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Old 07-31-09, 04:43 PM   #1
iDevourPie
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Electric or Static Shock from Bicycle?

Hey everybody. I have had a weird thing happen to me as I rode, but I have no idea exactly what happened.

Is it possible to get zapped by a bicycle? If not, what could it have been?
I heard a loud snapping sound and a sharp sting in my ring finger, which was next to the lever on my road bike. My finger, and only my finger, swelled up really quickly and the tiny, freckle-sized spot that felt the stinging sensation turned red and leaked a bit of fluid and blood, but it didn't get inflamed like a bug bite usually does. I felt something similar in my right hand later, but the sound was a lot quieter, the pain was way less intense, and nothing swelled. In case it's relevant, the swelling went down completely in just 1 day, leaving a little freckle-sized spot flush on my skin that still hurts after 2 days.
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Old 07-31-09, 05:48 PM   #2
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That's weird. I've never gotten shocked from my bike, but I wouldn't say it's impossible. I used to do electrical projects a lot, and I have gotten shocked by some pretty high voltage capacitors, but I have never had noticeable swelling that lasted for a day.

How exactly were you holding you hands? You say your finger was "next to the lever" but that's not very specific. Do you think the spark jumped from the lever itself? Also, what were the weather conditions that day?
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Old 07-31-09, 06:36 PM   #3
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Yes, its static electricity being discharged. It happens to me after a ride on low-humidity days. I get a shock when I touch any metal parts (such as the metal handle on my front door. A bicycle moving through the air and making (or making its own) wind, insulated from the ground by its tires, could create a static electric charge on the bike. When you get off it could cause a small shock as the charge gets discharged.
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Old 07-31-09, 07:09 PM   #4
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Sounds like you got stung by a wasp.
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Old 07-31-09, 07:28 PM   #5
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BurnMyEyes, I was holding the hoods, with my index and third above the levers, the ring and pinky below/next to the levers, and the thumb wrapped around the top of the hoods.

tntyz, I've considered the wasp thing, but the loud snapping sound that accompanied the sting doesn't quite fit the wasp idea. But maybe you're right. Can a sting caused localized swelling to just one finger and disappear in a day? Also, does numbness come after a wasp sting?
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Old 07-31-09, 08:14 PM   #6
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I've never heard of, or experienced, static electricity on a bicycle. Which isn't to say that it's not possible.
Sounds like a stinging insect.
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Old 07-31-09, 08:42 PM   #7
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Is the mark facing outwards from the bike? Could it have been a stone fired out from a car tire?
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Old 08-01-09, 11:07 PM   #8
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Great question, coldfeet. The mark is pointing inwards. There weren't any cars around when I felt the sting...actually, I think the fact that the mark is on the inside of my ring finger (on the larger of the two joints) where it contacts the hood makes it unlikely that a bug hit me.
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Old 08-07-17, 08:12 AM   #9
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Electricity

I recently moved to the Phoenix AZ area. While riding my bike, the parts of my skin that touched the metal experienced a small electrical shock. At first, I thought there was a thorn in my skin, but when I rechecked and then experienced the same sensation, I realized the cause. It was neat but I can see how it may get annoying as time goes on. I considered putting electrical tape on the areas of the bike that may come in contact with my skin but now I'm concerned this may cause the charge to build up and recreate your own more intense experience...
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Old 08-07-17, 03:33 PM   #10
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That's why I ride carbon, I got sick of being shocked all the time
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Old 08-07-17, 08:57 PM   #11
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Zombie Thread but it's a shocking, timeless subject. Never happened to me before I commented in 2009 and hasn't happened since then. Except a similar experience when I got stung by a honeybee while riding a year or two ago.
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Old 08-09-17, 11:56 AM   #12
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I'd gotten stung by something before while riding. I think it was some kind of wasp, flew from my left and hit me just over the right eye. I didn't think much of just hitting a bug until it started to sting a little.

From what the OP described, it doesn't sound like a static shock. I've had plenty of static shocks but never did my finger sting for a while after, swell up, or bleed. I've never heard of a bicycle building up such a static charge before, but I have been shocked by carts at the grocery store building up a charge after pushing them for a while, or possibly caused by my shoes on the floor and the shock happens when I touch the cart.

I remember when I was a kid and we got new carpet in our house... it took absolutely nothing to build up a static charge while walking across the room, especially during the winter. We were constantly shocking each other and ourselves every time we touched a door knob. I remember a long string of foil tinsel we hung around our fireplace for Christmas, if you touched that it really hurt. Things were much better after we bought a humidifier.
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Old 08-09-17, 07:20 PM   #13
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Never heard about static shock by a bike, but as said above it does happen with supermarket carts - some even have little chains dragging on the floor to avoid that. So it wouldn't be impossible to happen perhaps.
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Old 08-10-17, 11:25 AM   #14
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I work with energized components all the time and have had my share of shocking events including static shocks. Never heard of someone having a reaction to a shock like the OP. My guess is it wasn't a static shock.
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Old 08-10-17, 02:58 PM   #15
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I work with energized components all the time and have had my share of shocking events including static shocks. Never heard of someone having a reaction to a shock like the OP. My guess is it wasn't a static shock.
That's what I'm thinking, but it does sound more like a wasp sting.
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Old 08-10-17, 03:53 PM   #16
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you can make a balloon stick to your head with static electricity too
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Old 08-10-17, 06:33 PM   #17
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I've never heard of, or experienced, static electricity on a bicycle. Which isn't to say that it's not possible.
In theory it's certainly possible. It's very common with automobiles. Even rail cars, which should be well grounded by miles of track, build up a tremendous static charge. Also, most industrial ship docks are equipped with static dissipators. You wouldn't think it possible that a ship floating in salt water could build up a charge but they do.
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