Forearm Burn/Loss of Grip Strength, Are Economic Grips the Answer?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Forearm Burn/Loss of Grip Strength, Are Economic Grips the Answer?

    Occasionally, on rougher tracks, my forearms will start burning almost to the point of failure and my grip strength when braking becomes very weak making the downhills not very enjoyable. Yesterday, I did 3 laps of the Goodwater Trail at Lake Georgetown in Texas, one of the rougher trails I've ridden, nothing but rocks for 16-17 miles. Probably half way through the second lap, I was to the point of struggling greatly to control and brake on the downhills. I was miserable on the third lap and lost a lot of time having to baby the downhills to not lose control.

    I'm thinking two things could cause this: 1) I did not have my front fork set up appropriately, could have started with slower rebound and also less air pressuer/more SAG. I did slow my rebound eventually but the damage was done.

    2) Grips, I use ESI Chunky, fine for most of my rides but just don't seem to work on rides like yesterday. So my question, is it worth looking into some ergonomic grips like the Ergon GS1? I'm wondering if this will help with saving my forearms/wrists from the burning cramping sensation.

    Anybody else have this issue? Any thoughts? Thank you!

  2. #2
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    Grips arent the problem. Fork was part of the problem. Weak arms are the problem. Htfu

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  3. #3
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    Why don’t you think that this is chronic exertional compartment syndrome (arm pump)? That’s certainly what it sounds like it to me...

    https://www.cycleworld.com/2014/05/1...rm-pump-injury

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    Why don’t you think that this is chronic exertional compartment syndrome (arm pump)? That’s certainly what it sounds like it to me...

    https://www.cycleworld.com/2014/05/1...rm-pump-injury
    It is arm pump. Only cure is exercising those muscles more.

    Start with a wood dowel put a rope and tie a free weight to it. Roll the dowel. Build your forearms and wrists. Dont get arm pump.

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  5. #5
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    Well, the operative word in CECS is “exertional”. Generally, technique is a large component of arm pump...the OP is obviously gripping the bars too tight. He might also be able to decrease the problem a little with better ergonomics, but there’s an anatomic component to CECS that he may never be able to work around completely.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    Well, the operative word in CECS is “exertional”. Generally, technique is a huge component of arm pump. The OP is obviously gripping the bars too tight. He might be able to decrease the problem a little with better ergonomics, but there’s an anatomic component to CECS that he may never be able to work around completely.
    Hes not "obviously" gripping the bars too tight. Some trails you need to hold the bars tighter or lose control. Its a compound problem. His messed up fork settings started the arm pump. Then he was tired sooner and had to hold in tighter sooner. Now that the fork is set he can strengthen his upper body, specifically forearms and wrists and hands with specific exercises. Then he has grip stregth for days

    Ride the rougher trails more also. You cant simulate bumps

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaneDetroitCity View Post
    Hes not "obviously" gripping the bars too tight. Some trails you need to hold the bars tighter or lose control. Its a compound problem. His messed up fork settings started the arm pump. Then he was tired sooner and had to hold in tighter sooner. Now that the fork is set he can strengthen his upper body, specifically forearms and wrists and hands with specific exercises. Then he has grip stregth for days

    Ride the rougher trails more also. You cant simulate bumps

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    Whatever the underlying cause...bad fork settings, poor conditioning, bad ergonomics, bad technique, unfortunate anatomy, he's obviously gripping the bars too tight, too much exertion by his forearm muscles, and his forearm compartments can't accomodate the increased blood flow.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    Whatever the underlying cause...bad fork settings, poor conditioning, bad ergonomics, bad technique, unfortunate anatomy, he's gripping the bars too tight and his forearm compartments can't handle the increased blood flow.
    In other news the sun came out today. No shit.

    He asked for help solving the issue not armchair doctors. Obviously he has arm pump duhhhhh. Hes not a world cup downhill rider or motogp rider or Ricky Carmichael complaining about arm pump where it could be some genetic disorder or whatever wild theory you are sporting.

