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  1. #1
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    Need higher bars

    My neck and shoulders are getting sore and my hands are going numb after only 15 or so miles. As soon as I sit up and shake it loose for a few seconds everything is fine but it returns rapidly. My bar is about 1.5 inches below my seat so I want to get it up even or maybe .5-1 inch above so I think I'm needing two to three inches. I currently have a 7-8 deg rise stem that is about 100-110 long that came with the bike. I like the lenght on it.

    Questions are; what are the advantages to a stem riser vs going with a normal adjustable stem, vs an adjustable stem like the specialized stems?http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...jsp?spid=41848

    Any neg. affects on the bikes handling with any of them? It seems to me that a normal adjustable stem would also move the bars back as you go up so I'm leaning more to a riser or the specialized stem.
    I like the idea of the specialized adjustable stem but was wondering how much rise you would get going from 8 deg to 16 deg which is the max for the 12 deg. stem.

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    I can't answer your question about stem types, but as far as how much rise I use this calculator I found on some other thread (I'd give credit if I could find the thread again):

    http://alex.phred.org/stemchart/Default.aspx

    It helped me out quite a bit when trying to determine what stem to buy awhile back.

  3. #3
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Huh. 15 or so miles. How many miles do you have this year and on this bike? Is this a a drop bar and are you riding the hoods when this happens? When you're on the hoods, the front hub is hidden by the bar? How much bend in your elbows? What kind of gloves? How often do you change hand positions? What hand positions do you use? Have you had a bike fit on this bike?

  4. #4
    Senior Member KDC1956's Avatar
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    The reach could be to long for you.I think you need to talk to a bicycle shop and let them do a fit for you.It can help you out more than you think it will.Good luck

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I liked the BBB BHP 21 Stem-raiser , its a Quill inside the threadless steel steerer tube on my fork.

    replaces the star nut. there are a collection of shim spacers with the kit, how high the stem is to be is all the shims,
    or less if you choose lower extension.

    I placed a second stem beneath the primary one , and this particular type of item THE BHP allows that.

    almost as good as if I were there to veto cutting any of the steerer tube in the first place.

  6. #6
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    Flat bar rode bike. it's an 06 Schwinn SSGS. I've had the bike for about 4 years and use it daily for my commute. Thing is my commute is only about 5 hilly miles on the short route and 7 on the longer route so while I have quite a few miles on the bike they are only for short periods of all out effort and there have never been any issues. Now I want to get into a little touring so I'm starting to put some longer rides in and I'm having trouble with my neck and hands. I went to a local shop this afternoon and they recomended a 24 deg rise stem but I'm going to keep the length the same. It's acutally a 120 length, but I'm 6'4 so I think the lenght will be ok. I really like that chart site. According to it with the new stem I'll get just over an inch of height and just under 3/4 of an inch closer. I think that will get me close. When I put my hands so I'm riding on the first parts of my fingers between my first nuckles it's about right. They didn't have anything to fit in stock so I had to I had to order it. They said that if it didn't work out they would exchange it so we'll see.

  7. #7
    djb
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    for what its worth, sounds like you need a shorter stem. 1.5 inches below seat height is not low by any means, but from my experience, the reach plays more of a part with neck , shoulders etc.

    the one thing I would suggest is to forget about what anyone says about what "should" fit you and get a stem that is a couple of cms closer--which I just figured out is about 3/4s of an inch....

    I would however try to ride another bike with diff dimensions, or rather a even shorter reach, so you can compare your bike to it to see really how a given measurement changes how you feel. Even a short ride, especially if right after being on your bike as it is, will give you an idea.

    Not that this is your case as you have straight bars, but thats the big advantage to drop bars, because when a bike/bars are properly sized to you, the different hand positions really do allow for more changing of hand positions, which is always better for comfort---BUT the reach still has to be right for the individual. My present bike has a reach almost 2cms closer than my old bike, and it made all the difference--AND the new bikes bars are lower than my old touring bike, so it was teh closer reach that is the real kicker for me.

  8. #8
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    Another thing to check for is whether or not your saddle is level. If the nose of the saddle is tilted downward, that can cause wrist/shoulder/neck pain as well.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    You're right about bar height. For touring and any other type of day in and day out long distance riding, the bars should be even with or higher than the saddle. At least if you want to reduce hand, wrist, arm and shoulder discomfort. To reduce hand numbness, try doubling the bar tape, and move your hands frequently to different positions. I'm now on the aerobar bandwagon. That's another very useful position. No pressure at all on hands/wrist. Won't do much for neck/shoulders though.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    I had similar issues when I bought a bike for touring. Did a 10km ride and had wrist pain just from that. Got a different riser bar and this solved the problem. Can't comment on an adjustable stem but had no issues with the slight change in distance between the seat and bars (negligible).

