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  1. #1
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    Hand Numbness + Fat Bikes

    I've battled numbness in my forearm and pinky on my right hand (ulnar nerve damage from snowboarding wreck) for the past few months.

    I bought a fat bike this week and my first ride on a trail coming back from the store was a packed-down and post-holed 15 inch high ridge of snowy singletrack. Needless to say I was quickly reminded that a fat bike is a a rigid bike (no bluto here) and my right arm was reminded as well.

    I got some ESI chunky grips (has worked well on my other bikes) and lowered the tire pressure on my 26x4 Husker Dus from 11psi to 6psi (was inflated to that at the store I guess) and rode the same bombed out section of trail with pretty good success. Since I most of the trails I ride see a lot of foot traffic, I imagine this will be fairly common. I started looking at getting a Bluto, but was wondering what others have done. Would a greater TPI tire (120) and greater volume in the from like a 4.6-5" be even more helpful. Also thought about getting Extra Chunky ESI grips as well.

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    I feel your pain. Foot path trails suck and I have some shoulder damage, but I'm not about to go out and buy a Bluto fork, mainly because I think fatbikes should not have suspension but maybe Im just being close minded. I try to avoid the bumpy foot holes. I've never tried tubless but when I do which is hopefully soon, I would like to see how it does on the bumpy stuff. Also now that you mentions it, If FS allows one to ride post holes, then it would make sense to get one so one could ride more places. #thinkingoutloud.

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    A stem or bar with more rise (or rose, smartasses) would help a little as well.
    Last edited by JAGI410; 02-10-2016 at 11:41 AM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by JAGI410 View Post
    A stem or bar with more rose would help a little as well.
    And you could get the stem with more rose just in time for Valentines Day.

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    Unfortunately, it is pretty hard to avoid these kinds of trails, so I will need to work with them... Not sure a Bluto RL has great small bump compliance anyway, so maybe it wont help as much.

    I am fairly leaned over, so maybe a carbon riser bar will help dampen and get me off my hands, and help, its about the same cost as a new 120tpi front tire...

  6. #6
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    Suspension works really well in winter for postholed trails like that. I'm on a Bucksaw and it eats that stuff up. Depending on how icy the conditions were, dropping pressure a touch more might have also been a good idea. 11psi is HIGH for a fatbike. I don't even go that high on dry trails. That's getting into pavement pressure territory for me. 6psi is about what I'd run for smooth, well-packed snow.

    I would also say that Husker Dus are NOT good snow tires. I tried them last winter, but they're now my summer tires. They're better for packed snow than loose or fresh snow, for sure. And around here, you don't get packed trails unless you put the work in to ride and pack down that snow. Surly Nates are currently the winter tires I'm riding, because that deep, blocky tread grabs the snow quite well. They also grip relatively well on wet leaves, so they get a little shoulder season use, too.

    A bigger tire will give you a little more cush, but the increased cush factor on what you rode will be less than increases in traction and flotation.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Suspension works really well in winter for postholed trails like that. I'm on a Bucksaw and it eats that stuff up. Depending on how icy the conditions were, dropping pressure a touch more might have also been a good idea. 11psi is HIGH for a fatbike. I don't even go that high on dry trails. That's getting into pavement pressure territory for me. 6psi is about what I'd run for smooth, well-packed snow.

    I would also say that Husker Dus are NOT good snow tires. I tried them last winter, but they're now my summer tires. They're better for packed snow than loose or fresh snow, for sure. And around here, you don't get packed trails unless you put the work in to ride and pack down that snow. Surly Nates are currently the winter tires I'm riding, because that deep, blocky tread grabs the snow quite well. They also grip relatively well on wet leaves, so they get a little shoulder season use, too.

    A bigger tire will give you a little more cush, but the increased cush factor on what you rode will be less than increases in traction and flotation.
    Well I wanted to get a Bluto for summer mode (27.5+ planned), so maybe I just get that now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Welnic View Post
    And you could get the stem with more rose just in time for Valentines Day.
    Haaaoooo!

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    Quote Originally Posted by pOrk View Post
    I've battled numbness in my forearm and pinky on my right hand (ulnar nerve damage....
    Ergon Grips http://=http://www.ergon-bike.com/us...ges/gp-special

    " Problem

    A point load of the small finger-palm often leads to a cross-clamping of the Ulnar Nerve.