    Hes a regular joe who occasionally rides a rough trail and gets arm pump. So he needs to do extra conditioning for those situations. THEN after all options are exhausted can we start diagnosing medical conditions. Obviously its just lack of reps.

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaneDetroitCity View Post
    In other news the sun came out today. No shit.

    He asked for help solving the issue not armchair doctors. Obviously he has arm pump duhhhhh. Hes not a world cup downhill rider or motogp rider or Ricky Carmichael complaining about arm pump where it could be some genetic disorder or whatever wild theory you are sporting.

    Hes a regular joe who occasionally rides a rough trail and gets arm pump. So he needs to do extra conditioning for those situations. THEN after all options are exhausted can we start diagnosing medical conditions. Obviously its just lack of reps.

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    Which of the two of us is the "armchair" doctor?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    Which of the two of us is the "armchair" doctor?
    The one quoting medical conditions of motogp riders with millions of hours on their grip muscles.

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaneDetroitCity View Post
    The one quoting medical conditions of motogp riders with millions of hours on their grip muscles.
    It's the same physiology.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    It's the same physiology.
    Just stop. Go away. Ride your bike. Maybe youll understand better.

    He didnt ask am i having arm pump. He asked should i mess with fork or change grips. Not get surgery. He can do some simple exercises and ride rough trails more with fork properly setup. You are out of touch with reality quoting motogp racers.

    So far youve come up with...
    He has arm pump

    Motogp racers that have millions pf hours get surgery for arm pump

    Now contribute to this thread with relevant info relatedto his questions

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaneDetroitCity View Post
    Just stop. Go away. Ride your bike. Maybe youll understand better.

    He didnt ask am i having arm pump. He asked should i mess with fork or change grips. Not get surgery. He can do some simple exercises and ride rough trails more with fork properly setup. You are out of touch with reality quoting motogp racers.

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    Yeah, you may not understand the physiology or anatomy, but I concede that your advice is reasonable. Surgery would be the very last step, and certainly unlikely to be necessary in an amateur mountain bike rider.

    Did you think that somewhere in this silly conversation that I actually was advising surgery?

  14. #14
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    Use more core on the downhills

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    Yeah, you may not understand the physiology or anatomy, but I concede that your advice is reasonable. Surgery would be the very last step, and certainly unlikely to be necessary in an amateur mountain bike rider.
    So why the fxxk did you even post that stupid crap? Thats my point. It has nothing to do with his questions.

    Hes a dude on a bike. Who OCCASIONALLY rides rough trails and gets arm pump. Not someone who spends countless hours straining their muscles beyond anatomy and physiological limits.

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaneDetroitCity View Post
    So why the fxxk did you even post that stupid crap? Thats my point. It has nothing to do with his questions.


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    My my. You certainly do seem to have an unfortunate level of emotional investment in this thread. What's your deal, bud?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuyuna View Post
    My my. You certainly do seem to have an unfortunate level of emotional investment in this thread. What's your deal, bud?
    Simple people who cant read. Now its about my attitude lol. If you dont want people acting like you are talking nonsense then dont talk nonsense. If this was a motogp thread or forum talk motogp. Hes riding a 25 pound bike not a 300 pound bike.
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  18. #18
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    Lane is an angry know it all who doesn't "forum" well.
    I wonder how many times he gets asked "what's the deal with your posts?

    I wonder it often.

    Angry, assertive posters are part of the demise of this forum

  19. #19
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    Having your brake levers tilted down too far can contribute to the problem. You might want to try playing with how your levers are positioned and see if that helps.

  20. #20
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    As mentioned above, brake lever position can seriously compromise your grip on the bars. On a 2-3 minute rough descent you'll be able to hang on, but for long trails pointing down you really start to notice.

    Another possible brake related issue is braking power. If your stoppers are weak or tend to overheat and power fades you tend to squeeze more lever, which can lead to arm pump.

