# Bicycling is a pain in the neck!

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Any bicycling enthusiasts here? I used to bike to work some years ago, then stopped and was biking only on the weekends for a while; with a hybrid with extension bars. A few years went by and I started having incredible neck pains whenever I was crouching over the extension bars and looking ahead at the same time. That forced me to stop biking altogether.

Recently someone claimed that working with weights should take care of the neck problem.

Then there is the recumbent option -- I practically grew up on an upright bicycle so I am not sure whether I'd feel the same thrill.

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Why not just sit upright? It'll slow you down a bit, but if you're riding a bike rather than driving, speed doesn't seem to be the point.

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EnumaElish said:
a hybrid with extension bars. A few years went by and I started having incredible neck pains whenever I was crouching over the extension bars and looking ahead at the same time.
Uhm, get rid of the extension bars?

Chrono
I knew there was a reason I never learned how to ride a bike. :tongue:

loseyourname said:
if you're riding a bike rather than driving, speed doesn't seem to be the point.
Riding a bike to work is often faster than driving, so speed is often the point.

imabug
EnumaElish said:
Any bicycling enthusiasts here? I used to bike to work some years ago, then stopped and was biking only on the weekends for a while; with a hybrid with extension bars. A few years went by and I started having incredible neck pains whenever I was crouching over the extension bars and looking ahead at the same time. That forced me to stop biking altogether.

First thing I would do is have someone take a look at your riding position. Most decent bike shops have people that would probably be happy to help you out with that.

Most riding related pain usually ends up being caused by poor riding position, which is something that can be fairly easily fixed.

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Riding a bike to work is often faster than driving, so speed is often the point.

I'm trying to imagine under what circumstances it would be faster to ride a bike than drive. The last job I can think of that I held where that might have been the case was at the LA County Museum of Natural History. It was a 20-mile commute, and took me a little over an hour to get there usually (traffic on the I-5 and I-10 in Los Angeles is consistently ridiculous). I can probably maintain a speed of 20 MPH on a bicycle for an hour or so without too much difficulty, but I would be dripping in sweat by the time I got to work. Then again, as I'd be stopped by traffic lights every several hundred feet, being physically capable of maintaining that speed doesn't mean I'd actually be able to do it. So seriously, under what circumstances is the average commuter going to cut down on commute time by bicycling?

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loseyourname said:
I'm trying to imagine under what circumstances it would be faster to ride a bike than drive. The last job I can think of that I held where that might have been the case was at the LA County Museum of Natural History. It was a 20-mile commute, and took me a little over an hour to get there usually (traffic on the I-5 and I-10 in Los Angeles is consistently ridiculous). I can probably maintain a speed of 20 MPH on a bicycle for an hour or so without too much difficulty, but I would be dripping in sweat by the time I got to work. Then again, as I'd be stopped by traffic lights every several hundred feet, being physically capable of maintaining that speed doesn't mean I'd actually be able to do it. So seriously, under what circumstances is the average commuter going to cut down on commute time by bicycling?
Unless it's intra-city, I can't imagine it being faster. That's an incredibly small percent of commute traffic.

I live 19 miles from my office and I can go 70mph for 17 of those miles, it's against rush hour traffic, so no congestion.

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Thanks for all responses. I think I'll follow up on the advice to get ergonomic counseling.

I could get almost as fast as a car commute going downhill to work; but I had to go much slower (and endure more pain) on the way back. I thought about getting an electric-aided bike and use the battery power on the way back, but never got around to actually buying one.

Is it anatomically possible to sit completely upright on a bicycle, if it's not a recumbent?

EnumaElish said:
Is it anatomically possible to sit completely upright on a bicycle, if it's not a recumbent?
There is a bolt connecting the gooseneck holding your handlebars to your front-wheel fork. If you loosen that bolt, you will be able to remove your gooseneck with you, handlebars attached to it, and replace them with any other gooseneck/handlebars, including ones that can give you a completely upright riding posture.

You can also change your gooseneck or handlebars individually. What kind of bike do you have? If you have a mountain bike, you might have a gooseneck on it right now that extends forward several inches. Yes? If you replace that with a gooseneck that extend forward a shorter distance, you will sit more upright when riding.

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loseyourname said:
So seriously, under what circumstances is the average commuter going to cut down on commute time by bicycling?
Compared to public transportation the bicycle easily can be faster, compared to the car only in rush hour.

On the bicycle I go from one side of Amsterdam to the other in 25 minutes, by public transportation it would be 40 minutes (incl. waiting for tram), by car I don't know, it would probably take 15 minutes in easy traffic (using the city ring, not through downtown), BUT in morning and evening rush hour you are better off on a bicycle (might even be faster).