    This nerve damage becomes apparent in form of a numbness in the little finger and the outer area of the ring finger. In the long run this can lead to a limited movement of the hand.

    Solution

    The answer is a distinct support in the area of the ball of the thumb to distribute the pressure of the handlebar widely. "

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bme107 View Post
    Ergon Grips http://=http://www.ergon-bike.com/us...ges/gp-special

    " Problem

    A point load of the small finger-palm often leads to a cross-clamping of the Ulnar Nerve.

    This nerve damage becomes apparent in form of a numbness in the little finger and the outer area of the ring finger. In the long run this can lead to a limited movement of the hand.

    Solution

    The answer is a distinct support in the area of the ball of the thumb to distribute the pressure of the handlebar widely. "
    I actually got some ergons on another bike and suffered the same issue, mostly because of the continual jarring nature of some the trails after the horses get to them. So it was back to ESI Chunky. I will probably use the ergons on some races this year which are mostly smooth singletrrack, because of the long time leaned over on the bars, but for daily local rides, the trails are too chunky for the ergons, at least for me.

  11. #11
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    4.7" tires @ 5 psi or less.
    I ride 5 psi rear, 4.5 psi front on dry, root strewn single track,

    Carbon bar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pOrk View Post
    I actually got some ergons on another bike and suffered the same issue, mostly because of the continual jarring nature of some the trails after the horses get to them. So it was back to ESI Chunky. I will probably use the ergons on some races this year which are mostly smooth singletrrack, because of the long time leaned over on the bars, but for daily local rides, the trails are too chunky for the ergons, at least for me.
    Interesting. I went Ergons long ago, tried the chunky last year for the hell of it and my issues returned so I went back to Ergons. I do find that an alt-bar with lots of sweep also helps me too, not as big as that first Ergon increment, but it did help overall hand/wrist comfort.

    I have contemplated hacking up the 2 types to make one. The inner 3/4 Chunky, the outer 1/4 Ergon. Don't think I can transition between the 2 materials comfortably at the seam though.

    There are a few grips out there approaching the shape of an Ergon but with softer rubber. You'd have to hunt for them.

    Suspension will of course help, but what about a revised bike fit where you are able to take some of the pressure off your hands, maybe more upright?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bme107 View Post
    Interesting. I went Ergons long ago, tried the chunky last year for the hell of it and my issues returned so I went back to Ergons. I do find that an alt-bar with lots of sweep also helps me too, not as big as that first Ergon increment, but it did help overall hand/wrist comfort.

    I have contemplated hacking up the 2 types to make one. The inner 3/4 Chunky, the outer 1/4 Ergon. Don't think I can transition between the 2 materials comfortably at the seam though.

    There are a few grips out there approaching the shape of an Ergon but with softer rubber. You'd have to hunt for them.

    Suspension will of course help, but what about a revised bike fit where you are able to take some of the pressure off your hands, maybe more upright?
    Yeah I think a carbon riser bar will probably be next and then, since I was planning on replacing the huskers anyway, going with something a little fatter at least out front.

    I actually saw a silicone setup like a chunky but had chunky like silocne bar ends as well. ( I got the GS3s when I did get the ergons ). It was in the daily fat bike thread maybe? Looked interesting.

  14. #14
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    invest in a bike fit session.

  15. #15
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    ESI extra chunky have been great for me, combined with an Answer 20/20 bar and a Bud up front with low pressure I almost never experience any numbness on the fat bike.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean salach View Post
    ESI extra chunky have been great for me, combined with an Answer 20/20 bar and a Bud up front with low pressure I almost never experience any numbness on the fat bike.
    Yeah I think I am going to go with extra chunky on the fat bike and leave the regular chunkys for my other bikes.

    Hand Numbness + Fat Bikes-lka7wzfas2s1d_8tximf_munwm00h_6czpj4hquj5dw-2048x1536.jpg

    Here is what I was talking about. Looks like an extra chunky and something else on the end? PM'd. We'll see but looks like a nice option.

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    I had terribly numbness when i got my fatbikes (can't say i understood why and it is a full suspension). Switching to a carbon riser bar and adding rubber grips worked magic for me, and i think it dampened the vibration.