    Another cause may be weight distribution. I recently rode a 14km trail which was 90% steep dh. Due to the incline, I had too much weight on my arms. I almost lost the ability to steer and brake mid-way. I stopped to rest and then tried to focus on putting most of my weight on the pedals, it seemed to help.

    Of course fork settings and tyre pressure are critical on a bumpy trail, but I suspect that there was some rider error involved as well. I get it too, mostly whan I'm already fatiqued or out of my comfort zone.

  21. #21
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    Do you have callouses on your hands? If not, doubt it's an ergonomics thing, then...

    Rx: trail work twice a week.

    It will strengthen your grip, wrists, and forearms.



    Otherwise, chin-ups or dead lifts. Wrist curls would help but IMO are too focused and a waste of time.

  22. #22
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    if you want an exercise that is not a waste of time and also won't blow anything out
    and ...does it all


    two, 20lb dumbells

    squat and pick them up, stand up, then do an arnold press with them, drop
    the press, squat back down, do not let go of weight until 10 reps are done.

    10 reps, x 3 sessions. once a day. improves a lot of cycling muscles and at 20lbs each hand won't blow anything out. works grip and all the muscles you need to ride a bike
    "Put your seatbelt back on or get out and sit in the middle of that circle of death." - Johnny Scoot

  23. #23
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    You don't say what sort of bike set-up you have? Set-up and component choice matter a lot.

    One of the reasons I bought a full-sus was that the hard-tail was beating the heck out of me on rocky stuff. The full-sus is so much better but you still need to dial it in. Run too much compression and rebound damping and it'll still try and kill you on fast, rough trails.

    I also like Shimano brakes as they're so light you never need to use more than a gentle touch of one finger. It all adds up.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
    arnold press
    Be careful with the Arnold Press. I added those to a weight routine I was doing about 25 years ago and got rotator cuff tendinitis very quickly. I was lifting quite a bit heavier than 20 lbs/arm, but I had never had any shoulder problems from lifting weights. It came on very fast and continued to get worse even after I stopped lifting. I couldn't even put on a T-shirt for about six weeks. I've avoided the Arnold Press since then. Not saying it's a bad exercise--just be careful with it.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geralt View Post
    Be careful with the Arnold Press. I added those to a weight routine I was doing about 25 years ago and got rotator cuff tendinitis very quickly. I was lifting quite a bit heavier than 20 lbs/arm, but I had never had any shoulder problems from lifting weights. It came on very fast and continued to get worse even after I stopped lifting. I couldn't even put on a T-shirt for about six weeks. I've avoided the Arnold Press since then. Not saying it's a bad exercise--just be careful with it.
    arnold presses at reasonable weight actually helps my shoulder. I have a nagging lifetime pain from dislocating my shoulder two times in 5 years from racing MC and highsiding and slamming my shoulder. when it acts up [after an MTB digger] if I get back to doing arnold presses at light weight...it calms it down. yes if I tried 40 or more I can see how that would give the shoulder too much work to do
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaneDetroitCity View Post
    Grips arent the problem. Fork was part of the problem. Weak arms are the problem. Htfu

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    While there is some truth to your post, you have never ever ridden anything like LGT before. You probably should not tell someone to HTFU who just rode a tripple lap around the Dragon and managed the arm pump issues to complete an optional 3rd lap. I'd invite you to come ride it next year. Bring your pile of Maxxis EXOs piled up in the corner.

    I also was out there but only for the first lap because I had to split. So I just put up a semi respectable lap.

    I think a large part of your problem could have been fork tuning for Texas as well. I run rebound almost as slow as it will go. I also was running about 30% sag. ne is already like this because I ride the GB several days a week.

    Secondly, the Trail was extremely slick and you were probably choking the hell out of your grips all the way to the damn. You probably caused some unrepairable fatigue in the first lap.

    Thirdly, brake angle and covering the brakes while riding. Especially if this was your firt lap out there, you were probably tensed up the whole first lap and part way through the second. Cedar brakes is such a slow section that you can ride loose hands and no brakes and ride smoother with less stress.


