Sore hands when braking on long descents

BugsBunny
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Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby BugsBunny » Wed May 23, 2018 12:25 pm

Hi guys

Yesterday I did a climb here in Hong Kong thats 900m in elevation. Its a twisty mountain with an avg gradient of about 8%. I had really sore hands from the constant need to brake before each turn to wash off speed. Bear in mind I have rim brakes and carbon rims so I was also wary of not dragging the brakes. I was in the drops 90% of the time to maintain control.

Any one got tips on how to minimise the soreness?

Bugs

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kb
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby kb » Wed May 23, 2018 1:08 pm

BugsBunny wrote:Hi guys

Yesterday I did a climb here in Hong Kong thats 900m in elevation. Its a twisty mountain with an avg gradient of about 8%. I had really sore hands from the constant need to brake before each turn to wash off speed. Bear in mind I have rim brakes and carbon rims so I was also wary of not dragging the brakes. I was in the drops 90% of the time to maintain control.

Any one got tips on how to minimise the soreness?

Bugs

See if your levers have a reach adjust and make sure it’s set up optimally. Try to pull near the end of the lever too, for better, er, leverage :-). Make sure outers and inners are clean, have no sharp bends, ferrules all in place and ends finished neatly to minimise friction.
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kb
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby kb » Wed May 23, 2018 1:11 pm

Weight back can help a bit too, as long as you keep enough forward when steering
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duncanm
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby duncanm » Wed May 23, 2018 1:35 pm

BugsBunny wrote:Hi guys

Yesterday I did a climb here in Hong Kong thats 900m in elevation. Its a twisty mountain with an avg gradient of about 8%. I had really sore hands from the constant need to brake before each turn to wash off speed. Bear in mind I have rim brakes and carbon rims so I was also wary of not dragging the brakes. I was in the drops 90% of the time to maintain control.

Any one got tips on how to minimise the soreness?

Bugs


stop and admire the view every now and then?

Cyclophiliac
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby Cyclophiliac » Wed May 23, 2018 2:31 pm

I use the drops a lot, and over the years have developed calluses on the edge of both hands, which helps minimise any soreness. My only tip to the OP is to try going slower, because then you won't have to brake as hard, which should help reduce any hand soreness, plus as duncanm mentioned you'll see more of the view (for longer) that way. When I'm descending a mountain road (particularly in the European Alps, where the views are almost too good to describe), I'm never in any hurry to finish the ride. :D

human909
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby human909 » Wed May 23, 2018 2:40 pm

BugsBunny wrote:I had really sore hands from the constant need to brake before each turn to wash off speed.

That is a pretty broad description. What part of you hands?

If it is grip strength then it would be your forearms that would be sore. If the soreness is in you hands it is more likely to be brake reach and general hand position.

kb wrote:Weight back can help a bit too, as long as you keep enough forward when steering

That helps with braking performance won't affect the braking force required by the hands.

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kb
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby kb » Thu May 24, 2018 7:53 am

human909 wrote:
BugsBunny wrote:I had really sore hands from the constant need to brake before each turn to wash off speed.

That is a pretty broad description. What part of you hands?

If it is grip strength then it would be your forearms that would be sore. If the soreness is in you hands it is more likely to be brake reach and general hand position.

kb wrote:Weight back can help a bit too, as long as you keep enough forward when steering

That helps with braking performance won't affect the braking force required by the hands.


It feels like less weight/pressure on the hands. Quite noticeable ~15% and steeper but whether that matches reality I’ll leave to physicists :-). Also reduces tension due to raw fear ;-)
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solmanic
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby solmanic » Thu May 24, 2018 10:26 am

Two words - disc brakes.

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Lukeyboy
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby Lukeyboy » Thu May 24, 2018 11:56 am

solmanic wrote:Two words - disc brakes.


Or learn how to descend :P

ball bearing
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby ball bearing » Thu May 24, 2018 12:24 pm

Full finger gloves & disc brakes. Also, a different handlebar with a different reach and profile that changes the way you grip the levers might help.

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P!N20
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby P!N20 » Thu May 24, 2018 12:31 pm

solmanic wrote:Two words - disc brakes.


ball bearing wrote:Full finger gloves & disc brakes.


I was waiting for this. But seriously, the only way for Bugs to relieve the pain is a new bike?

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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby ball bearing » Thu May 24, 2018 12:35 pm

P!N20 wrote:
solmanic wrote:Two words - disc brakes.


ball bearing wrote:Full finger gloves & disc brakes.


I was waiting for this. But seriously, the only way for Bugs to relieve the pain is a new bike?


Maybe. I do love my road discs on the hills. I ride the same hills on disc and rim braked bikes and the difference is huge. I'm buying disc road bikes from now on.

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Thoglette
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby Thoglette » Thu May 24, 2018 1:02 pm

P!N20 wrote:I was waiting for this.

ImageImage
Afterall, bike fit problems are best fixed by spending money on new stuff.
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g-boaf
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby g-boaf » Thu May 24, 2018 1:09 pm

P!N20 wrote:
solmanic wrote:Two words - disc brakes.


ball bearing wrote:Full finger gloves & disc brakes.


I was waiting for this. But seriously, the only way for Bugs to relieve the pain is a new bike?


I was also waiting. If I remember right, Bugs built up a very exotic bicycle already, getting another one would surely be out of the question. :?:

I swapped over to SRAM RED (previously Shimano) and found the brake levers feel a lot different to use (lighter feel). But I've not used them yet on any steep descents needing braking for sharp corners. I was planning to go overseas later this year with that bike, but sort of not feeling very motivated at the moment to even keep riding.

