Discomfort on bike

Discussion in 'General Cycling' started by Deux, Oct 6, 2011.

  1. Deux

    Deux Guest

    I'm having some discomfort on my bike and I'm just wondering if people
    could diagnose what it might be.

    My neck usually hurts after a long ride. I find that it's uncomfortable
    to look straight on for a long period of time, I prefer to look somewhere
    on the ground and occasionally glance up rather than strain my neck. I
    think my neck pain is a result of the occasional looking forward I do.

    I seem to have pain in my upper arms after a ride which is the kind of
    pain felt after a weight lifting session. I think the pain in my arms is
    because my position requires me to prop myself up constantly so my upper
    body weight is on my arms. I swear the muscle tone in my upper arms is
    mainly from cycling.

    My lower and upper back usually arches although nothing serious.

    I also find it hard to have my seat position at the right height. I have
    it maybe 1-2 inches lower than the suggested position where my leg is
    almost fully extended. I feel like if it's the correct height the
    problems I have already are increased.

    The feeling I have is that my bike is too small. I have a large (56")
    which was suggested by the bike shop. Looking on a chart I've seen that
    for my height (6'0") I'm on a border between large and extra-large.
    Another chart which uses inside leg suggested extra-large.

    On the whole the discomfort isn't that bad, my bike is still enjoyable to
    ride but I'm wondering if I could get more out of it.

    Is my prognosis correct? Any other suggestions?
    Deux, Oct 6, 2011
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  2. Deux

    Clive George Guest

    Sounds awfully like your handlebars are too low for you. Some people
    like them low, some people don't.

    I'd try raising the bars, quite a lot, and this will also let you raise
    the saddle.

    How to raise the bars depends on what sort you have. What sort of bike,
    any idea what sort of headset/fork?

    A Delta stem raiser is easy, cheapish, heavy, and works if you've got an
    appropriate fork.


    You may need to change cables/cable outers too if you do this.

    Or of course a new bike, which is always a good answer :)
    Clive George, Oct 7, 2011
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  3. Deux

    Simon Mason Guest

    You haven't said how long you have been cycling. A lot of aches and
    pains are due to you asking your body to do things it is not used to.
    When I came back to cycling in 1996, I got all sorts of knee and back
    pains, but now even though I ride 3 different bikes with difffering
    dimensions, my body simply adapts and I am pain free as I am used to
    it all now.
    Simon Mason, Oct 7, 2011
  4. Deux

    Biggles Guest

    I assume you mean 56cm, which is 22" in old money. Trouble is these days
    a lot depends on the frame design - many manufacturers use "compact
    frame design" which means that simple references to seat tube length
    cannot be used to select a suitable frame size. But from what you say
    you would find a more upright riding position more comfortable and hence
    a larger frame *might* improve things. However be aware that a larger
    frame may (probably will) increase the reach from saddle to handlebars -
    i.e. the top tube may be longer - which may make things worse or at best
    not improve things.

    Choice of bike style is of course significant - city & hybrid bikes tend
    to have more upright riding positions than (e.g) road bikes. With some
    of the more retro designs the rider seems to be almost lying backwards!

    Depending on the type of bike you may be able to get a more upright
    riding position by changing the handlebar stem - steeper angle, shorter
    reach - or even changing the handlebars - and/or by sliding the saddle
    forward, or even changing the saddle.

    Biggles, Oct 7, 2011
  5. Deux

    Peter Fox Guest

    It appears your bars are too low. It's a common problem.

    Put the saddle at the right height. Riding a bike with the saddle at the wrong
    height is like catching a bus to somewhere you don't want to go.
    (a) At hip height when you're standing on the floor
    (b) So you just can't quite get both balls of feet on the ground at the same time.
    * Do not extend beyond the difficult to see limit mark.

    I'm guessing here but unless you have really short arms you probably want the
    saddle as far back on the rails as it will go.

    Now adjust the saddle tilt. This is a *very* delicate adjustment. The object
    of the exercise is for you to be able to sit upright(ish) with your hands
    hovering above the handlebars, forearms level. ie Without leaning on the bars.

    Now raise the bars so you can touch the tops conveniently and relaxed as if
    playing the piano with forearms level. Still without having to lean on them.
    At this point you may well find the stem is too short. Do NOT go beyond the limit.
    (a) Especially if the saddle won't really go back far enough - get a larger bike.
    (b) Get a stem extender but you may end up needing longer cables so all in all
    you'd be better off with a larger bike.
    [Hint: Look up 'prognosis' in the dictionary.]
    Peter Fox, Oct 7, 2011
  6. Deux

    Mike Causer Guest


    You haven't tried a recumbent bike yet.

    Mike Causer, Oct 7, 2011
  7. The solution to this is called a recumbent :)

    And the really bad part about that is that 'bents are expensive,
    addictive and come in so many shapes and sizes that you will spend the
    rest of your life looking for the perfect one.

    On the plus side, you will develop fly-stained teeth in the process.

    Just zis Guy, you know?, Oct 7, 2011
  8. Deux

    Deux Guest

    I've had my bike just over 4 years.

