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Broken neck and fused spine; options for a lightweight frame w/ upright position

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Adaptive Cycling: Handcycles, Amputee Adaptation, Visual Impairment, and Other Needs Have a need for adaptive equipment to ride to compensate for a disability or loss of limb or function? This area is for discussion among those of us in the cycling world that are coming back from traumatic circumstances and tell the world, "No, you are not going to beat me down!"

Broken neck and fused spine; options for a lightweight frame w/ upright position

Old 07-28-19, 07:45 PM
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Broken neck and fused spine; options for a lightweight frame w/ upright position

I'll post this thread in another category if this isn't the right venue to try and get some answers. Two years ago, at the age of 62, I broke my neck and had my spine fused (C1-3) as the result of a nasty bike crash. According to my neurosurgeon, I'm blessed not to be dead or in a wheelchair. I have a ton of experience with road riding over the past 45 years (RAAM, USCF Cat 1, commuting, international bikepacking / touring). I didn't drive much before the accident, and for the last 3 years haven't owned a car or driven. I've had some experience with trike recumbents and two wheel recumbents over the years but in my attempt to still do some cycling, I'm finding that my modified Co-Motion touring bike with a stem riser gets me in a more comfortable upright position while maintaining some level of performance. I'll never be able to do the kinds of adventure rides I used to do but trying to make the best of a bad situation. The Co-Motion, however, wasn't designed for a stem riser and the front-end handling is a bit sketchy as a result; the setup is also very heavy (30 lbs). I'm using a Jones bar as well. I'm now looking at custom frame options but I'd also appreciate any feedback on stock frames that provide a substantially higher upright position - preferably carbon fiber or aluminum for a lighter weight. Before my crash, I rode carbon fiber bikes from Trek, Specialized S-Works, and Giant; all in the 15 lb range. I would be happy to find something sub-20 lb that meets my main requirement of a more upright position (almost like a beach cruiser - especially with the Jones bars). Any suggestions would greatly be appreciated!
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Old 07-29-19, 06:45 AM
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Check out the Rans crank forward line. Some of the best upright bikes, and fairly light with Al frames. The Zenetic model is the lightest one.
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Old 07-30-19, 12:23 AM
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Thanks for the reply. Did try the Rans line, among MANY others (including trikes), but I keep coming back to single 'conventional' designs that have a more upright position. Probably will go the custom route if I can't find a stock lightweight frame designed this way.
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Old 07-30-19, 02:04 AM
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Originally Posted by SECOND SUMMER View Post
I'll post this thread in another category if this isn't the right venue to try and get some answers. Two years ago, at the age of 62, I broke my neck and had my spine fused (C1-3) as the result of a nasty bike crash. According to my neurosurgeon, I'm blessed not to be dead or in a wheelchair.
Man, that's the truth. C1-C3? Amazing.

Best wishes and success on the right bike and a continued long life of pleasurable cycling.
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Old 07-31-19, 12:24 AM
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Thanks!

One of the redeeming qualities of social media and forums like this is the ability to tap into the experiences of others for advice that have experienced similar physical problems and injuries; folks that you might not have come across any other way.

I used to be pretty picky on fit and adjustments, everything had to be setup perfectly based on many years of riding, reading, and various fit clinics. Now, everything is pretty much thrown out the window ... whatever works is my new motto. After several hours of riding, I find that it begins to be tough to hold my head up - something like they called 'Shermer Neck' from my RAAM racing days where your neck starts to give way. I describe it as feeling a bit like a bowling ball on your neck/shoulders but there is no strength to support it. I've tried all the usual ideas to try and strengthen my neck (physical therapy, the gym, etc.), as well as various heat creams, 'cold' creams, tens units, massage units, heat/cold packs, etc. before and after rides. But nothing has proven particularly great in solving the chronic, low-grade 7-24 pain. At this point, I'm just trying to minimize the discomfort while still being somewhat efficient on the bike. It would be nice to do group rides again (even if I have to sit on the back), something I haven't been able to do for years - and I really miss that social aspect of riding. But I need to build up something in the low (or sub) 20 lb range to be able to hang with any casual group. I'm not ready to give up yet and forgo my passion for cycling!
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Old 08-06-19, 04:32 PM
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What about a bike in the gravel/adventure or endurance lineups? A lot of them have geometry that puts you more upright, and leaving the steerer uncut and the right stem can get you even more upright. Maybe a Salsa Warbird or Specialized Roubaix?.
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Old 08-07-19, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by jeffreythree View Post
What about a bike in the gravel/adventure or endurance lineups? A lot of them have geometry that puts you more upright, and leaving the steerer uncut and the right stem can get you even more upright. Maybe a Salsa Warbird or Specialized Roubaix?.
Thanks for the response. I am checking this category of bikes as an option. My current modified single has the seat substantially lower than the Jones handlebars - a bit like a beach cruiser, only more so!
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Old 08-15-19, 07:14 PM
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Carbon fiber hybrid. If the bars aren't quite high enough, change the stem. Depending on how light you want to get, and how much $$ you have to spend, go weight weenie with it.
Giant Fast Road series
Trek FX
Cannondale Quick
Specialized Sirrus