    I actually prefer my rigid fat bike when traveling through foothole mashed trails. I find that the suspension absorbs the bumps too much and i often get stuck in the holes, versus using all for momentum to push through the holes. I am hoping to try a lauf fork next week and maybe that will be my happy middle ground

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by pOrk View Post
    Yeah I think I am going to go with extra chunky on the fat bike and leave the regular chunkys for my other bikes.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here is what I was talking about. Looks like an extra chunky and something else on the end? PM'd. We'll see but looks like a nice option.
    Those are the Cane Creek 'turd' bar ends. They work great. Cane Creek Ergo Control II Bar End Reviews - Mtbr.com

  19. #19
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    Issues:

    Snow biking is cold, it's hard to manage the bike due to the conditions and bike lacking suspension, and it's a new set up for you.

    Everyone has little tricks they use to resolve numbness, but for those who get numbness it's not a problem that is easily solved or that ever really goes away.

    Some people use Ergons, others use swept bars, some choose a more upright position, while others try to "pad away" the discomfort.

    My suggestion would be to mimic your other rides if you are "only" having numbness on the new bike. If you have numbness on all bikes, maybe you need to see a fitter?

    Personally, I can't abide a lot of sweep, I love Ergons (when correctly positioned), I think padded grips worsen the problem, and I'm convinced that posture is everything.

    For sure, you need to keep your hands warm and improve your posture to reduce hand pressure. Always try to start with warm hands. As you ride, be sure to change positions (body, butt, hand), and don't overgrip the bars.

    Making small changes in set up over time, with lots of rides in between, this is the way to go.

  20. #20
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    Oh yes, suspension is awesome on potholed snow, at the minimum some front suspension, but full squish is the real game changer!

    I love how folks poo poo suspension on a fat bike, then glorify suspension on their summer bike, as if packed snow and ice are soft or something

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Suspension works really well in winter for postholed trails like that. I'm on a Bucksaw and it eats that stuff up. Depending on how icy the conditions were, dropping pressure a touch more might have also been a good idea. 11psi is HIGH for a fatbike. I don't even go that high on dry trails. That's getting into pavement pressure territory for me. 6psi is about what I'd run for smooth, well-packed snow.

    I would also say that Husker Dus are NOT good snow tires. I tried them last winter, but they're now my summer tires. They're better for packed snow than loose or fresh snow, for sure. And around here, you don't get packed trails unless you put the work in to ride and pack down that snow. Surly Nates are currently the winter tires I'm riding, because that deep, blocky tread grabs the snow quite well. They also grip relatively well on wet leaves, so they get a little shoulder season use, too.

    A bigger tire will give you a little more cush, but the increased cush factor on what you rode will be less than increases in traction and flotation.

  21. #21
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    i like to call them chicken nuggets, it sounds a little more appealing. lol

    dogturds go in my tubeless punctures

    ESI also makes a "fit" style which im gonna try next, chunky at the end and thinner towards the middle so your hand sortof sits at an angle



    i would definitely recommend a bar with backsweep if this stuff isnt working.my ECR has woodchippers and primarily being in the drops is much like a jones loop and that angle is ultra comfy for me
    I'll be the axe that clears the forest.

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    ill also paste what i PM'd here so the info is public knowledge to anyone else having similar problems

    the grips are ESI extra chunky's and the barends are hard to find/discontinued cane creek ergo 2's

    i had a problem with numbness and a weird electrical tingling in my hands with the less girthy and harder spesh lockons that came on the bike.

    this combo definitely solved that problem, gives me about 4 different hand positions. only after about 8 hrs of racing last weekend, getting jackhammered all day in frozen footholes did my hands start to bother me, but it was a soreness/aching, never a tingling/numb thing like before.

    however i think any grip combination in that situation wouldve given me the same result lol
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    I love how folks poo poo suspension on a fat bike, then glorify suspension on their summer bike, as if packed snow and ice are soft or something
    Yeah doesn't make much sense does it? The riders who contend you don't need it in either case are much more on point. That said if I was riding frozen post holes all day I'd want a Bluto - but just encountering that here and there - nah.
    Fully squishy creak machine - never!

  24. #24
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    My non-fat bike is rigid. I sometimes got numb hands, but now I don't.

    1) Bar width. Narrow bars put more pressure on the outside of my hand. I only went to 710mm and I'm good.
    2) Bar angle. Sweep, rise... not a lot of either on my bikes.
    3) Grips. I am using Sette Blade lock-on grips. Some contour, but not as sculpted as Ergon.
    4) Gloves. 3mm thick palms. If the grips + gloves is too much of a handful, or too little, my hands are not happy.


