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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my first post on the forum and I couldn't find an answer through search. Please forgive me if this a stupid noob question:

I'm 67 and weigh 130 pounds. My ride is a 52cm Trek Madone with SRAM Red.

My problem is the negative effects of vibration on my hands. What I'm trying to figure out is how low I can go on front tire air pressure before it negatively affects performance or handling.

I'm running 25c Gatorskins. I ride at least two group rides a week and ride 20-30 miles a day. Any help or advice is appreciated.

Thanks,

Randy
 

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I weigh a little more than you and with my Vittoria Corsa Evo III's at 80/90 psi front and rear respectively get a pretty good ride. I also have carbon bars to help out some.
The 25's have more volume and lower pressures can be used compared to like a 23. Play around with it till it gets as good as it gets.
 

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Gatorskins are pretty rough riding tires compared to many others. Continental GP4000S would be a smoother riding tire in the Continental line up. at 130lbs I would guess you can run below 75psi easily in the front. Bike fit can make a pretty big difference on how much weight you have on your hands. Keeping your arms relaxed and bent at the elbow helps with hand discomfort. How long have you been riding?
 

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I use 25mm Vittoria OpenCorsa Evo CX - rated as one of the most supple of tires (because of its 320tpi?) and I'm 175lbs. I use 80f/90r pressures and the ride is perfect.

My tires will be lots more comfy than your Gartorskins. But lower your pressures (you never said what they are ATM) by 5 psi per ride until you feel a benefit or you suffer because the pressures are too low - pinch flats, tire roll or squirm on cornering etc,

I hope you are using well padded cycling gloves and you can do what some pros do for cobbled Paris-Roubaix - two layers of HB tape or gel pads under the tape. And bend ze elbowz. They are wonderful suspension units.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
How long have you been riding?
I have a Trek 520 that I used for touring in the 1990s. I bought the Madone used about 5 months ago to get back in the saddle. It's a nice bike and weighs about 15 lbs. The next upgrade will be carbon bars to help more with the vibes. I'll get a pro fitting after that to see if it helps my hands. I live in Phoenix during the cool months and head up to Prescott in the summer so I can ride year round.
 

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Hi there, and welcome to the forum.

Could you elaborate a little bit on what you mean by the 'negative effects of vibration' on your hands?

Is it just your hands? What about wrists? Shoulders?

Is the hand issue symmetrical? Does it happen the same in both hands? Is it pain? Numbness? Cramping?

There was a thread a few days ago that was very similar. You might peruse it to see if you can find any solutions there.

There are a lot of suggestions for things to consider there, but the discussion about the nerves of the hand, and the role they play is probably the biggest takeaway.

Give it a read.

http://forums.roadbikereview.com/general-cycling-discussion/handlebars-numb-hands-354775.html

Edit to answer your tire question. I'm 100lbs heavier than you, and I run my 25mm Continental 4 Seasons front tire at 75lbs. The rear at 85lbs. Depending on the road conditions you are riding in, you should be able to go (a little?) lower.

I'll also ask rhetorically if you've had a trained bike fitter look at your riding position? Having a trained eye look at you weight distribution, arm angle, hand position, handlebar setup, etc... can be a huge help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Mignon, thanks for the link. Good ideas in that conversation. One thing I forgot to mention is the bars currently on the Trek are 44cm and a fitter told me to get a 38cm bar. As soon as I add the narrower bar I intend to get a professional fitting done.
 

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You need to experiment with tire pressure to see what you can get away with.

You also need to try larger tires. In combination, you'll increase the comfort of your ride.

Here's what I did: I started at 100psi. . On the very next ride, I dropped the pressure 5psi., and repeated the process until either the tires obviously felt soft or I bottomed out on the rims and pinch flatted. Then I went back up 5psi. I'm running 23mm tires and weigh 130lbs. . I found 75psi. to be perfect for a couple rides or so, but I have to pump my tires up once a week at 75psi. I find even 80 psi. is a stiff ride.

Increasing tire size will give you a little more room to build some tire suspension into the equation and you probably won't have to pump up your tires so often. Unfortunately, a bike like the Madone restricts you in tire sizes.

So you must experiment with tire pressure and size.

As has been mentioned, there are padding systems that can be installed under the handlebar tape. Aztec Vibe Wrap, Bike Ribbon, and Fiz:ik are just a few options.

Next, wear padded cycling gloves.

You could also raise your handlebar position to take some weight off your hands.
 

