Pino – my suffering wrists

The Hase Pino has a lot of good features and is superbly comfortable for the recumbent stoker but it is bad for my wrists. After riding for 7 days last week I was suffering from a lot of aching and had buzzing pins and needles in my hands for several days afterwards. I spent a lot of time on the road trying to come up with a hand position that relieved the pain.

click for larger image

The handlebars are cleverly positioned at each side of the stoker to allow the pilot to sit as far forward as possible, making for a very compact design, there is nothing about this layout that is intrinsically bad but the detail of the design makes it impossible to come up with a comfortable position. However I’m determined not to let this beat me.

I’ve had quite a lot of problems with wrist pain and cycling, possibly starting when I went over the handlebars of my touring bike in the 1980s, landing on my hands, due to a broken luggage rack jamming the rear wheel at speed. However I found that using bar ends to allow a variety of grip positions helped a lot. Since I started riding the Brompton for most of my cycling the upright position and springy M-bars seem to make a big difference and I have started to use Ergon hand grips which help too, so much so that I now don’t use bar ends.

Brompton M-Bars and the Ergon GP1 hand grip

One of the reasons why I was interested in having a fully recumbent tandem is that it would solve the wrist problem forever so the Pino was a bit of a compromise as discussed in an earlier post about choosing our tandem. Nevertheless I’m disappointed to find how much of a step back the Pino is. Part of the problem is that the bars cannot be raised as much as I would like, so I’m putting a lot of weight on my wrists. Pivoting the bars back towards the pilot does help the weight distribution a little but also changes the angle of the grips to make them even less natural.

The Pino has basic rubber hand grips which are very poor compared to the carefully designed Ergon grips. On top of that the arrangement of the Rohloff gear shifter, at the base of the grip under your wrist, seems have led Hase to installing a non-standard shifter which has the whole hand grip rotating when you change gear. With this arrangement there is no scope to fit more carefully designed ergonomic grips like Ergons which must be in a fixed position.

Hase do make an add-on product called Ergo-Riserbars designed to give an alternative hand position at a different angle and higher up. The French family we met in Scotland had them fitted although they were not using them. As I was suffering from wrist pain at the time, I could see that they might help to solve the problem. This picture also shows the Rohloff changer as originally installed on our bike.

(remember that the hand grip is pointing forward away from the rider, this is the right hand bar)

As well as worrying about wrist pain, I was also getting very irritated by the way the Rohloff changer is hidden from view under my wrist. When stopped it’s important to see what gear is selected ready to pedal away, and it’s also important to know when changing between gears 7 and 8 as that needs a bit more care than the other changes.

So this week I finally switched it round, to my surprise it worked without any need to lengthen the cables, despite the dealer saying it couldn’t be done with the cables installed at the time we bought it. I guess they didn’t want to fiddle around with it. When I mentioned to Hase that I was doing this they also said that it was not possible because of cable routing problems. All I can say is “rubbish”.

A small dab of silver paint on the raised numbers on the rubber grip and I could see what was happening. However that’s when I realised that the shifter was not the standard short Rohloff Shifter but a full-length rotating hand grip. I  can only assume this is a special design modified by Rohloff or Hase, I expect it would be possible to remove the extra length by cutting off the inner metal tube but I’m nervous of interfering and Hase say it’s not possible to shorten the shifter. (Manufacturers always say that kind of thing don’t they?)

I had been playing around with the Ergon grips on my Brompton and could see that, although not designed for the Hase forward-facing bars they could make a big difference all the same. So I have ordered a standard Rohloff changer and a pair of Rohloff-specific Ergon GP1 grips from sjscycles.co.uk, who have a very comprehensive catalogue of Rohloff products and parts, presumably because they specialise in Rohloff gears for their Thorn touring bikes and tandems.

At the same time I ordered a pair of Hase Ergo-Riserbars from JD cycles and hoped that all this stuff would arrive in good time for our next big trip.

Meanwhile I realised that I might benefit from some better gloves and had a look at the selection at Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative, who have just opened a branch in Sheffield (hooray!). They had a pair of Specialised fingerless gloves that claimed to relieve pressure on the ulnar nerve so that seemed worth a try.

I’ll report back when I’ve fitted and experienced the new setup. We are off to Snowdonia for a week on the Bicycle Beano on 17th July so that should be a good test.