    If I were you, I would check out the larger Shorex grips anyways. They are like ESI but a lot better and will last 4 times as long without getting filthy either. You can clip a lot of Juniper trees at speed before they will split.

    Oh yeah... Reverse grip curls, low weight to failure or 3x30, etc And or, the dowl/pipe with 10 pound weight on a rope. Roll up, roll down, repeat x 3

    OP, Do you ride Deception at Brushy? This is a good primer.

  27. #27
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    Thanks for all the replies. Lots of good advice. Sounds like its a combination of issues I need to work on including bike setup, technique, and general forearm strength. I'll have to work on all of the above.
    If you ever see a turtle on a telephone pole, remember he had help getting there. Is there anything beer can't do?

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by FJSnoozer View Post
    While there is some truth to your post, you have never ever ridden anything like LGT before. You probably should not tell someone to HTFU who just rode a tripple lap around the Dragon and managed the arm pump issues to complete an optional 3rd lap. I'd invite you to come ride it next year. Bring your pile of Maxxis EXOs piled up in the corner.

    I also was out there but only for the first lap because I had to split. So I just put up a semi respectable lap.

    I think a large part of your problem could have been fork tuning for Texas as well. I run rebound almost as slow as it will go. I also was running about 30% sag. ne is already like this because I ride the GB several days a week.

    Secondly, the Trail was extremely slick and you were probably choking the hell out of your grips all the way to the damn. You probably caused some unrepairable fatigue in the first lap.

    Thirdly, brake angle and covering the brakes while riding. Especially if this was your firt lap out there, you were probably tensed up the whole first lap and part way through the second. Cedar brakes is such a slow section that you can ride loose hands and no brakes and ride smoother with less stress.


    If I were you, I would check out the larger Shorex grips anyways. They are like ESI but a lot better and will last 4 times as long without getting filthy either. You can clip a lot of Juniper trees at speed before they will split.

    Oh yeah... Reverse grip curls, low weight to failure or 3x30, etc And or, the dowl/pipe with 10 pound weight on a rope. Roll up, roll down, repeat x 3

    OP, Do you ride Deception at Brushy? This is a good primer.
    I'd say you nailed it with your post. I rolled my eyes when I read HTFU.

    I live in Dallas and don't have many great options for technical riding nearby so I don't ride that type of terrain as much as I'd like. And yes, I was pretty nervous and very tense the first lap, particularly with the wet rocks and lots of people in front and behind. Didn't help that I had never ridden the trail before and that I took a pretty hard spill 2 miles in and slammed my palms down on a rock, felt that the rest of the day.

    I'm definitely going to play with my suspension for my next trip to LGT. I run a pretty low SAG and fast rebound for all the buff singletrack in Dallas. I should have listened to ATX100 in his Facebook post suggesting more SAG to start. Will also work on my forearm strength though I think I'm above average in that department, just don't get a chance to ride the rough stuff enough.

    I'll check out the Shorex grips. Also never ridden Brushy, but it's on my list of Austin trails.
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  29. #29
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    I don't have any advice, but congrats on completing 3 laps.

    This is sort of like someone asking "what could I do to make my head hurt less while I'm beating it with a hammer for 9 hours?". I'm sure you can do things to reduce the arm fatigue, but anyone that completes 3 laps on that course should probably be giving the advice.

    I rode one lap and will do 2 next year. I'm not sure I could ride 3 safely, just the mental part is exhausting. If was my first time riding those trails and I really enjoyed most of the long chunky sections, just stressed about cutting a tire in the middle jagged stuff. 3 laps is basically like riding 50 miles of rock garden with 30 miles of "rest" built in.

  30. #30
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    I don't know of anything near Dallas that could prep you for that other then riding Dino Valley A LOT. Let me know if you want to ride Brushy or anything else in ATX. Most stuff around brushy is either green or Black. Not much in between and it can be had to find the entry into the intermediate and black stuff. Of course, If I lived in Dallas, I would probably be making monthly trips to Arkansas to ride a lot.

