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  1. #1
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    Wanting to use bike for fitness and have a few q's about gear please...

    Hi All (questions at the bottom!) -

    I've gained weight and am 44 now so decided that since walks aren't as exciting to me, I might try cycling for fitness as opposed to for just getting around or fun. About a year ago or more I bought a new Trek FX 7.5 - I think it's a 2012 model. I bought it for everything but the handlebars (don't love the feel of the straight bars) so I had someone keep the shifters and switch it over to more of a cruiser-style handlebar (maybe not quite as dramatic as the true cruiser style, but sorta like that). Today I took the bike on a paved bike trail along the river (gorgeous) and rode fairly hard for 6 miles (3 and 3). It was fantastic - it's a fabulous bike if I do say so myself.

    My hands always ache and feel tingly though (always have) and I remember padded cycling gloves don't help, so I'd like to pick a more serious handlebar with more hand-placement options. Furthermore - even though I changed the seat to a wider women's cushioned seat, I was surprised that I was pretty uncomfortable there, too. I looked at online images of the pelvic area and it *seems* that the area that hurts (feels too "bony" - as if getting bruised - not necessarily the soft tissue) is what are called the "sit bones." That said, I don't have any real cycling clothes so maybe something padded clothes-wise would help.

    Here are my questions (and I hope it's okay to list them here rather than creating separate threads or each one)!:

    1. What type of handlebars offer the most options for numb or tingling hands and would also give the option of leaning forward or sitting more upright? Some that I've seen so far are handlebar ends, aerobars, butterfly bars, figure 8 type bars (if they're even different), etc. and then are there options re. how you configure them too? Can you attach them facing toward or away from you and does it become awkward to break in some cases? I seem to recall that I upgraded to an adjustable stem when I got the newer handlebars, if that matters.

    2. Can anyone recommend a women's seat that makes things easier on what I assume are the sit bones? I know every woman's different as is every seat, but still I thought I'd ask! don't know if I'm ever going to get around to measuring the distance between the sit bones as some online articles suggest, but I think I have wider hips than some (not sure if that means sit bones will be wider too). I also wonder if the seat should be very slightly tipped upward or downward - or neither.

    3. I've been reading online comments about the benefits of cycling shoes and clipless pedals but are they only necessary if you have road handlebars and are leaning forward so much? Can anyone recommend a pair for people with wider feet than narrower, as well as for those with higher arches if that matters? Are there general rules about sizing? E.g. for some athletic purposes, shoes that are slightly snug are better, while others are better if the opposite.

    Thank you!!!

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    First and foremost ... ensure that the bicycle is set up to fit your properly. When your bicycle fits you properly your choice of comfortable handlebars and seats increases.

    Secondly, after you have ensured that the bicycle is set up properly, talk to your LBS (or other LBSs in the area) about trying saddles. A good shop will let you try saddles for a week, a better shop will let you try saddles for a month, a great shop will let you try saddles for 6 months.

    You might talk to them about trying handlebars too. Good LBSs will let you try handlebars.

    And finally ... start working on your core. When you have a strong core you can sit on a bicycle with good posture and be comfortable for longer, and again, you increase your chances of finding a comfortable saddle and handlebars.

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    Thank you Machka! Yes the bike itself was fitted, but I had to order it with the handlebars and seat and ever since have been messing around with various seats and a couple of handlebars, trying to find something that works but without luck. I'm sure I'll get more comfortable as I go further/longer but I'm always open to suggestions that people have had great luck with and can explain why. I appreciate the advice about the good shops! I'm in a pretty bike-friendly city so hopefully I'll find someone willing to let me test more of these things out. I didn't realize that may be an option!

  4. #4
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Welcome to the Forums

    +1 to ensuring that the bike fit is set up properly. Ergon grips go along way to minimizing/eliminating numb hands (and you may also be gripping too hard- "death grip"- which can lead to numbness).
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
    Community guidelines

  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theresse View Post
    I appreciate the advice about the good shops! I'm in a pretty bike-friendly city so hopefully I'll find someone willing to let me test more of these things out. I didn't realize that may be an option!
    Absolutely!! But it is something you've got to ask about.

