Body Science of Handlebar "Sweep/Bend" ?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    New question here. Body Science of Handlebar "Sweep/Bend" ?

    I've been happily riding with a riser bar for over four years, and lately I've started to notice that the thicker area of the palm, where the thum is attached (lack of better word), is just getting pounded, especially after some good action-packed descending. That part of the palm seems to be driven/jammed into the handlebar or something, while hanging on, and both of my hands are killing me...

    Although this could be all in my head, but I also seem to notice that, when pulling at the bar while climbing, it feels like I'm pulling at the bar in rather a circular fashion (diagram "A" below), rather than straight/evenly (diagram "B" below), hence my thums are driven into the bar, it feels.

    NOTE: I currently have a Titec riser bar that has a 9-degree back-sweep & a 5-degree up-sweep, and I haven't made any recent geometry changes.

    That said, I can't conceptually figure out which will actually unload the pressure off my hands; either the steeper back-sweep (ie. Bontrager CrowBar's 13-degree) to better fit the circular motion of pulling, or the less steeper back-sweep (ie. 5-degrees, etc) to resist this motion.
    Please shed some light on this "body science" of the handlebar sweep/bend.

    Thanks in advance,
    - PiroChu
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
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    trial and error is the best way to deal with this question...

    From your picture, you can see that the wider your grip on the bar, the more backsweep you need to keep you wrists aligned properly. I have found that you need to decide how wide a grip you use for most of your riding and then select a backsweep for this. Also notice that the length of your stem (how far you reach to the bars) will also affect this. Recently I have found that a riser with 8 degrees of backsweep WITH NO UPSWEEP (like the Weyless DH50 that I got for $10 at Superblow) is more comfortable to me than the 8 degree back/ 5 degree upsweep model (like all Azonic risers). I have 4 different risers and 3 different stems that I have swapped around to get the best feel- and man is it worth the effort. Of course, my friends say I have too much time on my hands...

  3. #3
    Nat
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    Quote Originally Posted by PiroChu
    I've been happily riding with a riser bar for over four years, and lately I've started to notice that the thicker area of the palm, where the thum is attached (lack of better word), is just getting pounded, especially after some good action-packed descending. That part of the palm seems to be driven/jammed into the handlebar or something, while hanging on, and both of my hands are killing me...

    Although this could be all in my head, but I also seem to notice that, when pulling at the bar while climbing, it feels like I'm pulling at the bar in rather a circular fashion (diagram "A" below), rather than straight/evenly (diagram "B" below), hence my thums are driven into the bar, it feels.

    NOTE: I currently have a Titec riser bar that has a 9-degree back-sweep & a 5-degree up-sweep, and I haven't made any recent geometry changes.

    That said, I can't conceptually figure out which will actually unload the pressure off my hands; either the steeper back-sweep (ie. Bontrager CrowBar's 13-degree) to better fit the circular motion of pulling, or the less steeper back-sweep (ie. 5-degrees, etc) to resist this motion.
    Please shed some light on this "body science" of the handlebar sweep/bend.

    Thanks in advance,
    - PiroChu
    I don't know the answer to your question, but I wanted to say, "nice diagram!"



    the thicker area of the palm, where the thum is attached (lack of better word)
    Fun fact of the day: that area is called the "thenar eminence."

  4. #4
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    I'm missing something, too

    I use a flat bar with about 3 sweep and it doesn't seem to be enough. I've been riding for 10 years and have picked up the pace by adding road and more time in the saddle. My hands hurt.
    I was talking about pressure on my hands/sweep the other day at my LBS. The owner handed me a pen and for each hand and asked me to close my eyes and hold my arms and hands out as if i war riding. And Lo!, the hand angle is more like 10-12, akin to those handlebars you used to use on your first bike. So, if you are using a bar with less sweep, the inside leading part of your palm, which is the heel of your thumb, becomes the primary contact point and a pivot. I tend to grab sorta pidgeon toed and the bar goes right across the crease at the heel of my hand and the left one is sore there. I have NEVER used padded gloves.
    Few flat bars come with much sweep. Riser bars have more sweep but, for my kind of XC riding, I think they are like lowering your seat and adding a pad to get the height back where it belongs.
    Problem; my bike is just 4 months old and I put a gorgeous Easton carbon flatbar on her. I'll have to wait a while before I plunk down on a new bar.
    Oh, yeah; nice diagram.

  5. #5
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    From my own experience, I like flat bars that have more sweep. Unfortunately, most flat bars are available with only 5 degrees sweep, at most. I know I don't like the 3-degree flat bars. I haven't had the opportunity to try any other handlebars for extended rides.

  6. #6
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    its all about compromise...

    You might find that a 12 degree bar puts your wrists in a good position, but it also sticks your elbows into your sides- try turning the handlebars like that! A 6 or 8 degree bar is probably the best compromise WITH the approriate length stem. For instance, a 12 degree bar with a 100mm stem may put your hands in the same position as an 8 degree bar with a 75mm stem, the difference being the angle of your wrists. As long as your hands end up in the same position relative to your bike, the steering should feel the same.

