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Can't Feel My Hands

Old 11-11-10, 12:44 PM
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themaze76
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Can't Feel My Hands

So, I picked up my new Trek 7.5FX yesterday and took it out for a ride today. It felt awesome...until my hands went numb. I'm sure that it's just an adjustment thing, but being a total newb, I'm not really sure where to start troubleshooting. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 11-11-10, 04:47 PM
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desertdork
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Hand numbness is not highly unusual with new riders.

The lower your bars, the more likely you'll experience issues. Typically, this is due to excessive weight/pressure on his hands. If your core strength is minimal, this is more likely to be an issue. Increasing bar height can reduce numbness until you develop better core strength.

If you're a new rider, you might also be using a 'death grip' on the bar. Not at all unusual with new riders. If this is you, loosen up a bit. On smooth pavement, it doesn't take much grip to control the bike.

Flat bars lack the multiple hand positions of drop bars. You may find that adding bar ends will give you another useful hand position. I like Ergon grips; their GC-2 features a high quality grip with an integrated bar end. Quite comfortable.

Watch the PSI in your tires. Too much pressure in the front tire will decrease comfort. The comfort provided by your carbon fork is nothing compared to the comfort provided by a properly inflated, wide tire. What's the pressure rating on your tire? What are you inflating it to? And what's your weight? If you're a bigger rider (which I assume based on your signature), you'll need more PSI up front than a lighter rider, but it still shouldn't approach the max PSI rating.

Some people use heavily padded gloves to add hand comfort. But other riders find too much padding uncomfortable. I'm in the latter group. I started with 'gel padded' gloves and realized the padding was causing comfort issues. Though I usually ride without gloves now, it's better to have something protecting your hands in the event you go down. My point is that you shouldn't assume that padded gloves will make your hands more comfortable.

Your dealer should have spent some time with the bike fit at the time of purchase. Did they? And do you feel comfortable with the adjustments made for you?

Otherwise, keep riding. Some of the discomfort naturally goes away as you get more miles under you. It's a combination of getting your body adjusted to cycling, gaining strength and developing good technique. It just takes time.
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Old 11-12-10, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by desertdork View Post
Hand numbness is not highly unusual with new riders.

..... you might also be using a 'death grip' on the bar. Not at all unusual with new riders. If this is you, loosen up a bit. On smooth pavement, it doesn't take much grip to control the bike.
Agreed on this. When I first got my bike (and my motorcycle for that fact) I found that my hands would go numb pretty quickly til I learned about the "Death grip". Try relaxing your hands - it makes a big difference.
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Old 11-12-10, 07:54 AM
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This is quite common with flat bars and as said it comes from putting too much pressure on your hands at one point for too long. Other types of handlebars give you options to move your hands around to different positions which spreads the pressure around over time and helps combat this. In the long run you could consider switching to trekking bars (an easy swap), drop bars (a major project), clip on aero-bars for your flat bars (easy), or one of the the many other types of handlebars that offer more hand positions (difficulty varies). Flat bars do have this drawback but of course they give you a lot of control if you ride much off road so you may want to stick with them and consider adding bar ends or aero-bars or both. The Ergon or similar grips will help too.

I hear a lot of people talking about core strength without giving any advice on improving it or even defining what it is. I gather that core strength is a measure of how long you can maintain the somewhat bent over riding position without fatigue. The goal is to be able to ride the bike without putting any pressure on your hands, just let your torso muscles hold you up. I don't know how to work on this other than to concentrate on keeping the pressure off your hands as you ride. I have tried this a bit and don't find it too hard to do but much harder to keep at it since the mind wanders and the body tends to rely on the hands and arms for support unconsciously. Perhaps it is less a matter of strength than developing a good habit?

Flat bars have one major flaw if you want to ride long distances and that is that they only have one upper body position as well. You can adjust them nice and high to give you an upright posture which is comfortable, keeps pressure off your hands quite naturally, and lets you see road traffic very well. If need be you can get riser stems and steering tube extenders to do this. When you try to ride that configuration into a stiff headwind you are pedaling directly into their major flaw, the very high aerodynamic drag that results from the upright posture. Drop bars, trekking bars, and clip on aero-bars all give you a wind cheating position as well as more hand positions which is another good reason to consider them.

