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Handlebar adjustment for neck/back pain.


Whip

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Since I first started riding I have had pain in the same place on almost every bike I have ever owned in my upper back/shoulder blade area more toward my right side.

When I finally got cruise control on a bike I realized it went away when I could turn it on for a long time and relax but would come back when I had to turn the CC off for traffic. When I changed my body position for more spirited riding on fun roads it never seemed to bother me. Could be adrenaline or just moving around didn't allow it to tighten up.The worse bike I ever had for this was my 2005 RT and the bike that I felt the pain the least was my 2006 1150 GSA. I measured and re-measured that GSA many times trying to figure how and why it was not as bad as even my beloved 990/950 KTM. Even my Road Glide was painful when not using the CC. Last year chasing the Blaschke Bros across the south on I-10 I was in great pain. I switched to Chris's new GSA and it was even worse. Then came my 1290 KTM Adventure. I love the other worldly motor and the on road handling of the machine but the pain was getting to me AGAIN. I was determined this time to find the answer. After trying several seats that changed my height and therefore the bars position to my body there was no change in the pain levels. By accident while adding a Garmin 590, V1, and I-phone holder I had to loosen the handlebars. Before I torqued the nuts back down I moved the bars up and away from me. I went for a ride and I could feel a change in my right hand grip pressure. I rode the bike From Salida CO to PCH1, Death Valley, Salida, San Antonio, Memphis, Dallas, and finally back to San Antonio with NO pain.

 

All this time......I coulda saved a lot of time, money, and pain.

 

Hope this helps someone

 

Whip

 

 

 

 

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Amazing how we are all different, eh? My 02 RT was near perfect riding position. I always felt it could have used slightly more forward lean but on long trips, never a problem. After I traded it in for the 1290SA, I felt the bars on the SA were too far away. I tried rotating them a bit but ultimately bought the RoxRiser's 1.75" model. I positioned them straight back toward me and felt immediately more comfortable. I only had 2246 miles on the bike when that tree hugging Prius driver took me out :mad: so only time will tell if the ergos are perfect for me now. Seat is next!

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Hey Russ, hope your are getting ready to ride soon.

 

I think it may have something to do with our digits.

 

I am 6'2" 175 pounds with long arms.

 

 

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Had the same pain as you described on my GS but for me, a set of bar backs got the grips up and in closer to me. No more pain after that. :thumbsup:

 

 

Pat

 

 

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If there is one gripe I have about BMW's, it is their non-adjustable handlebars. I shouldn't have to learn to fit the bike, it should be adjustable to fit me.

Handlebar/grip angles matter.

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Since I first started riding I have had pain in the same place on almost every bike I have ever owned in my upper back/shoulder blade area more toward my right side.

When I finally got cruise control on a bike I realized it went away when I could turn it on for a long time and relax but would come back when I had to turn the CC off for traffic. When I changed my body position for more spirited riding on fun roads it never seemed to bother me. Could be adrenaline or just moving around didn't allow it to tighten up.The worse bike I ever had for this was my 2005 RT and the bike that I felt the pain the least was my 2006 1150 GSA. I measured and re-measured that GSA many times trying to figure how and why it was not as bad as even my beloved 990/950 KTM. Even my Road Glide was painful when not using the CC. Last year chasing the Blaschke Bros across the south on I-10 I was in great pain. I switched to Chris's new GSA and it was even worse. Then came my 1290 KTM Adventure. I love the other worldly motor and the on road handling of the machine but the pain was getting to me AGAIN. I was determined this time to find the answer. After trying several seats that changed my height and therefore the bars position to my body there was no change in the pain levels. By accident while adding a Garmin 590, V1, and I-phone holder I had to loosen the handlebars. Before I torqued the nuts back down I moved the bars up and away from me. I went for a ride and I could feel a change in my right hand grip pressure. I rode the bike From Salida CO to PCH1, Death Valley, Salida, San Antonio, Memphis, Dallas, and finally back to San Antonio with NO pain.

 

All this time......I coulda saved a lot of time, money, and pain.