  7. #7
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    Hand position

    You seem to be missing the wrist angle consideration.
    What do they do on motorcycles?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by PiroChu
    I've been happily riding with a riser bar for over four years, and lately I've started to notice that the thicker area of the palm, where the thum is attached (lack of better word), is just getting pounded, especially after some good action-packed descending. That part of the palm seems to be driven/jammed into the handlebar or something, while hanging on, and both of my hands are killing me...

    Although this could be all in my head, but I also seem to notice that, when pulling at the bar while climbing, it feels like I'm pulling at the bar in rather a circular fashion (diagram "A" below), rather than straight/evenly (diagram "B" below), hence my thums are driven into the bar, it feels.

    NOTE: I currently have a Titec riser bar that has a 9-degree back-sweep & a 5-degree up-sweep, and I haven't made any recent geometry changes.

    That said, I can't conceptually figure out which will actually unload the pressure off my hands; either the steeper back-sweep (ie. Bontrager CrowBar's 13-degree) to better fit the circular motion of pulling, or the less steeper back-sweep (ie. 5-degrees, etc) to resist this motion.
    Please shed some light on this "body science" of the handlebar sweep/bend.

    Thanks in advance,
    - PiroChu
    I get the best grip, control and comfort with flared dropbars so the "sweep" would be about 65 degrees. It put my wrists, elbows and shoulds in their most powerful and best shock absorbing position.


    -shiggy on the traveling account

  9. #9

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    Good bars are a "Catch 22" problem

    Lots of problems with getting proper sweep in flat bars.....The bike world doesn't offer them because they don't get orders, and they don't get orders because no one has them available... No one gets to try them so no one demands them. Everyone is in lock step with the very limited offerings we see in all the stores and web sites.

    Retailers just don't stock enough types of bars to accomodate everyone's wishes.
    And many if not most riders are riding with less than optimal bars..

    A point about sweep.. The problem with a lot of sweep on most bars is that it not only comes with risers, when you want flat, but the "sweep" or bend takes place too close to the stem.
    Because of that the rider, in order to get the better hand "sweep" angle is forced back too far, or as one poster put it, the bars could feel like they are gonna dig into your side or something.

    Now, if the sweep or final hand angle (bend) is placed further away from the stem, then the hand grips would still be far enough out in front. In other words they do most of the sweeping much further out on the bars....instead of near the stem. If the sweep (bend) takes place near the stem and the bars go straight from there, it forces you way back in the cockpit. This is how almost all big sweep bars are designed....very poorly.
    I ride with old design Bridgestone ARC bars.... They make a slow arc far away from the stem and end up with a final hand position of over 30 degrees but without the bar being so far back as to cause problems for me. BTW, I have 5 pair of these bars from the back room of a old Bridgestone dealer.....a lifetime supply..
    A natural hand postion if you just hold some pencils out front of you is way more than even 15 degrees which is the most sweep "hand angle" found in bars.
    Now in your case, if you want a "flat" bar with a fairly high degree of sweep, but such that it doesn't leave you too far back in terms of hand position, then you might look into the
    "H" bar from Jonesbikes.com

    He can make these bars in any final hand position "sweep" and yet leave you fully forward without having to use a longer stem. Remember he can make any angle you want. He can make them in any material including titanium...

    Keep an open mind and take a look at his site.........Click on the pic of the "H-Bars"

    http://www.jonesbikes.com/gallery/default.asp

    Don't give up on getting a comfortable hand position just because the bike world is too lame to offer the best option for your needs. They are the ones out of step, not you.
    Everyone has bought into the notion that what is being offered must be what is best.
    Not so...
    I trash the bars that come on my bikes as soon as I get it home. No sore wrists for me.

    By the way, I also like your diagram,..........BUT I think your helmet looks like my shower drain cover.... ... You know, where all the hair collects.....
    Last edited by Chester; 09-06-2004 at 05:35 PM. Reason: spelling

  10. #10
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    Yeah! that's it...

    Quote Originally Posted by Chester
    LBUT I think your helmet looks like my shower drain cover.... ... You know, where all the hair collects.....
    A shower drain cover in a gym.

  11. #11
    Nat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chester
    "H" bar from Jonesbikes.com
    How would one use SRAM shifters with these bars? It looks as if you wouldn't be able to reach the brake levers.

  12. #12
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    H-Bars

    Quote Originally Posted by Nat
    How would one use SRAM shifters with these bars? It looks as if you wouldn't be able to reach the brake levers.
    There are a couple pictures on the Jones site of H-Bars with shifters attached as well as someone using the brake levers.

    I haven't tried these bars, but I've met people on the trail who swear by them. And it's kind of cool to have something different made my a solo craftsman. Especially if it helps.
    功夫大师喜欢骑着他的自行车在山上。

  13. #13
    Nat
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuruAtma
    There are a couple pictures on the Jones site of H-Bars with shifters attached as well as someone using the brake levers.

