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Neck pain after ~30Min of riding

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Neck pain after ~30Min of riding

Old 09-11-19, 06:02 PM
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Speedldew
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Neck pain after ~30Min of riding

So, I'm 1,80m (5,9 foot) and I have a Trek Checkpoint SL in Size 54 and use a large seatdome. Problem is, that every time after riding about 30 minutes the right side of my neck starts hurting. Now, despite riding Size 54 I'm feeling quite stretched out so the reach might still be a little bit too long for me (appearently I just have rather long legs in relation to my upper body) and since I use the shortest version of the Redshift suspension stem I can't shorten the reach with a shorter stem anymore. However the stock Handlebar has a pretty long reach with 85mm (42cm wide) so I could upgrade to one with a shorter reach. I'm thinking about the Zipp Service Course 70 XPLR which has a reach of 70mm and also a backsweep which would be nice since I never felt quite comfortable on the tops either. Also the 42cm feel okayish on the hoods but a bit narrow on the tops so I'm thinking about going to a 44 or maybe even 46cm? I don't care much for aerodynamics - comfort is my main goal here.
I also want to mention that I don't just ride my bike but also work out in the gym and the neck pain only pops up during cycling and trying to straighten out my posture under supervision of a physical therapist didn't improve anything, unfortunately. Turning the stem around to sit higher also didn't help.
So, would shortening the reach be a valid approach to fix my issues and if so, should I go for a 44 or a 46 (42 definitaly feels a little bit too narrow on the tops)? Any input would be welcome.

Last edited by Speedldew; 09-11-19 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 09-11-19, 06:12 PM
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Clem von Jones
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It's counter-intuitive but sometimes you can increase your comfort by lowering/slamming the stem. If you can get the stem low enough and your saddle setback far enough to balance over the bike with very little or no pressure on your hands (supporting all weight with your spine) that will remove tension in your neck, upper back, and shoulders. When riding your hands should rest very lightly on the bars. They shouldn't be supporting your weight. You shouldn't be leaning onto bars that are too far away. If your headtube is too tall you can buy deep drop bars (150mm FSA Energy). You could even use 175mm drop track bars if it comes to that.

There are many compact road bars with 70mm reach (for example Specialized stock bars, UNO bars). Also you could go with narrower bars. I'm a big guy but love narrow 40cm bars. Narrower also reduces reach. I use 40cm drop bars on my mountain bike and have no problem with that. It's a myth you need wide bars offroad. Wide bars are actually a hazard on tight overgrown trails.

Last edited by Clem von Jones; 09-12-19 at 09:07 AM.
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Old 09-11-19, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Clem von Jones View Post
It's counter-intuitive but sometimes you can increase your comfort by lowering/slamming the stem. If you can get the stem low enough and your saddle setback far enough to balance over the bike with very little or no pressure on your hands (supporting all weight with your spine) that will remove tension in your neck, upper back, and shoulders.

There are many compact road bars with 70mm reach (for example Specialized stock bars). Also you could go with narrower bars. I'm a big guy but love narrow bars. Narrower also reduces reach.
Alright, currently I have tilted the handlebar up and put the saddle in the frontmost position. Didn't have the time for a testride with these adjustments, yet, tho - I will check this out tomorrow. But if that fails, I gonna try out your suggestion next.

Last edited by Speedldew; 09-11-19 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 09-11-19, 11:30 PM
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If you have medical insurance, get a fit done by a physical therapist.
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Old 09-12-19, 01:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
If you have medical insurance, get a fit done by a physical therapist.
I'm german and only have normal state insurance but a bike fit isn't covered, unfortunately.
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Old 09-12-19, 03:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Speedldew View Post
Alright, currently I have tilted the handlebar up and put the saddle in the frontmost position. Didn't have the time for a testride with these adjustments, yet, tho - I will check this out tomorrow. But if that fails, I gonna try out your suggestion next.
5'9" with long legs on a 54cm?
I think you are going in the wrong direction.
Put the saddle all the way back.
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Old 09-12-19, 03:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Clem von Jones View Post
It's counter-intuitive but sometimes you can increase your comfort by lowering/slamming the stem. If you can get the stem low enough and your saddle setback far enough to balance over the bike with very little or no pressure on your hands (supporting all weight with your spine) that will remove tension in your neck, upper back, and shoulders. When riding your hands should rest very lightly on the bars. They shouldn't be supporting your weight. You shouldn't be leaning onto the bars. If you're headtube is too tall you can buy deep drop bars (150mm FSA Energy). You could even use 175mm drop track bars if it comes to that.