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My problem is the negative effects of vibration on my hands.
Please explain specifically what this is. Numbness? Tingling? Where specifically?

This may have nothing to do with your tires at all and be related to bike fit and/or how you're placing your hands on the bars.
I'd be surprised that at weighing only 130lbs going to 25c tires would cure this problem.
 

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Here is a good link. Use the 2nd box. Enter your total weight (fully clothed rider, bike, water bottles, etc.) and tire width:

Bicycle tire pressure calculator

When you said 130lbs., I am assuming that's in your birthday suit. Add clothes, shoes, bike and water bottles which should bring you roughly up to 155lbs. Depending on your front/rear weight distribution, their recommended pressures for you are either 50 PSI front / 81 PSI rear or 58 PSI front / 73 PSI rear. Personally, I would not go that low in the rear.

If I were you, I would start with 60 PSI front / 90 PSI rear and adjust the front down to 55 and then 50 if you are still feeling annoying vibrations.

If you could go to 28mm tires, that would be ideal, but I don't think the Madone frame will alloy it. The stays are probably too narrow.
 

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You're question can't really be answered because everyone has their own opinion of what's negative and positive with regard to handling. You probably know that bigger and softer tires will slow down handling. To someone riding crits in a tight pack that's probably bad. To someone with an aggressive bike but looking to ride at a relaxed pace that's a big positive.

Do what you gotta do with tires to smooth the front end but also look into your weight distribution. You can't eliminate all vibration so weight on hands is also part of the puzzle. The solution (or part of it) to your problem could be as simple as tilting the saddle back a few degrees.
 

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how low I can go on front tire air pressure before it negatively affects performance or handling. I'm running 25c Gatorskins.
Probably 60psi front and 75 rear or so. I run about 65-70 on the front and 75-80 on the rear with 25mm GP4000SIIs on very wide rims (19.5 internal 30 external) and I'm about 7-10 lbs heavier.

I think gatorskins suck, if you don't have to use them don't. Switch to the GP4000SII if your roads are normal pavement.
 

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@R865

A few observations and opinions to add to this thread:

1. Your tires are wide enough for your weight. Inflate them to 55 psi front and 68 psi rear, to start with and adjust from there. These are relatively low enough pressures for road use. The law of diminishing returns for vibration dampening and tire pressure is in effect.

2. You mentioned you plan on getting carbon bars to help with the road vibrations. Don't. You will be wasting your money. The carbon at your fork is plenty for dampening the road chatter.

3. Change your bar to a narrower bar. You at 130 lbs and your bar at 44 cm seem to be at opposite ends unless you have extremely wide shoulders for your physique, which I doubt. Select your bar width to not be less than your shoulder width but not much wider either so you don't ride with your hands opened wider than your shoulders. This will cause more of your upper body weight to be placed on your hands! You want your hands to be in line with your shoulders and your elbows slightly bent.

4. Rotate the bars up or down to make sure your wrist is straight with your forearm. You need to do that to avoid pinching the nerves that typically cause numb fingers etc. Extend your hand like you are doing a handshake, this is how your wrist-forearm line should look at your most prevalent handlebar position.

5. Consider setting the bars at saddle height or slightly above. Make sure your saddle is level or slightly tilted nose-up so you don't slide forward when you pedal.

6. Move your weight from the front and balance it over both wheels. This is a very long subject with a lot of "what if's" but assuming you start with the right frame size for your height you need enough of saddle setback from your BB center to engage your leg muscles to support your upper body weight. For me that spacing is about 9 to 10 cm.

7. The advise Mike gave you on double padding the bars is spot on. Fizik makes gel inserts or any soft tape will do. If you get padded gloves make sure the padding does not rotate and compress the middle of your palm while you are riding because if it does it will create more problems than solving.

8. Do some core strengthening exercises. You be the judge on how much but typically a light regiment to maintain flexibility is desirable.

9. After you check the above, get you self a set of more supple tires unless punctures are too prevalent where you are. You mentioned Phoenix so I'm assuming your reason for the Gatorskins is goatheads.
Your Gators are made with sturdier casing so naturally they are less compliant. However they may get tamed if you run them at low enough enough pressures;'start at 55 psi at the front, then lower to 50 and see what happens.

10. Lastly, you mentioned going to a fitter. Make sure you pick the right one. Lot of charlatans around in the "fitting" universe equipped with a goniometer and a two-day course certificate. After a basic good fit, your body is your best fitter if you listen to it and educate yourself enough on the subject to understand the forces at play.
 