    Also, it's a road bike, if that makes helps.
    Deux, Oct 7, 2011
  9. Deux

    Peter Fox Guest

    Now raise the bars so you can touch the tops conveniently and relaxed as if
    Remove the bit about level forearms. I don't know where that came from and it's
    Peter Fox, Oct 7, 2011
  10. Deux

    Ian Jackson Guest

    I think your handlebars are too low for you. If you can raise them
    (see the other posters for information about that) you can have a more
    upright position so won't have to crane your neck to see forwards..
    And your weight will be more on the saddle and less on your arms.
    Typically a larger bike will involve a _less_ upgright position than a
    smaller one, for the same rider, so I doubt this is your problem.
    Do you normally ride "in the drops" ie with your hands holding the
    front bending-down bit of the drop handlbars ? One easy way to "raise
    the bars" without actually changing the bike is to ride with your
    hands "on the tops" - ie, holding the horizontal part along the top of
    the handlebars.

    I would try that and see if it helps. If you find it does you should
    probably arrange that you have another set of brake levers there:
    "cyclocross" levers can be retrofitted and work well.
    Ian Jackson, Oct 7, 2011
  11. Deux

    Rob Morley Guest

    Are you going to pedal the thing, push it or tiptoe around?
    Rob Morley, Oct 7, 2011
  12. Deux

    Peter Clinch Guest

    Wot Clive says, though elaborating on "Some people like them low, some
    people don't" I think it's fair to say there's considerable differences
    in tolerance between different overall riding positions, /and/ that can
    change over time too.

    I was a great fan of backside in the air for many years, doing short
    distances. As I started doing longer runs I sat up more and eventually
    found that I don't like crouch positions for anything over a few miles.
    Now I either sit up fairly straight, quite straight, or use a
    recumbent. The real gains of the 'bent for me are I can keep going
    until my legs give up, rather than because my arms and neck are saying

    For general use I find that the more upright I am the more comfortable I
    am. Assuming I'm not riding in to a strong wind, of course...

    Peter Clinch, Oct 7, 2011
  13. Deux

    Deux Guest

    I don't intend to. I'm sure there's benefits but I have a thing about
    people staring at me.
    Deux, Oct 7, 2011
  14. Deux

    Peter Clinch Guest

    Fairy Nuff. You do get started at.

    But the accompanying acres of space they give you overtaking while
    staring and thinking "WTF Is That?" (as opposed to squeezing by figuring
    mere bikes don't need /that/ much room) is nice.

    Peter Clinch, Oct 7, 2011
  15. Deux

    Simon Mason Guest

    Fair enough.
    Has the set up been the same for those four years and have your
    symptoms dogged you for the same time, or have they just appeared
    Simon Mason, Oct 7, 2011
  16. Deux

    mrc7--urcm Guest

    In message <>

    Likewise I've changed to using straight bars and a more upright position
    on most of my bikes now, Airnimal Rhino, Airnimal Joey, Trek
    Mountaintrack, Dawes Street, and find it much more comfortable on the
    arms, neck and back for longer days out.

    mrc7--urcm, Oct 7, 2011
  17. Deux

    Deux Guest

    I've adjusted the saddle about 1-2 inches higher and I could still raise
    it some more without my leg being fully locked. I'll try it a bit at a
    time to see how it feels.
    I don't have short arms but I'll have a play with the saddle adjustments.
    It will actually the first time an allan key has been used down there!
    I see you changed your mind but again I'll have a play with the tilt to
    see what difference it will make.
    I don't think the height of my handlebars can be adjusted without adding
    I'll try your other suggestions then I may have a look at this.
    Close enough. :)
    Deux, Oct 7, 2011
  18. Deux

    Deux Guest

    Sounds sensible. I just have this idea that I should have the aggressive
    riding position but my current bike doesn't allow to me to so I'm
    somewhere between the two positions. I'm probably wrong about that.
    No, I very rarely use them. I don't find it very comfortable to put my
    hands there.
    This is where I currently rest my hands.
    Deux, Oct 7, 2011
  19. Deux

    Ian Jackson Guest

    I think you're wrong when you think that you "should" have an
    aggressive position :). A deep crouch works for some people but my
    no means all and if it's giving you neck- arm- and backache it's not
    working for you.
    Then I'm afraid you'll need to find some way to get the handlebars
    higher. One way to see if this is the problem might be to rent or
    borrow a differently-shaped bike and take it for a longish ride ?
    Ian Jackson, Oct 7, 2011
  20. Deux

    thirty-six Guest

    Seemslike your bars are too low.
    Yes, you should be able to look forward continuously.
    That doesn't happen.
    Difficulty in setting seat height is usually due to using a crank
    length at your limit or too long. Personally, I prefer a shorter
    length than is typical and it may also be so for yourself. I'd
    suggest you use a crank length no more than 20% inside leg. Also the
    balls of your feet should preferably span the pedal axle, or be
    slightly forward, and the angle from pedal to knee and along your
    femur not be less than 90 degree at any position.
    I'm around 5'10 and a bit depending on the day, in old money a 56cm
    frame is generally too small for me. A modern compact frame though
    uses non-standard dimensions so it is difficult to guesstimate what is
    or isn't correct without actually seeing a rider upon the proposed
    Lift your handlebars. !st recommended position for a new rider was
    either dead level with the seat, 1" below, or a maxium 2" below
    measured at the top of the centre of the bars. An experienced racer
    could go as much as 4" below the top of the saddle. This is generally
    though too low for the casual rider or tourist. Racing men after thei
    late twenties have to stretch on a daily basis to get to the low
    positions a teenager wouldn't blink at. If you can't reach thet
    position, don't punish yourself, your not likely to get a professional
    racing contract so make yourself comfortable first. Start at the
    seat itself, any discomfort here will have you contorting your body
    and making things difficult to otherwise correct. Is it wide enough?
    thirty-six, Oct 7, 2011
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