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Switched to upright bars and now my back is killing me!

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Switched to upright bars and now my back is killing me!

Old 02-14-18, 06:11 PM
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Switched to upright bars and now my back is killing me!

All my other bikes are fairly aggressive drop bar bikes with significant saddle-bar drop. They are all comfortable even after 100+ miles. I just built up a new commuter with Nitto Albatross bars. I love the riding position but my lower back starts aching almost immediately. I've tried a few different stems: I've found a low, normal road quill was better than a tall dirt-drop style, but both were nowhere near comfortable. Perhaps a long (140mm or so) stem might get me in an aggressive position more like what I'm used to?

I know it's really hard to answer over the internet because there are SO many factors, but I'm looking for a little guidance before I just start blowing money on a bunch of different stems. All the threads I can find have the opposite problem: people suggesting upright bars to alleviate back pain!

Any help is appreciated.
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Old 02-14-18, 06:18 PM
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My question is why did you decide to not go with drop bar if it's working for you.

In any case, could it be your saddle is too narrow?
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Old 02-14-18, 07:09 PM
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I've found a completely upright position is harder on my back than having some forward lean - more upright means less weight on your hands, means more weight on lower spine.

Another issue: maybe your saddle isn't designed for upright position, or needs to have the angle adjusted for an upright position.
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Old 02-14-18, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006
My question is why did you decide to not go with drop bar if it's working for you.

In any case, could it be your saddle is too narrow?

Saddle is a Brooks C17, so not very narrow.
I didn't go drops for a couple reasons: 1. due to the nature of the bike, it would be hard to get them to fit right 2. I wanted to try a nice upright position. I had a couple Raleigh 3 speeds years ago and loved the riding position back thne.
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Old 02-15-18, 05:18 AM
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i would do what you know works. personally my neck forces me to be upright. i would love to use dropbars and lean over but it kills my neck to do so. saddle wise we all are different but i find upright on a b17 works well for me. if my back was hurting i would try a 67 just to make sure i got wide enough support.
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Old 02-15-18, 05:47 AM
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I find riding an upright bike makes riding a more aggressive bike easier.

Never had major back pain, however neck and shoulder pain are far more limiting in my experience.

Sometimes the only option is rest.
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Old 02-15-18, 09:21 AM
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How much time have you been giving this? No improvement after a few rides? It is a position you are not used to after all. Not only is there more weight on the saddle, but your spine is now much more connected to the road.
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Old 02-15-18, 10:16 AM
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I went from drops to way-swept-back north road bars on one bike, same result, sitting bolt-upright, all weight on butt, killer back pain. Switched that bike to just a straight-ish bar, leaning forward helped get weight distribution off back and back to legs.

Long and short of it, I would guess an ergonomic goal is to have at least 2/3 of your body's weight carried by your legs. Maybe all of it, even, I don't know for sure.
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Old 02-15-18, 03:00 PM
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Sitting upright on a non-suspension bicycle transmits almost all the road shock into your spine. Things that might help are an adjustable stem, larger tires with lower pressure, a suspension seat post or a Brook sprung saddle.
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Old 02-16-18, 08:00 AM
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A longer stem may help. I have 2 bikes with soma Oxford bars that are very similar to your Albas and need to use a really long stem- one has 150mm and the other 140mm to get hands in right position for th eback angle I want. I also tape in front of the brakes to lean in a little more and I use that position often. You may need to tweak the angel of your Brooks too.
I really like the more upright bars especially for commuting.
Keep tweaking.
Tom Palmer
Twin lake, MI
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Old 02-18-18, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by coolkat
Any help is appreciated.
Bring the bars back toward your waste, this will bring you even more upright, especially for you riding "road" bikes for a century. Try and get as little weight on your hands as possible. Think about trying a new seat too, since it is a different style of riding for you. Feels different sitting up and looking around as you ride doesn't it?
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Old 02-18-18, 05:09 PM
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I'll be in the "go back to what works for you" faction.

But if you don't... Shimano published this a while ago when they introduced the Metrea groupset (which had a special bullhorn handlebar and shifters). It's a useful categorization. Albatross bars are definitely in the bolt-upright mode and you might be happier with something resembling a hybrid or cross country MTB setup. (Not trail MTB's, they have recently gone very different.)
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Old 02-21-18, 12:06 AM
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Try flipping those albatross bars. That's what a friend did with his hybrid. He's comfortable and remarkably fast -- I have trouble keeping up with him on my road bike.

You might need to adjust the stem height, maybe trim the bar ends to get the right position.

I'm considering flipped albatross bars for my hybrid. I've switched back and forth between the original flat bar and a slight riser bar. The riser bar is immediately comfortable but results in more saddle pressure after 20-30 miles. The flat bar has me leaning forward a bit more than I'd like -- I prefer this bike for days when my neck hurts too much for my drop bar road bike. But a flipped albatross bar would make a nice compromise between reach and height. I'm also considering a flat arc bar.
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Old 02-21-18, 12:16 AM
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+1 flipped bars, angled down somewhat at the grips. similar to drops.
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