM   #75
Emerson
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I had an emergency lumbar discectomy around 18 months ago, and, as I type, I am in a neck brace for the C5-6, 6-7 fusion I had done on Monday. I put Jones H-bars on my new Surly in the hope that the main position is like North Road bars--fairly upright, wrist neutral, but with a couple more positions to move around some on. I ride in the main position, move my hands to kind of rest on the cross bar, and occasionally up to the extensions. So far, so good, but no really long rides yet and I am now off the road for three whole months. I have to say how reassuring and inspiring I find these threads. I can sometimes feel like I am alone in having physical problems, but these threads remind me how many of us have these challenges and keep riding.
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