    Some bicycle shops will tell you that they'll put the saddle on and you can ride up and down the street ... but that's it. That's OK, but it's definitely not ideal. If that's all a shop offers, go to the next shop.

    Explain that you're having trouble finding a good handlebar and good saddle, and a good shop should work with you.



    Personally, I'm a woman who uses a Brooks B17 Men's Standard saddle. So don't limit yourself to women's saddles. They aren't necessarily the answer.

    And regarding tilt. For most saddles, level is best. But for the Brooks, most people prefer them with the nose tipped up.

    The nose should not be tipped down for any saddle. When the nose is tipped down, even just a little bit, you slide forward and end up pushing yourself back with your arms resulting in sore arms and hands.

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    Thanks No1mad! What's interesting is that ergon-type grips that came with the bike didn't feel good on my hands at all (what's up with my hands anyway?!!) so I switched to a different kind. I still think I need more hand placements though just so I can move them around a bit! And yes I try to watch out for the death grip which isn't to say I don't still do that some of the time. Can't wait to find a solution!

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    Thanks Machka - that all makes a lot of sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Absolutely!! But it is something you've got to ask about.

    Some bicycle shops will tell you that they'll put the saddle on and you can ride up and down the street ... but that's it. That's OK, but it's definitely not ideal. If that's all a shop offers, go to the next shop.

    Explain that you're having trouble finding a good handlebar and good saddle, and a good shop should work with you.



    Personally, I'm a woman who uses a Brooks B17 Men's Standard saddle. So don't limit yourself to women's saddles. They aren't necessarily the answer.

    And regarding tilt. For most saddles, level is best. But for the Brooks, most people prefer them with the nose tipped up.

    The nose should not be tipped down for any saddle. When the nose is tipped down, even just a little bit, you slide forward and end up pushing yourself back with your arms resulting in sore arms and hands.

  8. #8
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Im a guy and like using the Fizik Vitesse they categorize as a woman's saddle

    My tush has different fit needs at 65 than when I was 30 ..

    +1 on the near level or skosh up saddle , the butt stays put and wont slide a round, like happens with nose down.


    Shop here will do exchanges up to a point on saddles

    the $100+ leather ones are a bit of a Financial commitment.. mine are from that 30 years ago ..

    I now use Figure 8 bend trekking bars in place of straight bars ,
    as the more hand placement option solution , all the parts off the other bars get reused
    there are ~$20 sources of those bars thru the local shop or web sellers .
    Last edited by fietsbob; 03-19-14 at 02:30 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theresse View Post
    My hands always ache and feel tingly though (always have) and I remember padded cycling gloves don't help, so I'd like to pick a more serious handlebar with more hand-placement options. Furthermore - even though I changed the seat to a wider women's cushioned seat, I was surprised that I was pretty uncomfortable there, too. I looked at online images of the pelvic area and it *seems* that the area that hurts (feels too "bony" - as if getting bruised - not necessarily the soft tissue) is what are called the "sit bones."
    I'll say it. It's the "R" word. Recumbent.

    Look at my avatar. I'm sitting in a lawn chair and I'm not putting any pressure on my hands so they never go tingly or numb.
    My greatest fear is all of my kids standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" dad was.

  10. #10
    Senior Member timvan_78's Avatar
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    my 2 cents:
    1. you might be putting too much weight through your hands.
    2. before you try any saddles, get some cycling shorts.

  11. #11
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    Thanks Fietsbob! I looked up the Fizik Vitesse and didn't see anything that screamed "come sit on me" to me - haha - but I also understand that the big fat cushy seats are misleading to people too and can apparently damage soft tissue (?). Whatever I end up with - if I switch at all - it seems the biggest issue is simply that I haven't been on a bike in so long (with exception of a yesterday) and I need time to toughen up and get used to it!


