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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 04-01-09, 04:48 PM   #1
elTwitcho
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Why is there so much weight on my hands?

Hey guys, wondering if I can get some help from those of you with a good grip on bike fit. I've had this bike since last year and last summer I don't recall ever having a problem with hand soreness (but I also didn't do any rides over an hour long) but lately as I'm doing longer rides I'm finding my hands are getting a bit uncomfortable over time. All winter I rode a more upright bike with studded tires so I was far more upright in my riding position, but since switching back to my fixed gear over the past month I'm running into issues.

Now, my theories are any of the following;

The stock seat design is idiotic and the downward slope at the back is tilting me forward and towards my bars (not super likely since I don't have to stop myself from sliding forward)

I have too much saddle to bar drop (also not what I think it is, since my setup doesn't look any more extreme than any of the other bikes with road drops you see here or the road forum)

My posture sucks

I need to HTFU and do some sit ups to build my core muscles.



I'm leaning towards it possibly being the last two, but I just thought I'd post up my setup to see if anyone could find any glaring faults with the way the bike is set up. Failing that, are situps helpful for building the right muscles to support your weight and keep it off your bars?

Ultimately I'd like to get the bike set up in such a manner I can be on it for 3+ hours at a time without any discomfort but as it is, after an hour it starts getting unpleasant. Any pointers are appreciated
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Old 04-01-09, 04:57 PM   #2
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You could turn the bars upward a bit more so you have less of a drop to the hoods, you would have to slide them further down the bars anyways to compensate but to me it looks better and I always do this with my bikes. I like keeping a flat top where the hoods are basically parallel with the ground and with your bike it would make your stance more upright.

Here's what mine looked like, nice ride btw


Also as you already mentioned work on your core muscles but also hit the back muscles as well.
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Old 04-01-09, 04:57 PM   #3
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This is a relevant quote from a very informative article; i quoted the stuff that answers your question:

Quote:
Obviously, the most aerodynamically efficient position may not be the most pleasant position to be in for several hours on a cross country tour. So there's a tradeoff. As you move to a more horizontal position, the saddle needs to be positioned further to the rear to maintain your body's balance, just as your rear end moves to the rear as you bend over while standing. It so happens that racers are more inclined to use a horizontal torso position than tourers, and racers are more concerned with having the handlebars further forward to make climbing and sprinting out of the saddle more effective.

If a bicycle had the saddle directly over the cranks, you wouldn't be able to lean your body forward without supporting the weight of your torso with your arms. Because the saddle on a typical bicycle is behind the cranks, your seat is positioned behind your feet and your body can be in balance. Try this test. You'll need a friend to hold the bike up, or set it on a wind trainer. Sit on your bike with your hands on the handlebars and the crank arms horizontal. If you have a drop bar, hold the bar out on the brake hoods. Try taking your hands off the bar without moving your torso. If it's a strain to hold your torso in that same position, that's an indication of the work your arms are doing to hold you up.

For starters, I like to put the saddle in the forward most position that allows the rider to lift his hands off of the handlebar and maintain the torso position without strain. You should not feel like you're about to fall forward when you lift off the handlebar. If it makes no difference to your back muscles whether you have your hands on the bars or not, you know that you aren't using your arms to support your upper body. If you are, your arms and shoulders will surely get tired on a long ride. But this is a starting position. Remember that bicycle fit is a series of compromises.


So what's being compromised? Power. There's a limit to how far you can comfortably reach to the handlebar while seated. If the saddle is well back for balance, the handlebars will need to be back as well. But to get power to the pedals while out of the saddle, it helps to have the handlebars well forward of the cranks. Particularly when climbing out of the saddle, the best position tends to be had with a long forward reach to the bars. You can tell this is so by climbing a hill out of the saddle with your hands as far forward on the brake lever tops as you can hold them, then climbing the same hill with your hands as far to the rear as you can on the bars. Chances are you can climb faster with your hands further forward. So you need to find the best compromise between a comfortable seated position and reach to the handlebar, and a forward handlebar position for those times when you need to stand. Only an inch or two in handlebar placement fore-aft can make a big difference while climbing. That same inch or two in saddle position can mean the difference between a comfortable 50 mile ride and a stiff neck and sore shoulders!

