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Road Bike mods for pure one arm use?

Old 03-14-21, 09:07 PM
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Road Bike mods for pure one arm use?

I hurt my right hand wrist so can only use one arm for riding.

I tried riding around the neighborhood with only my left arm, making tight turns, going over speed bumps, etc and the biggest problem I had was braking.

Sudden and hard braking (because a cat ran to your wheel for example) also makes my left arm push the handlebar to the right and lose balance.

Anything I can do to my road bike to make one hand braking safer? Thanks
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Old 03-14-21, 10:24 PM
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Gripping the top tube with my knees when braking seems to help a lot. So it looks like I need to learn to grip the TT with my knees at the same time I squeeze the brake lever
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Old 03-15-21, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post

Anything I can do to my road bike to make one hand braking safer? Thanks
Sorry to hear about your injury. As someone who has been riding one-handed for 47 years, I can promise you the steering/balance issues fade over time.

If you go back a month or so, I have a post on the final adaptations to a one-handed road bike completed with off the shelf parts. The combination of Shimano di2 shifting and a hydraulic splitter (Outbraker) on a top bar Shimano GRX 812 in-line brake lever gives me full system control - both brakes, all gears - from the top, hood and drop.

The Outbraker claims to work with any brakes, but it needs a top bar or flat bar lever - like the GRX - to work on a road bike.

Bottom line: moving your braking system to the center will give you some help on the steering/balance issues as you adapt. Engaging both brakes with a single pull also doesn't hurt. Center or bar top position is also useful for climbing one-handed, and the fact you have brake there avoids the need to take your hand off as you reach for the brake.

For braking purposes, you can get the same effect on a cable brake road bike using a cross interrupter brake like the Tektro RL 720 with something like the Problem Solvers Cable Doubler.

Either solution preserves the function of your hood brake lever, and gives you a centered position option on the bar top.
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Old 03-15-21, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
Gripping the top tube with my knees when braking seems to help a lot. So it looks like I need to learn to grip the TT with my knees at the same time I squeeze the brake lever
You can probably train yourself to do anything, but I think getting used to the pull and balance riding one-handed might be safer in the long run
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Old 03-15-21, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by tigat View Post
You can probably train yourself to do anything, but I think getting used to the pull and balance riding one-handed might be safer in the long run
I'll go with your highly experienced advice here, thanks! I'm getting better at braking. Another problem I discovered when hitting big potholes, I can't hold the bar steady at all even if I saw the pothole in advance.

I was deliberately going over big potholes at just under 10 kph for practice to see if I can handle it but I can't. I set my seat super low so I can stick my foot out if I lose balance and I was losing balance over potholes.
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Old 03-16-21, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post

I was deliberately going over big potholes at just under 10 kph for practice to see if I can handle it but I can't. I set my seat super low so I can stick my foot out if I lose balance and I was losing balance over potholes.

My first observation is your practice speed may be too slow. You're not letting a rolling bike's desire to stay upright and in line help you. Having the seat too low is also not great for riding safety.


That said, even 47 years in, jolts on the front end are an issue. Unseen rumble strips led to a broken hip. Seen but poorly navigated railroad tracks caused three cracked ribs and a partially collapsed lung. My hand flew off and down I went. Then again, I have stayed upright after hitting a pothole hard enough to bend a front rim, and I've seen two-armed, experienced riders crash from railroad tracks and potholes many times.


My current Domane has an isospeed decoupler that substantially dampens the front end shocks, and I have yet to crash it in any manner.


Again, I'd say practice improves things. When you look at the pros, they can do things one and no-handed that defy belief. Over the years, I have tried to ride as normally as possible - correct seat height, clipped in - and it has worked well for the most part. Drop bar, diamond framed bikes have been around for this long for a reason. They work.
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Old 03-17-21, 02:23 AM
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Sorry to hear, glad you're okay! no way I'd survive such injuries!!

I just found out I could get over a big pothole easily (still at low speed) by pedaling and accelerating over it. I can even get the bike over a small kerb. But not if coasting or slowing down.

of course, things are a lot different at higher, normal speeds. I'm still too scared to even try at higher speeds! definitely need more practice, ride-time to gain confidence. Yesterday, I rode in traffic for the first time one handed with my broken wrist and thankfully without any incident, at slow commuter speeds though!

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Old 03-22-21, 02:48 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I hurt my right hand wrist so can only use one arm for riding.

I tried riding around the neighborhood with only my left arm, making tight turns, going over speed bumps, etc and the biggest problem I had was braking.

Sudden and hard braking (because a cat ran to your wheel for example) also makes my left arm push the handlebar to the right and lose balance.

