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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Is flat handlebar the source of ulnar nerve pain?

    I built up a BMC Team Machine this summer with dura ace mechanical drivetrain, Easton wheels, bars, stem. Love the EA 90 tubeless wheels, EC70 stem is... well, a stem. But I need to replace the EC90 Aero handlebars.

    Pros: I got the carbon bar to help reduce road chatter. It's super light.

    Cons: It is also a flat bar and an aero bar.. The compact "ergo bend" is annoying, as I can't get down as far in the drops. That's easy to fix in a new bar without the ergo feature.

    It's the flat feature I'm not sure about. I'm getting significant pain in the ulnar nerve in my left hand. Seperately, while traveling for work, I did a 40 mile ride last week on a rental Trek (aluminum frame, which was way more rough than carbon) with the old fashioned round bar, and I had no pain after the ride. I assume the bar was aluminum too.

    So... Should I avoid flat bars as a category, or is it just this particular one?

    And how does one test handlebars to get the right one? I really don't know where to start, but this does seem like a job for the LBS.

    Its like a seat i guess... the best one is the one that you dont really notice.

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I would try a cheap round bar. Your lbs might have some take offs laying around for very cheap. If they work and are heavy, you can always pick up a similar bar of higher quality. Are you sure it's not your shifters causing the problem?

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: terbennett's Avatar
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    You're going to have more positions for your hands with a drop bar. If you really need the flat bar, I would think that the round one would be better for you. Just based on I we place our hands on a handlebar, it would seem that a flat spot on a handlebar would be the place where you would put the most pressure on your hands.

  4. #4
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    Thanks twinkles. I hadn't thought about the possibility of the shifters. My old bike w round bars is 2003ish Ultegra, the rental bike was SRAM force--no hand problems w either shifter/round bar combo. I just assumed it was the bar because that is such a departure from anything I've ever ridden. I have moved the shifters around a bit in terms of position (pushing them inwards) and that has helped ease the pain, though not end it.

  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: Ventruck's Avatar
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    Is your stem at it's lowest?

    But I highly doubt it's the flat tops making your hands hurt. You shouldn't have to grip that section so tightly either. One alternative suggestion is Shimano PRO Vibe (or Vibe 7S for the less expensive allow version). The 31.8mm clamp section is continuous along the top so you have a big round surface to put your hands on compared to most brands

  6. #6
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    Reputation: looigi's Avatar
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    FWIW: I'll mention that for me, I find it's better to have less or minimal padding on the bars and gloves. I find ordinary bar tape with no gel and gloves with no padding to work the best with respect to numbness or nerve pain.
    ... 'cuz that's how I roll.

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I've dealt with a bit of wierd hand-wrist nerve pain, and have found that when it flares up, ice is your best friend. I have also found that my padded bike gloves set it off, so I ride with glvoes with no padding. If the bars don't help, it sounds like a great excuse to get a new group. Sounds like you are on the right path to get things figured out.

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