  11. #11
    Ride More seedsbelize's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djb View Post

    Not that this is your case as you have straight bars, but thats the big advantage to drop bars, because when a bike/bars are properly sized to you, the different hand positions really do allow for more changing of hand positions, which is always better for comfort---BUT the reach still has to be right for the individual. My present bike has a reach almost 2cms closer than my old bike, and it made all the difference--AND the new bikes bars are lower than my old touring bike, so it was teh closer reach that is the real kicker for me.
    I just switched from a flat bar back to drops and I have to agree with djb. The drops are significantly lower than the flats were, and my neck and shoulder pain disappeared instantly(it became a burn that I could only cure by dismounting and swinging my arms around, loosening the shoulders).
    And, they're narrower too. The combination of the narrowness and the multiple hand positions is, I believe, the difference. And just maybe too, the fact that the wrists are bent in another direction, a more open position. A position which naturally opens the shoulders as well, rather than closing them up. Thoughts from a former sufferer.

  12. #12
    djb
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    gracias seeds, this touches of course on the major major issue of being comfortable on a bike. Everyone is diff, with diff flexibilities, diff arm lengths, fitness levels (which do affect arm comfort as stronger core muscles play a part in arm comfort a bit too) etc etc, so to the OP, I wish you a successful stem change and that you are much more comfortable on your bike.

    I need to mention again that my old touring bike, that I rode for 15 years and did many 3-4 week trips on, had a stem change right after I got it. I thought it was ok then, but always knew a bit closer would perhaps be better.....sure enough, when I got my new bike this summer and it was 1.5-2cm closer in reach, I am more comfortable riding than I ever was.

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    Luke, join us on the dark side. Think recumbent.

    Wayne

  14. #14
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Trekking bars and an up angled stem are another approach..

    trekking bars offer a variety of hand grip orientations

    on a near/ far rather than an up/down relationship.

    Use 7/8'' 22.2mm tubing and 1'' 25.4mm center.

    Mountin bike controls are an immediate swich.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 11-23-10 at 07:02 PM.

  15. #15
    we be rollin' hybridbkrdr's Avatar
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    I have a bike with an adjustable Zoom stem and when I adjusted it up higher, it was difficult to turn a sharp corner at high speed.

    I ended up ordering a Brave Stiffee bar from England when I decided tobuild a touring bike. But, it's going to be a couple of months before I get to try it out.

  16. #16
    Junior Member colinmonty's Avatar
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    I decided to use the titec j bars. It give me many different hand positions and angles. Plus the grips angle back so it helps with the long reach.

  17. #17
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    I've currently got a carbon riser mountain bike type bar with Ergon grips and bar ends. I don't find that I'm lacking in hand positions so much. It's not that my wrists or hands are getting sore from the weight on them, they are more going to sleep from craining my neck. As soon as I either look down or sit up and stretch out my neck it goes away. I do have an old scott AT-3 bar hanging in the garage that I had on my old commuter. Took it off before I sold the bike cause I couldn't bear to part with it it was such a comfortable bar and had lots of hand options. I just wish it was about 1.5-2 inches wider.

  18. #18
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    get higher bars

    I had this very same problem last month. I am converting a Diamondback mountain bike to a touring bike. The problem is that on prolonged riding there would be pain and numbness in my wrists. At first I thought of an adjustable stem, but I asked several people on this site and they said that if you plan to go off-road then the stem will feel "soft" and "non-responsive". Another solution was a stem riser. However I do not like how they look on a bike. It almost looks like you have two stems on the handlebars. Another problem is that you may have to change your cables if you go this route. My solution was to get a butterfly handlebars. They had greater rise and brought me closer to the steering. Aslo I now have many more hand positions. It also made my saddle more comfortable since I sit more upright.

    Hope this has been helpful. Look in this forum under "Adjustable stem?" to see people's answers to me.

    John

  19. #19
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
    You're right about bar height. For touring and any other type of day in and day out long distance riding, the bars should be even with or higher than the saddle. At least if you want to reduce hand, wrist, arm and shoulder discomfort. To reduce hand numbness, try doubling the bar tape, and move your hands frequently to different positions. I'm now on the aerobar bandwagon. That's another very useful position. No pressure at all on hands/wrist. Won't do much for neck/shoulders though.
    I go with the complete opposite thinking... I run all my bikes including my touring bike with the bars lower than the saddle. Can't stand sitting upright in the wind. The added weight on the saddle sitting upright actually causes me back pain. So one size doesn't fit all.

    OP, have you ever been fit by someone qualified other than just guessing? I mean a real fitting that takes more like 2 hours than 10 minutes.
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  20. #20
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kayakdiver View Post
    I go with the complete opposite thinking... I run all my bikes including my touring bike with the bars lower than the saddle. Can't stand sitting upright in the wind. The added weight on the saddle sitting upright actually causes me back pain. So one size doesn't fit all.

    OP, have you ever been fit by someone qualified other than just guessing? I mean a real fitting that takes more like 2 hours than 10 minutes.
    I agree with you. But going by what the OP is saying, it's not really the position, as we normally think of it, that's bothering him. It's just that looking up pinches nerves or cuts off blood flow somehow and makes his hands go to sleep. That's not good. We don't want to cut his feet off to make him fit the bed, so to speak. OTOH, we might wonder what the problem really is. This is not the way it's supposed to be.

