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Hoods or Drops - Another Question(5 posts)

Hoods or Drops - Another Questioncoifmo
Aug 19, 2003 7:28 AM
Hoods seem to be the place to be in most folks view, but out of years of habit I find myself much more comfortable in the drops most of the time (provided my bars are set high enough, and with short intervals back up on the hoods/bars).

Question: Is that so wrong? What's the downside?

Part of this is cockpit length - and having had a few too-big-bikes - but even with a proper fit it feels to my hands like steering, breaking and shifting are all compromised if I'm riding the hoods.

Is this a habit I need to break, or just one of those things?
If you go back in time...biknben
Aug 19, 2003 7:55 AM
I'm sure someone will dispute this but I'll take a stab anyway.

Originally, it was just tops or drops. The brake hoods were not intended as a use for hand position. I remember riding on hoods without any grippy rubber of cushioning. Over time people began using the hoods just because they were there.

Now people use them all the time. For many, it's more comfortable than the drops (poor fit maybe?). IMO, you certainly have better control and braking power while in the the drops. For many circumstances, that level of control and braking isn't neccesary so the hoods are fine.

FWIW: I think it's easier to shift when you are on the hoods. Your fingers are right there and there's no reaching required.
BothRay Sachs
Aug 19, 2003 9:31 AM
Isn't that why we use drop bars to begin with - multiple hand positions? That's part of why I like my bars pretty high - I can ride comfortably in the drops, on the hoods, on the tops, and on the ramps. On bikes where the bars are too low, I live on the tops and hoods but can only handle the drops for short efforts, descents, etc. You can still get plenty aero with high bars, just bend your freakin' elbows when you're in the drops.

No offense intended to people who have their bars low and are flexible enough to ride all of the positions from there - I'm envious of you. But there are a lot of folks who ride 'em low for fashion and deprive themselves of some really useful positions.

re: DropsFredrico
Aug 19, 2003 10:29 AM
What Bikenben says is interesting. Looking at the old pictures of the Tour de France, one notices that the bars are almost the same height as the saddles on the bikes up until the late 70s, when the fashion became to ride the smallest frame possible, to save weight and get aerodynamic, which also lowered the bars.

Rivendell's Grant Peterson and others will agree that a long top tube, as with a large frame, and handlebars LESS than an inch or two below the saddle height, gives the most comfortable ride. If you want to get into the drops, there's enough room for the upper body to rotate down without scrunching up. The drops aren't so low that you're falling into them, but you can still make your back horizontal and get aerodynamic by bending the elbows. This in turn puts your hands right behind the brake levers, where you have the best control.

My feeling is the reason we don't see more hard core racers in the drops is because their frames are too small and the bars are too low to be comfortable.

So go for it. Show 'em how it's done.
Pros bikesSpiderman
Aug 19, 2003 1:27 PM
With the modern philosophy of "smallest bike you can fit on" you see some odd configurations of bikes - i am referring mainly to the pros and their bikes. They have small frames with TONS of seatpost sticking out and handlebars rotated up with the levers pointing up at 75 degree angles with not stack under their stems.

If you look at the points where the body rests on a bike (saddle and hbars/levers) you will see that the contact points are in the same positions they would be if the pros had a more "traditional" position on a larger bike. Rather than having the levers very high up on the bars, imagine having a longer HT (or even spacers on a fork with a longer steerer tube), raising the overall height of the hbars, and leaving the levers in the "traditional" position.

Another interesting question is their overall position on the bike. To fully activate the quads, the hips must be rotated forward (think about how you have to lean forward before getting out of a chair. in addition it puts your spine in a straight or "neutral" position). For the riders to reach all the way down to their drops, there is physically no way they are flexible enough to do that with their hips rotated forward. Thats why there is a big hump in their back. Rather than getting their flexibility from rotating their hips forward, they are reaching with their backs. I know they are superhuman and everything but it seems odd to me for them to be as efficient as possible ignoring natural physiological advantages.

Don't misread my post as being critical, just commenting on some weird things that don't make sense to me. Maybe i should just write it off as "pros being pros" and they get the job done as is, which i am sure is good enough for the coaches and fans. Or i just don't know enough about the topic.