Wrist pain. Does bar rotation make a difference? (Update + back sweep)

Hattori-Hanzo

Member
Apr 10, 2023
217
201
UK
After getting my cube 160 with it's stock carbon bars I was getting pains in my wrist, mostly after riding and then for the following days.

I swapped out for some 50mm rise alloy bars and they have helped a lot, I also much prefer the higher bar position for my style of riding, but I'm still getting wrist pain, again not while riding but days after.

I've tried a few different grips and settled on some ergo type with wings, I'm wondering if larger diameter softer grips might help. Any recommendations?

I've also adjusted lever position but I don't find that makes a huge difference.

The Only thing I've not experimented with is the rotation of the bars. I've set them up so the rise is inline with the forks. So if you where to look at the bike from the side the bars and fork are in a straight line.

What effect does rotating the bars backwards/forwards have and could it helps ease my wrist pain.

It only seems to effect my right wrist so maybe I just need to strengthen it with exercise.
 

Haveland

Active member
Apr 21, 2022
190
130
New Brunswick, Canada
There are many factors -- I struggle with wrist pain from time to time, but what has helped me the most is:

A. Angling my brakes down lower
B. Not holding on so tight --- this made the most significant difference
C. Lowered my rebound

I played a lot with rolling the bar and I think it helped a bit but I recently rolled it back to what Oneup says is correct and wrist pain didn't come back.
 

Mikerb

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
May 16, 2019
6,053
4,578
Weymouth
The main reason any part of the body may become painful is when it is asked to perform in a way....or at an angle....that is not optimal. Your wrist is designed to allow your hand to rotate very nearly 90 degrees upward and downward and about 45 degrees sideways left and right. It's strongest position is however when your hand directly aligns with your forearm. Assuming your elbows are slightly bent that determines the position of your hands on the bars.......and bar width is as important as bar rise in ensuring your wrist is not at an angle.
In terms of bar rotation I always set the rise perpendicular to the ground...not in line with the fork angle.
 

Stihldog

Handheld Power Tool
Subscriber
Jun 10, 2020
2,801
3,913
Coquitlam, BC
I haven’t experienced wrist pain but cramping in my hands instead, which has prompted me to find out why.
I use a a OneUp carbon bar with Ergon winged grips. (770mm width). The angle of my brakes was the easiest to solve. Like some have said, a proper alignment of your hand to forearm is probably a better position for your wrist. After learning this I now recognize the geometry position with other riders.

The death grip. I subconsciously do this and I know it’s not helpful. I’ve tried different grips and immediately realized they were not beefy enough, but I had better and faster control of my steering. But they were painfully small. I need a fatter grip. OURY grips seem to be the best size for me, but I need to order these.

I may need to make some other small adjustments to my geometry (seat, stem etc) that are cheap and easy to experiment with.
 

RickBullotta

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
Jun 5, 2019
1,719
1,473
USA
After getting my cube 160 with it's stock carbon bars I was getting pains in my wrist, mostly after riding and then for the following days.

I swapped out for some 50mm rise alloy bars and they have helped a lot, I also much prefer the higher bar position for my style of riding, but I'm still getting wrist pain, again not while riding but days after.

I've tried a few different grips and settled on some ergo type with wings, I'm wondering if larger diameter softer grips might help. Any recommendations?

I've also adjusted lever position but I don't find that makes a huge difference.

The Only thing I've not experimented with is the rotation of the bars. I've set them up so the rise is inline with the forks. So if you where to look at the bike from the side the bars and fork are in a straight line.

What effect does rotating the bars backwards/forwards have and could it helps ease my wrist pain.

It only seems to effect my right wrist so maybe I just need to strengthen it with exercise.

Also, if you have "matchmaker" style clamps that connect the shifter and brake/dropper levers together, get rid of them - they negatively affect ergonomics for very little benefit.
 

Robstyle

Member
Nov 17, 2021
90
111
New Zealand
Yeah as the others have posted there's many things that help.

I've badly injured both my wrists so need a comfy setup now for sure. These are all things that helped me:
Bar roll I usually setup to be swept back inline with my arms in the attack position.
Brakes are quite flat.
I use a PNW 10deg backsweep bar, which is wonderful.
Bars the right width, 760 for me.