Other example is the bus, it goes from the train station to right in front of my house in 10 minutes. I always used to take my bicycle, the bus and me would leave at the same time, I always got home a few minutes before the bus came past my house.

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EnumaElish said:
Thanks for all responses. I think I'll follow up on the advice to get ergonomic counseling.

I could get almost as fast as a car commute going downhill to work; but I had to go much slower (and endure more pain) on the way back. I thought about getting an electric-aided bike and use the battery power on the way back, but never got around to actually buying one.

Is it anatomically possible to sit completely upright on a bicycle, if it's not a recumbent?

What kind of bike is it? Road, mountain or "hybrid" (another word for "neither."). By "extension bars" do you mean the time-trial aero-position bars (formerly known as "triathlete bars")? If it is the latter, you probably don't need them since they don't start saving you time until you hit 18 mph.

A breakdown of some car vs bike commuting-speed items

loseyourname said:
I'm trying to imagine under what circumstances it would be faster to ride a bike than drive.
Ivan Illich calculated that the average car driver — counting time as money and the monetary cost of vehicle ownership divided into working hours per the commuter's earning power, plus the time that goes into ownership duties such as taking care of maintenance, repair, paperwork, and research multiplied by the commuter's earning power — goes about 5 MPH. If you go 5 MPH in your car, it may not be too hard to go faster on your bicycle. If you have large earning power and/or do not place any value in exercise and/or pay someone else to take care of your ownership responsibilities, it may be faster to drive a car.

Saving of time is often the key reason for given instances of bicycle commuting.

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Ivan Illich calculated that the average car driver — counting time as money and the monetary cost of vehicle ownership divided into working hours per the commuter's earning power, plus the time that goes into ownership duties such as taking care of maintenance, repair, paperwork, and research multiplied by the commuter's earning power — goes about 5 MPH. If you go 5 MPH in your car, it may not be too hard to go faster on your bicycle. If you have large earning power and/or do not place any value in exercise and/or pay someone else to take care of your ownership responsibilities, it may be faster to drive a car.

Saving of time is often the key reason for given instances of bicycle commuting.
:uhh: Most of the rest of us mean faster as in the time it takes to get from point A to point B, or the average speed. The rest of that calculation is just nonsense. He sure must have been going out of his way to make some ridiculous point in an argument to have gone to all that trouble as it has nothing to do with reality. You can't just translate earnings into miles per hour. How absurd.

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Monique said:
On the bicycle I go from one side of Amsterdam to the other in 25 minutes, by public transportation it would be 40 minutes (incl. waiting for tram), by car I don't know, it would probably take 15 minutes in easy traffic (using the city ring, not through downtown), BUT in morning and evening rush hour you are better off on a bicycle (might even be faster).

I figured it would mostly be in small cities with dense populations and narrow roads. The only places in the US remotely like that are Manhattan and San Francisco.

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Moonbear said:
:uhh: Most of the rest of us mean faster as in the time it takes to get from point A to point B, or the average speed. The rest of that calculation is just nonsense. He sure must have been going out of his way to make some ridiculous point in an argument to have gone to all that trouble as it has nothing to do with reality. You can't just translate earnings into miles per hour. How absurd.

No kidding, huh? This reminds me of an argument I once had with a girl over her contention that she rode a bike everywhere to save energy. I pulled up all the tables from my old chemistry textbooks, performed the calculations, and demonstrated that, at her weight and fitness level, her body consumed more joules per commute than a small, fuel-efficient car would have, and she would also spend more on food to fuel her body than she would have on gasoline. Predictably, she said that I had missed the point.

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loseyourname said:
I figured it would mostly be in small cities with dense populations and narrow roads. The only places in the US remotely like that are Manhattan and San Francisco.
With the caveat that a bicyclist can probably go somewhat faster than a car in cities due to the lax enforcement of rules of the road for bicyclists. In other words, while a car has to go the extra block or two to avoid a one-way street and has to stop for every traffic light and must stay on the right side of the road, bicyclists who break the law by running red lights, cycling around cars on the wrong side of the road, or taking one-way streets the wrong way can probably shave off considerable time. This is all illegal for them to do, but the rules of the road are rarely enforced for bicyclists. This remains limited to travel within cities; no bicyclist is going to get to work faster than a car if a stretch of the trip involves a highway where the cars can drive 60 or 70 mph.

