Handlebar Conversion might remedy bike fit problems

by michelle bontrager in

Thumbies by Paul Component Engineering, mounts for bar end shifters

Thumbies by Paul Component Engineering, mounts for bar end shifters

  • I can’t find my center of gravity

  • My neck hurts

  • My hands go numb

  • My back aches

There is a euphoria that occurs with a new bicycle purchase. Who doesn’t succumb to the excitement of a shiny new machine that holds promises for new adventures ahead? Sometimes after the initial excitement of the purchase has worn off, maybe after a few rides you might find that the fit is a tad off. Hints like a sore back or numb hands could be indicators that your bike fit may need to be adjusted. Pain and discomfort should not be part of your cycling experience.

The first step to adjusting your bicycle for comfort is to double check your seat position. Make sure that your bike seat height and angle are adjusted correctly. Your legs should fully extend on the downstroke as you pedal and your sit bones should be located on the widest part of the saddle. Adjust the seat height and/or it’s placement on the rails to achieve the optimal seating position.

Then ride your new bicycle for 2 weeks. It takes about 14 rides to get your bike legs back if you haven’t been cycling for awhile. If you aren’t enjoying yourself by this time then we need to check your stance on the bike.

The three most common changes made to a bike to make it more comfortable are the:

  1. saddle

  2. stem

  3. handlebar style

Bicycle manufacturers choose components for their factory builds based on price, availability, and what might fit the majority of consumers. It is not surprising that these components sometimes need to be changed out in order to fit your unique anatomy.

Recently our neighbor, Carol, brought her brand new Surly Cross Check to us for a fit assessment. Carol purchased a Surly as a sporty upgrade to the clunky hybrid that she previously rode around town. Yet her new hip bike was causing such discomfort that she was avoiding cycling altogether.

We talked to Carol about her riding goals and looked at her stance on the Surly. The shop where she purchased the bike sold her the correct size frame but the style of the handlebars were causing her to feel unsteady. After considering several of our handlebar recommendations Carol chose a NITTO flat bar which sports an ergonomic bend at the grip area. This led to a new slightly longer stem as well. These two changes made all the difference for Carol. Her bike maintains a sportiness that she desired and with new handlebars sized to her body type she handles the bike with panache.

NITTO straight bars

NITTO straight bars

New stem, handlebars, brake levers, shifter mounts.

New stem, handlebars, brake levers, shifter mounts.

Incorrect Bicycle Fit Symptoms:

  • Neck Pain

  • Hand Numbness

  • Lower back pain

  • Groin pain

  • Knee pain

First Tier Solutions to Bicycle Fit Problems

  • Saddle

  • Posture

  • Cockpit adjustments; handlebars, stem

Brooks Professional Leather Saddle with copper rivets

Brooks Professional Leather Saddle with copper rivets


Your saddle should be level and your sit bones should be placed directly on its widest part. If your saddle is still causing discomfort it is time to shop for a new style. An improper saddle adjustment can cause groin, back, or knee pain. We recommend leather saddles because the natural material conforms to your anatomy.

Poor posture

Perhaps the hardest part of the bicycle fit is being conscious of how we hold our bodies. Core and tricep strength as well as your flexibility will greatly aid your riding style. Think about improving your posture throughout the day. Develop good habits with repetition and work. As you engage your core and your posture improves you will alleviate neck, hand, and lower back pain, especially on those longer bike rides.

Handlebar style

A new pair of bars will change your ride experience more than any other change made to your bicycle. Handlebar choice is based on your body size and your riding goals. A proper handlebar and stem combination will address neck, hand, wrist, and shoulder pain.

NITTO quill stem

NITTO quill stem

Jones H-Bars replaced straight bars

Jones H-Bars replaced straight bars

Sometimes a few millimeters of adjustments make the difference from an agonizing bicycle fit to a comfortable one, other times a few component changes need to be made. Bring your bicycle by if it’s causing you discomfort and we’ll gladly offer recommendations. Bicycling season is upon us, time for you to get ready.

A Classic Bike Refurbished

by michelle bontrager in

Triumph bike manufactured in England

Triumph bike manufactured in England

Witnessing loving relationships is such a joy. As a retailer, I have met many happy couples and never tire of hearing the stories of how they met, when they first realized that they shared a deep connection, or how they maintain their love through the tribulations of life. Their stories inspire me.

The small things we do for our loved one at home is a clear testament of our adoration and commitment to one another. Rituals such as preparing breakfast for your lover, offering a warm squeeze before heading out the door, or brewing a pot of tea on a cold winter’s afternoon, these actions become the foundation of our relationships.

Triumph English bicycle

Triumph English bicycle

But then once in a while a big surprise adds just the right amount of excitement to the mix. It’s not the parties, warm drinks, or cozy evenings tucked in that makes the holiday season the most romantic time of the year it’s the presents! Giving gifts communicates our affection and in a way demonstrates that we have been listening. It’s the best feeling in the world when we find just the right gift.

More often than not a new bicycle is the perfect surprise gift or in the case of Scott and Shannon a restored classic bicycle was the perfect surprise gift. Knowing that Shannon appreciates the aesthetics of classic bicycles Scott found a wonderful English 3-speed for her. He kindly chose our shop to complete it’s restoration.

When we receive a project of this nature we interview the owner of the bike in order to understand their expectations. We have worked on Shannon and Scott’s bicycles for many years and understood that Shannon enjoys riding her bike to her job located in central Denver, and she enjoys riding around the Highlands neighborhood with her family. Our intent was to maintain the integrity of the original bicycle but also make it enjoyable to ride.

Brand new Sturmey Archer 5-speed Internally Geared Hub

Brand new Sturmey Archer 5-speed Internally Geared Hub

One of Scott’s first concerns was the condition of the original wheel set. We agreed with him that an upgraded wheel set with modern hubs would clearly make the Triumph easier to ride in our hilly neighborhood. The boxy, shiny rims we used match the Triumph’s vintage style. The rear wheel features a new Sturmey Archer 5-speed internally geared hub giving Shannon a better range of gears than the original 3-speed. The front wheel has a new dynamo hub to generate her brand new Bush+Muller LED light system. We installed a vintage vegan seat since Shannon is a strict vegetarian.

Upon completion of this project Shannon received a bicycle that will reliably take her through our city neighborhoods day and night. The vintage, beveled shiny fenders will keep her clean, and the rear rack can carry her essentials for the day. The perfect bike for Shannon.

We currently have a few vintage frame sets in the shop that can be restored upon request. But even easier, all of our 2018 bicycles are marked down 15% off for the holidays!

Shannon’s Bicycle

  • Bespoke wheel set

  • Shimano dynamo front hub

  • Sturmey Archer 5-speed rear hub

  • B+M light system

  • Vintage saddle (non-leather)

  • Vintage fender set

  • Linus rear rack

  • Schwalbe cream tires

  • new cables and gold housing

  • Full overhaul