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Old 03-31-06, 07:43 PM   #1
SemperFi
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Bad Back - Need Advice

Straight bars or Drops, that's the dilemma. Which is more comfortable? I'm looking for the occasional cardio workout or commute to work (6 miles). But it's got to be a comfortable ride because of a chronic lower back condition. I don't plan on any one outing being more than a 15 mile trip. I've been looking at the Trek FX series (7.3 and 7.5 with straight bars) and the Trek Pilot 1.0 (drops). Havn't had a chance to test ride either one because on the day I looked at them I could barely walk. Any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by SemperFi; 03-31-06 at 07:52 PM.
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Old 03-31-06, 10:35 PM   #2
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Aw c'mon, somebody, please
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Old 03-31-06, 11:21 PM   #3
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Flat bar would work, the riding position is more upright should be easier on the back.
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Old 03-31-06, 11:30 PM   #4
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For my crushed lower back, arthritic shoulders, collarbones, neck, and carpal tunnel, the solution was neither drops nor straights. I tried 'em and ditched 'em. Go with North Road bars and a Brooks B-67. If you are serious about staying on a bike, you'll end up there anyway so you might as well just do it!

Don't be like me and spend a fortune buying failures. Ive bought enough in 8 months to do yard art.

A typical week-day ride for me is about 35-40 miles X2/week. Week-end rides can be a century or sat 60/sun 60. Don't think you can't be comfortable with the setup on long rides. I'm 50 years old.
PM me if you want pics of The Holy Grail. I've posted them all over and I think people are sick of them.

EDIT: By the way, your needs, as you state them, put you in a perfect catagory for an English 3-speed. Essentially, that's what I have done - re-created the comfortable 3-speed, but with a much lighter, more modern bike. Google up a vintage Raleigh DL-1 Roadster, or, go over to Sheldon Brown's site and look around the 3-speed sections. Those bikes were seriously nice to ride, but we have lighter options today.

Last edited by jcm; 03-31-06 at 11:39 PM.
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Old 03-31-06, 11:40 PM   #5
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Don't overlook LWB recumbents. They are really friendly to backs. Especdially older ones. bk
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Old 04-01-06, 04:14 AM   #6
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Bad Back

Here are pictures of my new C'dale Synapse and a previously owned Easy Racers Tour Easy. I love the C'dale. It is an easy ride and fast. The TE is a great bike but it aggravated my sciatic nerve. That is the reason that I sold it.
The C'dale is my answer to my neck and back problems. So far it has worked.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg TE1.jpg (28.1 KB, 258 views)
File Type: jpg S6.jpg (29.8 KB, 90 views)
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Old 04-01-06, 04:36 AM   #7
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If your back problem is simply soreness caused by compression and you find that stretching makes it feel better, definitely consider putting some time into test riding some drop bar bikes. My back gets stiff only on days when I haven't ridden one of my drop bar bikes.
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Old 04-01-06, 06:34 AM   #8
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My back problems can usually be corrected by atrip to the chiropractor, so I do not consider them chonic. (although they always come back) I have drop bars and am always comfortable. I think Trakhak is right, the strechted position is very good. good luck with your search.
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Old 04-01-06, 09:00 AM   #9
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Having had fusion in my neck and chronic arthritis in my upper back / neck, I have found so far that I can change position more often to different positions with drops. Straight bars essentially lock me into one position which irritates my back, neck, and shoulders more. I have not tried items like what jcm mentioned. I have also found lots of slow easy stretching and lots of water throughout the day and evening helps to keep the inflammation down.

[Edit] I commute 3 miles one way 4 times a day, plus general grocery runs, etc and occassional to frequent 20 - 50 mile jaunts on weekends [/Edit]
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Old 04-01-06, 11:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkaapcke
Don't overlook LWB recumbents. They are really friendly to backs. Especdially older ones. bk
'Bents are very cool. It would have been my next stop had I not found the comfort level with my current, very odd setup. I still may get one yet.
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Old 04-01-06, 01:26 PM   #11
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For anyone with spine, shoulder or wrist issues this statment covers it all.
The reason is that this setup is ment for real everyday folk's who are not racer
types. Been that way forever................

"Go with North Road bars and a Brooks B-67. If you are serious about staying on a bike, you'll end up there anyway so you might as well just do it!"
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Old 04-08-06, 10:09 PM   #12
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I second it!

The North Road's (starting at $6 for Wald Touring featherlight steel of 23") plus a sprung saddle (padded, not gel) allow for longer rides. Thus, you might say that they allow your body to produce more power.
A more modern appearance can be achieved with the nearly 23" identical trekking bars (Nashbar) plus an ordinary comfort/touring bike saddle.
If your bike is a tad on the small side whereby you would be doing push-ups on the North Road's just get a pair of 24" Dimension Aluminum Crusier bars and cut 1.5 or so inches from the ends (measure shifter, brakes and grips first; and, actually install the brake levers when you measure). Now you've got North Road's with a bit more rise and zero forward sweep. It is also about the weight of a postage stamp.