Hope something helps 🙂
 

Hattori-Hanzo

Member
Apr 10, 2023
217
201
UK
Loads of great info there guys thanks (y)

Re the bar angle, I watched a video that made some sense but I'm going to experiment a bit I think.
The video suggested that a good starting point for the bar rotation is inline with the fork angle. It feels neutral on flat ground and helps keep your weight centred when on steep descents when the bike is tipped forwards.

It went on to say if the bars are rotated to far forward it can push your weight to far over the bars on descents.

I guess with lower rise bars the effect is less obvious but with high rise bars it becomes a lot more apparent?

This is a diagram of how my bars are at the moment on the left, and Mikerb's on the right.

Bar rotation.jpg


The spank bars I'm running are uncut at 800mm, I do like the feel of wider bars but it sounds like this could be contributing to the pain. I may try trimming them down 10mm at a time and seeing if it improves things. Down side if it doesn't I'll have to buy new bars 😩
How do you determine the correct bar width?


I do have combined brakes and shifters but they seem okay to me. I believe the pain is coming more from pressure.

The Mobius X8 does look interesting, expensive, but interesting. Hoping I can sort the issue without spending that amount first.
 

Robstyle

Member
Nov 17, 2021
90
111
New Zealand
Re bar width: you don't have to cut them. Just spend a day out holding your grips as far in as possible. Dont forget to adjust your brakes.

Then if it's working for you break out the cutting disc!
 

#lazy

E*POWAH BOSS
Oct 1, 2019
1,325
1,437
Surrey
Another advocate for raising the brake levers , mine are slightly lower than level . You will ride when stood up with a finger on the lever and your hand will be flatter almost locked so no pressure on the wrist !
 

Mikerb

E*POWAH Elite World Champion
May 16, 2019
6,053
4,578
Weymouth
Loads of great info there guys thanks (y)

Re the bar angle, I watched a video that made some sense but I'm going to experiment a bit I think.
The video suggested that a good starting point for the bar rotation is inline with the fork angle. It feels neutral on flat ground and helps keep your weight centred when on steep descents when the bike is tipped forwards.

It went on to say if the bars are rotated to far forward it can push your weight to far over the bars on descents.

I guess with lower rise bars the effect is less obvious but with high rise bars it becomes a lot more apparent?

This is a diagram of how my bars are at the moment on the left, and Mikerb's on the right.

View attachment 125664

The spank bars I'm running are uncut at 800mm, I do like the feel of wider bars but it sounds like this could be contributing to the pain. I may try trimming them down 10mm at a time and seeing if it improves things. Down side if it doesn't I'll have to buy new bars 😩
How do you determine the correct bar width?


I do have combined brakes and shifters but they seem okay to me. I believe the pain is coming more from pressure.

The Mobius X8 does look interesting, expensive, but interesting. Hoping I can sort the issue without spending that amount first.
I know what you are pointing out with the diagrams............but it is misleading to go by eyeline. Use a plumline with the weight on the floor directly below the bars and then rotate the bars until you get the highest point on the plumline (at the point on the bars where the diameter just reduces to the smallest). You will then maximise the rise of the bars. Any rotation forward or back will reduce the rise. Rotation back will also reduce reach, rotation forward will increase reach.

More important however are the changes you make to the upsweep and back sweep if you rotate the bars and that will effect the angle of you hands in relation to your forearms.
Regarding bar width there are a couple of reasons to cut to suit. One might be the type of terrain you ride. Certainly 800mm bars on forest trails typically with trees close to the trail can make life more difficult ( or painful!!).The other reason is achieving a straight forearm and hand ( meaning straight wrist) when you have your elbows slightly bent to provide shock absorbtion. Your strongest position is if your hands ( on the grips) are marginally wider than your shoulders. (Consider the difference in strength required to do press ups with your hands directly beneath your shoulders compared to a much wider stance).
Personally my enduro bike has bars cut to 770 and my super enduro cut to 780.
 

HORSPWR

E*POWAH Master
May 23, 2019
845
672
Alice Springs, Australia
This helped my wrist pain and the pins and needles on longer rides.

