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Old 09-27-09, 11:20 AM   #1
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Appropriate bike for large rider w/ disk injury

This is my first post on the site. I suffered a herniation of L4-L5 and L5-S1 while deployed to Iraq last year. Now I am a out of the service but I have a low back issue that causes constant pain and will not allow me to engage in the activities which used to keep me healthy. Running is impossible and a short mountain bike ride puts me flat on my back for days.

I live in the Sacramento area where there is no offseason and my house is next to unlimited miles of bike trails. Can anyone suggest a bicycle that will allow me to exercise without exacerbating this debilitating injury? I am a big rider, 6'5", 240, and otherwise in great cardiovascular condition.

Thank you for your suggestions.
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Old 09-27-09, 11:59 AM   #2
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I've had serious back issues with L34 and L45. Had IDET surgery on them (had my disks BBQ'd)
Different bikes have different amount of forward-lean. It goes something like this (from most upright to most aero):
"Dutch" Comfort bike -> Hybrid -> MtnBike -> Touring Bike -> Cross Bike -> Racing Bike. (Each type can be modified tho depending on bar height.)
I'd say try them out and see how your back feels on them. I find that being totally upright is very uncomfortable for my back because the road shock goes straight up the spine. When I lean forward, it opens up the spine and creates some room for the disks (decompression). Yet due to tight muscles in my back and hamstrings, I can't lean all the way forward on a racing bike. I find I'm most comfortable on a Mtn or Touring bike.
I'd also stick to smooth roads that have as little traffic as possible. Good luck. btw, there are lots of threads about back/disk pain. I recommend a search.
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Old 09-27-09, 02:18 PM   #3
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Serious enough back issues that I'd probably look at a recumbent..... That said, not good for trails..
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Old 09-27-09, 05:47 PM   #4
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I've been riding a full-suspension mountain bike exclusively since 2002, and I also have herniated lumbar discs (3 of them). I'm 6'1", 230, and car-free; under VA care, so you know it's not Johns Hopkins.

What has worked well for me is to have the forward-leaning position, bars about 1" below saddle height, and top-tube length somewhat less than the XC guys would recommend.

That said, remember one thing: 2mm of stem height change can make all the diff in the world for your own ride, so don't be afraid to experiment a bit. Also, make sure your cadence is up more, less mashing -- 80+ rpm on the pedals keeps my low back from seizing up.

Hope this all helps.
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Old 09-27-09, 05:58 PM   #5
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You might also check on Clydes/Athenas board here.
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