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Road Riding 101 - Hand Position on Bars(13 posts)

Road Riding 101 - Hand Position on BarsFez
Mar 11, 2003 3:10 PM
Having recently raised my bars 1.5 cm or so, I am now striving to ride a greater percentage of my miles in the drops.

I used to have the super-low, zero-stack handlebar setup, but I found I was spending a lot of time on the hoods.

So what's a good rule of thumb for riding the drops versus hoods?

I say anything level or downhill should be on the drops.

Anything uphill doesn't need to be ridden on the drops, and of course sprints and climbs have their own hand positions.

Any other words of wisdom?
Mar 11, 2003 3:20 PM
My basic rule is that if I'm racing, anything over about 15 mph wind speed gets the drops. Wind speed means road speed +/- wind. If you are drafting closely, actual speed of 25 mph might be wind speed of 15, etc.

I always descend in the drops, both for speed and cornering stability.

I always ride my fixed gear in the drops.

If you aren't racing, it doesn't matter. Do what feels good. Merely changing positions now and then might be better than following any one rule.

re: Road Riding 101 - Hand Position on Barsbrider
Mar 11, 2003 3:21 PM
Not my choice. Majority of riding is on the hoods, with the tops for extended spin climbs, and drops for sprints, downhills and attacks. I use crit bend or 8-bend bars so I don't hit my wrists on the bar tops when I sprint.
All day in the drops?the bull
Mar 11, 2003 3:29 PM
Not me.I only get in the drops on a down hill or when I am pulling or need to be aero for a long time.Maybe your frame is to small for you.I had a frame to small for me an was always in the drops.The hoods should be a comfy place to ride most of the time.When I sprint I like to grab the outside of the bars near the top with my palms facing in.
No guidance - it's totally personalKerry
Mar 11, 2003 4:22 PM
Beware anyone who says you "should" spend some fraction of your time on the tops or drops. Your own flexibility and how you have your bike set up (bar height, reach, drop, etc.) will define your split between drops and tops. I ride in the drops almost exclusively, and if I need to get lower, I flex my elbows more. I ride with a guy who rides on the hoods most of the time, even leading into a headwind. Nothing "wrong" with either. If you can't reach the drops with some comfort, then your bars are too low for you. If you can't get low enough when in the drops, your bars are too high. Anything in between is acceptable.
Agreed, but it's nice to have the drops as "aero" positionStupidLight
Mar 11, 2003 5:46 PM
This is definitely a preference issue. I personally like to ride from the top of the bar & drops under most conditions. It just makes intuitive sense to me to set up the drops as a more-aero "reserve" position for downhills, headwinds, sprints, etc. where it really matters.
This position should still be comfortable and not restrict your breathing in any major way -- even the almighty Lance Armstrong likes a short-drop bar for that very reason.
Sprinters who have a special set of concerns (leverage, stability, aero), tend to go for lower drops.
re: Road Riding 101 - Hand Position on Barslaffeaux
Mar 11, 2003 11:42 PM
I ride the hoods about 85% of the time. If there's stiff headwind I use the drops, or occasionally for a change of hand position.
Mar 12, 2003 7:24 AM
I ride in the drops a lot more when I am riding solo, as much as 75% of the time. I tend to ride on the hoods and bar tops when climbing, in the drops while descending and on the flats -- particularly in windy weather. However, in group rides, I probably ride on the hoods 80% of the time -- mainly so I can reach my brakes quickly if needed. On group rides, I mainly ride in the drops when it's my turn to pull. My bars are set pretty high, 1" below the saddle, so I am very comfortable riding in the drops for extended periods.
Y'know, if you raise your bars in order to spend more timebill
Mar 12, 2003 1:04 PM
in the drops, I won't tell you that you're wrong or uncomfortable, because that's your call, but you've neutralized the benefit of being in the drops, haven't you? In other words, the whole point of the drops is to get more aerodynamic, right? So, if you have to raise your bars in order not to flex uncomfortably more than when on the hoods, you aren't any more aero. What am I missing?
I get in the drops for a change of position and when I need to be aero, but it's definitely a minority of time. I'm going to be doing a little more racing, so I'm trying to train myself to be more comfortable in the drops for those victory-stealing breakaways (har-de-har-har, in my dreams), but it's not something I want to do all day. That's what the hoods and the tops are for.
Good point...Fez
Mar 12, 2003 1:28 PM
To keep this in perspective, my saddle-bar differential is still approx 6.5cm. Previously it was approx 8cm.

I'm still experimenting with bar height, since I haven't bothered to make the final cut for my steerer.

Raising the bar does allow for a more comfortable JRA/resting/drinking/climbing position.

And I previously mentioned that I spent a lot of time on the hoods and comparatively little in the drops. I still think spending more time in the drops at the 1.5cm higher position would give me an overall aero advantage than riding the hoods in the lower position, since I rarely rode the drops in the lower position.

And Kerry said that you can still get lower in the drops by bending elbows.

Also, I think sprinting in the drops is a little easier now that I am 1.5cm higher.
in between?DougSloan
Mar 12, 2003 2:08 PM
Let's say you can tolerate a 2 inch drop to the tops, and 6 inches to the drops (4 inches from top to drop), but for a shorter time. Your bike is set up with a 3 inch/7 inch drop right now, which is a little too low in the drops. What do you do?

Well, you raise your bars an inch, I suppose, but the people whobill
Mar 12, 2003 2:29 PM
ride around in the drops 80% of the time are the ones that confuse me. My drops are in a position that gets me real aero for a short period of time. I can't stay down there forever. Raising them two inches would get my drops to a middle ground between (former) height of drops and tops, but now my hoods are that much less aero. I sort of approach the drops as the exception rather than the rule, and I'm not sure why you make them the rule if you have perfectly good hoods there to use.
Well, you raise your bars an inch, I suppose, but the people whoMatt Britter
Mar 12, 2003 3:50 PM
To Bill's point, even if you are flexible enough to stay in the drops for your whole ride, you still would not want to. For one reason, you are limiting your beathing ability bent over. For another you are not mixing up the muscles combo's. Who of you sit your whole ride with out standing for a stretch?

I know some TT's will differ, but we are are talk about a general training ride.