New mountain bike - question


Old 07-13-04, 04:03 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Indianapolis
Posts: 82
New mountain bike - question

Hi All,

I just bought the first bike I've had since I was about 12 years old. I went to a local bike shop that was recommended by a friend. I ended up with a Giant Boulder SE, which is an 'entry level' mountain bike with front suspension. I really like it - it's great exercise. I've had it for a month and ridden about 80 miles, mostly on paved bike trails. I'm happy to say that I've lost weight, and my blood pressure has dropped 30 points!!!!

The only problem I'm having is with my wrists. The position I'm in when riding it puts alot of pressure on them. My wrists are pretty 'loose' in that when I make a fist and rotate them they crack and pop like firecrackers on the 4th of July. I've been wearing my padded weight lifting gloves and that helps but it isn't a completely effective solution.

At the bike shop, they had me test ride several bikes both on a trail behind the shop and in the parking lot where the sales tech adjusted the seat height. I'm wondering if the steering bar needs to be raised to alleviate some of the down force, or if that is the normal riding position for mountain bikes.... also, I think maybe I should start taking glucosamine (sp?) for the wrist joint problems.

On a mountain bike do your wrists typically take alot of your upper body weight? I guess maybe it could be that the steering bar needs to be raised, or the seat lowered. any thoughts?

Thanks for your opinions,
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Old 07-13-04, 10:00 PM
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Congrats on getting a new bike and better health! I ended up dropping 4" off of my waist through the bike.

I would say moderate amount of pressure would be on the wrist when you ride. Make sure that you don't lock your elbows and that your wrists are staight when you are on the bike. By doing that, you place less pressure on the wrist. If you cannot get to the brakes by doing that, unloosen them and twist them down.

I'm not sure if you have a riser bar or a straight for the handlebar. If you have a straight and you are proper position, look at getting a riser. (my guess is you have a riser bar) This will put you in a more upright position and put more pressure on your butt than your wrists.

I wouldn't mess with the seat height if I were you. If you lower your seat from proper height, you're going to end up putting more stress on your knees and could damage them.

Hope that helps.
Old 07-20-04, 11:35 AM
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KJR has it right, your weight is too far forward. A riser bar is one way of putting you in a more upright position. However, I would look into getting a shorter and/or higher rise stem. These are generally cheaper than a new handlebar and easier to swap out (removing/mounting handlebar grips is the single most unfun task in bicycle maintenance).

Go back to the bike shop with your bike and try a couple of different stems out to see what works for you.

I would still expect *some* wrist pain for a while, however, until your body gets used to it - just like "bike butt".
Old 07-20-04, 05:39 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Indianapolis
Posts: 82
Thanks for the replies, guys... I wish I knew what your terms meant!

A riser bar? a rise stem? Umm... My bike has the bar that comes up from the front forks, another single bar that goes forward from there for a few inches and at a slight up-angle, then the handlebars attach to that, and they bow upwards a bit, then out to the sides. Is any of that helpful?? It is a Giant Boulder SE, if that would help provide information as to the base equipement.

I noticed that my arms usually lock at the elbows when I'm riding. I tried to take a different grip when I was on my ride tonight, lowering my wrist joint a bit, and it alleviated some of the pressure but wasn't as comfortable. It took a conscience effort to keep them that way, and unless I was thinking about it I went back to my old stance.

I'll be taking it in for the freebie tune up soon. I'll be sure to ask about all the items you've mentioned here. Thanks for your opinions!

Old 07-21-04, 09:28 AM
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We're talking about the handlebar - which if it looks kind of like a toned-down version of the monkey bars you had as a kid, is a riser bar (sounds like that's what you've got) and the stem, which is the bar connecting the handlebar to the steer tube of the fork.

Your arms should NOT lock at the elbows when riding - you'll suffer a lot of pain riding that way. Your arms should be slightly bent, so that they can act like a shock absorber when you hit bumps.

Until you get a chance to go in to the shop, try one simple adjustment. The stem will have one or two hex head bolts that clamp the handlebar; loosen these and rotate the handlebar back a couple of degrees. Re-tighten these bolts (not TOO tight - snug will do).

Try riding like this and see if it feels better. You'll notice that the brake levers and shifters might feel a bit uncomfortable to use, as they will also need to be rotated down to compensate for the handlebar being rotated backwards.

Getting something that feels right is a very personal thing and may require quite a bit of experimentation and part-swapping. However, it's all quite cheap and will be worth it in terms of your long-term enjoyment of the bike.
Old 07-23-04, 01:08 PM
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 667
Congrats on your new healthy outlook!

Hi, ScottAA1-
Congrats on the weight loss!

Bike fit is SO important. If you're going in for the tune-up soon, you can ask- and the LBS (local bike shop) should be MORE than happy to answer- all your questions about weight distribution between your hands and seat.

May I suggest: in addition to the regular tune-up, tell them exactly what you're experiencing, and ask them how you can resolve the problem. Whether it's raising the handlebars or changing a stem, they should be able to help.

You might also consider bar ends. These are add-on extensions to the handlebars that give you an alternate way to rest your hands on the bars.

Good luck with it! Let us know how it turns out!
Old 06-16-05, 11:10 PM
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here's a good article for you
It's in I've been riding for almost half a century and at times I have wrist pain. The trick is to not grap too tight. Keep the wrist in neutral i.e. neither flexed or extended, Absorb the weight on the thenar surface of the hand (that fat at the base of the thumb) and across the bottom of the palm. Change positions while riding. I have least problem when I seem to be pushing the bar away from me slightly. All the other posts so far have been encouraging in that the bike has to fit you and once it does you can ride in your sleep it is so much second nature. The bar ends that give you more positions can also compress the nerves that pass thru the carpal tunnel if you jam your palms down on them at the center of the base of the hand. Oh I'm also a registered nurse in an orthopedic clinic. Good Luck and wear a helmet.
Tony 4 euclid

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