Just a few.
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Old 08-18-19, 05:15 PM
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Have you tried a ridged carbon mtb fork that is compensated to also allow for a suspension fork, similar to the Salsa Fargo. It will raise the front end if your currently using a road fork, not sure what it will do to your geometry.
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Old 10-14-19, 01:37 PM
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Three years ago (Nov '16) I had burst fractured my T 5-7 vertebrae and ended up with about 7" of titanium rods for my fusion. When I started riding again in the summer of 2017 I really needed a more 'upright' position , mostly because it was painful to keep my head up, looking forward. For riding I used a hybrid with flat handle bars ....this was all fine, even though the surgery site with all the cut and damaged nerves hurt like hell.
Just recently I switched to a gravel bike (Trek Checkpoint) and can say that I think it has actually helped my recovery. My first couple rides hurt, but several months later I am feeling better about switching bikes.....the Checkpoint forces my head up so I can see, which makes my neck stronger. The more aggressive riding position has helped because it stretches out my back and, I assume, works on the scar tissue. It's been a long painful 3 yers, but I'm healing. Best wishes to you and recovery!
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Old 10-22-19, 11:07 AM
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Reach out to Dana at Bentupcycles in Burbank, CA. He has both recumbent bikes and trikes.
C1-C3 Fusion means not being able to tilt your head forward, so more than of a 45-degree seat angle.
I won't recommend any bike, as you need to try each to see what works for you. Hence the shop in Burbank came to mind.

If you lived closer (or come out this way) I have old Genius CGX that I would give you to learn recumbent I used my neighbor's concrete driveway to "Fred Flinstone" my learning curve.
Small tires (16" and 20") are fine for around town. I kept flopping over on my mountain bike, so lower position meant less damage when I lost my balance at stops. Hence why I ride a trike today.
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Old 10-22-19, 08:06 PM
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Thanks for this (and all the other) replies!

Starting a new cycling chapter ....
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Old 10-23-19, 04:57 AM
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Originally Posted by jeffreythree View Post
What about a bike in the gravel/adventure or endurance lineups? A lot of them have geometry that puts you more upright, and leaving the steerer uncut and the right stem can get you even more upright. Maybe a Salsa Warbird or Specialized Roubaix?.
thatís what I did kept my same bikes just swapped out the stems . To 35 degree and a little shorter than I was used to puts me pretty up rite I was hit from behind by a hot and run driver . And had c1 -c5 many happy mole to comefusion and like you the doctors said I was lucky to not be paralyzed. I do get a little pain on rides over 50 miles but at least I can still ride my carbon bikes . I went and had a fitting with a good bike fitter . Maybe you have one by you that is good mine was a big help . Wish you the best in the future
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Old 10-23-19, 11:17 AM
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Update

Originally Posted by ridingfool View Post
thatís what I did kept my same bikes just swapped out the stems . To 35 degree and a little shorter than I was used to puts me pretty up rite I was hit from behind by a hot and run driver . And had c1 -c5 many happy mole to comefusion and like you the doctors said I was lucky to not be paralyzed. I do get a little pain on rides over 50 miles but at least I can still ride my carbon bikes . I went and had a fitting with a good bike fitter . Maybe you have one by you that is good mine was a big help . Wish you the best in the future
I'm trying two options, a CoMotion custom aluminum bike designed with a more upright position - using aluminum since they don't work with carbon fiber. I'm also trying a 2020 Trek FX6 that comes stock with flat bars. On both bikes, I'll switch out bars to Jones H Bars, stem riser (maybe if needed), use a stem with rise, etc. Thanks again for the suggestions and experiences!
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Old 11-02-19, 03:09 PM
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Always great to see people get back after significant injuries!!! Congrats!

I had a T9 burst fracture, damaged T7, 8 and 10 as well. Broken ribs, cracked C1-3... Bike crash, of course. I am fused T7-12. But incredibly lucky to have fully healed in the C1-3. I feel blessed to be pain free, 8 years later. My first 6 weeks after fusion were spent in a TLSO brace with an integrated neck brace. I could have it off at night, but had to have a hard cervical brace to sleep in. After the TLSO brace was taken away, I was in the cervical collar for another 3 months. I had a lot of physical therapy for all of it... I was 48..

I gave a lot of thought to a recumbent trike early. But 5 years ago I finally got back on my bikes. Started on my 29er with a stem riser. But back on my road bikes this year with out any pain.
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Old 11-03-19, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by zjrog View Post
Always great to see people get back after significant injuries!!! Congrats!

I had a T9 burst fracture, damaged T7, 8 and 10 as well. Broken ribs, cracked C1-3... Bike crash, of course. I am fused T7-12. But incredibly lucky to have fully healed in the C1-3. I feel blessed to be pain free, 8 years later. My first 6 weeks after fusion were spent in a TLSO brace with an integrated neck brace. I could have it off at night, but had to have a hard cervical brace to sleep in. After the TLSO brace was taken away, I was in the cervical collar for another 3 months. I had a lot of physical therapy for all of it... I was 48..

I gave a lot of thought to a recumbent trike early. But 5 years ago I finally got back on my bikes. Started on my 29er with a stem riser. But back on my road bikes this year with out any pain.
Thanks for the story, always good to hear the experiences of others. I was given the option of fusion or halo, and went with fusion. Of course you can't second guess decisions at this point but the halo might have been a better option for someone that wanted to remain somewhat active compared with a fusion. But everyone will have different results with either, so you learn to adapt I imagine.
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Old 11-03-19, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by SECOND SUMMER View Post
Thanks for the story, always good to hear the experiences of others. I was given the option of fusion or halo, and went with fusion. Of course you can't second guess decisions at this point but the halo might have been a better option for someone that wanted to remain somewhat active compared with a fusion. But everyone will have different results with either, so you learn to adapt I imagine.
In my case, I had no option. I had surgery the day after my accident. I don't remember the conversations beforehand, but my wife and daughter understood the risks and that if I didn't I'd be paralyzed. I had a massive concussion and still have a lot of lost memory... But still quite blessed to be able to just walk... I do enjoy reading other people's successes, and not so much other's lesser success. I think we can all lean on each other at times...
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