 

Hope this helps someone

 

Whip

 

 

 

 

WOW ... I had / have the same issue. Worst bike was my R1100RT and the best is my current R1200GSA. BUT .... the past 3 years I have rented a Harley Ultra Limited for anywhere from 10 days to 21 days this past summer. And WOW ... 21 days and 6000 miles and NO pain. None ... zero! I LOVE my BMW's and the GSA and the handling can't be beat ... but the comfort of the Harley Ultra Limited is hard to beat!

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That's an exact description of my back.I thought it was just me and the result of a twenty something skiing crash. Iw was present on my oil head RSs but can't recall it with my Ducati ST2 or 3. Ive found that I have to really think about how I'm grasping the hand grips to prevent the onset of a cramp between my shoulder blades, as once it starts it almost impossible to get it to relax. I've also found it strange that if my seat is in the low position, it's not as bad but my knees hurt but if I raise it to the high position, my knees are more comfortable but the pain in my back is greater.

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I have endured the same pain between the shoulder blades for thousands of miles on both my R1200ST and the RT. I put some bar backs on the RT and the pain disappeared. Amazing that moving the bars so little made so much difference.

 

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I did not mention all the bar risers I had tried over the years.

 

In my case it is changing the angle of the grips that has made the difference

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I did not mention all the bar risers I had tried over the years.

 

In my case it is changing the angle of the grips that has made the difference

 

That is sort of what I was getting at when mentioning adjustability of the bars. Or lack of. When I was a snotty nosed dirt bike rider buying a set of bars with a different wrist angle made WAY more difference than just the height did.

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I got pain in my neck and between my shoulder blades on any ride that was longer than an hour on my 2011 RT. Bar backs were the answer for me.

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I did not mention all the bar risers I had tried over the years.

 

In my case it is changing the angle of the grips that has made the difference

 

That is sort of what I was getting at when mentioning adjustability of the bars. Or lack of. When I was a snotty nosed dirt bike rider buying a set of bars with a different wrist angle made WAY more difference than just the height did.

 

 

EXACTLY!

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Just to throw some more wood on this fire. I too have been having the pain between the shoulder blades problem. More on the right side than the left. When I bought my '11 R12RT I was about 255lbs with a 31 inch inseam, put a RDL seat on and it was great. No issue's for at least two years. I had grown to 265 then lost 80 lbs. The pain was awful on a long ride after losing the weight. Surprisingly, in the name of trying to track down this problem of course, I put back on 90 lbs. At 270, no pain. I'm getting the weight back off and I'm at about 235 now and the pain is back. Not sure exactly what it is yet, but, I hadn't thought about trying my seat in the high position to see if that helps. I do have 1" bar risers. I could try pulling them off too as I don't recall what I weighed when I installed them. I think I was thin because, if I recall, I added the bar risers because of the pain in my back.

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Just to throw some more wood on this fire. I too have been having the pain between the shoulder blades problem. More on the right side than the left. When I bought my '11 R12RT I was about 255lbs with a 31 inch inseam, put a RDL seat on and it was great. No issue's for at least two years. I had grown to 265 then lost 80 lbs. The pain was awful on a long ride after losing the weight. Surprisingly, in the name of trying to track down this problem of course, I put back on 90 lbs. At 270, no pain. I'm getting the weight back off and I'm at about 235 now and the pain is back. Not sure exactly what it is yet, but, I hadn't thought about trying my seat in the high position to see if that helps. I do have 1" bar risers. I could try pulling them off too as I don't recall what I weighed when I installed them. I think I was thin because, if I recall, I added the bar risers because of the pain in my back.

 

Don't give up. Try different combos till it works for you.

 

Whip

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I've had the problem with shoulder blade pain on long rides for more then 200k miles of riding. Fortunately, with the RT it's infrequent and not nearly as bad as it used to be. Like some of the others, it's generally only my right side.

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I have been following this thread and it is interesting to read/see that others have been on the same path towards improved comfort that I have.

 

On various other BMW bikes I have owned I had the same pains and discomfort most of you have reported but various combinations of risers, seat modification and peg positions have almost always made improvement. But, one aspect of this problem has eluded me... in a mechanical way. I find discomfort from the angle of the grips/bars as much as the height of the grips/bars.

