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  1. #1
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    MTB riser bars an answer to wrist and back pain?

    Hello folks,

    I've put another 75 km's on my XC mountain bike this past long weekend and I'm still experiencing back pain and wrist pain.

    All of the riding I do is up moderately steep to wicked steep paved roads through the low mountains around the city I live.

    Heres my bike:

    http://www2.merida-bikes.com/en_INT/...-3000-V-13.pdf

    My bike has basically straight XC racing bars.

    I've had the bike for a year now and I've always had some wrist pain and back pain while riding it through the mountains.

    I've put ergonomic grips on my handlebars which seem to help a bit.

    PLEASE folks. I really need to know. Should I consider putting some riser bars on my bike.

    What are riser bars designed to do exactly?

    A more open and upright riding position?

    What are the drawbacks of using riser bars on an XC bike on steep paved inclines?

    I've posted several times on this topic and people just suggest that I suck-it-up and do more riding.

    I've put hundreds and hundreds of klicks on my bike to test it out but I'm still in pain.

    Is there anyone who has more constructive answers?

    Please understand that advice on mountain biking here in Taiwan (where I live) is fairly limited because most shops are in the business of selling bikes .......not supporting riders.

    If I lived in Boulder, or Vancouver or Calgary or Vermont or Eugene, I might just wander into my local mountain bike shop for advice. As I live in Taiwan, that kind of advice is simply not around.

    Have a heart eh.

    Would really appreciate it.


    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    I have an Albatross bar from Rivendell installed on nearly all my bikes. A swept back bar should put you in a more upright position and alleviate back and wrist pain. When you reach a certain age and your back stops being as flexible, then its time to trade in an aggressive position for a comfort one. Nothing wrong with it if you're not planning on racing.

  3. #3
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    If you are having wrist-pain, then by all means experiment with some different bars and stems. Sometimes just a small difference pays off big-time in comfort. I'll share two stories:

    In 2008 I bought a Gary Fisher HiFi 29er. That bike came with pretty much a flat bar. My wrists would hurt after only a mile or two of road-riding, which is not good when you're headed to a trailhead seven miles out. I also felt a bit too stretched out on the bike. I went to a shorter stem and threw on a riser bar. Now I can ride 20+ miles in comfort. It took me a few tries to get just the right bar & stem combination, but the result is worth it.

    Same story with a mountain-style commuter bike I bought in 2007. Took me several tries to dial in the fit, but eventually I got it nailed. For some reason on that bike I am very sensitive to small differences. I tried two riser bars. One was comfortable; one was not. The difference in rise is maybe 1/4 inch.

    It helps to get yourself in the frame of mind of being willing to spend some money and experiment. In both cases above, it took me several tries before I got to a comfortable setup. I eliminated much angst by just convincing myself that it was ok to buy a few different bars and stems.

    Good luck. There's probably a solution somewhere to your fit problems. Don't settle for wrist-pain.

  4. #4
    ed
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    Quote Originally Posted by driftwork View Post
    MTB riser bars and answer to wrist and back pain?
    Yes. More of a trade-off really. You will lose the wrist and back pain, but gain other torso pain and bruises from the "Gnar" that you will be shredding because if increased confidence and all around attitude from pimpin' proper MTB bars.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the responses folks. I think I'm going to try some XC riser bars this weekend.

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    Are you sure you have the correct frame size? I have a friend that had similar issues on Fisher Xlarge frame. When he switched to a frame with a shorter top tube problem solved. Had nothing to do with bars and stem in his case. If the top tube is too long, you will be forced to lean forward more, and put more weight on your hands.
    Just a thought.

  7. #7
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    There are different amounts of "rise" and various degrees of "sweep," and various "widths." See if you can ask your LBS to try several before making a choice. I have used a variety of handle bars over the years and they do make a difference, but what's right for me may not necessarily be right for you. Wrong bars can give you, neck pain, lower back pain, wrist or thumb joint pain and elbow pain. Buying too many handlebars will also give you wallet pain!

    .

  8. #8
    ed
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    Quote Originally Posted by tilumisteel View Post
    Are you sure you have the correct frame size? I have a friend that had similar issues on Fisher Xlarge frame. When he switched to a frame with a shorter top tube problem solved. Had nothing to do with bars and stem in his case. If the top tube is too long, you will be forced to lean forward more, and put more weight on your hands.
    Just a thought.
    Can it, sister...riserbars are the beezneez!

    He can get a shorty stem to go with it if he's too far forward...then he'd be "da pimp".

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    [QUOTE=NormanF;8117281 When you reach a certain age and your back stops being as flexible, then its time to trade in an aggressive position for a comfort one. [/QUOTE]

    Not true. I'm 69 and I'm more flexible than in my 20's. What's all to often attributed to age is due to lack of adequate and proper physical activity. It's a lack of use thing. I have several cycling friends about the same age and they have zero problems as well.