I'm a bit torn myself. I have trekking bars now and while they work reasonably well I still have the feeling that they could be better. When I occasionally go off road I miss the flat bars too. I may try something else next year. Drops or flats with aero-bars, I haven't decided.

Ken
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Old 11-12-10, 11:09 AM
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Thanks all. I'm sure the "death grip" is part of it. I live in a very hilly area with rough roads ,so I'm certain that I'm holding on a little tight. The LBS has been great and they did take a lot of time to get me set up and fit on the bike so I'm coonfident that the biggest issue is me. I'm going to look into some handlebar options froth future, but until them, I'll try to relax and see how that does. Thanks for the advice.
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Old 11-12-10, 12:24 PM
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Al Criner
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Ergon grips are outrageously comfortable on flat bars. This is a simple and relatively inexpensive upgrade on any flat-bar bike. They are not a substitute for good technique and proper setup, but I think they are a smart choice for a lot of people.
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Old 11-12-10, 05:06 PM
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I kinda thought the Trek FX bikes come with Ergon style grips, if not swapping out for some Ergon grips is a good suggestion

Pretty comprehensive reply from Ken Hutch as usual though he sort of down played the option I would suggest you try first, adding bar ends. That will give you one or two extra positions, which just might be enough.

In addition to what's been said so far, I'd suggest wearing padded cycling gloves, I think gloves with gel padding offer the best shock absorption.

Don't try to ride too far at first. Start with shorter rides and work up to longer rides. You might have taken on a few too many miles before your body was used to the bike.

Raising your handlebars (and/or shortening the reach) will take weight off your hands. I'm repeating what has already been said, but I wanted to agree with that as a possible solution. I'd probably try the gloves and barends first, though. Good luck!
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Old 11-12-10, 06:55 PM
  #8  
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Another vote for Ergon grips. I've used both the GC2s and the GC3s; both are great grips. If your FX already has ergonomic grips, as another poster alluded to, then I would suggest some bar ends to give you more hand positions. Someone else suggested trekking bars... they do give lots of hand positions and are very versatile. I was going to install some on my latest bike, but it was so comfortable out of the box I went with the GC3s instead and they have been great.
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Old 11-13-10, 10:47 AM
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themaze76
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My 7.5fx does have Ergon-type grips. I was poking around the forums looking into the bar-ends option and someone mentioned that the current bars were not compatible with bar ends, so I popped the caps on the bars last night and sure enough, the bars are not round inside. So it looks like a handlebar swap might be in my future.
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Old 11-13-10, 11:04 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by themaze76 View Post
My 7.5fx does have Ergon-type grips. I was poking around the forums looking into the bar-ends option and someone mentioned that the current bars were not compatible with bar ends, so I popped the caps on the bars last night and sure enough, the bars are not round inside. So it looks like a handlebar swap might be in my future.
My 7.3 came with Ergon type grips as well, but they're not the same as Ergon grips since my OE Trek grips kept twisting on the handlebar, whereas the Ergons have a end clamp to keep them from doing that. The Ergons that I purchased also has a larger palm pad to distribute my hand pressure over a greater surface area, reducing my hand numbness to the point that I barely notice it any more.
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Old 11-13-10, 12:12 PM
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Ergon has combination grip/barends also ..
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Old 11-13-10, 12:30 PM
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After trying several grips and even gel gloves, we finally did a handelbar switch to "Trekking or Butterfly Bars" on our bikes we use for road riding.



It's been a real nice change, since there's 3 to 4 different hand positions, to that I added "GEL handelbar tape" and my hands don't hurt anywhere near as much, jmho, ymmv.
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Old 11-13-10, 12:56 PM
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I've toyed with the idea installing either a drop, treking, or cyclocross bar setup, but since I deal with high density cantankerous urban traffic, a simple flat bar setup with brakes close at hand fits my needs.