 

I have found that by paying attention to where the base of my hands rest on the grip can play a large part in finding a temporary solution. If I rotate the base of my hands "outward"... meaning moving forward/outward things get better almost immediately. It is a muscle memory thing, as well as a conscious decision to change the way I grip the grips.

 

I really wish motorcycle manufacturers could find a way to allow owners to change the angle of the grips.

 

Beyond that... I am a follower of Dick Franz and his writings on ergonomics- the Master Yoda riding position. If you read/study his thoughts and then actually practice them... many of us can find some relief. It works for me... but only when I actually do it the way he recommends.

 

At a fundamental level one issue is that I do not want my riding position to like sitting in/on a comfortable chair. IMHO riding a bike is a physical thing and should not be confused with a trip on the Barcalounger.

 

The position and comfort on the '14 Wet head RT is a noticeable improvement in all aspects except the "angle-thing" mentioned above.

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While at the BMW rally in Arkansas, the vendor beside me had a "kit" for your handgrips. Basically a bag with just the right size rubber O-rings. The difference in comfort on all day rides is quite noticeable. The larger diameter seems to give the grip a more secure feeling. This relaxes the hand and wrist for me. I liked the handgrips on Oilhead RT's better, these O-rings give a similar feel. I also use one of those grip mounted "cruise" doo-dads that allow the palm of your hand to push against it. Takes some of the tension off the VERY stiff throttle on the Wethead! I have to say I think I would not change the bars on the RT now, even if it was an option.

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You speaking of Grip Puppies?

 

Cannot visualize "O" Rings on a grip...

 

I can tell you that I rode with Grip Puppies for many years on many bikes but on the 14 Wet Head... they were just not comfortable so I removed them.

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You speaking of Grip Puppies?

 

Cannot visualize "O" Rings on a grip...

 

I can tell you that I rode with Grip Puppies for many years on many bikes but on the 14 Wet Head... they were just not comfortable so I removed them.

 

No! I don't like Grip Puppies. I have tried to use them, tried to like them. Don't like the disconnected feel and that they get wet and stay that way for a while.

Here are the O-rings

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Original Grip Buddies (FKA Beemer Buddies?) do basically the same thing, and AFAIK they don't retain water. They helped my back and shoulder pain a little, didn't cure it, but did help a lot with carpal pain.

 

Interesting that the majority of the posts talk about pain on the right side - the throttle side. It sounds basically like a repetitive stress injury; our right hands/arms are doing a lot more work than the left, nearly continuous tension on the throttle, in a very short range of motion. While changing riding posture can help (and has obviously been the cure for some people), it doesn't take away the repetitive nature of the activity. I wonder what an occupational health professional would say about that?

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Original Grip Buddies (FKA Beemer Buddies?) do basically the same thing, and AFAIK they don't retain water.

 

I have used two kinds of the foam over-the-grip covers. One is more closed cell, the other obviously a more open foam. Both felt weird after long miles in rain and after washing, the closed cell smooth surface better at that. What I could never "like" about either is the numb feel they give to the bike. They do quell vibration and I think the larger diameter is good for relaxing the grip. Don't hate'em, just don't use them any longer.

 

The O-rings are a larger diameter and don't compress like the foam. They are MUCH stickier than the foam grips, especially when in the rain. The stickiness, and diameter give a confidence in the grip that allows me to relax my grip. Which is a problem I think I have, especially when first starting out on a trip. Gotta tell your mind to relax the grip sometimes. I also find myself laying two fingers on the front brake lever more than before while cruising. I run a "cramp buster" on the right grip. Before it would make my hand sore as it was a bit higher than the grip. I took out the O-rings where it sits and now the grip is level clear across. An added bonus is that the factory grips won't wear out now!

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i have wrapped mine in bicycle tape. you can set the size to your own preferences. it is durable and water seems to have no effect. also, not slick so grip is easier. no effect on heated grips. also, you can experiment with colors if you are so bold.

the best thing ever for hand/wrist pain was going to a k12 with cruise control, cannot be beaten.

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