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  1. #1
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    Road or Flat bar road hybrid.

    Hi. I currently at the max with my current bike. My current bike a 1995 Trek 950 I have road tires on. However I'm having fit issues. After 5 miles or so my arms get really stiff. I've tried a riser quill on it as well and still have issues. TT is 580mm with a headtube of 90mm, switched the original stem(120mm 10 degree rise) to a 40degree 90mm. Frame size is 18in and I'm 5'9" with a 33-34in inseam. I'm feeling the bike is too small but also that the bars are too low.

    I'm hitting a wall at about 15 miles as far as my arms. I've done 30 mile or further rides before though(with a lot of pain). I'm not sure if a flat bar hybrid would be comfortable past the 50 mile mark which I would like to be able to do.

    A couple bikes I have looked at are the

    Flat Bar
    Fuji Absolute
    Cannondale Quick (appears shorter tt)

    Drop Bar
    Dawes Lightning off of BD
    Scattante W/R 350
    Last edited by silentlysailing; 08-20-14 at 02:07 PM.

  2. #2
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    It's impossible to advise without seeing you on the bike. Have a knowledgeable friend or shop employee look at you on the bike and see if he can identify what might be the issue.

    One of my favorite tricks for observing my own fit is to ride past a store window and look at my reflection. With a good fit, you'll be leaning forward slightly with arms leaving your shoulders at about 90° form your trunk, and the elbows bent slightly for steering and shock absorption.

    Of course, that's just the roughest of guides, but it's a place to start.

    As to upright or dropped bars, I use a straight (like a mtn bike) bar for commuting in and around town, and dropped bars for the road bike, so it's not like either is better or worse. It's a question of suitability and comfort based on the purpose.
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  3. #3
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    Thank you FBinNY. I think I had gotten discouraged with my current bike and too jumpy about a new one like a kid in a toy store. However, I did fix my upper back pain with the stem.

    I just got back from my favorite local shop. Rode a few bikes plus my own.

    From that I got some ideas. I came out with a pair of ergon grips, and may get a wider handle bar with more sweep.

    Also the drop bar bike I was not used to so the controls were weird and I didn't have big enough hands for the brakes lol.

    I think I'm going to work more on my flat bar and hand positions.
    Last edited by silentlysailing; 08-09-14 at 03:11 PM.

  4. #4
    Bike hoarder. Murray Missile's Avatar
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    Have you looked at trekking bars? I have them on my hybrid and my beater and I love them for those applications. Here are the bars on my hybrid:

    K2 Mirrors 2.jpg
    Analog man in a digital world.

  5. #5
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    I second trekking bars if you need several choices of hand positions for comfort, particularly if you found the controls on drop bars to be awkward (I do as well). Bar ends would be a second choice.

    Personally, I've found I can easily go 30-40 miles with little discomfort on my Trek FX with flat bars, which I put down to fit and position but also to an extent to the grips which are relatively soft and absorb vibrations and shocks a bit. I might add bar ends this winter but so far haven't really felt the need (I only got this bike back in May).

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    Quote Originally Posted by silentlysailing View Post
    After 5 miles or so my arms get really stiff and I pretty much have to lock my arms to reach the bars.
    ...
    I'm feeling the bike is too small but also that the bars are too low.
    These statements seem contradictory to me? A pic of you on your bike would be helpful.

    What is your cycling style? Always pedaling, going for speed/exercise, or more casual? That will impact your fit and how you want the bike set up.

  7. #7
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    how many push-ups can you do? upper body weakness may be part of the issue ..

    check with LBS.. see if stem length and rise may be replaced..

    The reach may be too far & low. A stem change may be in order,
    apart from bar type..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 08-09-14 at 09:27 AM.

  8. #8
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    I'm starting to think its a physical issue as just driving my car my one arm is getting stiff also got stiff when I let it lay on a pillow next to me for a while. I made sure to not lock my arms and its just as bad after my arm being in the same position after a while. I may try some tylenol, it is right around the backside of my elbow that it feels swollen.

    The grips were nice for my hands though lol.
    Last edited by silentlysailing; 08-09-14 at 03:22 PM.

  9. #9
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    If keeping one position for an extended period of time is the issue, drop bars for sure. Flats, hoods and drops give you plenty of hand positions to change things up. Just be sure to position the stem such that the drops are comfortable for more than just quick bursts.

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    A moustache bar puts STI brifters into a more comfortable position. My Origin 8 Tiki moustache bar is short and compact. Its a great upright road bar.

  11. #11
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    I guess I'll upload a pic of my bike in its current configuration.

    DSCF2202 (800x600).jpg


    Also I've been looking at these bars or butterfly bars.

    Riser Bar with sweep

  12. #12
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    Nice looking bike! It would be helpful to see a pic of you on the bike to relate the fit issues you mentioned.