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loseyourname said:
No kidding, huh? This reminds me of an argument I once had with a girl over her contention that she rode a bike everywhere to save energy. I pulled up all the tables from my old chemistry textbooks, performed the calculations, and demonstrated that, at her weight and fitness level, her body consumed more joules per commute than a small, fuel-efficient car would have, and she would also spend more on food to fuel her body than she would have on gasoline. Predictably, she said that I had missed the point.
:rofl: I might have just smacked you with the chemistry book for being a wise-guy. :tongue:

Of course comparing cost-effectiveness rather than speed might have made more sense. But, in that case, I would have flipped the argument the other way around regarding "time is money" and determined for every minute extra I'm on public transportation or a bicycle instead of at my destination, that's time I could be working and am not, so I'm losing money. But even that is a largely irrelevant calculation unless you're paid an hourly wage. I could also argue that my free time outside of work is more valuable to me than the time I spend in work, thus wasting any of my time outside work in the process of getting from place A to B rather than being at my destination doing what I want to be doing is very costly.

(Now who around here was saying GD posts were getting boring? :rofl:)

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Fuel calories of bicyclists vs those of economy cars

loseyourname said:
I pulled up all the tables from my old chemistry textbooks, performed the calculations, and demonstrated that, at her weight and fitness level, her body consumed more joules per commute than a small, fuel-efficient car would have
http://score.kings.k12.ca.us/lessons/calories/calorieburn.html

--
calories burned per pound per minute
[...]
Bicycling (25 mph): .139 calories
--

120 lb girl = 16.68 calories per minute = 1,000.8 calories per hour = 40.032 calories per mile.

A 60-MPH, 60-MPG economy car burns fuel calories at 31 times the rate of a typical 25-MPH, 120-lb bicyclist; and burns 12.9 times the fuel calories per mile.

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A 60-MPH, 60-MPG economy car burns fuel calories at 31 times the rate of a typical 25-MPH, 120-lb bicyclist; and burns 12.9 times the fuel calories per mile.
Wow! That's a pretty generous estimate of a 60 MPG car! Where can I get one of those?!

Though, one catch, but I don't know how much it would alter the outcome (I don't think it would change it enough to change the conclusion, especially since you already biased the calculation toward far better fuel economy for the car than what's on the market), is that if loseyourname was calculating cost of food vs cost of gasoline, humans are far from 100% efficient at using the energy in foods, so they need to consume more calories than they actually are using (the unused calories are returned to the environment, so you wouldn't factor it into energy usage, but you still have to pay for the food you're not utilizing). The comparative cost estimate (as opposed to just the energy consumption estimate) would also depend on the cost of gas and the cost of food at the time. Right now a lot of calculations would have to be adjusted for much higher gas prices than a few years ago.

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Hasn't anyone taught you to lie with statistics? The great thing about math is that you can always fool around with the initial parameters you use. A key thing I added into the calculation was the amount of energy from the sun that goes into the food that one must eat to gain these calories. Of course, I left out the energy from the sun that goes into the creation of fossil fuels. When that is done, more energy is used to bicycle than to drive.

I never said I was honest with her, after all.

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Moonbear said:
Then you would also have to factor in the energy used to generate the electric to charge the batteries if you're dealing with a hybrid car, right?
No. You don't plug these in (though if you did, their energy usages would be even lower). The generator/motor/battery simply helps the car run more efficiently.

EnumaElish said:
Any bicycling enthusiasts here? I used to bike to work some years ago, then stopped and was biking only on the weekends for a while; with a hybrid with extension bars. A few years went by and I started having incredible neck pains whenever I was crouching over the extension bars and looking ahead at the same time. That forced me to stop biking altogether.

Recently someone claimed that working with weights should take care of the neck problem.

Then there is the recumbent option -- I practically grew up on an upright bicycle so I am not sure whether I'd feel the same thrill.

I knew if I went away for a break, some good posts would crop up. I agree with the fact that a proper fit will make riding much nicer, but there are alternatives. Here's the deal from a former diamond frame (DF) rider now gone to the 'bent side. Recumbents are more comfortable, with a better riding position than an upright for typical commuting, touring or pleasure riding purposes. When it comes to speed, that's a bit touchier of a subject, but the world speed record for a human-powered bike is claimed by a recumbent (fully faired and tricked out). In many cases, recumbents are quite fast and allow the average person to achieve longer, faster, more comfortable rides than they were able to achieve on a DF.