    All last night and today I have this annoying feeling that I can't stretch enough. It's a raw ache (I probably pushed it a bit, for me...I have high endurance which due to my ever-aging-age might trick me into thinking I can push it, you know?) - in my quads - including down close to the knee - but also in the part of the body I never remember the name of. It's where the top of your inner thigh meets your torso. Upper groin or abductor muscle? It's where the bikini line is. It's the feeling like I want to do the splits to stretch it out!


    I'm going to look more into those figure 8 bars. Between those and the other kinds out there, I want to find - if possible - the kind that not only offer a shorter and further reach depending on where you grab, but more of an upright option if there is one. I also like the idea of being able to lie down sort of, completely taking the pressure off one's hands for a bit. I"ll have to find a store that sells all these so I can check them out in person.

    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Im a guy and like using the Fizik Vitesse they categorize as a woman's saddle

    My tush has different fit needs at 65 than when I was 30 ..

    +1 on the near level or skosh up saddle , the butt stays put and wont slide a round, like happens with nose down.


    Shop here will do exchanges up to a point on saddles

    the $100+ leather ones are a bit of a Financial commitment.. mine are from that 30 years ago ..

    I now use Figure 8 bend trekking bars in place of straight bars ,
    as the more hand placement option solution , all the parts off the other bars get reused
    there are ~$20 sources of those bars thru the local shop or web sellers .

  12. #12
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    Yes everytime I see those bikes I'm envious. They look like so much fun as well as a great workout. Can't wait to try one someday!

    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    I'll say it. It's the "R" word. Recumbent.

    Look at my avatar. I'm sitting in a lawn chair and I'm not putting any pressure on my hands so they never go tingly or numb.

  13. #13
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    I agree, although I don't know why I am since it seems my handlebars are fairly upright (maybe not enough though). Also, I read on here somewhere that those with road bike handlebars don't have as much tingling in the hands but isn't even more weight on their hands than those with more upright bars?! Confusing...

    I plan on buying some cycling shorts, thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by timvan_78 View Post
    my 2 cents:
    1. you might be putting too much weight through your hands.
    2. before you try any saddles, get some cycling shorts.

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    anyhow.. the 2 vitesse I have are pretty densely padded thin..

    the CP 3 (Cubed) is a bit thicker padded + a gel window.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 03-19-14 at 11:35 PM.

  15. #15
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Saddles are so different for individuals, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

    I just got a 2011 Trek 7.3 FX and I didn't think I would like the H1 saddle from looking at it, but after one short ride, I was sold. Yours probably came with the woman's model, so it apparently doesn't work for you. My issue is the H1 is OEM only, and Bontrager doesn't say what the retail equivalent is... they tell me to go to a Trek dealer and they'll help me... yeah, they'll help me if they have something in stock.

    Cycling shoes/cleats are nice... I don't use them when I haven't been on a bike in a while, but after I get steady, I like using them. I like the Crank Brothers Candy pedals with mountain/trekking shoes myself (easier to get in, get out and walk in), but pedals/shoes like saddles are a personal choice.

    I think instead of a new handlebar right away, I would look closely at ride position. Moving the saddle fore and aft can impact weight distribution and ease the load on the hands... small changes can make a big difference in bike comfort. Also, bar ends are an easy fix to give an additional hand position to vary the pressure on your hands and wrists.

    As far as cruiser bars, I prefer a more gentle sweep back myself, as it seems to support me better. But the key I think is that your wrists shouldn't be bent very much (if at all) when holding on to the bar. For me (and this is only my personal experience). I sat down and lifted my arms up in a relaxed way to about chest high, and looked at how my hands were positioned. I assumed that this would closely approximate how much sweep I should have in my bars, and so far I am comfortable with what I have picked using that method.

    I also like to wear lightly padded gloves.
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