    Fat-specific:
    Bluto = great for snow. Better with Bottomless Tokens installed (for small bump compliance). I have 3 installed, but might go 4 in Summer.
    26 x 4.8" Bud up front = great for snow. Better tubeless. You could go below 6psi easy.

    My fatbike just has ODI mushroom-style grips (I bought them for the color!). They are OK, but not great, but I have 4 different pairs of gloves for that bike, so I just go with it.

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  25. #25
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    One other thing to add: my winter cockpit is quite a bit different than what I use in the summer. summer, I run flat bars and ESI chunky grips. In the winter, I use 25mm rider bars and Ergon grips. I'm even debating getting a riser stem... I suspect that the cold is a contributing factor, reducing blood flow as vessels constrict and increasing numbness.

  26. #26
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    Some great information in this thread. I run ESI grips with my FS 120mm and my 90mm HT. Moving to them on the beargrease and lowering the psi did help tremendously, but to Nurse Ben's point, it isnt an issue on those bikes as much, and the main difference being the fork. Go with what works right?

    Good call on cold temps.

    I am not anti-bluto as I am anti 500 more bucks. If I can sustain 2 hours with a carbon riser and thicker grips (extra chunky), I will go that route first (I can always use a carbon bar). Bluto if not, was planning on it anyway.

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    guys on td wrap extra chunky esi grips with regular bartape also for even more cush, but for me that would be too much girth

    ymmv as always
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    This thread is full of good tips!

    To add to the pile: make sure your saddle isn't too far forward and/or angled down. These settings put weight on your hands, which makes riding uncomfortable and the bike doesn't handle as it should. A setback post is most usually a good choice.

    If the nose of your saddle points down because it would otherwise hurt between the legs, get a saddle that fits you better. It doesn't need to be soft but the shape must be right.

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    I use to ride a regular MTB during the winter and the pot holed sections are exactly why the Bluto made perfect sense to me during the winter. Rode a good 2k section of pot holes not to far back, and it was as comfy as flat dirt. I've ridden enough ribbed or pot hole winter sections on a rigid. First chance I had at a Bluto, I got it.

    Tires, Stems, Grips don't replace suspension. You can wish all you want, it doesn't replace a suspension fork.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by l3eaudacious View Post
    I use to ride a regular MTB during the winter and the pot holed sections are exactly why the Bluto made perfect sense to me during the winter. Rode a good 2k section of pot holes not to far back, and it was as comfy as flat dirt. I've ridden enough ribbed or pot hole winter sections on a rigid. First chance I had at a Bluto, I got it.

    Tires, Stems, Grips don't replace suspension. You can wish all you want, it doesn't replace a suspension fork.
    Bluto's that good huh? Taken under advisement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by l3eaudacious View Post
    I use to ride a regular MTB during the winter and the pot holed sections are exactly why the Bluto made perfect sense to me during the winter. Rode a good 2k section of pot holes not to far back, and it was as comfy as flat dirt. I've ridden enough ribbed or pot hole winter sections on a rigid. First chance I had at a Bluto, I got it.

    Tires, Stems, Grips don't replace suspension. You can wish all you want, it doesn't replace a suspension fork.
    Nobody said they replace a suspension fork in all situations - the point is some may preferre the more precise steering and lighter feeling of a nice rigid fork, and it works in a variety of conditions. All depends on who you are, your skill set, and where you ride.

    If you have shoulder, arm issues then a Bluto might be the way to go - again depending on where you ride.

    Contending that larger tires, more volume and lower pressure doesn't amount to a good amount of cush compared to a normal mountain bike though (I know you're not saying this) would be utterly false. Those big tires do go a long ways and negate the need for a suspension fork for many. The ol "rigid is rigid" BS I see parroted is just that - BS.

    Go ride a 26" rigid mountain bike with 2" tires @ 16 psi, then a 4.7" tire with 5 psi and come back and tell me "rigid is rigid" with a straight face. Again, that statement isn't directed at you.

    I rode a rigid bike in the 90's (before adding the Mag 21) and a rigid fat bike now with 4.7" tires. NIGHT and DAY difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pOrk View Post
    Bluto's that good huh? Taken under advisement.
    The Bluto isn't awesome. It feels similar to how the Reba did on my Spec Epic. Decent, not awesome. Nothing replaces suspension. Advil comes close.

