Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Boxy789
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Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

Postby Boxy789 » 12 Feb 2020, 8:32pm

I have a road bike with dropped bars, I have been diagnosed with arthritis in both my wrists. I think flat bars would be more painful for my wrists, it the gear changing that absolutely kills my wrists. I am thinking of changing to a Jones H bar or butterfly bar. Can anyone suggest anything different. Don’t want to give up cycling but I’ve not been out since last October. I can’t do this conversion myself so would have to be a bike shop. I’m also thinking of having rapid gear changers? Any help gratefully received! Sarah

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RickH
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Re: Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

Postby RickH » 12 Feb 2020, 9:11pm

Boxy789 wrote:I have a road bike with dropped bars, I have been diagnosed with arthritis in both my wrists. I think flat bars would be more painful for my wrists, it the gear changing that absolutely kills my wrists. I am thinking of changing to a Jones H bar or butterfly bar. Can anyone suggest anything different. Don’t want to give up cycling but I’ve not been out since last October. I can’t do this conversion myself so would have to be a bike shop. I’m also thinking of having rapid gear changers? Any help gratefully received! Sarah


Assuming you are talking about combined brakes & shifters, such as Shimano STI, an alternative would be to go down the electronic shifting route (shimano Di2, SRAM eTap, Campagnolo EPS). The complaint levelled at electronic shifting sometimes is that shifting can be too light, which might be a positive in your situation.

rmurphy195
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Re: Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

Postby rmurphy195 » 12 Feb 2020, 9:27pm

Could you say what sort of gearchangers you have, or a photo please, so people can advise?

(e.g. on the downtube, on the ends of the bars, or combined brake/gear levers and what make)
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Vantage
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Re: Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

Postby Vantage » 12 Feb 2020, 9:34pm

RickH wrote:
Boxy789 wrote:I have a road bike with dropped bars, I have been diagnosed with arthritis in both my wrists. I think flat bars would be more painful for my wrists, it the gear changing that absolutely kills my wrists. I am thinking of changing to a Jones H bar or butterfly bar. Can anyone suggest anything different. Don’t want to give up cycling but I’ve not been out since last October. I can’t do this conversion myself so would have to be a bike shop. I’m also thinking of having rapid gear changers? Any help gratefully received! Sarah


Assuming you are talking about combined brakes & shifters, such as Shimano STI, an alternative would be to go down the electronic shifting route (shimano Di2, SRAM eTap, Campagnolo EPS). The complaint levelled at electronic shifting sometimes is that shifting can be too light, which might be a positive in your situation.


I met a chap at the air memorial on Winter Hill who did just that for similar reasons...arthritic fingers.
He said that while he had previously viewed electronic shifters as a posh boys gimmick, they had eabled him to continue cycling and was as happy as larry about that.
Bill


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slowster
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Re: Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

Postby slowster » 12 Feb 2020, 10:46pm

Boxy789 wrote:I have a road bike with dropped bars, I have been diagnosed with arthritis in both my wrists. I think flat bars would be more painful for my wrists, it the gear changing that absolutely kills my wrists. I am thinking of changing to a Jones H bar or butterfly bar.

Are the dropped bars themselves causing pain or braking from the hoods, or is it just the twisting forces that are exerted through the wrist when operating the shifters (which I presume are Shimano STIs)?

If the position of your hands on the dropped bars and on the brake hoods is itself comfortable, then maybe you should consider different types of shifter compatible with your existing bars. As RickH has already suggested, electronic shifting is one option, but will be relatively expensive and require new derailleurs as well as the shifters. Another (much cheaper) option is using bar end shifters.

Your comment "I’m also thinking of having rapid gear changers" suggests to me that you may not have had the opportunity to try Rapidfire shifters, and that you are having to try to imagine what might be best for you without the benefit of trying some of these options which you have identified, e.g. like the Jones bars. Ideally you want to be able to try these options first to assess how they feel and make a more informed judgement about whether you consider them suitable for your needs, but obviously things like bar end shifters and Jones bars are relatively niche products, so are unlikely to be available to try on a demo bike at a bike shop.

Brucey
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Re: Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

Postby Brucey » 12 Feb 2020, 11:24pm

If you have arthritis and this makes using dropped bar STI's painful you have my sympathy. However you are not alone in wanting different shifters, for a number of reasons. Personally I have never found STIs particularly comfortable to use, or particularly convenient either, come to that; ergonomically I think they are seriously flawed even for folk with a normal range of movement. Electronic shifting is one solution but you may not want that for a variety of reasons.

Fortunately there are quite a few other options, including

- Kelly's take offs
- Paul's thumbies
- Dia Compe 'wing' shifters (also SunTour 'command' shifters)
- bar end shifters
- Down tube shifters
- stem mount shifters
- thumbshifters
- trigger shifters

The first two represent part of a category which might be called 'relocated shifters', where they are mounted somewhere they weren't originally intended to go. As long as you can provide a bracket which (say) comprises a DT lever boss and a cable stop, you can use DT levers. Similarly if you can arrange a short length of 22.2mm tube, you can mount any shifter meant for flat bars to it. There are many different ways of (say) mounting a short length of tube to the stem nosebolt, so that flat bar shifters can be used. Typically this is done on touring bikes. If you are wedded to the idea of shifting from the hoods then Kelly's take offs put shift levers in this location, as do SunTour command shifters or Dia Compe 'wing' shifters.

