Sore neck, upper shoulders and hands - Stem length/rise?
I am not new to MTB'ing, but have picked up my intensity level over the past 2 years - including more races. I ride in the Southeast and while my local track doesn't have much elevation changes, I do travel a decent bit to other locations that have climbs/descents.
To my problem - as I've upped the intensity and riding time, I've noticed that I have upper shoulder and neck pain and my hands hurt / go numb - on every ride. After a while it feels like I have to focus on lifting my head up. For stats: I'm a little over 6'2" with long legs/arms and short torso. I am riding a Trek HiFi Pro size XL. The stem is a 105mm 7 degree and the bars are Bontragers Big Sweep. I have purchased but not installed yet a low rise Easton XC70 carbon bar (less sweep and not as wide) and an Easton Haven 85mm 0 degree stem. I have a feeling that this stem may be a little low - I think I need a 10 degree rise, but not sure if I need a 80mm or 90mm length. Any suggestions on length to try or any other adjustment? Thanks in advance!
I have been rding 22 years and my neck still gets sore, its just not a natural position to be in for hours. I do get more used to it as the summer progrsses but it still bothers me from time to time. I get back and neck massages all summer to help with it and it works.
For the hands I use the ergo grips, no more sleepy hands, works like a charm. I use them on my road MTB for long road rides I do for charity and 3 hour rides on the road no sleepy hands. I am 6' with short legs and a long torso and I use a 10 degree rise and 90 mm stem with riser bars.What works for me might not work for you, its a tough call and very costly to try different setups as the parts are not cheap. Good luck, advil helps before a ride as well
It seems to me that stem selection is a black art. I am 5' 10" or 5' 11" and have a Trek 17.5" frame with the stock handlebars shortened 1" on each end, and stock 90mm 6-degree stem. I felt too stretched out. My hands were getting numb and I felt the need to push back and often rested my hands on the bars just below my fingers, not on the palms.
They say just to experiment, so I lowered my handlebars. That made it worse. So the LBS lent me an 80mm 17-degree stem. It felt too high, so I moved it down 10 mm and voila! I can ride longer and am about .5 mph faster on average. I just feel more confident on the rough stuff and especially the corners.
My son's bike has identical geometry and handlebar/stem. He is about 2" shorter, but felt he needed a longer stem. He tried lowering the handlebars, and it helped. The LBS lent him a 100 and 110mm stem, 6-degrees. He went with the 110. Don't figure.
Anyway, play with the handlebar height. In our limited experience, if raising it helps, go with a shorter stem. If lowering helps, go with a longer stem. BUT, if you have a relationship with a LBS, just ask if you can borrow some stems. He probably has a box full of them. You might end up paying a little more for the stem than getting it off eBAY, but the service is worth a lot.
Another option is to get a cheap adjustable stem purely as a testing tool. The angle is adjustable, but the length is not. However, you can simulate shorter stem by increasing the angle and lowering handlebars. So get a $5 set of carbon-fiber spacers off eBay that allow 5mm adjustment. When you find a setup that works, you can do some high-school trig to figure out a length and angle that will be equivalent for a standard stem. And keep the spacers, they are a little lighter than aluminum.
And if money is no option!:
Purely Custom Online Store - Bicycle Sizing Stem - Custom Bicycle Accessories and Fitting Tools
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