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Can't get comfortable on my "comfort bike", should adjust it or find different style?

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Can't get comfortable on my "comfort bike", should adjust it or find different style?

Old 06-25-13, 06:28 PM
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Can't get comfortable on my "comfort bike", should adjust it or find different style?


I am reasonably new to cycling and I would greatly appreciate your experiences with regards to my uncomfortable bike situation: can my bike be adjusted to fit, or is is it ultimately the wrong style for my needs, and if so what style should I be looking for. Currently I cycle about 4-8 miles everyday on roads with potholes, and some moderate hills occasionally, I would like to be able to cycle more hills and get fitter, also in the winter.

I had no idea how confident/comfortable I would be cycling in my very busy city, how long my trips would be etc, I just wanted to buy a reasonably nice bike that would allow me to get started cycling.

I am very attracted to the European upright bike styles, Bobbin, Pashley, etc. I've tried a few and eventually found one that felt very nice and it looked cute too: the Schwinn Cream, which I have later found out has more of a cruiser bike heritage.


I loved everything about it for the first few weeks and then I have started to get bad left shoulder and neck pain.
I've adjusted pretty much everything about my bike: saddle distance, angle and height (which is now nearly perfect), and tried all possible heights and angles of the handlebars and stem. It seem that the other aspects of the bike such as reach , etc are right for me as well. I can cycle on it pretty fast and it feels nice and sturdy, it also handles moderate hills pretty well for a bike with a limited amount of gears.

I have determined two things: that the handle bars are too wide for the width of my shoulders (but that can be solved by cutting the bar a little) and that the swept back "North Road" style handle bars seem to have a really uncomfortable angle for me.
They don't allow for my hand to be neither straight flat in front of me, nor relaxed at the side, which strains the nerves or tendons (?) on my wrist leading to neck pain. (an example of a similar position is here: https://pinterest.com/pin/204210164325412472/ )

The question now is if I decided to change to handle bars to flat ones, would that improve things in the long run? Or is the type of bike not really suitable for rides more than 3-4 miles? It seems that even if I changed the bars my body position would be the same more or less, which is not ideal because it feels neither completely upright like in some Dutch style bikes, nor leaning forward and balancing more on arms, it just feels uncomfortably "in-between".

Should I stick to my love for the upright style of bike, and try to adjust mine more upright (different stem, handlebars etc), or maybe these kinds of bikes are not suited for the kind of cycling I want to do?

I've tried a few flat bar road bikes, and a normal road bike as well, they felt much more comfortable on my shoulders, and I had a lot of fun on them, but then as a relatively new cyclist I am worried about safety with such low riding position.

It would be a big step into a direction outside of my comfort zone, which is exciting, but is it wise? Also my liking for road bikes is purely because they felt more comfortable, but every thing I read seems to say they can be more difficult on the back/shoulders.
What other styles of bike should I consider and how do I determine what kind of style is right for me? Help!

Last edited by Eldrid; 06-25-13 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 06-25-13, 07:07 PM
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Comfort is king and fit is everything when wanting to put serious miles in. A comfort bike is comfortable to a newbie sitting on it on the sales floor. Put a few miles in or increase your confidence/fitness and you'll find it lacking.

Back/shoulder pain while riding a road bike or any bike is a sign that the fit is wrong or you already had an underlying medical issue.

FYI- just because a bike has drop bars doesn't always equate a low riding position nor does having a flat bar mean sitting up bolt upright.
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Old 06-25-13, 07:34 PM
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Everyone is different but I started on similar type of bike to your Schwinn Cream and I found it very uncomfortable for rides of more than two or three miles. I fussed and fussed to get things set up right. I finally bought another bike, a Cannondale Quick hybrid with a flat bar. A few months later I was on a road bike. I love both the hybrid and the road bike. I sold the comfort bike.
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Old 06-25-13, 08:29 PM
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I rode a Worksman cruiser for a couple of years. The standard "cruiser" handlebars sweep back and up, and I put some that were flatter but raised if that makes sense- flat bars that had a rise of about 2" . The main problem I had was that on the standard bars, sweaty hands would tend to slide down the handlebar grips.

Anyway, the standard cruiser design may not be the best in the world, but it's not limited to 3-4 miles, either, I did several 100+mile rides on my bike. If that bike uses the standard "old style" handlebars, they are available for about $6-$8 here in the US, and it's not too expensive to buy some to experiment with.
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Old 06-25-13, 10:45 PM
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Comfort bikes are good for rides around the neighborhood or park. Beyond that, there are few that stay comfortable. If you're interested in a new bike, most manufacturer's now make bikes that have a less aggressive geometry, which make them more comfortable.
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Old 06-29-13, 04:12 PM
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Thank you for all your responses, they have helped me to make up my mind to get a road bike.

