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Issues with aero position(8 posts)

Issues with aero positionGMS
Oct 1, 2002 11:22 AM
I'm 6 feet tall and weigh 150 pounds, so headwinds kill me. I'm like a paper tower. I try to duck under the wind but I have the following problems. Mind you I don't use aerobars, I just go on the drops and try to cut the wind resistance down a little.

1. Watching the road - The other day I was considering a forward-view mirror! So I could look straight down and see ahead. Just keep my head up and build neck muscles?

2. Sitting - How do you go aero and not push pressure on soft tissue? Relative to hood position, do you slide forward, back, or nowhere on the saddle when you go to the drops?

3. I cannot pedal as smoothly - My stroke feels choppy. I almost always upshift and lower my cadence to smooth it out.

4. I can maintain the same cadence in the same gear if I sit straight up and go to the top bar! (This may be related to above). Yes, the wind drag is huge, but my leg power from that position is adequate (and more comfortable), and I can easily maintain the same speed as I can in the drops.

Point 4 underscores, for me, that something is wrong, since the function of going to the drops is being undermined by one or more of the other problems, and preventing me from going faster despite my good intentions and appropriate response to a headwind (I think).

Any tips would be appreciated. Thank you.
Here are three web sites that will helpsn69
Oct 1, 2002 11:38 AM
1. This is Dan Empfield's (of Quintana Roo fame) site. He's got a wealth of new and archived fit info. While it's mostly regarding tri bike fit, he offers sage advice about integrating aero bars into road bike geometries as well. He's also got a forum there where you can ask him questions directly.

2. This shop uses Emp's and Cobb's philosophies for aero-fitting. There is nothing new offered here in terms of discussion, but there is a terrific series of graphically enhanced photos that show you how a good aero position should work for both road and tri geometries. I'd recommend looking through these and then comparing yourself in a mirror.

3. This is John Cobb's web site for his shop. If you browse through his technical pages, you'll find even more info regarding fit, seat position, aero bar sizing, etc.

The bottom line is that you have to find a position that is the best compromise between pure aerodynamics, handling, and personal comfort. The most aerodynamic position in the world is useless if you can't maintain it due to pain or instability. Also, you might want to consider a tri-specific saddle like the Azoto or the Koobi tri. All of these sites offer information about saddles as well.

Good luck,
Here are three web sites that will helpGMS
Oct 1, 2002 2:31 PM
Thanks. I don't have aerobars and don't do tri, and I am not really obsessed with a super-aero position, but I do suspect something could be better when going to the drops in a headwind doesn't make me any faster.

I guess going aero has to be somewhat less comfortable than riding "normally," or people would ride in their most aero position all or most of the time.

Knowing little things like where one tends to be on the saddle when in a more aero position, and some of the other things I listed, might be helpful in getting a tolerable aero position for those times when the wind is really coming at you.

It's funny this one site ( that you pointed out basically reads "If you ride your saddle for more than a month and do not suffer a fatal injury from it, it's a keeper." ;)
re: Issues with aero positionbianchi boy
Oct 1, 2002 4:47 PM
I don't know if this relates to your situation or not, but I'll give my standard rant on handlebar height. The trendy thing nowadays is to position handlebars very low, with a large drop from the saddle, supposedly for aerodynamics. However, most riders I see with low bars rarely if ever ride in the drops. In contrast, I have my handlebars about 1" below the saddle to even -- but I ride in the drops a lot because I can comfortably reach them. The ridiculously low handlebars that many cyclists use almost totally negates the usability of drop bars unless you are extremely flexible. With my bars up higher, I can ride for miles on end in the drops.
Oct 1, 2002 5:14 PM
Yeah, flexibility is interesting. On the one hand, I cannot come close to touching my toes when stretching. But if my knees are bent just a tad, I can bend my back with relation to my thighs a lot more (the limiting factor for me when touching my toes is on the back of the knee/calf area).

I have never had a problem, or pain, relating to leaning forward (back more horizontal) while biking. The more significant discomfort is holding my head up to look ahead once I'm there, as I mentioned.

I'll experiment. I've had my bars high and I've had them low. It is difficult for me to tell whether I need them out more (longer stem) or down more (lower) sometimes.

give it a trytarwheel
Oct 2, 2002 4:11 AM
Raising the bars can't hurt, I can just about guarantee it would help your neck problem. Think about it, when you're are bent way down in the front, there is no way to see the road ahead without craning your neck. When you raise the bars, it is very easy to look ahead without bending your neck. Low handlebars can be cause of lots of fit ailments -- numb hands, sore lower back and neck pain. Raising your bars also shortens your reach, so you may have to take that into account by getting a longer stem. In my case, that wasn't a problem because I wanted a shorter reach anyway.

Tom (aka bianchi boy, tarwheel)
Oct 2, 2002 3:26 AM
I never, ever see anyone in the drops on latemodel bikes.
Some Thoughts (long)...timfire
Oct 2, 2002 5:22 PM
I'm no expert, but from my own experience I would say first-and-for-most you probably just need to get used riding in the drops. I'm don't know what percentage of the time you spend in the drops, but let me explain.

When you switch to the drops you (should) rotate your hips forward to get a flat back. This changes your leg/hip angle. If you don't spend much time in the aero position, your muscles (at least your butt/hips/abs) may not be used to the position. If so, your legs in that position probably won't work as efficiently as they do in the hoods position. If you spend more time aero, your legs/hips will probably get used to it and become more efficient.

Similiarly, I too have noticed a change in my pedal stroke between the drops/hoods. I believe this too is related to the change in hip angle and the need to just get used to pedaling in that position.

Also, I'm not convinced that the aerodynamics between the hoods and the drops make THAT big of a difference for the average rider. I certainly don't "feel" faster in the drops. Where I notice it is at the end of ride.

Spending more time in the aero position will also get rid of the neck pain. Alot of peolpe complain about that, but personally I think it's just because they don't spend the time developing the muscles. This is an extreme case, but when I started messengering, I got neck pain. But after a week or two I never felt it again. Just needed to strengthen the muscles.

You mention point four signalling that something is wrong, but I don't think that's the case. First, the change in hip angles between the tops/ hoods isn't as great as the hoods/ drops (I think). Also, sitting up changes your postion closer to a standing or walking hip angle, where your legs are used to functioning. Also, flexibility (as others have mentioned) does become an issue in the drops, probably more than you realize. Even if you are inflexible, you can still reach the drops, and I doubt you would feel any pain, but inflexibility will hinder your legs from working as efficiently as they normally would.

Lastly, the seat thing. I have the same problem, going to the drops seems to put more pressure on my "soft" regions. I usually slide back to a spot where the saddle is wider and supports my sit bones better.

Alright, that turned out longer than I thought it would.

--Tim Kleinert