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  1. #1
    magnifico! Beelzebutt's Avatar
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    touring handlebar setup for carpal tunnel

    who here tours with CTS and what handlebar setup works best for you?
    ive searched the forums on this subject and harvested a lot of great information. however i still didnt get
    quite what i was looking for so i thought id start a thread on handlebars specifically.
    the reason im asking is because im putting together a touring bike for a good friend of mine who has severe CTS in both hands and is new to long distance cycling. were planning a three month cross country ride next summer and id like to put him in the best setup now so we have a year to trouble shoot.
    currently im leaning towards the trekking bars or the nitto albatross bars to keep him more upright but still have lots of hand positions for climbing and general stretching out. possably some very shallow ergo drop bars?

    i built his commuter/grocery getter for him a while back and i just set it up with some old cruiser bars raised up high. this seems to be comfortable for him in town but hes goiong to need to have a setup with a lot more options for touring. i really dont want him to develope back problems to top it all off. what im looking for is a setup that will provide the most ideal and comfortable hand positions for someone with CTS without completely sacrificing positions for good body leverage and preformance.

    in previous threads some suggested staying away from flat bars because the wrist deviates from its most natural position. this would put trekking bars out of the mix,, but so far thats the only thing keeping me from being completely sold on them.


    feel free to share any other tips like tire PSI for road shock or saddle adjustment.

    thanks.

  2. #2
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    Here's another option to consider.



    Haven't tried them yet, but they get good reviews. Made by Titec or Jeff Jones(Ti), called the H-Bar.

  3. #3
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    I have the Albatross bar on my CxCk, have done some sagged multi day tours with it.
    Took a lot of adjustment to get them really comfortable for a longer ride;
    most comfortable (for me) is with the stem level with the seat and bar end pointing up.
    If you hold a straight edge between the seat and stem, there is about 5 cm of clearance
    under the bar end. Usually I ride holding the hand grips or on the inner curve, this forward
    position is nice for climbing. If the hand grips could be angled outward slightly, that would be
    a more comfortable position.
    My partner has difficulties with her wrists due to joint disease; we set up her T-2000 with an on-one Mary handlebar, twist shifters and ergo grips- she has no pain, discomfort or wrist/hand difficulty.
    ps. getting my partner comfortable included a month of sundays of tweaking everything; seat up/down a little, a couple of stem swaps, etc.
    She can go for hrs now, only thing is that we cannot pass an ice cream shop.
    Last edited by martianone; 04-09-08 at 03:02 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    I was once told by an orthoped that to reduce the ulnar nerve compression, one should hold the bar almost as shaking hands with the bar but the wrist turned up ever so slightly, the trekking bars allow you hold the bar on the sides for extended periods of time (like driving a bus with hands at 3 and 9 o'clock). YMMV

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    Increase core strength (eg. sit-ups).

  6. #6
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    I was having awful problems with my hands on my Specialized Sirrus with its flat handlebars. My hands were going numb and tingling - all the usual complaints. My LBS recommended the Specialized Body Geometry comfort grip (http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCEqP...jsp?spid=33922) and it has made a fantastic difference! I no longer have any problems at all.

    These grips are very similar to the Ergon grips in construction, and were a little less expensive.
    Performance Bikes has a clone that's a lot less expensive (http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...slisearch=true)
    which I've bought for another bike but haven't tried yet.

    Check 'em out!
    Jon

  7. #7
    commuter
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    Try wrapping the handelbars twice so they are thicker and absorb more vibration. A higher bar position will also take more weight of your hands and put it on your seat. I met a guy on a tour last year who had wrist problems so bad he went bent. He said is saved him from giving up cycling

  8. #8
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beelzebutt View Post
    in previous threads some suggested staying away from flat bars because the wrist deviates from its most natural position. this would put trekking bars out of the mix,, but so far thats the only thing keeping me from being completely sold on them.
    Have you tried bar ends? They come in many shapes and lengths and are relatively easy to install and uninstall if you care to experiment. You can cover them with rubber bar grips, or wrap the whole thing (bar+bar ends) with road bar tape. You might want to consider Scott bullhorn bars too (no longer made, hard to find).

    http://www.bikepro.com/products/hand...ott_combo.html

    http://cgi.ebay.com/SCOTT-AT3-HANDLE...QQcmdZViewItem

    I've used these CC ergo bar ends for years - they fit my hand well and provide some protection to handle bar if your bike falls over. They are a little expensive (40 USD msrp).

    http://www.canecreek.com/ergo-control-ii-bar-ends.html

    I've got CTS and a pinched ulnar nerve on my left side. Basically no amount of fiddling with bars / stems / riding position will help once it gets real bad, your arm simply can't support any weight. This situation, combined with long term, unresolvable saddle sores / sore arse issue has had me considering a recumbent bike for a few years now, but haven't made that move yet.

