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  1. #1
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Comfortable riding positions for Upright Handlebars.

    I have found Bike Forums helpful in finding out information for my wife, new to biking. I am a committed Roadie and like riding in the drops. Find it very comfortable. My wife's new bike. She choose upright handlebars. I ride her new bike on ocassion. She has some complaints about her wrists aching and even some swelling about her wrists.
    On the ocasssions, I have rode her new bike a far distance, I find I come back with more wrist pain than I experience when riding in the drops. We both use gloves at all times. I had thought an upright postion is easier on the back and less pain about the hands. Riding positon seems that the hands are pretty even to the ends of the handlebars.
    My question. Do many of us find riding upright handlebars more comfortable than riding in drops. And is there anything unique about riding in a more upright position. Any suggestions about proper riding postions on this type of handlebar. Thanks.

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    The fact that she uses gloves when riding suggests to me that she is putting some weight on the handlebars. I think you should raise the handlebars until she is comfortable. I find a fully upright riding position most comfortable. Next most comfortable is riding with drop bars. Flat bar bikes with the bar at or bellow saddle height are the least comfortable.

    Paul

  3. #3
    05 Roubaix Comp Double
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    I havent used the drops but for maybe 100 miles of my 8K. Upright bars? Flatbar? Make sure the seat isnt tilted forward and keep the elbows bent,thats for starters.
    Touch every 3rd person and you'll find an idiot.

  4. #4
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Anytime , assuming there are no health issues, upright riding is painful
    the rider is putting to much weight on the wrist & arms.

    Often simple adjustments will do but then again the bike may lack a
    key component that makes FULL RANGE adjusment possible.That
    component is a fully adjustable stem. The combo of an adjustable
    stem give limitless range of angle & height to dial in the precise
    postion of comfort.

  5. #5
    . bbattle's Avatar
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    Put some bar ends on the handlebar to give her more hand positions. Also hands on the bar ends have the wrists turned to a more comfortable position. If she's putting too much weight forward, move the seat back a bit.

    I'm assuming you meant a flatbar.

    Another option is to get her some trekking bars like these:



    LOTS of hand positions.

  6. #6
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    This is a common complaint with flat bars. The flat bars are the problem.

    However...check the sizing/reach distance/saddle position. As has already been mentioned, she may be leaning fairly far forward, which will put more weight on the hands. With only one hand position to choose from, it will not take long for issues to arise.

    Another issue with flat bar bikes is generally the upright riding position can actually distance limit you. If fit "properly", the rider is seated in a more upright position, putting more weight on the butt, and transmitting shocks and bumps directly up the spine, instead of allowing the body to "flex" with them. The end result is a far earlier and more acute onset of saddle soreness, and possibly a sore back.
    Good night...and good luck

  7. #7
    I eat cars Nyrome's Avatar
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    i am experiencing similar pains in my wrists, and shoulder joint. i am using a hand-me-down hybrid (arrette gt - 1996) from my dad. we are about the same size. i clear the bike when standing with both feet flat on the ground just enough, but not more than an inch. it has a 19" stem. the seat is flat. the handlebars are also wide and slightly lifted. i find that when i hit bumps, the shock absorbs through my hands and shoulders, and i tend to be more comfortable leaning down towards the bike, and experiencing the stride throughout my legs. i think i am putting too much weight on my arms, so i tend to sit back on my seat and lean forward, but this feels awkward on this bike, which i think is made for upright riding. i wonder do i need another bike (i commute 17 miles a day roundtrip up and down hills) or do i merely need different handlebars? i have some seat soreness, but not so much as my shoulder/wrists.
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  8. #8
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nyrome
    i am experiencing similar pains in my wrists, and shoulder joint. i am using a hand-me-down hybrid (arrette gt - 1996) from my dad. we are about the same size. i clear the bike when standing with both feet flat on the ground just enough, but not more than an inch. it has a 19" seat tube. the seat is flat. the handlebars are also wide and slightly lifted. i find that when i hit bumps, the shock absorbs through my hands and shoulders...
    Sorry to hear about the problems you're having.
    When you get another bike that fits you, you'll probably be more comfortable and won't experience the hand/shoulder pain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nyrome
    i wonder do i need another bike (i commute 17 miles a day roundtrip up and down hills) or do i merely need different handlebars? i have some seat soreness, but not so much as my shoulder/wrists.
    A new bike that fits you will definitely help. But you (or Mike at Intown Bicycles) may be able to make a few adjustments so it fits much better.

