Ask a Mechanic | Alleviating I.T. Band Pain and Slipping Handlebars

Welcome to our Ask a Mechanic column where our expert mechanic Daniel Slusser answers your bike maintenance questions. If you have a question for Daniel, please post it on our Facebook Wall or e-mail Daniel directly at daniel.slusser@artscyclery.com. In today’s entry Daniel addresses a common fit issue and how to stop slipping handlebars.

Question

I have been struggling with I.T. band pain and I think it might be a fit related problem. The only thing is I haven’t changed my saddle or bar position at all in the last 2 years but I am starting to have pain to the point where it is really cutting into my training because I have to take more days off to recover than I have in the past. Any ideas? Is there a fit solution? From: Mike

 

Getting your saddle in the right spot is critical to keeping your I.T. band pain free.

Answer

I.T. band problems can be a real pain in the… um… neck. Based on what you have told me I don’t think that you are experiencing an overuse injury with the extra time you are taking off the bike, so there is a good chance that it is a fit issue. Of course, without seeing you on the bike riding it is hard to diagnose such a problem, but since I had a similar one a while back I thought I would tell you what worked for me.

In my case the problem boiled down to having my saddle set too far back in the seatpost. This rearward position encourages pedaling with a dropped heel.  The dropped heel brings the hamstrings more into play as well as the I.T. band. A more forward position helps to bring the heel up and involve your quads more directly in the power stroke and removes some strain from the I.T. band.

Keep in mind that any change you make in setback will likely need to be accounted for in height as well. If for example you go forward 15mm with your saddle, you might want to go 3-5mm up. Try it first without going up, see how it feels, and go from there. After adjusting the fore-aft position on your saddle, make sure it is level. If it is nose down, the effort of having to constantly push yourself back on the saddle creates a very similar strain on your muscles as having your saddle set too far rearward. Best of luck to you, Mike!

 

Carbon paste will solve just about any slipping component problem.

Question

I am having problems with the handlebars slipping on my cyclocross bike. Whenever I ride really bumpy courses my bars move down about 1/4 inch at the hoods. My stem is an Easton EA90 and my handlebar is a Bontrager Race Light. Everything is torqued to spec but it is still slipping. Is my stem defective or should I torque it just a little more? From: Ron

Answer

Overtorquing is a slippery slope my friend that leads to stripped bolts and cracked stem faceplates. Don’t do it. Many of the Bontrager bars have large graphics at the clamping area that is likely the source of your handlebar slippage. Just use some carbon assembly paste and then torque the stem to Easton’s specification with a good quality torque wrench and you should be ready to shred the cyclocross ‘nar!

Daniel Slusser is a professional bicycle mechanic with over ten years of experience. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from HSU and a master’s degree in history from Cal Poly University. When he is not riding, wrenching, or writing he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children.

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