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Old 08-24-08, 10:49 PM   #1
malcolm40
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handle bars and my wifes pain?

I recently purchased an older Cannondale CAAD4 for my wife in 52cm. She loves the bike and the power it gives her but she still has problems with her arms and hands. She has problems reaching the brakes and shifters so I thought a shorter stem with more of an angle would help the reach. It did somewhat so we went out for a ride Saturday and about 15 miles in she started to say her forearms and hands were hurting. So I studied her riding position and noticed her shoulders were tight into her body and here elbows were locked due to the narrow bars? So I compared my handle bars to hers and mine looked to be a good inch or more wider.
My wife is a lot broader on top than most women and her bike is 52cm so the handle bars are 42 compared to my 44's. So my question would wider handlebars help her any? Or is something else wrong?
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Old 08-25-08, 01:25 AM   #2
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Elbows do not lock due to narrow bars, elbows lock because the arms are fully extended (duh).

Bars should be the same width as the shoulder. Elbows should be bent. Arms get tired from staying bent? HTFU.
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Old 08-25-08, 08:58 AM   #3
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Sounds like the bike is not a good fit for her. Your wife should take the bike to a reputable shop and have a pro-fit done. I've also found that strengthening my core is essential for proper form and reduces stress on shoulders and arms.
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Old 08-25-08, 09:10 AM   #4
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Have you checked the seat angle? Perhaps it's too low.
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Old 08-25-08, 10:12 AM   #5
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Sure, you could pay someone $200 to fit your wife to a bike... that will definitely work.

Or, do like 99.732% of riders and just do some tweaking on your own. We'll all be in the orthopedic ward together in a year or two I am sure...

You may want to take the time to measure, and do an "online" fitting:

http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za...LCULATOR_INTRO

I am a fan of the French Fit for a casual cyclist.

Make sure that the measurements from crank to saddle and saddle to bars etc are in the right ballpark. Any fitting, whether online or professional, unless it is for pure performance and involves wind tunnels etc is only enough to get into the right ballpark. After putting in some miles, the rider is the best judge of whether a small tweak needs to be done. Even if everything is by the book and looks perfect if a rider feels too stretched out, then guess what? They are too stretched out.

Even if her bike is slightly outside the suggested size you may be able to adjust with the right stem and/or seatpost, as it seems you realize. If it is too far outside, you probably need to get her a more suitable platform to start with.

If this fails, then you still have the option of a professional fitting.

Also, your wife (like me) probably needs to work on her core muscles in order to ease the stress on her upper body and arms, and as suggested, she needs to learn to keep her elbows slightly bent. She would probably be more comfortable with her elbows bent with some arm strengthening work too.
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Old 08-25-08, 10:41 AM   #6
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Not a whole lot to add to what Little Darwin said. Here's some good info from Keith Bontrager, via Sheldon Brown.

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/kops.html
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Old 08-25-08, 03:10 PM   #7
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Suggest you consider some swept back handlebars like tourist, north road, albatross, moustache, sparrow. There's a good thread about alternative handlebars that might help.

I switched to north road/tourist type when my hands and arms kept bothering me on longer trips (around the 10 mile mark). Since the switch, no more complaints. It only cost me about 24 dollars with labor and new grips. My brakes, shifter fit the new bars fine.
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Old 08-25-08, 03:38 PM   #8
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Raise the bars more.
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Old 08-25-08, 03:42 PM   #9
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You can also get short reach bars that bring the hoods in closer. I put those on my bike along with a 70mm stem and I'm a lot more comfortable. The Salsa Pogo is the bar I chose.
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Old 08-25-08, 05:37 PM   #10
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Thank you for all the input. The handle bar and seat suggestions are great. She did mention that she wanted to raise her seat a little. I will look at shorter reach bars for her too.
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Old 08-25-08, 06:14 PM   #11
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I have a bike which I thought had wide bars. I ended up purchasing another bike with even wider bars. After I rode them a while, I love them. I'm thinking of switching out the other roadie's bars for some wider bars. Makes a huge difference in my opinion!
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Old 08-25-08, 09:15 PM   #12
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I found a great article on bike fit, scroll down to the heading "Component Fitting".
http://www.pezcyclingnews.com/?pg=fullstory&id=3507
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Old 08-26-08, 03:05 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosie8 View Post
Suggest you consider some swept back handlebars like tourist, north road, albatross, moustache, sparrow. There's a good thread about alternative handlebars that might help.

I switched to north road/tourist type when my hands and arms kept bothering me on longer trips (around the 10 mile mark). Since the switch, no more complaints. It only cost me about 24 dollars with labor and new grips. My brakes, shifter fit the new bars fine.
I suggest you look into this. A lot has been said about this, especially in the "Utility" forum. No more flat bars on any of our bikes. Also see a change in the new ("MTB- like") bikes sold in this area, less sold with flat bars.

Is your wifes bike produced to be a man`s bike or a woman`sbike? Remember guys has longer backs, and therefor need longer bikes. Swept bac bars can help if it was made for a guy, since it brings the hands closer to the body where it should be, and in a better angle.

Look at older bikes, no flat bars anywhere. Offroad bikes is made for serious offroad riding. At least 90% of the offroad bikes in this area is only used on roads, and most of them is wrong size / badly fitted.
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Old 08-27-08, 07:01 AM   #14
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If the bike's too big (top tube too long), then tweaking can only go so far. Just keep in mind that she might need a smaller bike.
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Old 08-27-08, 11:22 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosie8 View Post
Suggest you consider some swept back handlebars like tourist, north road, albatross, moustache, sparrow. There's a good thread about alternative handlebars that might help.

I switched to north road/tourist type when my hands and arms kept bothering me on longer trips (around the 10 mile mark). Since the switch, no more complaints. It only cost me about 24 dollars with labor and new grips. My brakes, shifter fit the new bars fine.
Quote:
Originally Posted by badmother View Post
I suggest you look into this. A lot has been said about this, especially in the "Utility" forum. No more flat bars on any of our bikes. Also see a change in the new ("MTB- like") bikes sold in this area, less sold with flat bars.

Is your wifes bike produced to be a man`s bike or a woman`sbike? Remember guys has longer backs, and therefor need longer bikes. Swept bac bars can help if it was made for a guy, since it brings the hands closer to the body where it should be, and in a better angle.

Look at older bikes, no flat bars anywhere. Offroad bikes is made for serious offroad riding. At least 90% of the offroad bikes in this area is only used on roads, and most of them is wrong size / badly fitted.
+100

This is very important for some people. The natural position of your hands is not straight across like a straight MTB bar. Your hands naturally bend back slightly. I put a set of gently swept back bars on my wifes bike (and a taller stem) and that cured her arm/hand issues.
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