For years we have used the above tag line “Peformance Shouldn’t Be Painful” and we really do mean it. Sport bikes, sport touring bikes, cruisers shouldn’t be painful they should make you want to take to the open road not just for a 10 minute jaunt but a cruise towards the Horizon. That is why we produce HeliBars, and have been for 26 years. What we address are the same things that are outlined in the article below. Enjoy the read:
They’re Not Just for Steering!
From the May, 2008 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser
By John Vaughan-Chaldy
Most of us recognize the importance of at least a perfunctory visual check of our machines before we set out for a scoot, but what many riders forget is that it’s just as important to check your body position, too. Out on a one-lane country road 30 minuted into your ride is not the ideal time to be wondering, “Uh, why are my hands tingling? Why are my shoulders tight? And damn it, why does my neck ache?”
But that’s often how it goes with riders. Many of us simply don’t acknowledge the obvious things-such as the body-to-motorcycle relationship-until it’s too late.
In a nutshell, my doc said every part of the body affects the other parts: Fingers affect the wrist, which affects the elbow, which affects the shoulders and so on. Just think of those “Dry Bones” lyrics and you’ll get the point: “With the finger bone connected to the hand bone, the hand bone connected to the arm bone…”
That first line is one all riders should memorize: A motorcyclist’s main connection points to his bike are his fingers. And it’s no wonder that when most of us ride, those points are usually being tweaked in some very malevolent ways. The doctor mentioned the following parts as being especially vulnerable:
Wrists: They’re often turned to odd angles so the fingers can grip the bar. This puts pressure on the median nerve in the wrist/forearm (carpal tunnel), causing numbness and fatigue.
Elbows: These are usually extended up and away from the rider’s torso and rotated out from the bike, which places stress on the ulnar nerve, or “funny bone”
Shoulders: They’re being constantly flexed and rotated from holding the elbows up, which often exacerbates tendonitis in the rotator cuffs, causing aches and fatigue. Most riders also reach forward to grip the handlebars, rolling the shoulders. This adds flex to the trapenzius muscle, placing strain on the base of the neck and between the shoulder blades.
Trapezius and Neck: Rotating the shoulders means the large group of neck muscles that control spine position flexing. Constantly working these muscles creates discomfort in the neck and alters the upper spine’s alignment. This realignment can also affect the lumbar area of the spine, resulting in lower back pain.
It seems if you experience two or more of those symptoms (like tingling and/or aches) then your position of control is incorrect. The POC is where the contact point of your body meets the control point of your bike, i.e., where your hands grip the handlebar. So after I broke down all the fancy medical phrases into layman’s terms, I was left with these crucial bits of advice:
- My wrists shouldn’t twist and should stay as straight as possible in relation to the forearm.
- Elbows should point down as much as possible and hang rather than be held up.
- Shoulders need to be relaxed and dropped rather than suspended or flexed when riding.
- My reach should be reduced so I don’t roll or lift my shoulders to grab the handlebar.
- I should steer with my arms, not my neck, shoulders or back.
The most effective way to correct all my body’s tweaked biomechanics was through the handlebar.