    Have you been to www.wrenchscience.com to see what size frame, stem length, saddle height, etc. you need?
    Click on WS Sizing System ::
    Get fit for Road and
    Mountain Bikes!

    on the right side of the page.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member capejohn's Avatar
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    Riders often tend to tense up and hold the bars to tight. That will not only cause pain, but will induce fatigue. Relax with a light grip, and pedal with light spin.
    Bike riding New England gentleman.

  10. #10
    I eat cars Nyrome's Avatar
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    thank you! i will calculate accordingly...
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and Ió / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference. - Robert Frost (1874-1963)

  11. #11
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    Have a look at the angle of her wrists. Ideally the wrist should be at a neutral angle with no kink or bend, typical of a rider on the brake hoods.
    MTB flats can cause a bend. Rider or city style bars are more neutral.

    A bent wrist can concentrate stresses and vibration which would otherwise rise up the arms and dissipate.
    Check that the width is appropriate to her shoulder breadth. Too wide can cause triangulation of the arms (from the front), eliminating any elbow flex.
    Adjust the bar height to see what works better. Consider an adjustable stem.

  12. #12
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Another angle to watch out for is the position of the brake levers. I had severe pain in my hand and wrist when I rode my new bike for longer than a few blocks. My mechanic simply rotated the levers up forward at about a 35 degree angle for me for easier reach with smaller hands. No more pain! The stem and the seat did not even have to be changed in any way.
    Last edited by folder fanatic; 05-20-06 at 01:26 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by folder fanatic
    Another angle to watch out for is the position of the brake levers. I had severe pain in my hand and wrist when I rode my new bike for longer than a few blocks. My mechanic simply rotated the levers up forward at about a 35 degree angle for me for easier reach with smaller hands. No more pain! The stem and the seat did not even have to be changed in any way.
    I'll second this advice. My brakes were turned to much up to the verticle so I had to ride with my wrists flexed to operate the brakes. A shop turned them down so my forearms,wrists, knuckles and fingers make more of a straight line when my hands are on the bars and it was a great relief.
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  14. #14
    tired donnamb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by folder fanatic
    Another angle to watch out for is the position of the brake levers. I had severe pain in my hand and wrist when I rode my new bike for longer than a few blocks. My mechanic simply rotated the levers up forward at about a 35 degree angle for me for easier reach with smaller hands. No more pain! The stem and the seat did not even have to be changed in any way.
    So I am a complete spatial moron. Do you have a picture of what this looks like?

  15. #15
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    Look at the grips.

    most of the time I had wrist pain was from not holding the grips right, since they were so darn uncomfortable.

    One grip I had lots of success with was Pedro's dice grips. Even with bare hands, they were a decent blend of cushion and grip. They are also super-long, so you do get a little bit of variance on where you grab the bars....on my old DB outlook, I had the STI levers moved inwards significantly to fit. Pretty much it gave me a few inches to move my hands about.

    Right now I am trying out some Oury lock-on grips on my mountain bike...without gloves, they are somewhat uncomfortable...with gloves, they are heavenly so far.

    And for the brake lever positioning, I second this. The lower the bars are, the more of a downward angle your brake levers should have when using flat or riser bar bikes. When in a more upright position, you want them just below parralell with the ground. Reason for this, is the brake lever will also determine the angle of your hands when they are on them. Tilting them down heavily either make you rotate your hands to reach them, or use your fingertips (I grab my levers right at the fingertip knuckle).

    Finally, if you are using riser bars, rotate them slightly, and see if that helps.
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  16. #16
    Bike Junkie aadhils's Avatar
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    Mebbe try mustache handlebars...

  17. #17
    Banned. folder fanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donnamb
    So I am a complete spatial moron. Do you have a picture of what this looks like?
    I do not have a picture of my bikes as of now but let me illustrate how to check for angle of brake levers. Assuming that you have straight, ape hanger style or some similar handlebars that are relativity level to the saddle, simply reach for the levers while sitting on the saddle. If you have to tilt your wrists foward, turn your forearms and elbow upwards, then either you or your LBS loosens the brake levers and pull it up toward the sky, until you can drape your first 2 fingers casually across the levers without strain or changing the posture of your fingers, wrists, forearms, or elbow in the recommended level, slightly bent position. I use the 35 degree figure since it worked for me and the bike, but everyone is different. I find that the mountain bike position of 45 degrees (levers are parallel to the chainline or straight top tube) is the most you want to go up.
    Last edited by folder fanatic; 05-22-06 at 12:50 PM.

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