  9. #9
    Senior Member wrobertdavis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    I've got CTS and a pinched ulnar nerve on my left side. Basically no amount of fiddling with bars / stems / riding position will help once it gets real bad, your arm simply can't support any weight. This situation, combined with long term, unresolvable saddle sores / sore arse issue has had me considering a recumbent bike for a few years now, but haven't made that move yet.
    I had CTS surgery in one hand before I got into cycling. I had a lot of trouble with numb hands when I first got into a road bike for longer ride times. My LBS fitter insisted that my fit was not balanced and was putting too much weight on my hands. I also had lots of trouble with saddles and saddle sores. I kept at it, trying saddles, adjusting fit, changing handlebars. It was frustrating and challenging, but I got to point where I can ride centuries with little discomfort. This came about through saddle selection, handlebar selection, and lots of fine tuning fitting adjustments including several stems and a changing to shorter crank arms. It took me over a year. I think this points to how personal and complex getting everything right is.

    My final result included shorter stem, shorter crank arms, FSA K-wing full drop handlebars, and a Selle Anatomica Saddle. Oh yeah, I use nothing but Crotchguard skin care oil, too. That's expensive stuff but boy is it good. My wife started stealing mine and swears its better than anything she has ever tried. I put it on at the beginning of a century and never re-apply.

    Bob

  10. #10
    Senior Member Fueled by Boh's Avatar
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    my aunt has carpel tunnel from typing as a reporter. i set her up with ergon grips w/ the built in bar ends. she says she loves them.

  11. #11
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    I've had mild CTS about 15 years. I had the electric testing so it's real, but it's non-serious. Regular drops set at a comfortable height so you can ride the hoods, or just above the hoods are the most ergo: keep the hands non-pronated natural position. One thing that makes my CTS non-serious is it doesn't really bother me if I discontinue the stuff that agravates me. That goes for cycling, cycling on drops is a non-issue. When I hit the road, I am taken out of the stuff that hurts me and I don't have a problem.

    There are about 5-6 positions you can adopt on the hoods alone and they are all good positions. I don't know of anything that compares, and mostly they don't require you to grip much either.

    One thing that helps is to know where your zero torque position is. If you press your fingertips into the lifeline thumb pad area, back towards your elbow (simulating bar pressure), you will find a position were the fingertip force does not twist the hand. This is your no-torque position, you can rest on it with nearly zero tendon involvement.

    I suppose an extreme option would be to ride a recumbent.

  12. #12
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    I use Ritchey BioMax drop bars set slightly higher than the saddle. They are double wrapped with Cinelli gel tape.

    I also use Off the Front Grip Shapes.
    http://www.offthefront.com/sports.ht...ing%20Products

    I put a pair on the outside edge by the hoods to give the heel of my palm a resting place. I take 2 pairs and use them to build up the bend into a big comfy area.

    The instructions that come with them are useless. You need to place them slightly high and then wrap them several times. The tape will stretch and let them settle. It will take a few tries (at least) before you get it right.

    But the end result is wide, cushioned areas to rest your hand.
    We are as gods, we might as well get good at it.
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  13. #13
    magnifico! Beelzebutt's Avatar
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    thanks a ton for all of your advise you guys. this is exactally what i was looking for.. its especially nice to hear from the folks who are actually dealing with CTS. i have no frame of refference myself as to what might be comfortable since its not me who has the problem. personally, my wrists are strong like an ox! dont ask me how i got them that way..
    well now im leaning more towards ergo drops with double wrapped bartape aswell as those grip shapes.. ive seen those before. thats a great idea.
    i noticed that the doctors made him wrap all of his pens and exacto knives in foam to force him to grip properly.
    i imagine this is similar to what his handlebars should look like.

    and Crotchguard?! bing! is that any better than "booty butter" or "shammy jam"?
    thats not something youd want your kids to get a hold of. "whos been getting into my Crotchguard?!"
    but seriously,, is that stuff any better than vasaline?

  14. #14
    Immoderator KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    I had it bad when I was doing metal work and ran a grinder constantly. Moustache and Trekking bars, as well as having an adjustable stem helped a lot. Hasn't recurred in 5 years.

  15. #15
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robow View Post
    I was once told by an orthoped that to reduce the ulnar nerve compression, one should hold the bar almost as shaking hands with the bar but the trekking bars allow you hold the bar on the sides for extended periods of time (like driving a bus with hands at 3 and 9 o'clock). YMMV
    Sounds like a description of the position I find comfortable with drop bars (either on the hoods or just behind them). If I understand what you mean by "the wrist turned up ever so slightly" that would mean the the hoods should be just a bit down the curve toward the drops. I do find that this position is very comfy and reduces any tendency towards numb hands for me.

    As someone else said, good core strength is important. It allows you to float over the bars and saddle to some extent keeping more of the weight on your legs. This is to me key to general comfort on the bike.

  16. #16
    Senior Member wrobertdavis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by late View Post
    I use Ritchey BioMax drop bars set slightly higher than the saddle. They are double wrapped with Cinelli gel tape.

    I also use Off the Front Grip Shapes.
    http://www.offthefront.com/sports.ht...ing%20Products

    I put a pair on the outside edge by the hoods to give the heel of my palm a resting place. I take 2 pairs and use them to build up the bend into a big comfy area.