  13. #13
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caliper View Post
    These statements seem contradictory to me?
    They're not quite. One is about bike to body size and the other is about riding position.

    What is your cycling style? Always pedaling, going for speed/exercise, or more casual? That will impact your fit and how you want the bike set up.
    Speed and exercise are not the same thing. You can exercise just as well as a bike with a slower more comfortable riding position - you'll just do the same amount of work at 15mph as the guy on the more aero bike at 18mph.

    If keeping one position for an extended period of time is the issue, drop bars for sure. Flats, hoods and drops give you plenty of hand positions to change things up. Just be sure to position the stem such that the drops are comfortable for more than just quick bursts.
    Nope. There are lots of other answers if someone doesn't like drops. And honestly, while I appreciate you are being helpful and drops have many virtues, suggesting that riding in the drops might be useful to someone who clearly wants a higher position is like suggesting an 8000 calorie a day pure sugar diet to someone who wants to lose weight.
    Last edited by meanwhile; 08-16-14 at 09:38 AM.

  14. #14
    we be rollin' hybridbkrdr's Avatar
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    So that's how you make a bike stand with plumber's pipes...
    Feeling Good by David Burns

  15. #15
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    To the OP:

    - Buying Ergons was an excellent idea.

    - We need to see you on the bike

    - Knowing your arm length would be useful

    And you could get the bars higher than you have: you can use a quill adapter to fit bmx bars. I built this bike for a friend with carpal tunnel:



    It rides brilliantly. The aerodynamics aren't great, but it's agile, gives an excellent position for standing peddling as well as seated, and you have great vision in traffic.
    Last edited by meanwhile; 08-16-14 at 09:37 AM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    After 5 miles or so my arms get really stiff and I pretty much have to lock my arms to reach the bars.

    Do you mean

    After 5 miles or so my arms get really stiff and THEN I pretty much have to lock my arms to reach the bars.

    Or

    After 5 miles or so my arms get really stiff. And I ALWAYS, EVEN BEFORE THEN, pretty much have to lock my arms to reach the bars.

    Because there's a big difference.

    And try reading this:

    Learn About Bikes with Rivendell Bicycle Works

  17. #17
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    This has been an interesting thread. There's lots of ideas out there provided you have an open mind.

    Have you ever considered a recumbent? Check out my avatar.
    My greatest fear is all of my kids standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" dad was.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    Speed and exercise are not the same thing. You can exercise just as well as a bike with a slower more comfortable riding position - you'll just do the same amount of work at 15mph as the guy on the more aero bike at 18mph.
    True enough, but on a given bike, on a given road, more speed = more exercise.
    What my question was getting at is that the more relaxed the position, the less comfortable it becomes as you pedal harder while a more aggressive forward position becomes less comfortable as you pedal less. For example, on my MTB I am perfectly comfortable for long solo rides, but when riding with my g/f who spends a lot of time not pedaling it becomes less comfortable and I find myself wishing for higher bars. Meanwhile, on a SS cruiser bike, any sustained hard pedaling really calls for abandoning the saddle and standing, otherwise I am stuck fighting myself using my arms to hold my body in place as I pedal. Relax the pace, and the cruiser again becomes comfortable.

    Nope. There are lots of other answers if someone doesn't like drops. And honestly, while I appreciate you are being helpful and drops have many virtues, suggesting that riding in the drops might be useful to someone who clearly wants a higher position is like suggesting an 8000 calorie a day pure sugar diet to someone who wants to lose weight.
    Seems we've interpreted the original post somewhat differently. The OP described unfamilarity with drop bars, not dislike (sounds like the bike shop should have explained how ergo shifters work?) The first post asked if a drop bar may be useful and also complained about arm discomfort when keeping one position for extended periods of time. Drop bars can also be positioned at many different heights, even above the saddle if desired. Trekking or moustache bars may be another solution as well.

  19. #19
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caliper View Post
    True enough, but on a given bike, on a given road, more speed = more exercise.
    Ok: you're still suffering logic failure. You were telling the guy to get a faster bike for exercise. No, that's wrong. Exercise is based purely on power output: 100w at 15mph on an upright is as good as 100w at 20mph on a time trial bike. You should NEVER buy a faster bike for exercise - just the bike you will ride most.

    What my question was getting at is that the more relaxed the position, the less comfortable it becomes as you pedal harder while a more aggressive forward position becomes less comfortable as you pedal less.
    This is a guy who is experiencing problems putting weight on his hands. Telling him to use a position that puts more weight on his hand because it works for you is silly.

    Also: what you say is, in general, nonsense. Really: the ultimate power hard pedaling positions are the ones you see on singlespeed MTBs - or even competitive BMXs - and they're nothing like you imagine. They're wide straight and high bars (like that Lava Dome, although that wasn't the reason for that set up it is a blast to take offroad single speed) or wide swept back alt bars like Marys or Fubars.

