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too small bike = hand pain

Old 10-31-06, 07:47 PM
  #1  
clipperton
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too small bike = hand pain

hey all,

hoping somebody here can halp me with a problem i'm having which i'm 99% sure is to do with riding a bike that's a little too small for me and therefore putting too much downward pressure on my wrists and hands. the bike is a flat bar trek rst hybrid fwiw.

essentially i've recently started having a nerve sort of pain in the palm of my hand right down towards the wrist whenever i apply backwards pressure (ie. anything that pulls the finger like away from a claw position) onto my fingers (particularly my index finger).

i'm quite new to distance riding and did my first 100k + day trip on the weekend and it's only really flared up since then so i'm a little (well, actually, a lot) clueless here but thought i'd see whether anybody had experienced anything similar and if so should i be too fearful of getting back on the bike.

i'd thought to buy bar ends to give myself a higher gripping point in the interim (before switching bikes) but am worried about doing any long-term nerve damage by pushing my luck.

has anybody experienced anything/heard of anything similar and if so any happy solutions/horror stories to share?

thanks in advance.
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Old 10-31-06, 09:29 PM
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When you bought the bike...did you get fitted for it? Since you think it's too small a bike....I'll assume that's a no for now.

Riding the proper size frame, with the proper stem length, seat height (and forward/aft adjustments) and handbar width and height are CRITICAL factors in being able to ride with comfort and without pain for any significant distance on a bicycle. It sounds like your bike doesn't fit you properly. A bike shop that does fittings can help you with this.

On a proper fitting, comfortable bike...you should be able to ride 40, 50 even 100 miles or more without pain(assuming you are properly conditioned).
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Old 10-31-06, 11:07 PM
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hilariously enough it's actually a "company" bike so I didn’t really get it fitted per se. I’ve been riding it to work and back for the better part of 12 months now but since the weather started to improve (this is australia calling) i’m doing about between 2-300 kms per week so i’m really starting to learn how the thing ticks.
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Old 11-01-06, 05:56 AM
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You may just need more hand positions for this problem. The flat bar only lets you grab it one way, whereas a standard road bar with brake hoods gives you 5 or more positions. I never leave my hands in one place for long as my wrists will get pains. Bar ends will help some but that only adds one hand position.
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Old 11-01-06, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by clipperton
hilariously enough it's actually a "company" bike so I didn’t really get it fitted per se. I’ve been riding it to work and back for the better part of 12 months now but since the weather started to improve (this is australia calling) i’m doing about between 2-300 kms per week so i’m really starting to learn how the thing ticks.
What do you mean by 'company bike'? Basically in your hand you have a lot of nerves going through. If they start to get uncomforable STOP. Was talking to a friend the other day and he was describing his journey up a mountain (can't remember which one). Was basically a day long ride with very little rest and all uphill where only about five of the group made it up on their bikes. The others, I think he said there were at least 30 all together, gave up and got a ride up or gave up and immediatly took an ambulance down becuase of cramps and dehydration. Basically when this friend of mine made it to the top his hands were numb, and it finally clicked when he couldn't dress himself. Permanent nerve damage and 6 months physiotherapy. Luckily for him, it was a charity ride which his work was involved in so he didn't have to pay all his medical bills. Just to scare you here.

You can get gloves with padding that can prevent to a certain extent pressure of this group of nerves but it is only going to do so much. If your company 'gave' you this bike then give it back. If you can't do that, either sell it or trade it in at least as you can only damage yourself more. Wrist and hand pain is only the start, a wrong fitting bike can cause problems everywhere. Back, knees....everywhere.

Unfortunatly finding a good fitting bike can be hard. I suggest you read this part of the bible ..http://sheldonbrown.com/frame-sizing.html There are also some good links at the end of this article regarding choosing the right frame size. Might be an idea to take these measurements and compare it to your current bike too.

If all else fails, the people at your local bike shop are normally quite friendly. You could take your bike in with you and get their opinion as to size. Maybe not mention you hands until after they have given their opinion. If they say it is the wrong size, get then to suggest some similar models of the correct size. If they think it does fit you then mention your hands. As someone else said, it would probably be worth thinking about drop bars (road biking bars) for more hand positions. Remember you have no obligation to buy anything off them, although if you are going to be riding that much it might be nice to buy a pair of gloves off them. I like gloves.

Sometimes you can get hand pain from the handlebars being at the wrong height, normally from being too low I think (don't trust me on this). But hybrids are almost as upright as you can get so I don't think that would be it.

Last edited by damnable; 11-01-06 at 08:06 AM.
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Old 11-01-06, 08:43 AM
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Raise your handlebars. You're not riding fast enough to ride in the position your bars are at now. Of course there's also a million other possibilities.
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Old 11-01-06, 12:15 PM
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Some options:

Bar ends
Drop bars
Aero bars
Move your seat back
Raise handlebars
Replace stem with adjustable for high rise version
Wear cycling gloves
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Old 11-01-06, 03:19 PM
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thanks for all the advice folks. to answer a few questions, it's a company bike in that the company i work for bought a few bikes for some foreign interns to use while they were in melbourne, once they left there were a couple of bikes lying idle and i thought i'd have a crack at riding to work. after a few months i made the leap to recreational riding and it's been (metaphorically speaking, i assure you) downhill from there.
i wear gloves with padded and re-inforced palms, kevlar apparently.
last night i did some tweaking and moved the angle of the flat bar back towards myself, i also put on bar ends, haven't tried them out yet as i decided to give my hand a few days and see how it recovers - damn shame as we have a 4-day weekend coming up (does anybody else get a public holiday for a horse race?) and i had plans.

thanks again for all your help, i'll let you knwo how things work out.
cheers.
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Old 11-01-06, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by clipperton
[SIZE=2](does anybody else get a public holiday for a horse race?)
You get a holiday for the Melbourne Cup??!? That is so unfair. All we ever got was an excuse to take a half hour break. And for the kiddies at school to take a half hour brake and introduce them to gambling.
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Old 11-02-06, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by damnable
You get a holiday for the Melbourne Cup??!? That is so unfair. All we ever got was an excuse to take a half hour break. And for the kiddies at school to take a half hour brake and introduce them to gambling.
i guess the horse racing lobby is powerful enough to dictate public holidays to government in order to perpetuate the myth that the melbournian public at large actually gives a fat rat's vajootsie about horse racing for more than 5 minutes a year.

best thing about melbourne cup day is that it's always on the first tuesday in november meaning that the monday is kind of an "implied" public holiday.
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