    The instructions that come with them are useless. You need to place them slightly high and then wrap them several times. The tape will stretch and let them settle. It will take a few tries (at least) before you get it right.

    But the end result is wide, cushioned areas to rest your hand.

    Cool stuff! I just ordered some.

    Bob

  17. #17
    cjn
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    Have you considered these? www.wallbike.com/oddsnends/selego.html

  18. #18
    Senior Member wrobertdavis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beelzebutt View Post
    and Crotchguard?! bing! is that any better than "booty butter" or "shammy jam"? thats not something youd want your kids to get a hold of. "whos been getting into my Crotchguard?!" but seriously,, is that stuff any better than vasaline?
    Yes, in my experience, its better than anything I have tried. Its interesting stuff. Its oily as heck and seems to melt into the skin. You wouldn't think it would be effective at all. But it cuts the friction and works for hours. I've used Chamois butter and body glide. Those products seem to lose their effectiveness in a couple of hours for me, as they get absorbed into the chamois and as you sweat. Sweating seems to make the crotchguard stuff even more effective.

    I bought it when I was desparate and willing to pay any price. With shipping its about $29. I've used one and a half bottles of the stuff over a one year period (riding 5,000 miles/year). When I look at actual cost per application, its considerably cheaper than chamois butter.

    By the way, its claimed to be imported from Finland. Its a spinoff product from a company that makes lubricants to prevent friction on prosthetics for amputees.

    As I mentioned, my wife started stealing my crotchguard. On her last ride (57 miles), she couldn't find it, so she used Chamois butter for the ride. She said she did not realize how much better the crotchguard was until she went back to the Chamois butter.

    Bob

  19. #19
    park ranger
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beelzebutt View Post
    personally, my wrists are strong like an ox! dont ask me how i got them that way..
    haha.

    i have no frame of reference here, i'm outta my element over here in the touring forum so i'm just gonna let be known that this little bit made me laugh and i'm gonna cut and run, but i'm watching you beelzebutt.*


    *although i should start collecting bits for a touring/rain bike.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member wrobertdavis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by late View Post
    I also use Off the Front Grip Shapes.
    http://www.offthefront.com/sports.ht...ing%20Products
    I just received my package of 12 grip shapes. I'm not sure what you think about the quality, but the ones I received are pure crap. 6 of the 12 items had significant voids and chunks missing. One of them had a split running across it. I doubt these things will hold up or fit well given this much initial quality issues.

    I've requested a full refund.

    Bob

  21. #21
    magnifico! Beelzebutt's Avatar
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    thanks for the heads up. i was just about to order some. ive currently set my friend up with ergo drop bars wrapped in foam and a layer of bartape. he seems to be happy sofar. gonna do a long ride this weekend and find out just how comfortable the setup really is,

  22. #22
    Macro Geek
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    I don't have carpal tunnel syndrome, but I do have tendinitis that makes it impossible for me to grip the handlebars for long periods. My solution was to install aerobars on my drop bars. This is my 14th season with them. For me, aerobars are in the same category as a mirror, helmet, and padded shorts. I don't go on tour without.

    During many tours, I am in the aerobar position maybe 5% of the time, but it is a resting, non-gripping position. Some days, when traffic is light and the terrain just right, I spend up to 80% of my time in the aero position. Those tend to be the days I cover the most ground, probably because aerobars make for more efficient pedaling.

    Aim for postural variety to avoid static muscle loading. Aero bars are but one way to achieve this.

  23. #23
    Senior Member lighthorse's Avatar
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    There is nothing like an aero bar to get the pressure off of your hands.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrobertdavis View Post
    I had CTS surgery in one hand before I got into cycling. I had a lot of trouble with numb hands when I first got into a road bike for longer ride times. My LBS fitter insisted that my fit was not balanced and was putting too much weight on my hands. I also had lots of trouble with saddles and saddle sores. I kept at it, trying saddles, adjusting fit, changing handlebars. It was frustrating and challenging, but I got to point where I can ride centuries with little discomfort. This came about through saddle selection, handlebar selection, and lots of fine tuning fitting adjustments including several stems and a changing to shorter crank arms. It took me over a year. I think this points to how personal and complex getting everything right is.

    My final result included shorter stem, shorter crank arms, FSA K-wing full drop handlebars, and a Selle Anatomica Saddle. Oh yeah, I use nothing but Crotchguard skin care oil, too. That's expensive stuff but boy is it good. My wife started stealing mine and swears its better than anything she has ever tried. I put it on at the beginning of a century and never re-apply.

    Bob
    Can I ask what size cranks you are using and your height and inseam?

  25. #25
    Senior Member wrobertdavis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert_in_ca View Post
    Can I ask what size cranks you are using and your height and inseam?
    I am 5'11". My inseam is 30". The LBS fitter said my femurs are unusually long. If the rest of me was proportional to my femur size, I would be 7' tall. I originally started with 175mm crank and switched to 172.5 mm crank which seem to work really well.

    Bob

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