Shoulder Pain - Need Longer/Shorter Stem?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Shoulder Pain - Need Longer/Shorter Stem?

    I just got my new bike last week (SC SL) in medium. I'm a little over 5'10", so I was right between sizes. They swapped out the stem to a 120mm. Today I went on my first long ride (just on paved paths, as all the trails are either still wet or underwater here in Atlanta) and I started developing a slight shoulder pain. The pain is in the front portion of my shoulder.

    Based on the pain, and the attached picture, do you think the stem size is wrong? If so, which way should I adjust it, and do you have any specific recommendations? Also, looking at the pic it looks like I should raise my seat a little, no? Thanks in advance for your advice and input.
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  2. #2
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    Have you done much riding before? Maybe your muscles just need to get used to it. Is there any bend in your arm in the photo? I can't tell. You should have some bend in your arm which will allow you to absorb bumps/vibrations from the road. If there isn't enough bend you should get a shorter stem. Your seat height looks fine.

    Nice bike by the way.
    '08 Specialized Rockhopper 29er (modified)

  3. #3
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    No, my arms are pretty much straight. Do you think I should go down to 110mm? The stock stem was 100mm and it felt a little cramped, but that was with very limited riding around the parking lot. It's crazy how much of a difference less than an inch can make!

  4. #4
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    your elbows should have a slight bend in them, not huge but they should not be locked. If they are locked then you are overstretched.

    Have somebody secure the bike at the handlebars and get on it. Sit on your bike like you normally do, and set the peddles perpendicular to the floor. Your leg on the down peddle(6 position) should have a slight bend at the knee. If your knee has a big bend, raise your saddle, if it has no bend lower your saddle.

    Next put the peddles parallel to the floor with your primary foot forward. if you are right handed you primary foot is right and vice versa. The front of your knee should fall directly on the axis of the peddle. The axis of the peddle is the spindle, the center of the peddle. If your forward knee if past the axis, move the saddle back but keep the same hight, if its behind the axis move the seat up.


    Now that you have the saddle properly adjusted, give the bike a test ride or two. If you still get the shoulder pain, then you are overextended and a shorter stem could help. I wouldn't buy a new one, instead id go to your LBS and ask if they have any extras for you to try, though remember that you should try and keep the stem angle the same.

  5. #5
    I Tried Them ALL... SuperModerator
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    Get a 100mm stem. The 120mm stem is causing your elbows to lock, putting all loads on your trapezius(shoulder blade muscle). The ideal position is a slight elbow bend, so you can transfer weight away from your neck and shoulders and allowing more shock absorption.
    "This is a male-dominated forum... there will be lots of Testosterone sword-shaming here" ~ Kenfucius

  6. #6
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    Thank you again to everyone. I'm going to try the adjustments BeaverTail suggested later today.

    Stupid question, but how do I know what my current stem angle is? In looking at stems online they seem to range from 0 - 25'.

  7. #7
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    Too small?

    That photo looks like your sitting on your kids bike, sitting there not only touching the ground flat footed but with your knees bent. I think you could adapt it with stems/spacers and seat position. I think the 100mm stem is a great start, I'd go one step further and get a 15+ degree rise 100mm stem and a few spacers under that stem. That's how I had to build every bike I've owned since my shoulder surgery; I have 2 bikes currently set up with 70mm, 25 degree rise stem, 2" riser bar with 80mm worth of spacers under the stem just to make the shoulder pain go away.

  8. #8
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    Adjust your saddle first. If you raise your saddle, your weight will be a little forward and your arms will bend a little. From the pictures, you are a little upright. IMO your weight should be distributed to saddle and handlebar. This is subjective or a personal preference. But as you become adjusted to your bike and you go faster, you want to go a bit lower and put a weight on the handlebars to prevent wash out on turns. Of course you want your weight at the back on downhills but that's another subject.

