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How do you position your handlebar height relative to seat?(20 posts)

How do you position your handlebar height relative to seat?yzfrr11
Jan 21, 2002 5:53 AM
How do you position your handlebar height relative to seat?
Bars 10 cm lower than top of Seat. (nm)AUH
Jan 21, 2002 6:33 AM
1" below the seat on both my road and moutain bikes.nee Spoke Wrench
Jan 21, 2002 6:46 AM
Course, nobody is going to accuse me of being a racer.
My saddle's about 2-3/4 inches above my bars.nigel
Jan 21, 2002 7:42 AM
Why do you ask? This measurement is slightly different for EVERYONE. Some people find one more visually pleasing (generally, a fair-sized drop to the bars), but pros ride like this because they've been riding/training for YEARS, get the best power transfer from this position, are the most comfortable for LONG rides in this position, and--most importantly--are ELITE athletes that are conditioned and flexible enough to warrant such a drastic drop between their saddles and handlebars.

Flexibility is often the key for having a big drop to one's bars from their saddles. Again, though, do what is comfortable for you. In time, as you gain flexibility (I'm assuming--no offense meant--that you're fairly new to road riding), you may want to lower your bars a bit. NEVER increase your saddle height, though!! This should be set properly--with proper leg extension (a bit short of full extension)--from the get-go and never changed. Bar height, however, can be raised or lowered as necessary and desired.

I hope this helps, and that I haven't assumed too much.

re: How do you position your handlebar height relative to seat?Elefantino
Jan 21, 2002 8:04 AM
Trial and error. What works for me may not work for you.

A lot depends on your torso length, your flexibility, your style of riding, etc. I've seen some riders with as much as five or six inches of difference and others, with riser stems, that are equal.

You might want to try this: Start with your bars 5 cm lower than your saddle. Ride that way for at least an hour and note how your upper body feels. Ride the hoods, the drops, etc. Then experiment, no more than a couple of cm each way until you find your optimum height.

FYI, my difference is 2 cm higher on my alu bike than on my carbon fiber bike. Just feels better that way. Or at least I remember it as such.

Dead level; I'll never change back; here's whycory
Jan 21, 2002 8:18 AM
I rode for 25 years trying to get comfortable with the bars lower than the saddle by whatever the fashionable distance was, usually from two to four or five inches. Then I read Grant Petersen's explanation of why drop bars have drops (so you can ride on the tops for comfort, then go DOWN ON THE DROP part when you want to get aero). If you set the bars so the tops are within an inch either way of the saddle, you can cruise in comfort, but you still have the drop part when you need it.
I set my Atlantis up that way with some skepticism, because I thought it was geeky. It made a huge difference in comfort, didn't slow me down at all anywhere, and I can even climb in the drops when I want to change positions for awhile. Try it before you dismiss it--it's the single best change I've ever made in my cycling, including losing 40 pounds. You can read about it at the Rivendell website,
Dead level; I'll never change back; here's whyTrent in WA
Jan 21, 2002 2:38 PM
Hear, hear! Mine aren't level, but I started out last summer with them about 1 1/2" lower, moved them up about a half inch a month ago, and have been watching them creep slowly upward since. It's made the bike more comfortable and much more stable--with less weight on the bars, it's much less likely to overreact to steering input.

If your life depends on trying to catch the guy in front of you in the weekly chain gang, lower might be good, but for long-distance recreational riding, I think that higher is better for more peeps.

it works w/ a relaxed seat anglecolker
Jan 21, 2002 4:58 PM
move bars up and you need to scoot back on the rivendells have 72/73 seat angles. than you want longer chanstays to be centered on the bike.rivendells have very long chainstays.
i tried to fix my bars high a la rivendell and it felt funny on a bike w/ 73.5 seat angle
other way aroundRay Sachs
Jan 22, 2002 5:16 AM
According to Peter White's discussion of bike fit (, it's the other way around. The farther forward/down you want your torso to lean, the farther back your seat has to be in order to maintain a balanced posiiton on the bike. With the seat farther forward, you have to have the bars higher/closer to you to maintain that balance. If you combine a steep seat tube angle with a low and stretched out reach to the bars, you're going to be supporting a LOT of weight with your arms unless you're a very powerful rider who's putting a lot of force into the pedals all the time. At a certain point, the angle between your upper leg and torso as it bends at the hip comes into play also, which is where you don't want to be too far back or have the bars too far forward/down. Everyone has to find their own sweet spot where the seat is back far enough to support their weight with the type of pedaling forces they create and where the bars are the right distance forward for optimum hip angle and comfort or aerodynamics. You can't maximize long ride comfort AND aerodynamics unless you're a really, really strong rider OR very, very flexible.

Peter's article explains this better than I ever could, but that's the general idea.

i refer to pics of Indurain on a funny bikenaff geezer
Jan 21, 2002 8:46 AM
then when i am in the drops and go over a big bump and smash my chin on my stem i raise it back about 10 inches higher and cancel my appointment with my chiropractor.

but seriously, slightly lower is good but anything more depends on your flexibilty, frame size, stem/bar shape and deepness. ride what feels good an comfortable.

like nige said over time your flexibilty improves and getting down lower feels natural. make sure your bike fits you well first.
It depends on your height. Tall people can handle biggerDOUGHBOY
Jan 21, 2002 8:47 AM
drops due to their longer arms. The opposite is true with shorter people.

Flexibilty is also an issue.
roughly 12-13cm below top of seat nmgtx
Jan 21, 2002 9:32 AM
1" drop is plentyRich Clark
Jan 21, 2002 10:22 AM
My goal is to feel better after the ride than I did when I started. I position the bars so that I'm simply as comfortable as possible when on the hoods, where I spend most of my time. That translates into about a 1" drop for me, but the point is the comfort, not the measurement. I can comfortably use the drops to get more aero and still raise my head enough to see ahead without hurting my neck.

This is not a style issue. Anybody who changes their bike fit solely for appearance's sake is truly stupid. I don't care how many spacers it takes!

1" drop is plentykoala
Jan 21, 2002 1:13 PM
Mine are at 1.6 inches. I am going to fit another small spacer (5mm) just to tweak the comfort. Fifteen years ago my frame size was smaller and I had 5 inches of drop. I was young flexible, fast and raced. I only care about fitness now and dont ride enough to get any of my flexibility back. Hope to change that this year.
As low as you can comfortably get away with. (nm)allervite
Jan 21, 2002 12:56 PM
6" below. 6'3" tall and arms like a chimp (nm)Bruno
Jan 21, 2002 1:58 PM
4.0 to 6.0 cm according to Seven CyclesThe Phantom
Jan 21, 2002 3:11 PM
I was taking dimensions for a Seven custom frame, they suggested 4 to 6 cm.
5-6" w/3" handlebar drop (nm)GeekRoadie
Jan 21, 2002 3:31 PM
2 cm below seat on road frameMGS
Jan 21, 2002 5:13 PM
I used to have a 6-7 cm drop, then raised it up to the current level.

Far more comfortable.

I ride the drops when I want an aero tuck.

Going up hills, on the top hoods, I find I breath easier.
it's all about balance...Geof
Jan 21, 2002 9:39 PM
Flexability etc. If your centered on your seat, which is correctly set up based on your height, neutral knee, then the distance dropped should allow you to reach forward and balance in your "cruising" position without weight on your hands. This allows you to ride comfortably, avoiding numb hands etc. This is the best position to ride in, in terms of comfort. It may take some seat adjustment to establish this balance but once you get there you'll be comfy...