As far as thrill and fun-factor, I challenge you or anyone who likes to bike to try a recumbent and not suffer from the affliction of "recumbent grin". There are many many converts out there who for medical/pain-related issues or just curiosity, took a chance on a 'bent and never went back, they are just too much fun. If you don't want to go all the way to a full bent there are "comfort bikes" that combine some of the comfort of a bent with the frame style of the DF, check out Rans bikes product line for a good start. You should also check out bentrideronline, a great place to get reviews, and information on all types of bents (and there are a lot more than you would think) and the forum is full of great people with a lot of info and opinions on bents and the associated culture. Prices for new bents start at about $500 and go up to$5000+. This may seem high but you are getting a much better product than the bikes that most people are familiar with coming from Walmart or wherever and you can just as easily spend \$5000 on a high-end DF for road racing or mountain biking.

loseyourname said:
So seriously, under what circumstances is the average commuter going to cut down on commute time by bicycling?

I doubt if most people can cut any time off their commute by switching to a bike, but there are cases where it works. If I take the car route to work it takes about 10 minutes with typical morning traffic just to get to the parking lot. Then, depending on where I can find a spot, it could be about another 3-5 min walk to get to the office. I can make it door to door on my bike in about 15 min (10 if I want to push it) so it's probably not a real time saver, but I get exercise and I don't pay for gas or parking priviledges, so I consider it time better spent. For many commuters it's not as much about saving time as it is spending time on the bike and geting all the benefits that come along with that.

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DocToxyn said:
I doubt if most people can cut any time off their commute by switching to a bike, but there are cases where it works. If I take the car route to work it takes about 10 minutes with typical morning traffic just to get to the parking lot. Then, depending on where I can find a spot, it could be about another 3-5 min walk to get to the office. I can make it door to door on my bike in about 15 min (10 if I want to push it) so it's probably not a real time saver, but I get exercise and I don't pay for gas or parking priviledges, so I consider it time better spent. For many commuters it's not as much about saving time as it is spending time on the bike and geting all the benefits that come along with that.

I think aside from those who bike purely for the exercise, the primary reason people choose to commute by bike (or public transportation) than by car seems to be parking availability or cost rather than the time it takes to get from home to office. It also seems that as long as there are places where you can pay for a day at a time to park (as opposed to only being able to find 2 hour parking at meters if you don't have a monthly or annual parking permit), people are more willing to walk/bike/take public transportation knowing that on the occassional day when they do need to drive to work, they can just pay for the day's parking. But, as soon as you have a parking situation where only the permit holders can easily find a space, people get the permit because they don't want to risk not being able to park on the days when they really do need to have their car with them (like when you need to carry in a box of papers or when it's miserably cold and rainy, or you need to run errands during lunch, or you have to meet someone after work), and once they've coughed up the money for the permit, they're going to use it.

rocketboy
I enjoy biking. Last wednesday I biked 60 km with 2 friends of mine. We went from his place in Nepean (West end of Ottawa) over the boarder to Quebec (the province beside Ontario which is what is north of New York State :tongue2: ) And just over the boarder there is Gatineau park. So we went biking up the Gatineau hills. Man, it's worth the pain of biking uphill for 10km when coming down your doing 56km/hr on a bike...

(the trip is about 20km to the hills, 10 km up, 10 km down, 20 km back). Took us about 2.5 - 3 hrs, not including a stop at a burger place on the way back. :tongue:

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Moonbear said:
I think aside from those who bike purely for the exercise
I think anyone who can, should. The same with taking the stairs instead of the elevator. People then wouldn't have to make new years resolutions to start going to the gym if they just make simple life changes. Ever seen the bike-garage near the central station in Amsterdam?

http://www.virtualgallery.be/yves/Countries/scaled/sc_Amsterdam_bicycle_parking.jpg [Broken]

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http://sargasso.dnsalias.net:8080/~matt/pictures/trips/amsterdam03/bicycleparkinglot.jpg [Broken]

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Interesting!

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Amsterdam is a flat city with narrow streets. A lot of bicycles are an old model without gears. That is okay, since they are not climbing steep hills all the time. My other point is, bicycling is almost a necessity rather than a choice -- many inner city streets are too narrow for one car to drive through, never mind two cars in opposite lanes.

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Monique, are those photos taken from outside Centraal Station? I think I took the very same picture when I was there!

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Amount of energy consumed by a highly-efficient (50 mpg) automobile over a 15 mile trip:

Amount of energy consumed by my body on my 15 mile bike commute this morning, at 70% V02max, according to my heart-rate monitor:

The ratio? The car burns 120 times more energy than my body. Give me a break, loseyourname. While it's true that gasoline is certainly cheaper per joule than pasta, you're just lying to rationalize your own laziness and car-centric mindset. Try riding a bike a time or two; I'll bet you'll like it.

- Warren

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