Anything I can do to my road bike to make one hand braking safer? Thanks
Another one handed rider here
I'm on a mountain bike though as road riding here (Greece) is too dangerous

As i'm 99% offroad i prefer to have some control over how much brake force i apply to the front or rear
After a LOT of experimenting i found i wasn't happy with a brake bias type knob and prefer separate levers

Used this setup for years


Have since swapped this out for a Hope Duo brake setup with 1 x 12



For brake stability, it's tough
I use a Hopey steering damper, this give me a little more stability

I use narrower bars, again it helps slightly

For steeper descents i hang my ass over the back wheel and use my belly on the rear of the saddle to take some of my body weight
Not exactly comfortable for longer descents though

Other option i use is to prop my knee on the top tube and use that for some support
Again, not great for long descents

Took me years to accept, but now i realise i cannot ride like i did when i had 2 hands
I can't wheelie or brake like i did, no gadgets or thinking outside the box will correct having only 1 hand on the handlebars

Don't get me wrong, I still really really enjoy riding, maybe even more so, but i have just lowered my expectations on what i can ride technically, i've slowed down on downhills and even get off and push over dropoffs

Granted a lot of my "advice" is offroad specific, but the things that help are really like 1/10ths (steering damper, narrow bars, finding something on your bike to support your body weight (saddle, top tube etc))
Tough to accept, but you won't have the control, sprint or braking capacity you did before

Cheers
Mark

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Old 03-23-21, 02:47 AM
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Originally Posted by gixer View Post
Another handed rider here
I'm on a mountain bike though as rode riding here (Greece) is too dangerous

As i'm 99% offroad i prefer to have some control over how much brake force i apply to the front or rear
After a LOT of experimenting i found i wasn't happy with a brake bias type knob and prefer separate levers

Used this setup for years


Have since swapped this out for a Hope Duo brake setup with 1 x 12



For brake stability, it's tough
I use a Hopey steering damper, this give me a little more stability

I use narrower bars, again it helps slightly

For steeper descents i hang my ass over the back wheel and use my belly on the rear of the saddle to take some of my body weight
Not exactly comfortable for longer descents though

Other option i use is to prop my knee on the top tube and use that for some support
Again, not great for long descents

Took me years to accept, but now i realise i cannot ride like i did when i had 2 hands
I can't wheelie or brake like i did, no gadgets or thinking outside the box will correct having only 1 hand on the handlebars

Don't get me wrong, I still really really enjoy riding, maybe even more so, but i have just lowered my expectations on what i can ride technically, i've slowed down on downhills and even get off and push over dropoffs

Granted a lot of my "advice" is offroad specific, but the things that help are really like 1/10ths (steering damper, narrow bars, finding something on your bike to support your body weight (saddle, top tube etc))
Tough to accept, but you won't have the control, sprint or braking capacity you did before

Cheers
Mark
Thanks Mark! That's very creative! One hand MTB, never thought that's possible!! Though I ride road, our roads are poorly maintained and quite bumpy and damaged as a result, some parts qualify as offroad trails, youch! Although I'm still A LOT slower than how MTB'ers would take those sections.

I never thought about steering dampener, I can see how it can be incredibly useful. Right now, I had to straddle the top tube with my knees for everything, braking and going over damaged parts of the road so I can keep my hands light on the handlebar.

Perhaps, if I had steering dampener, I had to straddle the top tube less and really seems like the best option for safety.

I've adjusted my saddle though, more nose up tilt, seemed to help a bit keeping my one hand light over the handlebar and reduced forward pressure when braking and hitting bumps making steering a bit more stable.

Otherwise, it's understandably more difficult. And everything feels more dangerous, I have avoided public roads for now and only in the indoor trainer I can do harder efforts

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Old 03-23-21, 03:28 AM
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straddle the top tube with my knees for everything, braking and going over damaged parts of the road
I'll bow to Tigat's experience with road bikes, but i've felt pretty stable on all the bikes i've ridden since my injury (2003), even without steering dampers (mates bikes i've borrowed)
I'm surprised you have to brace yourself on the top tube on a regular basis on the road

For sure, some twitchy, nimble geometry road bikes i have ridden felt less stable than my MTB's, but i was still able to ride confidently
Only really hard braking that was a concern

I think maybe it could be a few things

1/ Confidence
Riding tense is never good, riding rigid and tense with 1 hand seems to amplify the problem
I find if i ride loose and let the bike kinda flow underneath me it helps

Being more active body position wise helps as well, dropping behind the saddle both lowers my center of gravity and gives me some support
having my hips behind the peddles means i can transfer some of my weight through my legs (with bent knees of course)