If my commute had a lower traffic volume with a limited number of cross traffic conflicts, I would have gone with one of the other setups for hand numbness.
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Old 11-14-10, 10:51 AM
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Ergon GC3. Done.
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Old 11-14-10, 11:11 AM
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I definitely like the Ergon grips, but in order to do them I need to do a handlebar swap as well. I'm not sure why Trek decided to go with bars that won't except bar ends or mirrors or replacement grips, but I love everything else about the bike so far. BTW, I went for a pretty long ride yesterday and concentrated on not squeezing too hard, it helped a lot.
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Old 11-14-10, 07:27 PM
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i recently replaced my flat bar/ bar end setup with trekking bars and a 3 1/2 " stem riser. i have foam grips on the bars PLUS over the foam i have gel tape. i also wear gel padded gloves. The combination of getting the bars up higher plus all the extra hand positions offered by the trekking bars (about 5 different positions) definitely made a huge difference for me.

i did 38 miles on saturday and could have kept on going no problem... no way i could ever do that with just straight bars... my longest ride so far has been 52 miles with flats/ and bar ends and my arms/hands/ shoulders were killing me after that one. Cant wait to try a really long ride with the trekking setup. Im still pretty new at all this, I've only been seriously riding for about 5 months.

andy

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Old 11-15-10, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by themaze76 View Post
I definitely like the Ergon grips, but in order to do them I need to do a handlebar swap as well. I'm not sure why Trek decided to go with bars that won't except bar ends or mirrors or replacement grips, but I love everything else about the bike so far. BTW, I went for a pretty long ride yesterday and concentrated on not squeezing too hard, it helped a lot.
I recall another Bikeforums hybrid rider having a problem with this. I think it's a bad idea. If they insist on doing this, Trek should also make barends that fit, but they probably do not.

I'm glad the wrist pain seems to be going away. Maybe you do not need a lot of adjustments to get past this. Don't believe those who say you can't ride long distances with flat bars. Many have ridden tours of more than a thousand miles with flat bars. I've never seen a long distance tourer roll though here with trekking bars, but I'm sure it happens.

The only other idea I have is to make sure your handlebars are rotated to the ideal position. If you cannot rotate the grips, this becomes more important. I assume the bars are designed to be used with the grips aligned horizontally. This should put the grip pads at the right angle for the average user. If you ride with your handlebars significantly higher or lower relative to your saddle than what the bike's designers had in mind, you should rotate the bar/grips accordingly such that your hands are supported by the wide part of the grips.
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Old 11-23-10, 03:14 AM
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I agree with most of the above - especially those who have mentioned padded gloves. I once had a really bad accident whilst mountain biking, and though I was wearing gloves, screwed my hands up pretty badly. it put me out of training for weeks, simply because it was too painful to hold on to the handlebars! Seriously, never underestimate the importance of hands!

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Old 11-26-10, 08:56 AM
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Also, often if your saddle is tilted forward, you tend to slide forward and your hands support your weight causing pins and needles of the hands.
It may be as simple as adjusting your saddle angle and seat post height so you are balanced and resting on your saddle bones.
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Old 11-26-10, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by themaze76 View Post
My 7.5fx does have Ergon-type grips. I was poking around the forums looking into the bar-ends option and someone mentioned that the current bars were not compatible with bar ends, so I popped the caps on the bars last night and sure enough, the bars are not round inside. So it looks like a handlebar swap might be in my future.
I just put Ergon GC3's on my Specialized Sirrus a couple weeks ago. Nothing clamps to the inside of the bar, only the outside. They do have these support plugs that go on the inside, but they are optional and only needed if your bar isn't strong enough to handle it when you torque down the clamps (e.g. carbon).
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Old 11-26-10, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by bjjoondo View Post
After trying several grips and even gel gloves, we finally did a handelbar switch to "Trekking or Butterfly Bars" on our bikes we use for road riding.



It's been a real nice change, since there's 3 to 4 different hand positions, to that I added "GEL handelbar tape" and my hands don't hurt anywhere near as much, jmho, ymmv.
I did the same recently. They're the same width as the flat bars I had, so no difference in heavy traffic. They are perhaps better than flats in traffic, since depending on the angle you set them at, you're a bit higher up and more visible to traffic when riding with your hands by the brakes. I love mine!
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