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  1. #1
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    Hardtail causing lower back pain?

    So I sold my Full squish Trek because I hated it. In Florida.

    We recently moved to Arizona, where it's rocky and chunky. While I can clear all the trails on the hardtail, I notice after 12-15 miles of rocks, it's like I can feel every bump in my kidneys. Even when standing up. That's another thing, I have to stand up a LOT more than the other riders in my group on FS rides.

    There are a couple other hard tail riders, and I REALLY love my bike. So, would these symptoms be eliminated (or lessened) with a rear suspension?

    The other kicker, money is tight right now since we moved and I had to give up my job. We moved for wife's work, but it's an internship. I am NOT willing to use credit for any bike purchases...

    So, this means I would have to sell both of my bikes (my beloved SS rigid Monkey and my Kona Cinder Cone) just to pay for a used rig off craigslist or something.

    I am not even sure I want to give up one bike for an FS rig, let alone both. But I really am limited to riding maybe 1-2 days a week here due to recovery, when I was used to riding 4-5 days a week in Florida.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Hmmm,....OK, I'll give it a shot
    Try to lower your psi. even a little can help but obviously you don't want it so low you get pinch flats. Maybe a wider taller tire for more squish?
    Core strengthening couldn't hurt also, and there's an exercise where you pull in your stomach towards your back as far as possible and hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat. That builds the inner muscle that are closer to and hold your organs in place more.
    Try to keep more weight on the pedals, even when your sittng, with your knees bent a bit so that your knees absorb more impact. Your ankle/foot can/should also have a little wiggle room for impact so adjust your saddle to help with that. Maybe move your saddle forward to get your weight more over your feet and less on saddle.
    Round and round we go

  3. #3
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    Maybe just a little outta shape and not enough riding. As you ride more you will gain strength.

    Off topic a little, but years ago when I moved from the south to AZ. I wasnt drinking enough water. Remember to drink before you get thirsty. I had problems with dehydration when moving from a humid climate to dry desert. If you dont start drinking till your sweating in the desert. Your probably already dehydrating.

    Oh yeah. I also rode a HT for 7 years in the desert SW. Talk and ride with the locals alot. They can help you transition. Enjoy the adventure.

  4. #4
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    Do your new trails have a lot more vert? A lot of back pain on mountain bikes is caused by getting out of the saddle to climb too much. Try to use a little lower gear, and spin up some climbs if you can.

    Stretching afterwards is useful to me. The quadriceps attaches a bunch of different places - it's a mess, and maybe it's not brilliant to think of it as one muscle. If it gets tight, it can mess with my back, so I do a lunge to stretch it now, instead of doing the pull-my-foot-up stretch. I think it helps. And, changing up your stretching routine from time to time can be good.

    One of my teammates switches from a hardtail to a FS to try to fix some back pain. It didn't help him, he broke the bike a couple times, and he switched back to a hardtail recently. He's pretty happy about the new frame.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
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    These trails definitely are more challenging than the ones I was used to in Florida, but I am by no means out of shape. I rode a 68 mile MTB endurance race in FL in April with no issues at all. As for the water, trust me, I drink water like a danged fish here!

    Tires are tubeless so I will drop 'em down a bit. They are already 2.3s so pretty fat and tall. Been running 30 psi, maybe 27 psi will do it?

    I usually climb in the saddle quite a bit, but some climbs have lots of rocks, so you have to get out of the saddle. I do notice that some of the FS riders ride the obstacle seated, but that just doesn't work for me.

    Been riding now for two years and never had this issue, and it's happend for about half my rides here so far. I will work on the core muscles, drop the psi a bit, and try to put more weight on my pedals (but I already do this too).

    Thank you for the advice so far (there's some good stuff). I will certainly tinker with the current bike set up and my core muscles, and maybe some technique before thinking about another bike again.

    All in all, this is a great relief as I love both my bikes to an almost unhealthy degree! lol

  6. #6
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    lower back

    what about using a thudbuster to absorb the hack

  7. #7
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    + thudbuster...I had one when they first came out and was like night & day. However the real deal is to get a f/s bike, ht's are obsolete

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatcat View Post
    However the real deal is to get a f/s bike, ht's are obsolete
    Most definitely not.... Hardtails are suited to one type of rider, FS to another.

    OP, your tires can go a lot lower than even 27 PSI, especially if they're tubeless. Keep dropping a pound or two of pressure each ride until you find the sweet spot or burp a tire or something like that.
    I've made some bad decisions like taking the gears off my bike. So here's the warning: Do not as I say, nor as I do.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by erik1245 View Post
    Most definitely not.... Hardtails are suited to one type of rider, FS to another.

