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  1. #1
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Wrist/hand pain and handlebar height

    I've been getting aches in my wrists and hands after rising for more than a few minutes. It goes away when I'm off the bike after a while, but it does limit my riding time.

    I raised my handlebar a touch, and my shifters are in a pretty good position, my hands are almost straight when riding. All this helped a little but not much. Anyone ever had this happen to them?

    Hers's a pic of my setup:



    Thanks!
    Last edited by neilfein; 05-10-07 at 09:02 PM.
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  2. #2
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    your bar height, relative to seat is already pretty high. going further up is prolly not gonna get you much relief; and will prolly degrade 'handling' on the bike.
    maybe try varying your hand position more often.
    Straight bars tend to exaggerate the locking of the elbows, if one is not payin attention. Shock forces normally absorbed by the flexing of the arm, drive thru to the shoulder and also down into the wrist and palm. Better to get a good bend in elbow if one can.
    Maybe give barends a try. They really make 'life' using a straight bar a lot more bearable for me. I commute every day on my straightbar old MTB and tha barends are DaKine; gives some of the advantages of a drop type bar position. And when I need to be near the brakes for brief sections I just move back to the flat. The barends really allow me to roll and drop my elbows back down and have a nice bend in them - mucho more comfortable and less pressure on the carpal tunnel area.

  3. #3
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezen
    Maybe give barends a try. They really make 'life' using a straight bar a lot more bearable for me.
    All I can find are barend shifters; is that what you mean?
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  4. #4
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    Slide your seat back. This will place more weight onto your rear end by placing your center of gravity backwards away from your hands.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein
    All I can find are barend shifters; is that what you mean?
    not those...

    these...
    http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_id=5252

    they insert or clamp onto the end of the bars, the ones I have a slight curve and very comfy, but also have a pr of 'shorties on my real offroad MTB.

  6. #6
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Maybe... looks like I'd have to move the brake levers, and that would mean new brake cables. If I'm gonna do that I might as well replace the handlebar. I'll work on my riding posture for a while and see if that helps. Thanks!
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezen
    your bar height, relative to seat is already pretty high. going further up is prolly not gonna get you much relief; and will prolly degrade 'handling' on the bike.
    maybe try varying your hand position more often.
    Straight bars tend to exaggerate the locking of the elbows, if one is not payin attention. Shock forces normally absorbed by the flexing of the arm, drive thru to the shoulder and also down into the wrist and palm. Better to get a good bend in elbow if one can.
    Maybe give barends a try. They really make 'life' using a straight bar a lot more bearable for me. I commute every day on my straightbar old MTB and tha barends are DaKine; gives some of the advantages of a drop type bar position. And when I need to be near the brakes for brief sections I just move back to the flat. The barends really allow me to roll and drop my elbows back down and have a nice bend in them - mucho more comfortable and less pressure on the carpal tunnel area.

    Better yet to get some bars with backwards sweep to bring the grips a little closer to the rider. Or one could try useing a shorter stem or maybe the bars are just too wide for the poster?
    I . . can . . . doooo . . . it

  8. #8
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Exactly on the locked-elbows. I find with straight bars, you tend to have the elbows aimed out and easy to lock, leading to a lot of road shock coming through. I make a concious effort to rotate the elbows in so they aim at my thighs. Then ride with my hands curled in a fist with my fingernails on top of the grips (no need to wrap around the grips). This lets the arms flex and absorb shock.

  9. #9
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein
    Maybe... looks like I'd have to move the brake levers, and that would mean new brake cables. If I'm gonna do that I might as well replace the handlebar. I'll work on my riding posture for a while and see if that helps. Thanks!
    you don;t really have to move the brake levers much, just enough to get some exposed bar for the barends to clamp on. You can even cut down the grips a tad. I moved my levers a generous 1/2 inch inward to 'try' the barends, then installed the barends. Atfer I got it set, I cut the 'end' off the grips and moved the brake levers back out 1/4 inch or so.
    No need for new brake cables. You don;t have to take anything off, just punch a 'hole' in the end of the grips so that bar can poke through them (if they haven't already 'poked' thru the end of the grip). Slide it all a bit inward, clamp on the barends - there ya go.
    Also the barends are generally set so they angle up a bit - they're completely out of the way of the brake lever function - as shown here:
    http://www.sycip.com/Media/barend.jpg