    We normally hear the neck complaint in the context of LD training seminars and the like. New LD riders get tired and sore necks from holding their heads up. That's cured by riding more and conditioning the neck muscles. However, that doesn't seem to be the case here.

    Google "sore neck bicycling syndrome" to see tons of medical info. There's also Shermer neck that occasional riders experience on very long rides.

    In general, if you go up 1 cm with bar height, you should go forward 2 cm. That's not exact, but it's close. You want lots of lever arm between your hands and torso to reduce pressure on your hands. Your hands generate a torque to hold up your torso, so it's force * distance. Reduce one and you increase the other. That's another reason that most cyclists like to be somewhat stretched out on their bikes for riding long distances.

  21. #21
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    o go on the recumbent for me. I spend too much time on the road and around traffic to be sitting that low. The closest I ever came to hitting someone in my car was a guy on a recumbent and I didn't see him.

    There could be a strength issue too since I'm just starting to spend more time on the bike. 20 minutes a ride vs. 20 miles a ride is a pretty big difference. I did 15 in the am before work and it didn't bother me until the end, then 20 in the afternoon and it didn't bother me until the last 2-3 miles and both times were less severe than they were on my longer rides the last two weeks. Gonna try to stretch somemore too which should help.

    I haven't had a bike fit on this bike but I have had one in the past so I got my self close with the plumb bob, hips, and all that for my seat and cleats and I've fine tuned it over the years for my commute. I think have my seat height/location and cleats dialed in where I'm comfortable there though I may have to adjust a little with the added bar height. I've had surgery on my left knee and don't have much cartilage on one side so it lets me know when something is just a little bit out of whack. I lost a cleat bolt about two weeks ago. My cleat was still fairly tight and I didn't notice it. My knee was killing me on the first little rise. Checked things out and sure enough the bolt was gone and the cleat had shifted.
    If this new stem doesn't do it I'll go do a fitting session. Have to be after Christmas though. Got a b-17 on the list so I'll have to wait until I get that put on.

  22. #22
    17yrold in 64yrold body
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    Good fit is very important, and once you get it right, it is so nice! As far as bar height, I like mine higher than most, so I have a stem riser AND adjustable stem on my touring bike. It works great for me, and I have had NO problems with handling, although being a tow bike (I use a two-wheel low-center-of-gravity trailer), it is not a quick handler by any means. I have done some 40-50 milers with it, and one 78 miler over a hilly ride to Livermore from my house in central valley. Felt good, but tiring hauling 50lbs up the hills. Lots easier on the downhills!

    In an attempt to raise the front a little more, and get better braking, I went with a 29er disc fork, Avid BB7 road disc, and 203mm rotor.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kayakdiver View Post
    I go with the complete opposite thinking... I run all my bikes including my touring bike with the bars lower than the saddle. Can't stand sitting upright in the wind. The added weight on the saddle sitting upright actually causes me back pain. So one size doesn't fit all.
    .
    I tour with bars much well the saddle (4-5") and find it much more comfortable than a higher position so I tend to agree.

    Neck pain is often caused by:
    1. Lack of conditioning. A slow steady building of mileage until you are past this problem helps.
    2. Poor position of some sort or another.
    3. A visor that mkes you hold your head at a funny angle.
    4. And probably most commonly by failing to ride with a relaxed upper body. Elbows should be bent and fingers draped loosely over the bars. Shoulders should be relaxed and not hunched.

  24. #24
    djb
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    #2 and #4 point directly to reach being too long, too long a top tube.
    yes #1 plays a part, but if the distance between a properly placed seat (ie, not pushed ALL the way forward) and the bars is too long for a given rider--no, not what a chart says, then one will always have issues with neck, hands etc.

    everyone is diff, teh fellow before's photo of his bike (badam) for me would be handlebars waaaaaay too high, yet your comment of bars being 5" below seat height would be too low for me....

    there is no set "perfect" position, yet for someone who rides very easily and doesnt push hard, a higher bar position is better. My wife toodles along more than I, so when I bike at her speed, my butt hurts, my hands hurt--all cuz I have to toodle along not pushing enough with my feet, putting more weight on butt and hands....my comfortable easy speed requires a diff position than if I toodle.....
    some people are more flexible than others, if one doesnt ride much, their legs arent as strong, their core muscles are nt as strong....all factors come to play. Some people just dont pay attention to changes, and toodle so much they never develop stronger legs and core.
    it sure aint an exact science this whole position thing thats for sure.

  25. #25
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djb View Post
    #2 and #4 point directly to reach being too long, too long a top tube.
    That is definitely one reason for #4 but not the only one. Some riders fail to relax their upper body even on a perfectly fitting bike. Sometimes it is just that they are tightly gripping the bars, sometimes it is because they don't bend forward, and sometimes it is just because they tighten or scrunch their shoulders as they get tired.

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