Postscript 19 September 2010 – I will make a full post of this shortly I hope

Basically the changes I proposed above have transformed the situation, we’ve done two multi-day tours and no wrist problems. The Hase Riserbars are very good, I don’t think Hase take enough trouble to explain them to customers or dealers or I might have bought them right from the start. They give me a more upright position with a different angle, allowing the “normal” position to be a bit lower and forward. It’s very relaxing cruising in the upright position (if you can be confident you’ll not need an emergency stop)

My custom adaptation with the Ergons plus fitting a standard Rohloff shifter in the bar-end position has worked perfectly, easy to install and it’s great. The gloves also seem to be helping – I’m sure it’s a combination of effects rather than a single magic “cure”

So, like a lot of things, the devil is in the detail and I’ve forgotten my reservations, meanwhile the Pino continues to be the most life-enhancing investment, even more than my Brompton and that’s saying something.

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6 Responses to “Pino – my suffering wrists”

  1. gingerbeard Says:

    Thanks for this review. My wife and I finally got to try a Pino after several years of searching (there is only 2 in Canada that we have ever found). We loved the closeness and ease of communication, but both found, even in a very brief trial, that the handlebars caused problems. Yours is the first review I have seen to confirm what we suspected.

  2. chrisrust Says:

    Thanks for that, my impression is that Hase don’t really understand this issue, certainly their response to my query just said you can’t change their hand grips and try wearing gloves, written by some young guy with perfect wrists perhaps?
    I’m determined not to let this beat me, if the “add-on” solution doesn’t work I’ll start looking at replacing the existing Hase bars (single tube with a bend in the middle) with something that allows more control over the handlebar alignment – probably a straighter tube with the opportunity to clamp a bar-end type device at the top. It would be possible for Hase to design a more adjustable setup.

  3. gingerbeard Says:

    My wife wondered about turning the handlebars around so the sweep back like old moustache bars. It would create a very upright riding position for the captain but would take most of the weight off of your hands.

    Also it might make for a more stable start. We found it was very wobbly for the first pedal rotation, and kinda freaked her out both as captain and stoker.

    I’ve read from one other owner that he found Hase was not very supportive in servicing his needs after he got the bike. He had a long long wait for the double stand, and was never able to get the child straps for the stoker seat, eventually he cobbled together his own system. I wonder if it is a location thing, he is in the USA.

  4. chrisrust Says:

    I’ve looked at the various ways you could re-arrange the bars, you could do that but the real problem is not the position of the bars but the detail – the angle of the hand grips would be very strange. Also bringing the bars back too far means they interfere with your legs when getting on and off (I’ve tried it)
    Hence, if the various adaptations don’t work I’ll look at replacing that top section of tube with something else that gives better control of the orientation of the hand grips, it’s an interesting 3-dimensional problem.
    Regarding starting off, I had some very good instruction from the dealer, who has a Pino for their own use, and it’s a bit scary the first few times but you do get the hang of it.
    Hase responded quite quickly to my email and the dealer (JD Cycles) ordered me a pair of riserbars promptly at the beginning of this week and expect to have them early next week. However their experience of Hase is that they are pretty good at quality but don’t do that modern order tracking stuff for some reason so you never quite know what’s going on till the goods arrive. We had a nervous week or two when waiting for our bike.
    I detect a big cultural difference with German industry. An architect I met was setting up a big project office in Berlin, in London if he wanted some consumable materials like printing inks or paper he would just phone a supplier, any supplier, and the stuff would come the same day by courier. In Berlin he was asked to fill in an application form and told it would take a week to open an account. On the other hand all the really nice technical products on this bike: disc brakes, hub gears, the bike itself, the Ergon grips I’m buying, come from innovative small German companies.
    Incidentally, I’ll be interested to hear how you get on with the Bilenky Viewpoint. It’s a less aggressive design than the Pino – a frame builder’s best effort rather than a piece of integrated engineering, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. At least you have a choice of conventional bars.

  5. Richard Says:

    I am interested in the Hase Pino for my wife. I have never had her over 30 miles on are Burley tandem. I have been 150 or more miles in a day on camping trips with my son. The children are moving away from home and we will have more time for ourselves now.
    I have never had wrist problems but have used drop bars on all my bicycles. I believe Hays could do a better job on the ergonomics of there bar. It is not the best position to start with. Having two hand positions is important for me. I emailed the US distributor with several questions and have not had a reply. I may have no choice but to go to Bilenky for our tandem.

  6. chrisrust Says:

    Richard, if you are having problems with your US distributor you may find it more productive to contact Hase direct
    They responded to my question about the Rohloff shifter within a couple of days, I don’t think it was a particularly helpful answer but it was a difficult question and the main thing is that they did reply and that helped me decide what to do next.
    I now have all the parts for my handlebar upgrade and I’ve fitted them with no problems. It’s been raining heavily so I haven’t had a chance to try it yet but I’ll post a report when I’ve had a proper chance to evaluate, maybe after next week. It all looks good but of course the only real test is a long ride.

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