BugsBunny
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby BugsBunny » Thu May 24, 2018 1:48 pm

Hi guys

Thanks for your inputs.

The part of the hand that feels sore is the meaty pad next to the thumb and to a lesser amount the muscle tension from hooking the thumb around the handle bars with my body weight over the front of the bike due to the steepness of the descent.

And yeah my bike has had a fair bit of mods done to it, so whilst I would love a new bike I'm trying to exhaust all options first.

The reach to the levers is a root cause I think.

Bugs

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RonK
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby RonK » Thu May 24, 2018 3:14 pm

If the hill is long enough and steep enough you are still likely to get sore hands.

I have disc brakes but they didn't save me from hand pain while descending the Crown Range/Tobin's Track at Arrowtown.
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human909
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby human909 » Thu May 24, 2018 3:54 pm

BugsBunny wrote:The part of the hand that feels sore is the meaty pad next to the thumb and to a lesser amount the muscle tension from hooking the thumb around the handle bars with my body weight over the front of the bike due to the steepness of the descent.

The reach to the levers is a root cause I think.

Yes. It really does sound like reach issue. Though handlebar contour/padding might have something to do with it. Essentially you have more weight on your hands while your tensing your opponens pollicis muscle of your thumb.

BugsBunny wrote:And yeah my bike has had a fair bit of mods done to it, so whilst I would love a new bike I'm trying to exhaust all options first.

Exhaust options?
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(sorry bad joke) :oops:

RonK wrote:If the hill is long enough and steep enough you are still likely to get sore hands.

I wouldn't take it as a given. And the descent you mentioned isn't that crazy steep or long.
Last edited by human909 on Thu May 24, 2018 4:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

madmacca
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby madmacca » Thu May 24, 2018 3:59 pm

RonK wrote:If the hill is long enough and steep enough you are still likely to get sore hands.

I have disc brakes but they didn't save me from hand pain while descending the Crown Range/Tobin's Track at Arrowtown.


Which side? I did Arrowtown to Wanaka, and the descent was pretty nice. But I could imagine all the hairpins from Wanaka to Arrowtown would be demanding on the brakes.

Cyclophiliac
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby Cyclophiliac » Thu May 24, 2018 4:05 pm

Some descents will test anyone's hands. Last year in late June I descended from Passo di Gavia (2600m) down to Bormio (1200m), a 25+ km descent, made no easier by the fact that the road is in rotten condition, with large cracks, potholes and bumps aplenty. The group I was in had no choice but to do the descent slowly and carefully, because braking under those conditions can be tricky.

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baabaa
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby baabaa » Thu May 24, 2018 4:27 pm

Yeah, I think it is pretty common with long runs and you are no Robinson Crusoe. Long downhill runs on a bike with any sort of extra weight from frame bags or panniers just makes it worse. I have big hands and still found most brifters more or less rubbish as in design they are a compromise with both shifting and braking.
What worked for me (with brifters) is to fit cross top levers as you are not stuck in one position and can move from drops to bar tops and back again. Some people just dont like them, but I guess more dislike bar end shifters as well? I will always go for better braking and shifting over looks and the old DA bar ends ( which in the best spinal tap talk, the new ones even go to 11... clicks) with cane creek levers seems to be more than enough for me.

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RonK
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby RonK » Thu May 24, 2018 6:14 pm

madmacca wrote:
RonK wrote:If the hill is long enough and steep enough you are still likely to get sore hands.

I have disc brakes but they didn't save me from hand pain while descending the Crown Range/Tobin's Track at Arrowtown.


Which side? I did Arrowtown to Wanaka, and the descent was pretty nice. But I could imagine all the hairpins from Wanaka to Arrowtown would be demanding on the brakes.

Yes, that would be the hard way up, easy way down. I was going the other way, in a strong cross wind so carefully down the first set of switchbacks, then a gravel road to Tobin's Track, which is steep, rough and crossed with numerous water bars, down to the Arrow River.

Riding a loaded backpacking bike it required constant braking to keep to a safe speed. It was cold too which didn't help. Hands were in agony at the bottom.
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10speedsemiracer
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby 10speedsemiracer » Thu May 24, 2018 6:28 pm

This issue may be as simple as better bar tape and some gloves. I think though that any significant descent has the potential to cause soreness.
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Duck!
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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby Duck! » Thu May 24, 2018 6:38 pm

solmanic wrote:Two words - disc brakes.

Three words - hydraulic disc brakes. ;-)
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.

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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby eeksll » Thu May 24, 2018 10:19 pm

what levers do you have? I recently bodged reach adjust on my bike and love the shorter reach.

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Re: Sore hands when braking on long descents

Postby AUbicycles » Fri May 25, 2018 7:42 am

For regular rim brakes there are two key things to increase braking comfort.

As suggested - reach adjust. Depending on your brand, you may get some adjustment or may need a modification. I have a modification to some Shimano mechanical that bring my levers much closer and are simply more comfortable.

The second is the adjusting the cable-tension (typically with the dial on the cable at each brake) and set the clearance to max 2mm. Less is better and it simply means that the brakes grip sooner.

A small contraction of the brake pad clearance to the rims is that if you are exerting maximum pressure but the brake levers are still far away, this may be counter-productive sometimes so the opposite can be better with a bigger rim clearance, as you brake it takes more time to grip but then the levers are closer and it is more comfortable to press and hold.

For the clearance - it is relatively easy to test and see what works best.


The last thing is your braking behaviour- it should be short sharp breaking which is better for the rims (less heat build up) and better for your comfortable. Long braking and prolonged gripping / braking is not good practice.

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