There are many compact road bars with 70mm reach (for example Specialized stock bars, UNO bars). Also you could go with narrower bars. I'm a big guy but love narrow 40cm bars. Narrower also reduces reach. I use 40cm drop bars on my mountain bike and have no problem with that. It's a myth you need wide bars offroad. Wide bars are actually a hazard on tight overgrown trails.
There is no myth, it's why MTBs come with wide bars. It's why motorcycle dirt bikes come with wide bars.
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Old 09-12-19, 05:23 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
5'9" with long legs on a 54cm?
I think you are going in the wrong direction.
Put the saddle all the way back.
According to the physical therapist the problem lies in the bend of my spine when I have to look up on the Gravelbike to see what's in front of me - I don't have the problem at all on my trekking bike with an upright position. Appearently I lack some core stability in the neck/shoulder region so that my muscles can't quite support the aggressive position, yet. Meaning I have to get the spine in the neck region as straight as possible - which means, shorteen the reach and raising the handlebar. And, of course, doing some more core strength training for neck and shoulders. According to him, it's more about the position rather than weight distribution. However I will try a lower Handlebar position with a longer reach if the current position doesn't improve things. Can't hurt - at least not that much more than it already does.
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Old 09-12-19, 07:36 AM
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It may not just be from the bike... I get the same exact neck pain occasionally after some 80+ mile rides. At times I can do 5 straight 80 mile days with no pain and at times it appears after only one. Once triggered from the long ride it can take a week or two to fully go away. I've found my work desk at home and using the computer I feel the same pain after the long ride triggers it. You may have other factors putting stress in that region and the bike is just one more and enough to take it to the next level.
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Old 09-12-19, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
There is no myth, it's why MTBs come with wide bars. It's why motorcycle dirt bikes come with wide bars.
Recall your comment after you crash when oak branch branch reaches out and snags the bar. That's happened to me a couple times. Every time I upgrade my bikes I've chosen narrower bars and a lower center of gravity position. What's happened in recent history is that mountain bikes have become accessories to ski resorts and are mere downhill rides that require seasonal ski pass tickets. They're just recreational "rides" and are no longer real bicycles in the traditional fully-functional sense. The geometry of modern mtbs is designed to mitigate the risk of breaking your neck when bombing downhill at break-neck speed. They won't prevent your neck from breaking though. Gravel bikes have moved in to fill the niche that mtbs have now abandoned.

My gripe with modern bikes is they've gone from something developed incrementally by evolution over a century that had real utility to something concocted by a gimmicky marketing doofus between coffee breaks.

Last edited by Clem von Jones; 09-12-19 at 09:34 AM.
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Old 09-12-19, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Clem von Jones View Post
Recall your comment after you crash when oak branch branch reaches out and snags the bar. That's happened to me a couple times. Every time I upgrade my bikes I've chosen narrower bars and a lower center of gravity position. What's happened in recent history is that mountain bikes have become accessories to ski resorts and are mere downhill rides that require seasonal ski pass tickets. They're just recreational "rides" and are no longer real bicycles in the traditional fully-functional sense. The geometry of modern mtbs is designed to mitigate the risk of breaking your neck when bombing downhill at break-neck speed. They won't prevent your neck from breaking though. Gravel bikes have moved in to fill the niche that mtbs have now abandoned.

My gripe with modern bikes is they've gone from something developed incrementally by evolution over a century that had real utility to something concocted by a gimmicky marketing doofus between coffee breaks.
It's not a myth that wider bars on a bike give more direct control per given amount of effort. How wide you want to go and anything you see as a negative side effect of that is up to personal preference. Applies to flat bar and drop bars with width or a drastic flare. Your description is close to a similar analogy that reducing the capability of front brakes might save you from flipping over the bars.

Last edited by u235; 09-12-19 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 09-12-19, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Speedldew View Post
Appearently I lack some core stability in the neck/shoulder region so that my muscles can't quite support the aggressive position, yet.

And, of course, doing some more core strength training for neck and shoulders.
My feeling is that this might resolve itself as more riding is done.

This is based on my own neck which got quite thick and muscular when I commuted 12,000 km/year on a road bike. In 2018 I rode nearly 8000 miles and much of that on rough gravel. Small gains in upper body mass and lots of definition, especially in the triceps, were noticeable in the mirror.

I'm not saying to ride through the pain or ignore your health care provider but only that it will might be temporary if you have not ridden a more aggressive drop bar bike and go away as your body strengthens.


