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Most aerodynamic position of hands for downhill coasting ...(13 posts)

Most aerodynamic position of hands for downhill coasting ...Humma Hah
Aug 2, 2001 1:54 PM
... this is actually aimed at Doug Sloan, but any others who care to comment, chime on in.

I've been investigating a few hand positions on my bars this week, seeing how much difference they make. A couple of days ago I was out-coasting a Colnago using the "hands near the stem" method.

Granted, my bike is unique. I don't have drop bars, although my straight bars are only 20" wide, so in that respect they're not too far off from drops, at least they don't stick out like broom handles. But in my normal seated position, I'm semi-upright, and that causes plenty of drag.

Usually, when I tuck to coast downhill, I'll leave my hands on the grips. However, moving them in to almost the stem, and tucking my elbows way in so my forearms are parallel, makes a dramatic difference, usually around a 2 mph increase in speed. This puts me in a similar position to using triathalon aero bars. I also get my butt off the seat, holding the nose of the saddle between my legs, and thus get my back a little flatter. I can't pedal this way, but I coast like a sumbitch.

I'm remembering a discussion Doug Sloan posted a year or so ago, to the effect that he seemed able to coast downhill faster than most folks he rode with. Doug, do you by any chance put your hands in a similar position for these solo coasts? It seems to me that riding "in the drops" would put your arms stretched straight down in the wind, very un-aerodynamic.

I would never use this position in close quarters with other bikes -- too little precision of control.
that's the way I do itsputnik
Aug 2, 2001 2:08 PM
but only if the road is visible up ahed and has a good surface. I can remember seeing some picture from the Red Zinger Classic in the early '80s of someone, Leonard Harvey Nitz???, descending with one hand near the stem and the other back behind his back. That's gutsy
Leonard Harvey Nitz??? Great Memory!!!Funky-But-Chunky
Aug 2, 2001 3:54 PM
That photo of Leonard Harvey Nitz was very, very cool. Thanks for reminding me of it. Wasn't he wearing one of those old-school leather hair nets? Purple Colnago, or something like that?

Also, in reading these posts and the earlier one about the MTB passing the Colnago on the descent, I am reminded from my own experiences the old motor-head saying "there's no replacement for displacement!" Applied to biking, it translates to "he who hauls the heaviest @ss up the hill has the most potential energy at his disposal for the ride down." I (in all seriousness) bemoan the 35 pounds that the last 15 years of life and family have put on my frame (inside my 220 lb. body is a 185 lb. guy trying to get out). I can still fly on the flats where absolute power is the lingua franca. But on the hills, where power-to-weight is key, my skinny-little-chickenboned-you-got-chunky-but-I-didn't-so-haha-on-you riding partners (and close friends) absolutely eat me up. But on the descent I will roll over them like they are standing still...regardless of my position on the bike.
Aug 2, 2001 2:31 PM
I do somethung close as well, with my knees pulled in tight against the top tube. Pedals at 3 and 9 o'clock.
I remember seeing Pantani descending in a TDF ahead of the pack a few years back. He had his hands gripping the bars "backhand" from underneath and was leaning way forward.
I've tried that but it's a little extreme for me.
I think it's pretty important to be off the seat and allow airflow through there, otherwise your groin is acting as a "parachute".
hands near stemDog
Aug 2, 2001 2:32 PM
Yup, that seems to be the fastest. For pure speed under ideal conditions, I put my hands near the stem, elbows down and against the top tube, pedals at 3 and 9, butt way back and abdomen on the saddle, knees in, back flat, and cheek down against the stem, head looking foward. I've found that this position is considerably faster than even a good aerobar position, but not nearly as comfortable, and you darn well can't pedal like this. BTW, in this position, I have never, yup, never, been beaten down a hill, even next to guys outweighing me by 50 pounds.

This is an advanced maneuver. Children, do not try this at home.

On the tandem...MrCelloBoy
Aug 2, 2001 2:36 PM
We can just relax in the drops and still haul ass, once we get it up!
no screwing around on a tandemDog
Aug 2, 2001 2:46 PM
When on the tandem, with someone else's life in my hands, I keep my hands firmly planted on the bars, out wide. No messing around. More often than not the problem on a tandem is going TOO fast, not too slow.

I hear ya bro!MrCelloBoy
Aug 2, 2001 3:05 PM
Can't wait for the Calfee. It's headed for the paint shop and Dave's is ordering up the parts as we speak!
We're planning on returning to the Grizzly Century in October to see how it feels on a 15lb. lighter bike!
Well I guess that explains ...Humma Hah
Aug 2, 2001 3:35 PM
... how you were out-coasting tandems. As I suspected, you're crazier than they are! Just like me!
never tried hands near stem, butcyclopathic
Aug 2, 2001 4:23 PM
I do the rest and keep arms laying on top of Hbar holding hoods.

Yes I've been outrun only once: guy had Campy hubs and fast tires /I was on my commuter 28mm tires, chepo taiwan hubs and 50cm bars/.. did I mention he was 50lbs more then me?
one behind yer backclub
Aug 2, 2001 7:39 PM
as far back there as you can get it, the other right next to the stem on the bar, I like to steer with my left but that's just me. At 50 mph you gain about one and a half mph pretty much instantly when you do this. The best bike for riding like this is anything Dave Tesch built, anything else, you're on yer own...
Ever try BOTH hands behind your back?Humma Hah
Aug 2, 2001 8:09 PM
I got out of the habit of riding no-hands due to some frame damage the bike picked up in a badly-landed jump in 1975. But I got that fixed in January, and the bike handles like new again, the definitive "look, Ma, no hands" bike.

Hmmmm ... maybe I could try ...

My advice, stay out of the way of cruisers coming downhill on the Prince William Parkway for about the next week or so. If you don't hear from me again, it didn't work!

Maybe if I stuff enough creme-filled donuts in my jersey, they'll protect me from the crash.
@ 220 lb. 3.5hr/7% climb descend in 4 min.Made in Taiwan
Aug 2, 2001 10:28 PM
being the fattest guy in all the group rides.... i can pick anyone up on the descend.
I use the classic MTB descend position: pedals 3/9 o'clock, beer gut on the saddle and huge ass over my rear wheel.