I've just recently bought a new bike with drop bars for my daily commute. It's great fun and actual feels quite comfortable after following a few fitment videos and guides online.

The bike is a single speed Kona Paddy Wagon.

I have no pain or strain while riding, however at night the tendons on the of inside my elbow tighten up and get quite sore when used. It is really hard to pinpoint the pain, but it's not muscle, it's tendon. However the pain happens whenever I bend/flex my arm with the palm down or thumb up. When the palm is up, it doesn't hurt.

I'm not even 100% sure it's because of the bike, but the position my hand is in during the pain is basically the the hood position, so it makes sense.

Had anyone experienced this? It's what I imagine tendonitis might feel like.

During my attempt at setting things up, I managed to take a couple photos, I don't know if they help or not.

first attempt raised handlebars a little bit

  • Check out this answer for general info. I suggest riding less for a while, and trying to relax your arms/grip more when you do ride.
    – andy256
    May 24, 2015 at 4:59
  • How long has this been going on? Any time you change your activity pattern it takes a week or two for your body to adjust. But you should ease off a little. And the sort of pain you describe could be due to carpal tunnel syndrome or due to MADD or McArdle's syndrome -- "minor" genetic disorders that pop up when you overwork muscles. May 24, 2015 at 9:14
  • I was off work for a couple weeks, so didn't ride. I started riding to work again 2 weeks ago. During my time off I DID raise my seat about 0.5-1.0cm. I also brought up the handlebars a tiny bit as well. This made it actually more comfortable. But I did this to try to be able to get lower. I wonder if I'm subconsciously pulling myself down with my arms? After reading about the too-tight grip, that might be it. This week is bike-to-work week, so I won't be resting :)
    – Bensonius
    May 24, 2015 at 15:28
  • Although it's not the same area of pain, the answer linked by @andy256 gave me the idea to think about my grip. I noticed almost immediately that on acceleration from a stop (since it's a single speed) I was really reefing on the handlebars to give me some extra torque to get going. Also, same thing while climbing hills. Just lessing my pulling for one day so far and my arms are feeling much better. I'll keep it up for a few more days before I decide if it's the answer or not.
    – Bensonius
    May 26, 2015 at 15:07
  • 1
    Your seat looks too low in the first picture, although see in your comments that you have raised it since. At the bottom of a pedal stroke, your knee should be JUST BARELY bent, i.e. close to locking out (totally straight leg) but not quite there. BTW, are you quite sure this is the right size bike for you? What is the frame size and what is your height?
    – SSilk
    Jun 5, 2015 at 13:37

2 Answers 2


I know this is an old thread, and you've probably solved the problem by now. But that bike frame is too small for you.

  • That's the curse of being tall.... the vertically-challenged can ride kids bikes, us lanky sods have less choice.
    – Criggie
    Nov 21, 2015 at 2:38

Tendonitis (tendonosis) is one possibility, however I would expect some pain during riding especially during the beginning of your ride. When you say biceps tendon I assume you mean near your elbow.

That said, the first things I would investigate are ulnar nerve irritation or compression at the cubital tunnel a/o the ligament of Struther's. The ulnar nerve weaves through several fibrotic "soft" tissues in the upper arm where entrapment can occur including the medial portion the triceps. The vibration of the road (absorbed by hand, triceps, and FCU muscle mentioned below) coupled with wrist extension and wrist radial deviation can put sustained tension on the ulnar nerve which can cause entrapment and damage.

The flexor carpi unlaris muscle can also contribute or cause this problem. Repetitive inflammation of any tissue in the body results in the development of scar tissue which can occur between muscles, fascia, and within the sheath through which large nerves travel. As scar tissue continues to develop, the restrictions or fibrosis will increase in these areas.

Go see a LMT or chiropractor who is certified in Active Release Techniques so they can help break up the scar tissue and get that nerve moving more freely. Surgery should be a last resort in this and most other repetitive use musculoskeletal injuries. This is related to and can be exacerbated by cyclist's palsy, and Tunnel of Guyon entrapment of the ulnar nerve. I experience this problem as well, mine is worsened by core weakness and too much pressure on the hands. Higher handlebars will help get some pressure off your FCU and triceps as well. They are ugly as sin, but those long tall quill stems are helpful.

Ride On.

Eric Poehlein DC

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