The Chainlink

Has anyone tried using a recumbent bike to help alleviate back pain experienced both during and after a bike ride?  Would love to hear pros and cons from anyone who has tried both.  

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Echo, have you tried Comrade?

Any shop can order trekking bars for you.

Echo,

I think your best bet for putting your hands on a pair would be REI - one of the Novara-branded touring-ish bikes (I forget the name) has come with them for ages, and as best I know still does.

They've never been very popular here, but apparently they've long been the popular setup for touring-ish bikes in Europe.

As I thought experiment, you could imagine a pair of old Scott AT-2 bars mounted with the hooks facing in and wrapping in to give another horizontal handhold. Or, hell, you could just try to pick up a pair of those in a parts bin to try :)


David

echo said:

YES! I've been looking for them--they sound like exactly what I need.

Do you know where can I find them? I'd love to try some in person!

David P. said:

Echo,

You might could give butterfly/trekking bars a try - three or four hand positions, you can swap all your controls over and at most you might also need a longer stem.

echo said:

I agree with what everyone else has said -- make sure that you are properly fit to your bike. I am curious, though, where are you experiencing pain? That could also be helpful in determining what is wrong (although, sometimes it's not that straightforward). 

Also, how long have you had the bike? How many different set ups have you tried? There are SO MANY things you can try first. Your back pain could be caused by any combination of poor fit or needing a different product size/shape: saddle, stem height, handlebar shape, handlebar width, pedals, etc.

Last year, I had upper back and shoulder pain. I never felt comfortable with a road set up. I felt like I was reaching too far and that my handlebars were too wide this made me...I dunno how to explain, but I was kind of popping out my shoulder. Too much pressure on my back. I rode like that all summer long and ended up having to go physical therapy for it! Yikes! 

So, this year, I had my road bike converted to a hybrid--flat bars and grip shifters. It's been pretty good so far, but I still get the pain sometimes (just to a smaller degree). I'm about to change from grip shifters to something like my mountain bike has. There will be paddles for shifting again, and the grips are going to have a little pad to rest my palm on. Still flat bars. 

I don't think I'll ever quite get it right on my road (hybrid?) bike. Because of the frame size and/or shape all of the handlebars that can fit are just too wide and short.  But...I miss having multiple hand positions. So, I'm saving up now to get something like a Salsa touring bike.

I got mine fitted at Iron Cycles at Albany Park a few years ago. They were very thorough and explained everything well. (Turns out I have long femurs!) I can't remember the cost but with some new parts I think it was around $150 or so. And then they keep your measurements on file if you want to have other bikes fitted.

Mustache bars offer another similar option with multiple hand positions.  I made that switch on my road bike, along with a slightly longer stem to accommodate an upright riding position.  The only downside is increased wind resistance.

David P. said:

I think your best bet for putting your hands on a pair would be REI - one of the Novara-branded touring-ish bikes (I forget the name) has come with them for ages, and as best I know still does.

They've never been very popular here, but apparently they've long been the popular setup for touring-ish bikes in Europe.

If the attraction to those butterfly bars is that big horizontal chunk in back, then you have other problems to take care of. If, as you suggest in another post, your bike is too big, go get fit, then find a correctly sized bike.  You might be able to make things work with a shorter stem, but bars and stems can only go so far to solve the problems caused by a frame that's too large.

To give people an idea of how well your bike fits you now, how long are the seat tube and top tube, how tall are you, and what's your inseam length?

echo said:

Never heard of them before, thanks!

started looking, but looks like I'd have to reach even further than with regular road bars?

Skip Montanaro 12mi said:

Ugh. Good riddance, I say. Maybe mustache handlebars would be a suitable alternative, and should be readily available. Google for that term. Lots of choices.

There is a difference between acute and chronic back pain.  When you have acute pain, when its new, hot and searing its best to simply stay off the bike for a little while.  Bending is generally bad for acute back pain.  About a dozen years ago I had a bout of this.  I rode my road bike to physical therapy and the therapist who seemed to get me ripped me a new backside. "David, biking is a flexion activity. You are  just hurting yourself" She ducktaped me so I could not bend very far and then left me to ride home after therapy.  I took a month or so off the bike and got therapy.  I got better.  When I felt better and she was on vacation I went to a spin class. That led to another lecture. 

Once this passes you want to get back on the bike. Depending on what you are left with you look at the posts above for your more permanent solution. Doing extension exercises (cobra pose) while off the bike can help.  I ride a fitness bike more often than my road bike as my solution. I am more upright but not completely so.  For  people with serious structural problems a recumbent can be a good idea. Its a matter of taste. I have never cared for them.  However, if I found that I could not comfortably ride regardless of the fit, handlebar etc, I would give it a try. I have a friend who sells them who keeps trying to get me on one.  I am still holding off. 

Getting fitted correctly really makes a difference. I had cervical disc issues and one of the contributing factors (along with commuting with a heavy messenger bag) was the fit of the bike. I currently ride a larger single speed (56 cm) with wider handle bars and had them raised 4" and bought panniers and it made a huge difference. As for the culprit of my cervical issues, I had it refitted and it's still too small for my body (I'm 5'9 and the bike is 48 cm). 

Not sure where your pain is coming from, but my wife experienced a lot of back pain because her top tube was too long.  She bought a Terry, which is designed with this very issue in mind.  It looks a little odd, with the back tire and front tire being different sizes, but she has had lots less back pain since getting that bike.

Thank you!



Dawn G. said:

Getting fitted correctly really makes a difference. I had cervical disc issues and one of the contributing factors (along with commuting with a heavy messenger bag) was the fit of the bike. I currently ride a larger single speed (56 cm) with wider handle bars and had them raised 4" and bought panniers and it made a huge difference. As for the culprit of my cervical issues, I had it refitted and it's still too small for my body (I'm 5'9 and the bike is 48 cm). 

Thanks, Dawn!


Thanks so much for all the helpful information and ideas!


David P. said:

Echo,

You might could give butterfly/trekking bars a try - three or four hand positions, you can swap all your controls over and at most you might also need a longer stem.

echo said:

I agree with what everyone else has said -- make sure that you are properly fit to your bike. I am curious, though, where are you experiencing pain? That could also be helpful in determining what is wrong (although, sometimes it's not that straightforward). 

Also, how long have you had the bike? How many different set ups have you tried? There are SO MANY things you can try first. Your back pain could be caused by any combination of poor fit or needing a different product size/shape: saddle, stem height, handlebar shape, handlebar width, pedals, etc.

Last year, I had upper back and shoulder pain. I never felt comfortable with a road set up. I felt like I was reaching too far and that my handlebars were too wide this made me...I dunno how to explain, but I was kind of popping out my shoulder. Too much pressure on my back. I rode like that all summer long and ended up having to go physical therapy for it! Yikes! 

So, this year, I had my road bike converted to a hybrid--flat bars and grip shifters. It's been pretty good so far, but I still get the pain sometimes (just to a smaller degree). I'm about to change from grip shifters to something like my mountain bike has. There will be paddles for shifting again, and the grips are going to have a little pad to rest my palm on. Still flat bars. 

I don't think I'll ever quite get it right on my road (hybrid?) bike. Because of the frame size and/or shape all of the handlebars that can fit are just too wide and short.  But...I miss having multiple hand positions. So, I'm saving up now to get something like a Salsa touring bike.

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