Diety 80mm riser bars at 780mm wide. Remember the wider your bars the more you lean forward and then the more pressure you put on your wrists and your lower back.
Wolf Tooth Karv grips. Like having suspension in the palm of your hand.
 

rod9301

Member
Oct 10, 2020
142
68
US
After getting my cube 160 with it's stock carbon bars I was getting pains in my wrist, mostly after riding and then for the following days.

I swapped out for some 50mm rise alloy bars and they have helped a lot, I also much prefer the higher bar position for my style of riding, but I'm still getting wrist pain, again not while riding but days after.

I've tried a few different grips and settled on some ergo type with wings, I'm wondering if larger diameter softer grips might help. Any recommendations?

I've also adjusted lever position but I don't find that makes a huge difference.

The Only thing I've not experimented with is the rotation of the bars. I've set them up so the rise is inline with the forks. So if you where to look at the bike from the side the bars and fork are in a straight line.

What effect does rotating the bars backwards/forwards have and could it helps ease my wrist pain.

It only seems to effect my right wrist so maybe I just need to strengthen it with exercise.
When i switched to a e bike, 53 of 5, i had wrist pain for a year or so and i think it was because my forearms were but strong enough for the heavy bike.

I tried different grips, nothing really helped, but eventually the pain went away once i got used to the weight
 

Hattori-Hanzo

Member
Apr 10, 2023
217
201
UK
Thanks for the replies all 👍

The explanation makes sense Mike, cheers. Going to have a play with the bars, I suspect they do need shortening a bit and I'll experiment with the angle.
 

Plummet

Flash Git
Mar 16, 2023
861
1,223
New Zealand
Lots of info here on the bars. No talk of suspension set up or tire pressure.

If the front rides too harsh you will also potentially get wrist pain. Deliver into your shock setting and make sure the front tire isn't too pumped up.
 

Cerps

New Member
Mar 20, 2023
6
4
Minnesota
To test bar width before cutting simply slide your grips in and let excess bar stick out. Go for a ride(s) and get width dialed in before cutting.

Brake lever and shifter angle are important as stated above. Shift lever you don't want to have to bring your thumb way back and up but since you're talking both wrists this likely isn't the case.

I think if you rotate them forward you put more weight on the inside of your palms towards the thumbs and rotate them back/down you put more weight on the outside of your palms. My hands are very sensitive to bar roll. Specifically my thumbs. I spent a winter season on the fatbike with bars too far forward and think I did permanent damage to my thumb joints and supportive tissue/ligaments at the base of my thumbs into my wrists. If I don't get it just right I feel it start to come back and feel it off the bike. I also now feel it when shoveling, mowing the lawn, and maneuvering the snowblower if I don't hold equipment just right.
 
Sep 18, 2020
54
65
Truckee Ca
Yeah as the others have posted there's many things that help.

I've badly injured both my wrists so need a comfy setup now for sure. These are all things that helped me:
Bar roll I usually setup to be swept back inline with my arms in the attack position.
Brakes are quite flat.
I use a PNW 10deg backsweep bar, which is wonderful.
Bars the right width, 760 for me.

Hope something helps 🙂
How tall are you?
 

jonmat

Member
Feb 22, 2020
97
68
Sheffield
I'm old and used to suffer with wrist pain, but it's a matter of experimentation and not an exact science. I tried different stems, handle bars, grips, seat positions, all of that until I found my sweet spot. Ergon GP1 grips were a game changer for me, it helps spread the load on your hands an consequently reduces stress on your wrist. Fit and positioning is the key.
 

Electrified

New Member
Feb 26, 2023
2
13
Australia
Have you tried tilting the nose of your seat up slightly? Seriously this makes a big difference in the weight transferred into your hands. If your seat tilt is nose down you will feel like your body is sliding forward off the seat and you will compensate by subconsciously transferring weight through the handle bars. Don’t tilt too far up either as that causes pressure on the perineal area.

There is a sweet spot where things are balanced.
 

steveL

Member
Nov 11, 2022
35
39
Southeast BC
I'm going to suggest that the 800 mm bar width is excessive and a good place to start.

You can find some online calculators. Do a pushup and measure that distance, a starting point.