    I haven't tried these bars, but I've met people on the trail who swear by them. And it's kind of cool to have something different made my a solo craftsman. Especially if it helps.
    I looked again and couldn't find the pic of which you speak. Which one is it? It seems as if the shifter would fall exactly where the crossbar of the H-bar is.

  14. #14

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    It works....but you can ask him

    Quote Originally Posted by Nat
    I looked again and couldn't find the pic of which you speak. Which one is it? It seems as if the shifter would fall exactly where the crossbar of the H-bar is.
    If someone is really interested in possbibly getting a pair, the owner is more than happy to answer any questions. His phone number is on the site. I'm sure this issue of shifters/brakes position has come up many times.
    Or you could just become a single speeder....

    Ask him....but even if you couldn't fit the shifters in given the design shown, you could still utilize the concept by doing the following....
    Make a similar straight bar across and then far out from the stem put in the "bend" angle, but with enough space for the shifters and brakes........You don't even need to include the top part of the "H" unless you want an extra aero hand position.
    This would still give you the better hand angle "sweep" but with the final rider farther forward then found when you do the bend "sweep" right next to the step as so many bars do...
    Bottom line is that the guy will make just about any bar you want and he is well versed in all the problems and desires of his many customers.

  15. #15
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    Jones doesn't advise the use of twist shfters with his bars, rapidfires and the new STI's seem to work very well though. Bummer, I love my twisters.
    Klok - XC - Skate - Ski

  16. #16
    drev-il, not Dr. Evil!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chester
    A point about sweep.. The problem with a lot of sweep on most bars is that it not only comes with risers, when you want flat, but the "sweep" or bend takes place too close to the stem.
    Because of that the rider, in order to get the better hand "sweep" angle is forced back too far, or as one poster put it, the bars could feel like they are gonna dig into your side or something.
    You could also get a longer stem to compensate. The Jones bars are mentioned a lot on the singlespeed board, and I believe most make up for the sweep by getting a longer stem.

    There are two companies that I am aware of that make wider flat bars with more sweep:
    Salsa and Seven. I have the latter in a 26" wide 11deg bend and it's been good for me.

  17. #17
    Nat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloxxki
    Jones doesn't advise the use of twist shfters with his bars, rapidfires and the new STI's seem to work very well though. Bummer, I love my twisters.
    Boooo. I only use twisters. So much for this H-bar doodad.

  18. #18

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    dont forget the Titec Flattracker

    Its a classic, and Im shocked more people dont ride with em. (I think currently on sale at Cambria for about $20 in silver)

  19. #19

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    Jones bars can only use:
    - Shimano XTR/XT dual control brake lever shifters
    - Thumbies (any brand, the Pauls conversion is sweet)
    - Prone to damage, but you can mount barcon shifters on the end of the rear extension

    Good handlebars. I will never go back to straights and risers so long as these bars are around.

  20. #20

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    over half of all riders could use greater sweep "hand angle"

    Quote Originally Posted by Drevil
    You could also get a longer stem to compensate. The Jones bars are mentioned a lot on the singlespeed board, and I believe most make up for the sweep by getting a longer stem.

    There are two companies that I am aware of that make wider flat bars with more sweep:
    Salsa and Seven. I have the latter in a 26" wide 11deg bend and it's been good for me.
    Looked at the Salsa and Seven models but in the world of sweep (final hand angle) they really don't go very far beyond what everyone else is riding..
    In other words, unlike the JonesBike H bars, they really don't fit the natural angle of a human wrist.
    Take a couple pencils in each hand. Sit down and put them naturally out in front of you like you were riding....naturally......and you'll see the natural angle is way way over 11 degrees.....More in the neighborhood of 25 or 30 degrees or even more....
    Too bad at least one major company doesn't offfer something in this range.
    About the only place you can get them is from a custom maker like JonesBike unless you want to go all the way to impractical cruiser bars....which have about 90 degrees of sweep and are useless for off road riding.

    Only way I got my bars was by buying all the left over stock from a old Bridgestone dealer a couple years ago. LIfetime supply.
    Rivendell has some sets of bars with lots of sweep but they are almost in the class of cruiser bars.....Something is needed half way in between.....11 degree and 60+ degree...

    Loads of mountain bikers would be better served with bars with over 20 degrees of final hand angle, hopefully with the bend way out away from the stem so it wouldn't place the rider very far back without buying a new stem..

    I'll say one other thing... I think I can say with confidence, that over 75% of the more casual mountain bikers......the under $500 bikes would be much better if they included bars with between 20 and 40 degrees of final sweep (hand angle). But the companies don't make them that way because they don't look agressive and cool like the the racers use... Same reason why they put agressive knobby tires on $399 mountain bikes that are only going to be ridden on flat, smooth, fire trails... All marketing and point of purchase glitz...

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