As you move the saddle forward from that balanced position, you'll have more and more weight supported by your arms, but you'll be able to position the handlebars further forward for more power. The track sprinter has the frame built with a rather steep seat tube angle, which positions the saddle further forward from where the tourer would want it. But again, the track sprinter spends very little time in the saddle.
That should put everything into perspective.

Click this for the rest, it's a quick read with good insight:

http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm
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Old 04-01-09, 06:29 PM   #4
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Thanks TheTank, I've messed around with bar angle in the past and this is more or less one that works for me. I was getting sore hands even riding in the tops so I ruled that one out.

Spooki - that link is awesome and I think the root of my problem. At some point I'd shifted my saddle pretty far forward and noticed it felt easier to hammer on the pedals in short bursts and never really made the connection since my hands weren't getting sore until I was doing longer rides. I moved it back a bit and adjusted the seat post extension and will see how it plays out tomorrow.
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Old 04-01-09, 06:53 PM   #5
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shorter stem? shorter top tube?
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Old 04-01-09, 07:21 PM   #6
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twitch, your saddle is slammed forward and your saddle to hood drop is pretty low. unless you are going fast all the time, that position isn't super comfortable and leads to pressure on your hands.
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Old 04-01-09, 07:22 PM   #7
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post a picture/video of you riding.

I'd guess this is also a posture problem as it is a fit problem. maybe you need to bend your elbows more and lessen the stiffness of your grip.
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Old 04-01-09, 07:49 PM   #8
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el I ride the same bike except in a different size. It's a 51cm and I'm 5'8". I can ride in the drops all day long without getting sore hands.


How tall are you and what size is your bike? Being able to ride in the drops and have your core be able to support you instead of your hands is completely dependant on the length of your bike in relation to the length of your torso and arms.
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Old 04-01-09, 08:00 PM   #9
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'Try this test. You'll need a friend to hold the bike up, or set it on a wind trainer. Sit on your bike with your hands on the handlebars and the crank arms horizontal. If you have a drop bar, hold the bar out on the brake hoods. Try taking your hands off the bar without moving your torso. If it's a strain to hold your torso in that same position, that's an indication of the work your arms are doing to hold you up.'

Problem with that is you need to move the saddle way back (usually beyond what the seatpost and saddle rails allow) for you to be able to balance your torso without straining. At least that's been my case every time I tried to do this.
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Old 04-01-09, 08:42 PM   #10
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i just did it on my trainer bike (which is set up pretty aggressively most of the time). i was able to get the "no strain" position pretty easily, and moved it up for what i'd consider a good compromise for something like a three hour ride.
moved it back (way up) because that thing isn't for comfort, but i'm saying.

perhaps it's not doable because you're riding a bike that's a touch too small for you?

ps, do you really have that many bikes, or are some of those family's??

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Old 04-01-09, 08:52 PM   #11
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I agree and disagree with Peter White.

I think a rider should have the ability to lift his hands off the bars while spinning, but I think having the saddle further aft makes this possible.

The OP has a frame a little too small for him, which I like, but he has his saddle too far forward.

=====

For riding on the street, consider the following body position:

Sit on a hard chair on a hard floor, with your barefoot heels just under the front edge of the seat.

Lean forward and put your hands out in front of you as if holding your handle bars.

Slowly start to stand up and, when your bottom breaks contact with the seat, look at your body position in relation to your feet.

The balls of your feet, where the base of your big toe makes a ball in your forefoot, corresponds to the position of your bottom bracket or crank spindle with your pedals at the six and twelve o'clock positions.