  33. #33
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    I have had pretty severe pain and numbness issues with my right hand that is related to a flexor tenosynovitis and lots of typing at work. I would say that this all started with the punishing of foot walked paths on a fatbike. Ergons have helped.

    So has this:
    The Arm Aid

    I am still having issues and with a great divide attempt looming, I am definitely considering a Lauf Carbonara.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gambit21 View Post
    Nobody said they replace a suspension fork in all situations - the point is some may preferre the more precise steering and lighter feeling of a nice rigid fork, and it works in a variety of conditions. All depends on who you are, your skill set, and where you ride.

    If you have shoulder, arm issues then a Bluto might be the way to go - again depending on where you ride.

    Contending that larger tires, more volume and lower pressure doesn't amount to a good amount of cush compared to a normal mountain bike though (I know you're not saying this) would be utterly false. Those big tires do go a long ways and negate the need for a suspension fork for many. The ol "rigid is rigid" BS I see parroted is just that - BS.

    Go ride a 26" rigid mountain bike with 2" tires @ 16 psi, then a 4.7" tire with 5 psi and come back and tell me "rigid is rigid" with a straight face. Again, that statement isn't directed at you.

    I rode a rigid bike in the 90's (before adding the Mag 21) and a rigid fat bike now with 4.7" tires. NIGHT and DAY difference.
    I'm not denying Fat Tire squish, you'd have to be crazy to not notice the difference. All All I'm saying is that if your changing your stem, bars, grips, or going from 4.5 to 4.8 tires in hope of more squish you're looking in the wrong place.

  35. #35
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    Carbon bars are definitely not all created equally. I have issues climbing with riser bars so I always use flat bars. Some carbon bars I find way too stiff, but Eastons always worked well for me. Have one one my twenty niner but my fat bikes I now use custom width to bars at 9 degree angles. Also make sure your stem length to bar width is working. If you are over reaching in turns, you need to either fat a shorter stem or shorter bar width. I use the Ergon Race grips. The normal ones are too wide with that paddle section and my hands go numb instantly. The racing ones have a smaller paddle/platform.

    A shop owner taught me. that in normal riding position you should be able to let go of the bars and not fall forward while pedaling. If so, then your saddle position is off. I don't have a trainer that fits a fat bike, but on smooth level pavement I try that when setting up a new bike. Like gigantic said, if you still have issues, get a proper bike fitting.

  36. #36
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    With what OP has said you sound quite similar to me in your needs and what you want to splurge on. I would poke around in the singlespeed forum. A lot of those folks are running rigid bikes. There is a ton of information on specifically hand/arm/shoulder discomfort and what bar/grip combos work well.

    I would recommend
    1. Try ergons - I run them on my rigid SS. They give great support. (~$40)
    2. Alternate Bar with alot of sweep Alternative or "Alt" Mountain Bike Handlebar Round Up
    3. Bike fitting (~$150)

    I don't think you will gain much comfort with a carbon bar. Plus they are quite expensive.

    Edit: Also, get some nice 120tpi tires and run them tubeless at 4-8psi. Helps tremendously with cushioning AND traction.
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by tims5377 View Post
    With what OP has said you sound quite similar to me in your needs and what you want to splurge on. I would poke around in the singlespeed forum. A lot of those folks are running rigid bikes. There is a ton of information on specifically hand/arm/shoulder discomfort and what bar/grip combos work well.

    I would recommend
    1. Try ergons - I run them on my rigid SS. They give great support. (~$40)
    2. Alternate Bar with alot of sweep Alternative or "Alt" Mountain Bike Handlebar Round Up
    3. Bike fitting (~$150)

    I don't think you will gain much comfort with a carbon bar. Plus they are quite expensive.

    Edit: Also, get some nice 120tpi tires and run them tubeless at 4-8psi. Helps tremendously with cushioning AND traction.
    I already have the ergons on my HT and they aggravate the issue for me. I am going with extra chunky ESIs, A carbon riser bar from my local shop + fitting. and some new 120tpi tires, mostly because the 27tpi Husker Dus are not too great in snow, at least in my cruising around the other day, but those conditions were sloppy. Next thread, 2x beargrease tire combos.

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