    Cycling, especially road cycling leads to an imbalance in muscle development and muscle strength which can cause problems. Also, flat bars or even riser bars do not allow the multiple hand positions and wrist/back angles of drop-bars used on a road bike. I never ride my mountain bike on the road and much prefer my road bike. The mountain bike is like torture in comparison.

    A good weight training program may help. Weight training strengthens the joints, increases endurance and flexibility and can correct the imbalances caused by cycling. It can also increase power depending on the exercises chosen.

    I just got a new book on the subject: Weight Training for Cyclists, second edition, by Doyl & Schmitz. It covers it all.

    Push-ups are highly recommended for back, shoulder and arm issues for cyclists. I've been doing them for decades.

    Riser bars might help some depending on how it changes your riding position. I use 1" risers as does the wife, but I cut them both to the width of flat bars as we didn't like the hands spread further apart. They come in different wrist angles as well as bend heights.

    I use them only because my steering tube was a little too short, so they allowed me to get that extra inch. For the wife, it was more of "the look thing".

    I set my bikes up for about a 50 degree back angle form the horizontal. If you go too vertical, you lose pedalling power which is important for an old guy like me in hill climbing. I'm comfortable for something like 3 to 4 hour (actual pedalling time) off-road and I'm good for 60 to 70 miles on the road bike.

    Getting out of the saddle on climbs helps a lot to get rid of stiffness, especially on roads where you don't use any body-English.

    I suspect anyone would experience pain riding a mountain bike 75 km/46 miles on roads. I know I would.


    Al

  10. #10
    Lovin the dirt! MuddyPaws's Avatar
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    Check out the TiTec Bar

    Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride. ~John F. Kennedy

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  12. #12
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    Here's my thread over at MTBR...

    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=337595

  13. #13
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    I have had neck surgery & have lower back problems, & tried to ride the same style bike. I swapped out the stem for an adjustable [ don't laugh ] one & used it in several positions til I got the right one. I can ride now w/o pain for a much longer distance.

  14. #14
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    Thanks again for all the great advice.

    I'm probably going to pick up a set riser bars.

    Perhaps these ones:

    http://www.dabombbike.com/pro_tribal_d6.html

    I've actually seen a pretty snazzy adjustable hinged-stem.

    That will be my last resort.

    It makes sense that a lot of bike-related-back-pain might be because of a lack of core-strength.

    I am in the gym lifting weights at least three days a week but perhaps, not enough core work.

    I think my top-tube length is ok.

    I'm 170CM tall (5,7ft) and I ride a 16inch frame. I find it very responsive and nimble when riding.

    I spent about 3 months shopping for bikes here in Taiwan and being reassured a bunch of times by shop owners that a 16 inch would be the way to go and that its always better to get a frame that is slightly too small than too large. The logic being that you can always adjust a slightly small frame a bunch of different ways but a too large frame cannot be adjusted for mountain bike comfort.

    Cheers

  15. #15
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    Some are the adjustable stems are not well made, but others are. Mine is solid . You could try one in different positions til you found the right angle, & buy that size stem

  16. #16
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    Which one is yours?

  17. #17
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by driftwork View Post
    It makes sense that a lot of bike-related-back-pain might be because of a lack of core-strength.
    Given the same strength, a bike that's the wrong size -- specifically with the wrong bar-to-saddle reach -- WILL make me hurt. I can ride for hours on one bike and feel fine; on a different size, I have to turn home after fifteen minutes because my back is killing me.

    Bars are one thing. Trying a different stem length may help, too.

    And, as far as wrist pain goes, I'm pretty sold on Ergon grips (there's a recent thread somewhere around here about them).

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by driftwork View Post
    Which one is yours?

    From this page, 5th one down on the right. I am very satisfied with it for my riding which is mostly roads & light trails.

    http://www.bikepartsusa.com/cgi-bin/...Fstems&start=0

  19. #19
    "I'm OK!" dminor's Avatar
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    I would recommend against traditional 'hybrid' bike adjustable stems on a mountain bike. If you really want to play with bar positions and get a variety of heights/reaches with a stem that stands a chance of being secure, you might try the Syntace VRO. You can run flat or a riser bar with it and tweak it to your heart's content:



    http://www.syntace.com/index.cfm?pid=3&pk=389#

  20. #20
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    ^ Oh niiiice!!!!

  21. #21
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    Thats very cool.

  22. #22
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    I just wanted to say that I've switched from XC straight bars to XC riser bars giving myself a couple additional inches of length as well.

    My wrists have never been more comfortable.

    I do loose a little bit of tire 'grip' on really steep grades but the wider grip has given me more chest expansion room and the more upright riding style has made things easier on my wrists and back.

    Thanks to all the folks who recommended riser bars.

    They are really the way to go for me.


    Cheers

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