Notice how far back this puts your saddle (your seat).

Notice that you can stand like this (with your bottom almost touching the seat) without supporting yourself with your hands.

If you had a crank underneath you in this position, and if you could spin, you would find your knee over your pedal at the forward position of the pedal with the cranks horizontal.

Unhappily, if you have your saddle higher than your hands (your hands lower than your saddle), you will not get any power from the most powerful muscle in the front of your thigh, the rectus femoris.

Try placing your handlebar so that the surface upon which you put your hands matches the height of the surface of the saddle where you put your bottom.

This will cost you a little aerodynamic efficiency, but it will give you plenty of thigh power from the fronts of your thighs.

So, for starters I would suggest moving your saddle a little to the rear, rotating your handlebars up a little (to raise the hoods), and lowering your saddle a little.

For saddle height, you should have the ability to fully lower your heel with the pedal at the bottom of the cycle, while still having a slight bend in your knee.

Try it.
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Old 04-01-09, 09:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Cox View Post
Try placing your handlebar so that the surface upon which you put your hands matches the height of the surface of the saddle where you put your bottom.

This will cost you a little aerodynamic efficiency, but it will give you plenty of thigh power from the fronts of your thighs.
????

i bike fit is a very personal thing, but i have to call bs here. i can't think of a body type where this would actually produce a more powerful stroke.

look:








notice anything about these bikes?

1) they were ridden by stage leaders in various world class racers (pretty easy to figure out which was ridden by who)

2) the saddle is not on the same plane as the bars (dispite the fact that the bars are set up differently). just for kicks, i reproduced what you said above; it's not an ideal potion at all. comfortable? definitely. but setting your bike up that way pretty much eliminate all of the "fast" (power + leverage) positions of the bike. even riding in the drops feels relaxed when the bar is that high...

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Old 04-01-09, 11:48 PM   #13
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Get a new stem with more rise. If I had that much saddle to stem drop I wouldn't be able to ride 10 min without my wrists hurting. If you really want to do it right, why don't you go to a bike fitter?
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Old 04-02-09, 12:02 AM   #14
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twitch, your saddle is slammed forward and your saddle to hood drop is pretty low. unless you are going fast all the time, that position isn't super comfortable and leads to pressure on your hands.
I think this is probably what you want to try first. Put the saddle back a little and your hoods up more, rotate the bars up slightly. And be aware of keeping your elbows slightly bent and hands not as tight on the bars.
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Old 04-02-09, 07:42 AM   #15
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twitch, your saddle is slammed forward and your saddle to hood drop is pretty low. unless you are going fast all the time, that position isn't super comfortable and leads to pressure on your hands.
Oh yeah, I'm pretty much full out all the time. Usually I'm going so fast that my torso acts as a wing and actually generates lift often pulling me out of the saddle. ahem... no I'm realizing you're probably right




Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Cox View Post
So, for starters I would suggest moving your saddle a little to the rear, rotating your handlebars up a little (to raise the hoods), and lowering your saddle a little.

For saddle height, you should have the ability to fully lower your heel with the pedal at the bottom of the cycle, while still having a slight bend in your knee.

Try it.
Thanks Ken, I had the seat post height dialed in at pretty much the sweet spot for leg extension while still allowing a good spin, I think the issue seems to be mostly saddle fore/aft and a bit of cockpit set up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by clink83 View Post
Get a new stem with more rise. If I had that much saddle to stem drop I wouldn't be able to ride 10 min without my wrists hurting. If you really want to do it right, why don't you go to a bike fitter?
Mostly I'd like to learn to be self reliant with my bike work, which includes setting it up. Better to learn how it all works together than pay someone else IMO (same reason I do all my own wrenching until I need something with expensive tools I don't have).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geordi Laforge View Post
I think this is probably what you want to try first. Put the saddle back a little and your hoods up more, rotate the bars up slightly. And be aware of keeping your elbows slightly bent and hands not as tight on the bars.
Right on guys, seems that saddle fore/aft is a good place to start and I'll work from there. My posture is ok with my arms (elbows bent, hands loose) I was thinking my posture might have been incorrect as far as arching my back properly which I'm constantly reminding myself to correct as I'm riding.