  31. #31
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    I remember riding a mountain bike metric century near Forest City CA about 20 years ago on a rigid (unsuspended) Cannondale. Near the end of that ride, I could barely grip the bars. Every bump was agonizing at that point. Next year I return with a Softride stem and bar ends on that same bike. No problems with wrists, hands, or arm pump on that ride. As others have said, more sag on the fork, maybe fatter tires and tire pressure like 25 psi on the front and 28 on the back. Hit the gym and build up the arm strength.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by FJSnoozer View Post
    I don't know of anything near Dallas that could prep you for that other then riding Dino Valley A LOT. Let me know if you want to ride Brushy or anything else in ATX. Most stuff around brushy is either green or Black. Not much in between and it can be had to find the entry into the intermediate and black stuff. Of course, If I lived in Dallas, I would probably be making monthly trips to Arkansas to ride a lot.
    Yea, pretty much the only thing I can think of is about a mile or so of Northshore Westside and a few small sections of a few other trails, but nothing that can deliver the beating of LGT on that level for that many consecutive miles. And thanks for the offer on Brushy, I may hit you up for a tour next time I'm down that way. Was hoping to make it down for the EB but not going to work out (unless it moves to a rain date which I'm secretly praying for). That's always one ride I look forward to all year.
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  33. #33
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    ESI chunky grips are too large for me, they decrease my ability to brake and control the bike. I do a lot of rock climbing so I'm a little more acutely aware of how to maximize leverage/grip in some situations. Being able to close your hand further (as opposed to something of greater diameter which forces a more open grip) will create more leverage.
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    ESI chunky grips are too large for me, they decrease my ability to brake and control the bike. I do a lot of rock climbing so I'm a little more acutely aware of how to maximize leverage/grip in some situations. Being able to close your hand further (as opposed to something of greater diameter which forces a more open grip) will create more leverage.
    I have big hands and you know what they say about that (sorry, had to ). Not to get to tangential - what you're saying makes sense but do you really need that much force to actuate your brakes?

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    For me the most ergonomic grip are the big, old Ourys. I've got arthritis pretty bad and they work better for me than anything else I've tried. Let me hold firmly without having to use a lot of grip strength. So grippy that they're uncomfortable without gloves.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonSonic View Post
    For me the most ergonomic grip are the big, old Ourys. I've got arthritis pretty bad and they work better for me than anything else I've tried. Let me hold firmly without having to use a lot of grip strength. So grippy that they're uncomfortable without gloves.
    They look big, but they compress a lot when you grip them IMO, the ESIs don't at all.
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Disney's Frozen Head View Post
    I have big hands and you know what they say about that (sorry, had to ). Not to get to tangential - what you're saying makes sense but do you really need that much force to actuate your brakes?
    I think it's a few things, I think the more compressible soft rubber grips will give you a more leverage and control, not necessarily that they are smaller, but they compress to smaller shapes and that gives you more conforming grip, vs. trying to grab a bigger more rounded object (the ESIs). I went with some of the new race-face lock-ons on my AM bike and those are a bit too small, the rubber is just not thick enough IMO, but what rubber they do have seems to again grip better than my ESIs.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  38. #38
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    Ι have small hands for a guy and have tried a variety of grips, from Odi Ruffians to ESI Chunkys. Smaller diameter grips give me a good connection to the bike and are good for short rides, but bigger diameter and soft rubber is way more comfortable in average to long rides (2-5hrs). I think this has to do with the fact that a larger area of your palms is in contact with the grips, so the force of the bumps is spread and not concentrated.

    Anyway, you seem to have coped just fine with a very brutal ride (as suggested by the everyone's comments) and judging from my own experience and response on unfamiliar rough trails, the fact that you were tense and out of your comfort zone was a huge factor.

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  4. looking for deal on answer pro taper and answer dh one stem
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