2/ Bike geometry
I have 2 bikes a old 1994 MTB without suspension i use for Zwifting and the odd road bike and a 2009 full suspension bike
My 94 bike is smaller (as was the style back then) and although it has no suspension i find on the road i'm more stable (compared to my full suspension bike), as the smaller size means i can move around more


I've ridden mates downhill type bikes and they felt like i was trying the steer the Titanic in comparison to my 94 bike

Of course that's a massive over exaggeration
Bike media will HAVE to find something to say about new bikes, so they harp on about geometry, the reality is very very subtle

Personally i'd ask around your mates or local bike shops, see if they have a old really short stem
It might help in a couple of ways
a/ Puts your weight further back on the bike
b/ Gives less leverage steering wise, so might feel slightly less twitchy
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Old 03-23-21, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by gixer View Post
I'll bow to Tigat's experience with road bikes, but i've felt pretty stable on all the bikes i've ridden since my injury (2003), even without steering dampers (mates bikes i've borrowed)
I'm surprised you have to brace yourself on the top tube on a regular basis on the road

For sure, some twitchy, nimble geometry road bikes i have ridden felt less stable than my MTB's, but i was still able to ride confidently
Only really hard braking that was a concern

I think maybe it could be a few things

1/ Confidence
Riding tense is never good, riding rigid and tense with 1 hand seems to amplify the problem
I find if i ride loose and let the bike kinda flow underneath me it helps

Being more active body position wise helps as well, dropping behind the saddle both lowers my center of gravity and gives me some support
having my hips behind the peddles means i can transfer some of my weight through my legs (with bent knees of course)

2/ Bike geometry
I have 2 bikes a old 1994 MTB without suspension i use for Zwifting and the odd road bike and a 2009 full suspension bike
My 94 bike is smaller (as was the style back then) and although it has no suspension i find on the road i'm more stable (compared to my full suspension bike), as the smaller size means i can move around more


I've ridden mates downhill type bikes and they felt like i was trying the steer the Titanic in comparison to my 94 bike

Of course that's a massive over exaggeration
Bike media will HAVE to find something to say about new bikes, so they harp on about geometry, the reality is very very subtle

Personally i'd ask around your mates or local bike shops, see if they have a old really short stem
It might help in a couple of ways
a/ Puts your weight further back on the bike
b/ Gives less leverage steering wise, so might feel slightly less twitchy

Uphills are easy and I feel very confident and safe. I can run over potholes or even brake hard and keep steering steady with ease.

Downhills are the killer. Because I'm tilted down, more pressure on the hands so even the slightest bump, amplifies effect on steering. Only way I can have light hands on the handlebar on downhills is straddle the top tube.

I'll try super short MTB stems. they should fit on my road bike. It looks like it will make a difference!
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Old 10-12-21, 10:54 AM
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Is the injury permanent?
I have the same issue-ish, but my right hand doesn't work anymore and the arm its attached to has a metal skeleton.
It took a while but I just had to adapt.
Since I can no longer pull a rear brake lever, I have moved to coaster brake rear hubs. I currently really like the Sturmey Archer 2 speed coaster.
I just place the right handgrip between the thumb and pointer and use the right for a kickstand and the left for everything else.
I can't ride as aggressively as I used to, but Im getting older and dont want to much anymore.
My favorite bike will clip along at 20-25 and I do that for fun but I ride in an upright position now with wider bars for better control.
I have also had reason to use my childhood tumbling skills (tuck and roll) because occasionally I do tip over and dont want to snap my fake arm.
There are dual pull levers if you want to retain the rear caliper though. One pull, both brakes.
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Old 10-12-21, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by macstuff View Post
Is the injury permanent?
I have the same issue-ish, but my right hand doesn't work anymore and the arm its attached to has a metal skeleton.
It took a while but I just had to adapt.
Since I can no longer pull a rear brake lever, I have moved to coaster brake rear hubs. I currently really like the Sturmey Archer 2 speed coaster.
I just place the right handgrip between the thumb and pointer and use the right for a kickstand and the left for everything else.
I can't ride as aggressively as I used to, but Im getting older and dont want to much anymore.
My favorite bike will clip along at 20-25 and I do that for fun but I ride in an upright position now with wider bars for better control.
I have also had reason to use my childhood tumbling skills (tuck and roll) because occasionally I do tip over and dont want to snap my fake arm.
There are dual pull levers if you want to retain the rear caliper though. One pull, both brakes.
Glad you have adapted well and having great time.

I can use both my arms again but I still can't do 3 hr rides or my injured arm will be quite sore afterwards. I'm basically back to daily rides but usually not more than 1 hr. I'm only 6 months into recovery. Doctor said healing can take up to a year and now I'm using cycling as part of physical therapy to improve range of motion (ROM).
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