For Aheadset conversion, you can get a Nashbar Aheadset ATB adjustable stem, and if the bike is too small, you could also get a Delta 3 inch stem riser. If your "goodies" strike the top tube, then your bike is not too small, otherwise it is. Something is necessary in order to put correct ergo into the bike, otherwise your body's power goes into the front wheel instead of the rear wheel. Have you noticed?

For threaded headsets, there are many options, such as the economical Pyramid Cool Stem in 80mm x whoppper and the beautiful, but expensive Nitto Technomic. Oversize threaded headsets still have some adjustable stems available, but at a smaller selection.

Why North Road? They have a main grip (in the obvious place), and if you look close, you'll see a forwards grip that can duck you out of the wind.

The combination of comfort and speed is truly a pleasure.

Last edited by danielhaden; 04-08-06 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 04-08-06, 10:18 PM   #13
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You can also mount North Roads upside down ala Mustache bars, but with the natural wrist angle still there. The Clubmen back in the day did that. It's aero and also looks very retro cool.
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Old 04-10-06, 12:33 AM   #14
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Ridiculously high drop bars can work well. They just look funny that way.

Nashbar's trekking bars have the same dimensions as 23" North Road's, but the Nashbar trekking bars look modern and sporty. This is good if the artistic design of the bike is very futuristic.

Seat width and handlebar height are to be in proportional for best results. Higher bars need wider seats, although it is unnecessary to carry this to extremes.
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Old 04-10-06, 12:48 AM   #15
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Another vote for North Roads and related handlebars. Proper fitting on the wrong handlebar can only do so much, especiallly if you're not a racer.

6 miles would be very suitable for North Roads. I've done 20 mile round-trip commutes on them(with quite a few hills, of course, I run them with electric assist).
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Old 04-10-06, 07:21 AM   #16
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Depending upon exactly what the problem is you have with the lower-back, the solutions can be vast and varied. Muscular issues are one thing, while alignment and spine-problems may need something else. I've found that drop-bars set up fairly high, like around seat-level or higher works pretty well. Flat-bars lock me into one position and the lack of multiple hand-positions ends up causing sore hands and shoulders after a couple hours.
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Old 04-10-06, 07:22 AM   #17
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what is the nature of your lower back ailments?
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Old 04-10-06, 07:52 AM   #18
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Another suggestion to try a few 'bents. Visit your local bike shops, and see if they have any in stock. After riding two or three, you should get a good idea of whether a recumbent will help your back problems.
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Old 04-10-06, 07:56 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SemperFi
Straight bars or Drops, that's the dilemma. Which is more comfortable? I'm looking for the occasional cardio workout or commute to work (6 miles). But it's got to be a comfortable ride because of a chronic lower back condition. I don't plan on any one outing being more than a 15 mile trip. I've been looking at the Trek FX series (7.3 and 7.5 with straight bars) and the Trek Pilot 1.0 (drops). Havn't had a chance to test ride either one because on the day I looked at them I could barely walk. Any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
Dropbars doesnt mean your in the drops much. I'm never in them. I have a bad back and a more relaxed geometery bike will help.
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Old 04-10-06, 08:10 AM   #20
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Hey Semper-Fi,

Well, back problems changes the equation a bit. Depending on the nature of them, drops may be appropriate, with a more relaxed geometry (i.e. touring) bike. Not a full up racer, with the aggressive stance and handlebars well below the saddle. I have no back problems, and I still use a more "relaxed" geometry commuter bike with drops. Actually, it used to be a flat bar road bike, but bikes with drops are made with the same geometry.



Or, if the back is really bad, maybe go with those flat-bars you were looking at in the other thread. For $30 total down the road if you grow tired/uncomfortable with the single hand position, you could swap for Nashbar's trekking bar...I have one of those on my ATB. Lots of hand positions, but more upright.
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Old 04-10-06, 08:50 AM   #21
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You're looking at bikes anyway, here's one to check out:
http://www.ransbikes.com/fusion26x26.htm
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Old 04-11-06, 11:56 AM   #22
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The back problem I have is two lower herniated discs. I did test ride the Trek Pilot 1.0 and although the position was not uncomfortable I did not like the shifters. My main issue with drop bars seems to be the lack of maneuverability (steering). I find that a bike with straight bars is simply easier to control.
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Old 04-11-06, 12:01 PM   #23
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Interesting. After the initial phase of becoming used to the drop bars (about 1 week), I found that I can maneuver the same or better than a flat bar. Plus, my back is improving due to the wide variety of hand positions.
To be fair, I have simple lower back muscle issues. Plus, several of my back pains are solved with a weekly massage. It's strange how working on a leg can fix a back.
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Old 04-13-06, 05:12 PM   #24
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I have a disc trying to herniate and/or stenosis and/or arthritis in my lower back (depends upon which diagnosis you believe). I ride drop bars and actually spend some time in the drops and find the ability to move around works better than a flat bar set up (I spent some time riding my mtb with slicks before I got my roadie). I have the bars set at about seat height, but the frame geometry is on the aggresive side. I do some simple PT stretches everyday to keep things in line and everything seems to be fine. If anything I have less problems now than before I started riding - and I understand the not being able to walk thing. But, I imagine it will vary greatly by person and exactly how bad your problem is, age, ect....
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Old 04-13-06, 05:36 PM   #25
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I'll up your disc with my Sciatica.
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