Image

I quite like this position on a touring bike

Image
but with the levers further forwards, i.e. under the tops rather than behind them.

There are also mounts which put DT shifters onto the brake levers themselves, eg 'retroshift'

Image
although you may not find this an improvement in ergonomic terms.

In terms of lowest physical effort in a mechanical shifter, the Prize surely goes to SunTour stem mount powershift levers like these

Image

eg models PUB-10, N-PUB-10 etc. which are the lever models which are obviously longer here;
Image

There is a more detailed image here http://www.disraeligears.co.uk/Site/SunTour_76_Products_-_scan_6.html

These levers have the powershift mechanism (so no friction in the lever on the downshift) and the levers themselves are nearly four inches long. It takes very little effort to move these shifters. Although they have not been manufactured for decades, they turn up regualrly on e-bay.

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

simonhill
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Re: Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

Postby simonhill » 12 Feb 2020, 11:51pm

Arthritis covers a number of different conditions and it is difficult to know how your movement is limited from the simple statement that you have arthritis in the wrists.

Id suggest going to a number of bike shops and seeing what is available. You can then put your hands on the bars to see what is comfortable.

Personally, I wouldn't discount flat bars and rapid fire shifters.

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Cunobelin
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Re: Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

Postby Cunobelin » 13 Feb 2020, 6:24am

My wife used "trekking" or "butterfly" bars

Image

Lots of hand positions, and the adaptability for most brake / gear positions


iandusud
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Re: Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

Postby iandusud » 13 Feb 2020, 8:30am

I can appreciate your predicament. I have a certain amount of arthritis in my wrists and find that the throw on Shimano STIs can be somewhat awkward. SRAM Double Tap is better. I'm a big fan of bar-end shifters. If you haven't used them you might be tempted to think that you have to reach down to operate them but if fact what I find is that whether I'm riding with my hands on the tops or on the hoods when I go to change gear my hand falls naturally to the lever and they give a very positive shift. I should add that I have bikes with Shimano STIs, SRAM Double Tap, and also twistgrip gear changers. If I was building up a "one bike does all" bike I wouldn't hesitate to fit bar-ends in preference to all the other options.

PaulBNix
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Re: Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

Postby PaulBNix » 13 Feb 2020, 1:11pm

I haven’t got arthritic wrists but I do have some in my fingers.
I find the SRAM Etap I fitted wonderful for minimising the pressure needed.
My other bike has mechanical SRAM Rival and it’s just not as comfortable changing gear.

simonhill
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Re: Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

Postby simonhill » 13 Feb 2020, 2:33pm

Thinking about this a bit more.

The OP says she doesn't want flat bars. But is looking at Jones and butterfly they are both basically flat bars.

As I suggested upstream, flat bars with rapid fire shifters. If Ergon platform grips were added this would give a good stable and supporting hand position with no wrist movement.

It's what I use and was testing it out today. You can have the wrist in a completely relaxed position and only have to move the fingers and thumb to change gear.

Obviously it's important that the bike is properly set up to avoid taking too much (any) weight on the hands.

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andrew_s
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Re: Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

Postby andrew_s » 13 Feb 2020, 3:00pm

simonhill wrote:The OP says she doesn't want flat bars. But is looking at Jones and butterfly they are both basically flat bars.

I'd interpret that to mean "not straight bars".
I don't get on with them either, but bars with 40 degrees or so of sweep are fine (On-One Mary, in my case, upside down).

I'd also suggest bar end shifters as a first step, assuming that the drop bars are fine other than shifting.

ChrisButch
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Re: Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

Postby ChrisButch » 13 Feb 2020, 3:12pm

I use bar-end shifters: but I'm surprised that some folk think these are easier on the wrists. I actually find they put more strain on the wrists than, say STI - partly because the lever is so short (complete contrast to the long Sun Tour ones Brucey has mentioned.)

simonhill
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Re: Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

Postby simonhill » 13 Feb 2020, 3:23pm

I agree bar end shifters are the best first step, or at least first thing to consider.

I would have thought that if wrists are painful, keeping them as straight (square) as possible is best. Flat bars and butterfly (basically flat bars with long bar ends) both good. As is riding on the tops. I would think thatJones bar would give a kink in the wrist. Maybe I'm wrong.

I've got RA and sometimes have flare ups in a wrist. Keeping it straight, weight off and supported on the Ergons means I can ride OK.

mattheus
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Re: Changing gear on dropped bar bike hurts my arthritic wrists. Suggestions pls.

Postby mattheus » 13 Feb 2020, 3:56pm

simonhill wrote:I agree bar end shifters are the best first step, or at least first thing to consider.


They're also probably the quickest conversion to try out. Your gear cable will be about the right length, I found it a very quick swap with only quite noddy-level DIY skills required :) Try the fron shofter first, they're a lot less fussy.