So for what it's worth I bumped my saddle back a good bit on the rails and I'm seeing how it feels today. The ride in this morning felt like it might have been a bit better but my morning ride in is a quick ten minute sprint fest so I can't tell for sure until I've got it on a longer ride. If that doesn't work I'll look into some different bars that don't position the hoods so low (If I tilt them up it's going to put the drops in a screwy angle) and maybe play around with some other stem options.

Thanks again guys. This thread has been extremely helpful in giving me a starting point and at the very least I've got a lot to play around with to find the fit that works
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Old 04-02-09, 07:53 AM   #16
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hey dude, i only posted in here cuz i know ur in the toronto forum.

i don't know anything but i have had bike-fit OCD and lived, so lemme share:
first crack is to bump that saddle back. and from ur pick it looks like u got massive bar -> saddle drop. like track style drop. can anyone ride like that for 3 hrs?

2nd is to try a longer stem, and while ur at it, raise the bars up if u can with a positive rise stem. u can always drop it down again later on, like after a month of riding when ur body has adjusted.. bike fit, i have learned from roadies, is to continue modifying it little bit until ur body has gotten used to it.. a longer stem will stretch u out a little, but then ur arms are a touch more forward and not so much pushing down into the drops. or brake ergos. most long distance riders i have seen have a more stretched out position - hands way forward. watch any of the climbing stages from the tour of california.


you mentioned arching ur back. bend ur at the waist, NOT at ur back, its way easier on ur body. as much as there are curled over pics of famed riders from the past, bending at the waist will build ur lower back muscles and u can then work at curling over the bars as time goes on.

try to mimic tour riders postures if u want that 3+ hr comfort zone!

[edit] i just read what everyone else said.. yeah

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Old 04-02-09, 08:21 AM   #17
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a shorter reach/shallow drop bar, would be on thing that I would try.

http://aebike.com/page.cfm?PageID=30...d=12353&type=T
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Old 04-02-09, 08:30 AM   #18
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Hey,

Remember your pelvis bone has to be standing close to vertical on the saddle. When pelvis bone start to lie down forward, long ride becomes uncomfy. Not just for you-know-what, but it is supposed to give you more power.

T
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Old 04-02-09, 11:44 AM   #19
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????

i bike fit is a very personal thing, but i have to call bs here. i can't think of a body type where this would actually produce a more powerful stroke...

2) the saddle is not on the same plane as the bars (dispite the fact that the bars are set up differently). just for kicks, i reproduced what you said above; it's not an ideal potion at all. comfortable? definitely. but setting your bike up that way pretty much eliminate all of the "fast" (power + leverage) positions of the bike. even riding in the drops feels relaxed when the bar is that high...

Yeah, that's not a position (bars level with saddle) where you're going to generate more power than in a full on racing tuck. What it is good for is long distance. Ridiculous long distance. Not like a supported century or double, but 400k -1200k randonneuring. I recently moved the bars on my brevet bike so I only have 1/2" drop from saddle to the hoods because I'm spending upwards of 18 hours at a single ride. I don't care how many situps you can do, a 5" drop just isn't going to be comfortable after that long, and your neck is going to be killing you for the next week.
Take a look at the bikes in the LD forum and check out how many people have a dead-level or close to level drop between the saddle and bars (even the fixed gear randos). Then consider the average speed that a randonneur has to keep on a brevet: 8.33mph. It's not a speed/power setup; it's a days-on-end-in-the-saddle comfort setup, because some of the LD riders are putting in 40 - 90 hours at a single ride.
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Old 04-02-09, 01:50 PM   #20
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there's a lot of very helpful information in this thread, thanks for posting to all, i am having some similar issues and i may try some of these techniques.
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Old 04-02-09, 02:07 PM   #21
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order of operation while dialing in your fit:

(0.) If using clipless,
cleat position is first order of business

1. saddle position *
a. saddle height
b. saddle fore aft (this will effectively change saddle height due to angle of the seattube)
c. back to saddle height
d. back to fore aft (repeat until saddle position is dialed)

* for general riding, the best way i've found is to set your saddle at a point where you torso can you can support you torso angle with no hands while pedalling. if you can't hold your torso angle without hands, then your saddle needs to move back.

2. reach
-stem length
-reach of handlebar to hood

3. handlebar height
-spacers
-flipping the stem (be aware that flipping the stem up will shorten it's effective length.)
-note that handlebar height effectively shortens reach as the bars come up due to the slope in the head tube angle.
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Old 04-02-09, 02:22 PM   #22
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Lotsa good fit info here, and I thought I'd chime in with my experiences.

I've always had problems with being comfortable on the brake hoods with traditional bars, but plenty comfy on the tops and in the drops. Then I tried out a modern ergo bar, where the section between the tops and the hoods (the "ramps", I think) was flat. What a revelation! Waay more comfotable!

I've now switched my bars to Nitto Noodles, which have the flat ramps that I like on ergo bars and the drops that I like from traditional bars. They fixed my wagon good, and if you're only uncomfortable on the hoods, they might sort you out.

If you look at your bar, there is some drop from the tops to the hoods. Rotating your bars up has been suggested, and this has helped me in the past, but it always compromised how well I could reach the brakes/shifters when in the drops, as well as the comfort in the drops (and looks, not that there's anything wrong with that). When I switched to the Noodle, I could have the bar rotated properly for comfort and lever reach in the drops, and still have a nice, flat ramp and hoods positions.


Oh, and yep, improving your core strength will help too. I've found that increased core strength helps basically everything, aggressive bike positioning in particular. And snowboard skills, and bike crashing skills, and running balance, and skateboard skills, and pickin' up chicks in the summer and...
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Old 04-02-09, 02:24 PM   #23
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* for general riding, the best way i've found is to set your saddle at a point where you torso can you can support you torso angle with no hands while pedalling. if you can't hold your torso angle without hands, then your saddle needs to move back.
I'm confused...

If a rider can't hold their torso position w/o hand support, I assume they're leaned too far forward (reaching) for the bars. If you slide the saddle back, that's going to increase the reach and force them to lean further and exacerbate the support problem, isn't it?
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Old 04-02-09, 02:30 PM   #24
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I'm confused...

If a rider can't hold their torso position w/o hand support, I assume they're leaned too far forward (reaching) for the bars. If you slide the saddle back, that's going to increase the reach and force them to lean further and exacerbate the support problem, isn't it?
this is why all fittings start with the saddle position first, you dial that in and then select the stem based on reach requirements. a well fitted rider should have minimal weight on the hands.

fast dudes can get away with a low bar because when they hammer, they pull up on the bars to fight the torque of their pedaling. randonneuring dudes have their bars up high because when you are riding 12 hours a day, you just can't hammer the whole time.
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Old 04-02-09, 02:34 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIN View Post
this is why all fittings start with the saddle position first, you dial that in and then select the stem based on reach requirements. a well fitted rider should have minimal weight on the hands.

fast dudes can get away with a low bar because when they hammer, they pull up on the bars to fight the torque of their pedaling. randonneuring dudes have their bars up high because when you are riding 12 hours a day, you just can't hammer the whole time.
Got it. I was looking at it in terms of someone already "sort of" fitted to a bike. Not as the initial step in a fitting process. Makes more sense now, thinking back on the fit session I did before getting my bike; set the saddle and stem first, played with cleat position and adjusted the saddle accordingly, then moved the stem again.
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