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@R865

A few observations and opinions to add to this thread:

1. Your tires are wide enough for your weight. Inflate them to 55 psi front and 68 psi rear, to start with and adjust from there. These are relatively low enough pressures for road use. The law of diminishing returns for vibration dampening and tire pressure is in effect.

2. You mentioned you plan on getting carbon bars to help with the road vibrations. Don't. You will be wasting your money. The carbon at your fork is plenty for dampening the road chatter.

3. Change your bar to a narrower bar. You at 130 lbs and your bar at 44 cm seem to be at opposite ends unless you have extremely wide shoulders for your physique, which I doubt. Select your bar width to not be less than your shoulder width but not much wider either so you don't ride with your hands opened wider than your shoulders. This will cause more of your upper body weight to be placed on your hands! You want your hands to be in line with your shoulders and your elbows slightly bent.

4. Rotate the bars up or down to make sure your wrist is straight with your forearm. You need to do that to avoid pinching the nerves that typically cause numb fingers etc. Extend your hand like you are doing a handshake, this is how your wrist-forearm line should look at your most prevalent handlebar position.

5. Consider setting the bars at saddle height or slightly above. Make sure your saddle is level or slightly tilted nose-up so you don't slide forward when you pedal.

6. Move your weight from the front and balance it over both wheels. This is a very long subject with a lot of "what if's" but assuming you start with the right frame size for your height you need enough of saddle setback from your BB center to engage your leg muscles to support your upper body weight. For me that spacing is about 9 to 10 cm.

7. The advise Mike gave you on double padding the bars is spot on. Fizik makes gel inserts or any soft tape will do. If you get padded gloves make sure the padding does not rotate and compress the middle of your palm while you are riding because if it does it will create more problems than solving.

8. Do some core strengthening exercises. You be the judge on how much but typically a light regiment to maintain flexibility is desirable.

9. After you check the above, get you self a set of more supple tires unless punctures are too prevalent where you are. You mentioned Phoenix so I'm assuming your reason for the Gatorskins is goatheads.
Your Gators are made with sturdier casing so naturally they are less compliant. However they may get tamed if you run them at low enough enough pressures;'start at 55 psi at the front, then lower to 50 and see what happens.

10. Lastly, you mentioned going to a fitter. Make sure you pick the right one. Lot of charlatans around in the "fitting" universe equipped with a goniometer and a two-day course certificate. After a basic good fit, your body is your best fitter if you listen to it and educate yourself enough on the subject to understand the forces at play.
You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to dcgriz again.
This is great advice DC! Great detailed write-up! But there is always a "but". The only part I have to question is how you came up with the tire pressures 55 and 68. It looks like you entered 145lbs. which would be the OP's birthday suit weight and the claimed weight of his stripped down bike with ultra-light stock tires, not the Gatorskins. Don't forget clothes, shoes, 2 full water bottles, etc. which can easily be 5-10lbs. more. If you look back at my reply at #11, you will see I used 155lbs. as an estimate.

That being said, there probably won't be a problem running 55 or even 50 in front. I have yet to be on a ride where someone got a pinch flat in front. Correct me if I'm wrong, but 68 just seems low for a rear 25mm tire for any adult rider weight.
 

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This is great advice DC! Great detailed write-up! But there is always a "but". The only part I have to question is how you came up with the tire pressures 55 and 68. It looks like you entered 145lbs. which would be the OP's birthday suit weight and the claimed weight of his stripped down bike with ultra-light stock tires, not the Gatorskins. Don't forget clothes, shoes, 2 full water bottles, etc. which can easily be 5-10lbs. more. If you look back at my reply at #11, you will see I used 155lbs. as an estimate.

That being said, there probably won't be a problem running 55 or even 50 in front. I have yet to be on a ride where someone got a pinch flat in front. Correct me if I'm wrong, but 68 just seems low for a rear 25mm tire for any adult rider weight.
Dont use the tire pressure calculators like the holly gospel! They are just to start you from a benchmark and the benchmark for this particular calculator is 15% tire drop based on weight. BUT, the calculated air pressures also change based on your weight distribution, that's why you see different values under 45%/55% and 40%/60%. The way the actual rider distributes their weight on the bike may be (and probably is) different than either of these and the calculated air pressure would vary further. Thus the need to start with a base AND then adjust the air pressures as you see fit. Not an exact science by any stretch of anyone's imagination!:rolleyes:

In reference to your last question: 68 psi for the rear tire for a 130 lbs rider on a 25mm Gatorskin is not out of range, IMO.
 
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