    For example, on my MTB I am perfectly comfortable for long solo rides, but when riding with my g/f who spends a lot of time not pedaling it becomes less comfortable and I find myself wishing for higher bars. Meanwhile, on a SS cruiser bike, any sustained hard pedaling really calls for abandoning the saddle and standing, otherwise I am stuck fighting myself using my arms to hold my body in place as I pedal. Relax the pace, and the cruiser again becomes comfortable.
    That's because the cruiser is singlespeed and you are pedaling in the wrong gear with too great an amount of force. Which would do knee damage if sustained in a seated position. Yes, a track bike might make such a pathological effort safer for your knees while remaining seated, at the cost of the upper body loading that the OP finds painful. But many bikes now have multiple gears, and what you should do is change to a higher gear and maintain the same power output with a lower level of knee stress but higher rate of pedaling. This is what gears are for. (Very funny ironic remarks deleted because you actually seem smart, helpful and reasonable, and not everyone appreciates my Daria Morgendorfer impersonation.)

    Anyway - congratulations on having excellent body intelligence: a lot of SS riders strain knees because they don't sense the problem and respond as you did.
    Last edited by meanwhile; 08-17-14 at 08:14 AM.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    Ok: you're still suffering logic failure. You were telling the guy to get a faster bike for exercise. No, that's wrong.
    Sorry, it's wrong because I never said that. I suggested a bar with a variety of hand positions based on the OP's statements, never said anything about a different bike.

    Exercise is based purely on power output: 100w at 15mph on an upright is as good as 100w at 20mph on a time trial bike. You should NEVER buy a faster bike for exercise - just the bike you will ride most.
    Totally ageee with both statements here. But, referencing my statement you are changing the bike. As I said, on a given bike (either upright or TT, your choice) more speed = more watts. That leads back to my original point that as power output goes up, a different position will be more comfortable. Hence my original question about the OP's pedaling style.

    This is a guy who is experiencing problems putting weight on his hands. Telling him to use a position that puts more weight on his hand because it works for you is silly.
    Referr to my post where I first mentioned drop bars where I mentioned to place the stem appropriately. Having drop bars does not automatically mean having them slammed 6" below the saddle. Check the drop bar MTB's where bars have been set so the drops are where a usual flat bar would be. This puts the hoods and tops even higer than a flat bar and lets the rider switch between all of the available positions to ease the arm strain mentioned.

    Also: what you say is, in general, nonsense. Really: the ultimate power hard pedaling positions are the ones you see on singlespeed MTBs - or even competitive BMXs - and they're nothing like you imagine. They're wide straight and high bars (like that Lava Dome, although that wasn't the reason for that set up it is a blast to take offroad single speed) or wide swept back alt bars like Marys or Fubars.
    Wouldn't this be the same as the singlespeed dilemma you talk about? Never have taken a singlespeed offroad, but what I hear it involves a lot of standing... Besides, a singlespeed MTB with swept back bars sounds awfully close in ergonomics to a cruiser style bike.

    Let's try an experiment... Ride with no hands (ie: no weight on your hands) When not pedaling (zero watts), what is the most comfortable position? You'll probably find yourself with your body vertical, straight above the saddle. Start pedaling, and you find that you naturally lean forward to balance as you transferr some weight to the pedals. Pedal harder and you tend to lean forward more. Remember, riding with no hands the whole time. The harder you pedal, the further forward you will find yourself or you will find your butt being pushed off the back of the saddle. For each rider, there will be a sweet spot of body angle vs average power output to be the most comfortable. Find that spot and put your bars there, whether they are flat, trekking, drop, riser, swept, fubar or whatever else you preferr.

  21. #21
    Senior Member asmac's Avatar
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    Check out these: jones h bars Store - Handlebars - Jones Bikes

    Don't have them but I want them to replace my swept fsa metropolis bars.

  22. #22
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    Sorry, I hadn't been watching too closely.

    I tried a few different things. I've gotten it confirmed than I'm actually not locking my arms they are fairly straight but not locked. Had the fit checked at a bike shop as well.

    However, each time I go to the bike shop I get the itch for a new bike lol. I've been having issues with my front hub acting up as well, only this time it was the inners of the tire coming apart.

    I've been doing some other things in raising the seat further and riding harder from which I find myself working my core more and I can ride without my hands on the bar. I tried the riser bar which did nothing. Also I've been riding for a few miles at a time with my elbows bent almost at a 90 and they still get really stiff and I shake them out periodically which helps some.

    I re adjusted the headset as well even though I don't think that would cause the problem.

    My last guesses are more hand positions or more hand positions plus a doctor visit.
    Last edited by silentlysailing; 08-20-14 at 02:26 PM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    I find that flat bars for riding on the road are a drag due to lack of hand position variety, even with bar-ends.
    Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike

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