    Proper saddle height = put on cycling shorts (lycra, if none a brief underwear) stand with your back against a wall and bare feet 8-10 inches apart. Stick a 2 inch book on your crotch and ram it up to your seat bones until it stops. Mark wall where top of book stops. Measure from floor to mark and multiply by .883 Example - if you get 31.5 inches times .883 = 27.81 Measure from center of bottom bracket (spindle) to top of saddle to get 27.81 nches. This is how to get proper saddle height.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowrider
    That photo looks like your sitting on your kids bike, sitting there not only touching the ground flat footed but with your knees bent. I think you could adapt it with stems/spacers and seat position. I think the 100mm stem is a great start, I'd go one step further and get a 15+ degree rise 100mm stem and a few spacers under that stem. That's how I had to build every bike I've owned since my shoulder surgery; I have 2 bikes currently set up with 70mm, 25 degree rise stem, 2" riser bar with 80mm worth of spacers under the stem just to make the shoulder pain go away.
    Was my impression too and can go one size bigger but already bought bike.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowrider
    That photo looks like your sitting on your kids bike, sitting there not only touching the ground flat footed but with your knees bent. I think you could adapt it with stems/spacers and seat position. I think the 100mm stem is a great start, I'd go one step further and get a 15+ degree rise 100mm stem and a few spacers under that stem. That's how I had to build every bike I've owned since my shoulder surgery; I have 2 bikes currently set up with 70mm, 25 degree rise stem, 2" riser bar with 80mm worth of spacers under the stem just to make the shoulder pain go away.

    Thanks for the suggestion. Just for clarification though, my foot is on the pedal, not the ground (I know it's hard to tell from the picture because of the stained concrete floors).

  11. #11
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    Based on your photo, you stem angle looks to be between 5 to 7 degrees. However, your frame appears to be way too small for your body...unless you really like that annoying toe/front wheel overlap- what I call "automatic threshold braking."
    "This is a male-dominated forum... there will be lots of Testosterone sword-shaming here" ~ Kenfucius

  12. #12
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    Hmm...
    The first thing that struck me was how upright he is on the bike.
    If you were leaned a little farther forward, you would get some of that elbow bend and it would take the pressure off your shoulders.
    Maybe this issue is rider position and not mechanical.
    (does anyone else get that impression?)

  13. #13
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    Well I did Older Guy's and BeaverTail's adjustments and my previous saddle height was almost 2" too short. After adjusting that my arm now has a slight bend. I'm going to try this arrangement out for a while and see how it works. Next step will be 100mm stem, if necessary.

    The shock is 100mm, which I plan on converting to 120mm. I hear that also changes the geometry some.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by VUCommodores
    The shock is 100mm, which I plan on converting to 120mm. I hear that also changes the geometry some.
    I doubt you really need 120mm of front travel. If your front wheel rarely ever leaves the ground(ie; you don't huck jumps)- stick with the 100mm fork. Yes, the 120mm fork will change EVERYTHING...and frankly, you don't need the extra weight more than you need extra travel.
    "This is a male-dominated forum... there will be lots of Testosterone sword-shaming here" ~ Kenfucius

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by VUCommodores
    Well I did Older Guy's and BeaverTail's adjustments and my previous saddle height was almost 2" too short. After adjusting that my arm now has a slight bend. I'm going to try this arrangement out for a while and see how it works. Next step will be 100mm stem, if necessary.

    The shock is 100mm, which I plan on converting to 120mm. I hear that also changes the geometry some.
    You said LBS changed the stem to 120 mm. Keep it for now. Make sure the seatpost is not past the max limit and you'll be fine.

    If you haven't ridden a long time, give the new (correct ) position a little time for your body to adjust.

    I see you have the option (in the website) to go to 120 mm travel fork. Changing to 120 mm then should be fine although expensive.

  16. #16
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    That bike does look too small for you. I'm 5' 9.5" and I would have gone for the Large.

    You may not have the shoulder problem when you ride trails though. I have problems with my right shoulder and elbow and a long road or bike path ride will agitate it because of the long period of time riding in the same position. When I'm on mtb trails, I'm constantly changing positions and I don't have any problems. Surprisingly, even yanking my bike up over logs and hitting little jumps and drops doesn't bother my shoulder as much as riding on a bike path.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  17. #17
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    The seatpost has quite a way to go before maxing out, so I'm safe in that regard. There is no tire/shoe overlap so that's good too. I think trailville's theory might apply as well. I think the bike will be nice and flickable on the trails (when I'm finally able to ride that it).

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