I think the point that StephenH raised that a cruiser bike is not limited to short trips, it is certainly true for some riders: my bike is definitely sturdy enough to be able to cope with long distances, but the overall riding position creates discomfort in my case, which might not be an issue for everybody.

I will probably change the handbar on my old bike and keep the bike for times when I need to cycle somewhere dressed up, but overall it feels limiting, especially after I had a few test rides on road bikes that felt so much better ( ).
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Old 06-29-13, 04:43 PM
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Report back on you shopping experiences.
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Old 07-19-13, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by goldfinch
Report back on you shopping experiences.
The time has come that I now can report on my shopping experiences as requested , in short it has been incredibly difficult to find a road bike in my size within my budget range (£800 max) at this time of year, but I've been successful (I think!). This forum has been great in providing me with information about findig the correct size and fit.
I am 162cm with an inseam of 72-73cm and the suggested sizes on various shopping sites were somewhere around 49-51cm, but when I tried a 49cm bike I barely had 1cm stand-over, and my inseam suggest a 47-48cm frame, which was much more difficult to find, since many manufacturers stop at 50cm and even the ones that produced them were out of stock, eg. the flagship Giant store told me to come back next season!!!
After being routinely pointed towards the "ladies section" of the bike shops I have eventually decided against women specific bikes, because I don't have the proportions deemed to be "typical" for women by manufacturers: I have relatively short legs for my height, and also I don't like the squeashy larger saddles, or the colour schemes.
I've made a short list of bikes I liked and that I wanted to try out, but after I realised that I need a smaller frame the pool of options dried out. I trekked through half of my town, wandered through shops with a measuring tape, and nearly despaired, but then by sheer luck I have found a Bianchi VIA Nirone Xenon 2013 in size 46cm with a 30% price reduction because of a (tiny) chip on the frame (!).
As it was only available online (to be picked up in store) it was a bit if a gamble getting it but I carefully compared the geometry charts of the Bianchi with the measurements of the ones that I have already physically handled and with charts of others in similar sizes (as the Bianchi chart did not show stand-over height) and hoped for the best. It has been a 2 week wait but finally
I've picked it up today. Of course cannot say that much yet, but I think we will fit together , so at last: a happy ending!

Last edited by Eldrid; 07-19-13 at 05:35 PM.
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Old 07-19-13, 06:48 PM
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Nice deal! I looked at pictures of the Bianchi, it looks like a lovely bike. Next you will have to give as a real life picture and a ride report. Enjoy your new bike!
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Old 07-19-13, 07:10 PM
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Well, hope it treats you well
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Old 07-20-13, 05:46 AM
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I just bought a hybrid on June 14th and bought it based on my standover height ...Got the Hybrid Quick 5 in large size...i really need the XL or Jumbo...I am going this morning back to my LBS to test ride a road bike, Cannondale CAAD8... I find myself having changed way too much on the Hybrid and almost changed it to a comfort bike so i am doing a 180 and trying the CAAD8...I surely need a bigger bike so don't let the standover height be the end all of your search... I was sure i wanted a Hybrid, i knew for sure i didn't want a comfort bike... I started on June 15th doing 2-5 miles and yesterday i did 10 miles easily but wanting a bit more performance so i maybe kicking it up a notch or 2....I may get the road and look for a used Hybrid in the classified or Craigslist to carry behind the car so the wife and i have the similar bikes...This way we can take 2 similar bikes with us when we go out of town...Good luck but it looks like you need a different bike...
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Old 07-20-13, 09:10 AM
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The reason that many cyclist ride in that supposedly uncomfortable leaning forward position is because it is much more comfortable to those many cyclists than seating bolt upright with a saddle shoved straight up their wazoo. Leaning forward on a proper bike distributes the weight between rear, arms/hands and legs (on pedals) whereas sitting bolt upright puts nearly all of the weight on your rear and spinal column.
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Old 07-20-13, 09:17 AM
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I agree, comfort bikes are only designed for the casual rider that wants to ride around the park or the block, go much further than that and suddenly they're not comfortable. Same is true with those big cushy seats. I think comfort bikes are going to hurt the cycling industry because if people try to ride long mileages and can't get comfy they'll give on cycling altogether, unless the LBS's start telling purchasers of these bikes that they're not made to ride long distances...which I know my local LBS's are not doing, they just want to sell bikes and not ask enough questions or instruct on what certain bikes are for.

And Euro style bicycles you like so much are again designed for short commuting, ever notice the ads? Some pretty girl riding with a dress on! that should tell you those bikes are not made to go far in. Those bikes are for city dwellers who live near where they work and buy groceries from.
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Old 07-20-13, 11:10 AM
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Eldrid, how old are you?

I agree that the switch to a road bike was a good idea, but I recommend being proactive about the neck and shoulder pain, and that means stretching and upper body exercises.

Note that once you have pain, it is a bit self-perpetuating (because the tissues are inflamed).

Here's an exercise that works for me:

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