    OP, your tires can go a lot lower than even 27 PSI, especially if they're tubeless. Keep dropping a pound or two of pressure each ride until you find the sweet spot or burp a tire or something like that.
    ever take a ride on a hardtail harley---talk about pain

  10. #10
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    For the OP, try lowering your saddle a little bit. I moved from a flat area to a rocky one (not desert though), found that my seat was too high for the constant up/down/back/forth and I was bending over too much. Simple djustment, free and it worked wonders.



    Quote Originally Posted by fatcat View Post
    ever take a ride on a hardtail harley---talk about pain
    Average hardtail mtb doesn't weigh 500lbs or have a tractor engine in it.

  11. #11
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    Are you correctly fitted on the bike? I have been riding FS bikes for the last 10 years and have always had some level of back pain. I recently moved back to a HT and my back pain is gone. I attribute it to having the correct "fit" on the bike. The fit geometry can play a big part in comfort. If you haven't already, I'd find someone in your area that can do a proper fitting and go see them. A good fitting will cost around $100 but well worth it in the long run.

    Just my $.02.

  12. #12
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    I have a thudbuster and it does take the edge off but it also has some rebound since it has no dampening.
    Round and round we go

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by pointerDixie214 View Post
    These trails definitely are more challenging than the ones I was used to in Florida, but I am by no means out of shape. I rode a 68 mile MTB endurance race in FL in April with no issues at all.
    But how's your core muscles?

    Roadies often point out that you need good abs and back muscles to ride, but cycling does little to develop them. I find that riding singlespeed hardtails and rigids, on partly pretty rough trails also gives me a back workout. Workouts at home may be a safer way to build up the core.

    The less suspension the bike has, the more you need to stand. That is a given.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by pointerDixie214 View Post
    So I sold my Full squish Trek because I hated it. In Florida.

    We recently moved to Arizona, where it's rocky and chunky. While I can clear all the trails on the hardtail, I notice after 12-15 miles of rocks, it's like I can feel every bump in my kidneys. Even when standing up. That's another thing, I have to stand up a LOT more than the other riders in my group on FS rides.

    There are a couple other hard tail riders, and I REALLY love my bike. So, would these symptoms be eliminated (or lessened) with a rear suspension?

    The other kicker, money is tight right now since we moved and I had to give up my job. We moved for wife's work, but it's an internship. I am NOT willing to use credit for any bike purchases...

    So, this means I would have to sell both of my bikes (my beloved SS rigid Monkey and my Kona Cinder Cone) just to pay for a used rig off craigslist or something.

    I am not even sure I want to give up one bike for an FS rig, let alone both. But I really am limited to riding maybe 1-2 days a week here due to recovery, when I was used to riding 4-5 days a week in Florida.

    Thoughts?
    Plenty of good suggestions here.

    I have some bad discs in my lower back. Core strength and stretching helps. Getting out of the saddle sometimes to break up long climbs helps. Proper fit helps. Lower tire pressure helps. .

    All that said, I just can't handle too much riding on a HT if it is rough. I do enjoy it a lot, but I've pretty much converted the HT to a dirt-road adventure bike. For trails, FS is just a LOT easier on my back.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatcat View Post
    + thudbuster...I had one when they first came out and was like night & day. However the real deal is to get a f/s bike, ht's are obsolete
    Hardtails are obsolete? Are you kidding me

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    But how's your core muscles?

    Roadies often point out that you need good abs and back muscles to ride, but cycling does little to develop them. I find that riding singlespeed hardtails and rigids, on partly pretty rough trails also gives me a back workout. Workouts at home may be a safer way to build up the core.

    The less suspension the bike has, the more you need to stand. That is a given.
    I've been riding my 26" rigid for the past two weeks. It has 1.9" tires (35psi rear, 30psi front) with tubes, generic Nashbar style frame, steel fork, cantilever brakes, geared 36x20. My trails are SUPER rocky and bumpy and I hit them about 5 days a week.

    At first I noticed some lower back pain, mostly because you really have to heave-ho to get that thing to move up a hill. I would get arm, shoulder and chest pump.

    I've found when I ride a geared bike consecutively and sitting and spinning (even my geared bike is rigid), my upper body strength suffers - or what my wife says "Your arms are getting skinny". Not so much on my rigid SS.

    Yesterday was proof in the pudding when I went to hit some weights. Usually I find a noticeable downgrade in upper body strength when I've been riding for awhile and not lifting weights - not yesterday's workout.