  10. #10
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    They also sell grips that are shorter and designed to be used with barends.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

  11. #11
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Tried flexing my elbows on a short ride yesterday; it helped a little. It's hard to remember to do that, I kept slipping back to locked elbows.
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  12. #12
    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    It's a common problem. You can cope by changing hand positions, etc., but it's usually caused by too much weight on the hands. I have better luck dealing with it by adusting saddle position (fore/aft) and tilt than bar height. In my experience, the root of the problem is usually a bike that's too large, YMMV. Good luck!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadbuzz
    . . . In my experience, the root of the problem is usually a bike that's too large, YMMV. Good luck!
    I second this opinion. But if you think your seat and sit-bones are just right (position over the pedals included) try shortening your reach with a shorter stem. Worked for me.
    I . . can . . . doooo . . . it

  14. #14
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    I've been trying to figure out what I'm looking at in your photo. It's very dark on my monitor. I tried googling the decals on your bike to see what it was exactly, but nothing came up at all. If it is what it seems to be, a relatively ordinary hardtail MTB, and you're an average sized person, then it looks to me like your saddle is very low. When you are seated normally on the saddle, with your heel on the pedal, and your leg fully extended so that the crank arm lines up with the seat tube, your heel should just touch the pedal with the knee locked. That's an approximate first adjustment, which shouldn't be more than 1/4" out.

    Once you have that approximately correct, you need to adjust the saddle fore-and-aft. With the pedals horizontal and the balls of your feet over the pedal spindles, drop a plumb bob (or a nut tied to a string) from the bony protrusion just below the kneecap on your forward foot. Adjust your saddle fore-and-aft until the plumb bob is right over the center of the pedal spindle. If you moved the saddle very much during this, go back and revisit the saddle height adjustment.

    What does this have to do with the problem with your hands? Who knows. But a change in position in any part of your body is going to affect your position in other parts of your body. Best to check the position of your engine and get that right, then worry about the bars. As others have said, it's very important to keep your elbows bent. And your back straight, and shoulders down and relaxed.

    Cycling gloves are also a good idea. They are padded so as to protect the nerves in your hands.

  15. #15
    Fail better next time
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    I have a similar problem, as I have RSI (repetitive strain injury) problems with my wrists, and if I ride more then about an hour my hands start going numb unless I change positions frequently. Your saddle-to-bar height looks low to me, but that depends on your height, but maybe experiment with seat-height. I definitely recommend bar-ends, they made a world of difference for me. Gloves can also help a bit, and generally just being aware of where you're putting the weight on your hands and what angles your wrists are forming when you're riding can help alleviate strain.

  16. #16
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
    I've been trying to figure out what I'm looking at in your photo. It's very dark on my monitor.
    I lightened the pic a hair and re-uploaded it. Hit refresh if it still looks dark.

    Quote Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
    it looks to me like your saddle is very low.
    I initially thought (before this thread) that the saddle was too high and that I was putting too much weight on my arms, but keeping my elbows a little bent seems to help. Thanks for the info, I'll try raising the saddle and see if it helps.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein
    . . .


    I initially thought (before this thread) that the saddle was too high and that I was putting too much weight on my arms, but keeping my elbows a little bent seems to help. Thanks for the info, I'll try raising the saddle and see if it helps.
    Just remember that if you are constantly finding yourself riding with your elbows locked, and your seat is the correct height (and your legs/knees are not hurting), shorten the reach to your bars or get some back sweep to your bars or raise the bars. My seat was pretty much perfect for my legs, but I still was finding myself riding with locked or fully-extended arms. I got a shorter reach via a shorter stem and my over-reaching position was gone. I am much more comfortable.
    I . . can . . . doooo . . . it

  18. #18
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Everyone, thanbks for the great information! A combination of watching keeping weight on my butt, keeping my elbows bent a touch, and good posture (slightly bent back) seem to all help. I raised my seat a little, and that helped a little. (Although it makes it touch to cycle with a guitar strapped to my back, but that's another story...)
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