Steve
 

Hattori-Hanzo

Member
Apr 10, 2023
217
201
UK
Thanks for all the input guys, much appreciated (y)

I've had a play with the bar rotation today, Angled them straight up instead of inline with the forks.
Also trimmed them down by 20mm.
Only had the chance for a quick ride but first impressions seem positive. Although I've shortened the bars it does feel like the reach has increased slightly, I should get used to that. Wrist angle feels a lot better, though I need to have a proper day out to tell for sure.

I'm pretty happy with level positions, grips (ergon GA3) and the seat was one thing I spent a while getting right so I think that's okay. Tilt angle on the seat made a massive difference to how much pressure was on my wrists.

I'm thinking because these are higher rise bars (50mm) I had them angled back too much and it was putting my wrists at a bad angle. Hopefully with the rotation change and shortening the bars I'm on the right tracks (y)
 

Nomad1

New Member
Apr 2, 2023
199
62
03818
Loads of great info there guys thanks (y)

Re the bar angle, I watched a video that made some sense but I'm going to experiment a bit I think.
The video suggested that a good starting point for the bar rotation is inline with the fork angle. It feels neutral on flat ground and helps keep your weight centred when on steep descents when the bike is tipped forwards.

It went on to say if the bars are rotated to far forward it can push your weight to far over the bars on descents.

I guess with lower rise bars the effect is less obvious but with high rise bars it becomes a lot more apparent?

This is a diagram of how my bars are at the moment on the left, and Mikerb's on the right.

View attachment 125664

The spank bars I'm running are uncut at 800mm, I do like the feel of wider bars but it sounds like this could be contributing to the pain. I may try trimming them down 10mm at a time and seeing if it improves things. Down side if it doesn't I'll have to buy new bars 😩
How do you determine the correct bar width?


I do have combined brakes and shifters but they seem okay to me. I believe the pain is coming more from pressure.

The Mobius X8 does look interesting, expensive, but interesting. Hoping I can sort the issue without spending that amount first.
you can move your grips inboard without cutting bars down to get a indication depending on your grips. Also it's a good idea to have end caps in place just for safety.
 

Hattori-Hanzo

Member
Apr 10, 2023
217
201
UK
So update,

Managed to spend a day at bike park with the adjusted bars, unfortunately I didn't see any improvement in my wrist, if anything it was worse as after only a few runs I was getting pains in both wrists, before it was just my right.
I could definitely feel my weight was further forward on descents which may have been putting more pressure on my wrists causing the pain to come on quicker, flats and climbs were better though 😁

So back to more tinkering, Going to roll the bars back slightly and I've got some extra chunky esi grips, similar to the wolf tooth grips mentioned, I'm intrigued to see if they ease the pain any, though I'm not holding my breath.

lastly I did the very unscientific wrist angle test (two sticks and a bit of string) to see what angle my wrists naturally sit at and it's around 14°

This is making me wonder if bars with a larger back sweep maybe the answer. I often pinch the bars between my index finger and thumb and let the rest of my hand relax to ease the pain on the outside of my wrist.
My current spank bars have 8° back sweep which I understand is pretty common.

From a quick search and mentioned above @claudiobosticco the Sqlabs 12/16° bars come up a lot.
Does anyone know of any other bars with at least a 12° back sweep?

I'd be interested to hear from anyone that uses such bars and how you find them.
The 12° seem most popular with some suggesting the 16° is to much for heavy trail riding.

Hopefully I'll get there in the end, perhaps I just need to toughen up but I'm not getting any younger 🥴
 
Dec 18, 2021
8
11
Italy
I recall that Ergotec has some 12° back sweep bars.

BTW I use their "High Bass" stem which has 40mm of rise, as I think that most mtbs have too low handlebars, and that a higher handlebar is useful especially when you have a modern bike with long reach (and in my case also a high BB). My bike is a "old" Pole Evolink 150 L size, mounted as a 29". Analog bike yes, as I'm currently looking for an ebike but I'm still without a motor 😞.

About 16° being too much for heavy trail riding, I recall Jeff Jones as the first I saw doing gnarly stuff with his H-Bars and a fully rigid bike:

There's also Paul Aston which likes SQLab

Then that's me
I'm 52 and I get to ride only a couple of times a month (sic) on average and I think this cockpit has been one of the best upgrades I've ever done to my bike.
 
Last edited:

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