    My upper body strength was spot-on and noticed I didn't gas out from lifting. Putting 2 and 2 together, I realized it was my rigid SS contributing to this retained upper body strength, including my lower back.

    Moral of the story - you may be fit endurance-wise, but the FS left out some muscle work in some areas. Stick with the hardtail (or HTFU and go rigid!) and you will notice a true gain in strength in those lacking areas. Just don't kill yourself doing it.

    The narcissistic part of me likes the bodybuilder gains from riding rigid SS

  17. #17
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    Dion has a point but if that's your problem/goal you could just stay in a higher gear and concentrate more on strength less on endurance. So even if you wanna stay with a group, just change your cadence. You don't have to change gears. You also stimulate your body to make ALL your muscles grow more, and get stronger by pushing harder not longer so...
    There's no mtbing substitute for upper body or core exercise training. Does mtbing help, sure, is it as effective, no way.
    Last edited by theMeat; 07-14-2011 at 09:54 AM.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSumner13 View Post
    Hardtails are obsolete? Are you kidding me
    He's just been reading Mountain Bike Advertiser.
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  19. #19
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    Some good advice in here. I am going to stick to dropping the psi a little and I am hitting the gym today.

    I should clarify, I don't think this is back pain. It's deeper than that. More like kidney or organ pain from the jostling.

    To the HTs are obsolete post- that made me laugh out loud.


    Dion- I do have a fully rigid single speed. Rode it twice here so far in the 6 weeks we've been here. So I did HTFU, lol.

  20. #20
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    Pushing a higher gear is something to be approached with a little caution.

    I think out of the saddle, it's fine. Although I'd still be inclined to take advantage of having a geared bike, since I'm on one - there are two sweet spots for me in climbing out of the saddle - a higher cadence for accelerating or rushing up a short, steep climb, and a lower one that I can sustain for a while. So I'll use my gearing to put me in the one I want.

    For most people, sitting in the saddle and mashing their pedals around at low cadence is a great way to develop an overtraining injury.

    I know some people swear by thudbusters. I'm pretty sensitive to saddle height, and like the stability of an ordinary, rigid seat post. The cheap ones, at least, also don't wear that well. If I was at my Mom's house more often, I'd probably throw out the one on the hybrid I borrow when I'm there and get it a $15 plain post. The one on it now has a lot of play.

    Something you could experiment with is doing some intervals climbing out of the saddle. Do 'em on something boring, and don't do a long enough work unit to really demolish your back. Fire road climbs are great if there are some on some of your rides. From a little clicking around, it looks like the intervals should be up to 3 minutes long, and can be shorter. A good way to do these in the context of a group ride, assuming you're climbing a fire road and won't piss everybody off, is to spin an easy gear and drift to the back of the group, catch your breathe if necessary, and then hammer to the front.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  21. #21
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    Intervals wouldn't work on this ride. It's pretty skinny single track with a HUGE (i.e. hospital or morgue visit) drop to the side. lol

    I will try it next time I am riding solo though.

  22. #22
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    Maybe you should try a kidney belt for support. I haven't used mine for MTBR but if I thought my kidneys were getting sore or if I had lower back pain I'd use it.
    Last edited by S_Trek; 07-14-2011 at 01:01 PM.
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  23. #23
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    i only read the title but imma just say it is most likely a weak back causing back pain. Core workouts FTW
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by pointerDixie214 View Post
    So, would these symptoms be eliminated (or lessened) with a rear suspension?
    My answer would be a "yes", and here's my personal experience on which I'm basing this:

    I only ride a full-suspension bike and on one particular (road) climb that's about five miles long, I decided to lock out my rear suspension once, with hopes of gaining a little efficiency because I was feeling a little tired. By the time I finished the climb, my back was killing me. And it didn't occur to me until the end of the climb that it could be because of the locked-out shock.

    This is a climb that I had completed on two other occasions without locking out my shock and without feeling any such symptoms at all. I also can't remember any other ride occasion anywhere else where I felt the same way during a ride. (I almost never lock out my shock.)

    Of course, this doesn't mean that my back couldn't get used to this after some persistence. It's also a tiny statistical sample size, being the single experience of a single rider. But, it could serve to show that it's at least possible that even the difference between an open rear shock and a locked-out rear shock could produce just the kind of symptoms you're talking about.
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  25. #25
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    I'm going to hijack this thread instead of starting my own:
    I don't have the budget for a FS bike right now, and am also having lower back pain. I do have some mild back problems, including a compressed vertebrae in the lower back. I'm wondering what kind of inexpensive solutions I should be looking at. I already upgraded to a better saddle which helped, but not for longer rides.

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