-Tim-
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Old 09-12-19, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Speedldew View Post
put the saddle in the frontmost position
you may have a weight distribution problem, by slamming the saddle way forward, you are loading more weights to your shoulder and neck.
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Old 09-12-19, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Speedldew View Post
I'm german and only have normal state insurance but a bike fit isn't covered, unfortunately.
Sorry to hear that. Here, it's only covered if riding the bike gives you pain. Anyway, I would still recommend a physical therapist if it doesn't go away.
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Old 09-13-19, 02:05 AM
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Originally Posted by u235 View Post
It's not a myth that wider bars on a bike give more direct control per given amount of effort. How wide you want to go and anything you see as a negative side effect of that is up to personal preference. Applies to flat bar and drop bars with width or a drastic flare. Your description is close to a similar analogy that reducing the capability of front brakes might save you from flipping over the bars.
Yeah, steering on the tops feels a tat bit too wonky on the 42s for my taste - that's why I'd prefer a wider bar. I can make do with the current one but it's certainly not ideal. However, first I need to figure out what reach I really need in order to feel comfortable concidering my neck pain - I don't think that the width has a noticable impact on that - wider bar would be a nice bonus, tho. It's propably gonna take me a bit of experimenting to figure out my ideal bike fit, tho.

Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
My feeling is that this might resolve itself as more riding is done.

This is based on my own neck which got quite thick and muscular when I commuted 12,000 km/year on a road bike. In 2018 I rode nearly 8000 miles and much of that on rough gravel. Small gains in upper body mass and lots of definition, especially in the triceps, were noticeable in the mirror.

I'm not saying to ride through the pain or ignore your health care provider but only that it will might be temporary if you have not ridden a more aggressive drop bar bike and go away as your body strengthens.

-Tim-
Yeah, I think so too but I want to get the transition to getting stronger as painlessly as possible. Also, I want to make sure that the pain won't develop into something serious which keeps me off the bike, so I'd prefer to ease myself into it rather than forcing myself into a certain position.

Originally Posted by Chi_Z View Post
you may have a weight distribution problem, by slamming the saddle way forward, you are loading more weights to your shoulder and neck.
True. Although my physical therapist claims that this is not the case I still concider that to be a possibility. He's the opinion that the bend of my spine when I have to look up on the Gravelbike to see what's in front of me is causing the pain. So, getting to an as upright position as possible is gonna be my first try (seatpost still has 10mm setback so it's not that bad, btw). But I'm fully prepared to try out a longer reach and maybe even a lower handlebar position if that doesn't work.
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Old 09-13-19, 07:24 AM
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I highly recommend spending the money to get a proper fit with a certified fitter. It's worth it!
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Old 09-13-19, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
5'9" with long legs on a 54cm?
I think you are going in the wrong direction.
Put the saddle all the way back.
I think I'd disagree with that - 5'9" with long legs means he has a short torso. The reach is too long and it's causing shoulder and neck issues.

I'd definitely try moving the seat forward, maybe checking the tilt (if you're tilted forward you will have more pressure on your hands/arms/shoulders). I tilt my seat on my road and gravel bikes slightly back. Then possibly put a spacer under the stem to raise the bars just a bit (use a 4 or 5mm spacer). Depending on how the steerer tube is cut you may not be able to put a spacer under the stem - if you have a couple spacers above the stem already just move one under.

You said you're more comfortable on your trekking bike with a more upright position...the changes above will make you more upright.
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Old 09-13-19, 09:39 AM
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No
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Old 09-13-19, 10:11 AM
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Alright! Todays ride with the saddle in the forward position and another 5mm spacer under the stem felt much better than yesterdays ride in a more aggressive position so I think I'm going in the right direction. I wasn't completely painless but this time the pain started to set in much later at around an hour mark while yesterday I felt the pain creeping in after 20min or so. I also had no issues with numbness in my hands so the forward saddle position doesn't seem to have any negative side effects. So, I gonna test this position a bit longer and if it stays that way I may try the shorter handlebar. Btw, 42cm definitely is too narrow for my taste - so would you recommend a 44 or should I go straight up to 46?

Last edited by Speedldew; 09-13-19 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 09-14-19, 01:30 PM
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Fit advice for aches and pains over the internet should be taken a whole sack of salt. Who knows why YOUR neck hurts, but Iíll tell you what helped mine:

Tilting my saddle nose down a bit so that I could tilt my pelvis more forward. This took some of the bend out of my back, so that my lower back was tilted more forward, and my upper back was more upright than before, which means my neck is not as bent to look forward. I am not any more or less upright than before, but my neck is less bent back.
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Old 09-14-19, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
Fit advice for aches and pains over the internet should be taken a whole sack of salt. Who knows why YOUR neck hurts, but Iíll tell you what helped mine:

Tilting my saddle nose down a bit so that I could tilt my pelvis more forward. This took some of the bend out of my back, so that my lower back was tilted more forward, and my upper back was more upright than before, which means my neck is not as bent to look forward. I am not any more or less upright than before, but my neck is less bent back.
For now I'm just collecting advice so that I have a few options to try out. So, every advice which comes together with sensible reasoning is very welcome! So, thank you very much!
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