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Optimum Bike Control

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Optimum Bike Control

Old 07-30-19, 12:34 PM
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one4smoke
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Optimum Bike Control

I suspect a rather novice question, but nonetheless, I’d be curious to know...

Do you feel you have better control of your bike while in the drops, or on the hoods?
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Old 07-30-19, 12:53 PM
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In the drops, always. We teach our Juniors that any time there is stress, they should be in the drops: cornering, sprinting, sketchy pavement, whatever. If your bars and levers are properly set up, you have quicker access and better leverage. Your center of mass is lower. And it makes it impossible for a rider alongside to hook your bars.
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Old 07-30-19, 12:57 PM
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High speed -- drops. Low speed/high car traffic -- hoods.
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Old 07-30-19, 01:41 PM
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Always drops
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Old 07-30-19, 01:53 PM
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So, looking at previous answers pretty much confirms my view. In extreme situations, better to be on the drops. However, riding with hands on the brake hoods allows a better view of the road ahead. A lot also depends on the rider, some are better at controlling their bikes while on the hoods than others. Years ago when I was still racing after the race one of my competitors told me that he was uncomfortable going into corners behind guys who were riding on their brake hoods. Then he said that behind me it didn't matter, I was able to control my bike equally well riding on the hoods. However, if I am going downhill at high speed into difficult corners in a race I will be on the drops.
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Old 07-30-19, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
In the drops, always. We teach our Juniors that any time there is stress, they should be in the drops: cornering, sprinting, sketchy pavement, whatever. If your bars and levers are properly set up, you have quicker access and better leverage. Your center of mass is lower. And it makes it impossible for a rider alongside to hook your bars.
+1 And ... if you are following a wheel and that wheel leads you over a pothole. - guess what? you didn't see it. In the drops, even with a relaxed grip on the bars (you are behind a trusted wheel), when you slam into that pothole your hands stay on the bars because you would have to completely dislocate your thumb to come off them. On the hoods it's an easy slide forward to come off completely.

"We teach our Juniors that any time there is stress, they should be in the drops: cornering, sprinting, sketchy pavement, whatever. ... And it makes it impossible for a rider alongside to hook your bars." Exactly what the vets in my club taught us 40 years ago. They also said that we had to see to it that in the drops was a place we could spend all day if we had to. In my last race, we spent the opening 60 miles riding single file on a 2-lane state highway with a very strong, gusting wind on our left shoulder. No shelter. I was in the drops for 3 hours before we finally saw a small hill and a couple of minutes of respite.

Ben
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Old 07-30-19, 09:20 PM
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Hmm, looks like maybe I should flip my stem for group rides; my hoods are where most drops are, and the drops are just for occasional use.
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Old 07-31-19, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
In the drops, always.
^^^^^This!!!
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Old 07-31-19, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
Hmm, looks like maybe I should flip my stem for group rides; my hoods are where most drops are, and the drops are just for occasional use.
Go to compact bars if you don't already have them.
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Old 07-31-19, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Go to compact bars if you don't already have them.
I have used compact bars a few times and I simply couldn't figure out what all the shouting was about. When I switched to the drops, my body position did not change at all, so I was thinking to myself " why bother with the drops?" If I go to my drops, I want to know that I am on my drops I want to lower my centre of gravity to be more stable. Compact bars are made for old guys who want to think that when they are on the drops they are in a "racing" position

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Old 07-31-19, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Go to compact bars if you don't already have them.
Yeah, got em.

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Old 07-31-19, 07:19 PM
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Gimpy old guy here.

Drops for best control in any situation. There are some tricky whoopsies in a couple of my favorite time trial routes, a mix of pavement ripples, busted up pavement, chipseal, etc., on fast curves or dips where a fast downhill suddenly transitions to a short, steep punchy climb.

Hoods sitting upright for most non-racy group rides, in traffic, etc. Bar tops for long-ish, steep-ish climbs, if I'm riding solo or at least a full bike length away from riding partners. We don't have any real climbs and two minutes is a long climb for me because I'm a flatland wimp. And I'm one of those old guys with gimpy necks, back, shoulders, etc. In actual practice I'm on the hoods or tops 90% of the time.

And hoods for best aero position when I'm going for speed and least wind resistance. I was skeptical about this technique until I tried it but, sure nuff, it's more aero than drops if you can hold a position with forearms parallel with the ground for awhile. But I'll switch to the drops on those tricky whoopsies I mentioned above.

To facilitate squeezing my stiff, achy old neck into the drops more often, my '89 Ironman is set up more or less French-fit, with only a couple inches drop from saddle height to tops of the bars. The drops are typical 1980s style, not the deepest drops but not compact. With the reach set up appropriately I can ride the drops for up to 5 minutes if necessary.

My '93 Trek 5900 needs work to fit me better. Saddle-bar height isn't too bad but the 140mm stem is way too long for comfort. I can handle only 20-30 mile rides before it gets painful (I'm still recuperating from a couple of 40-50 mile rides this weekend, and visiting my chiropractor almost daily). I have old school semi-compact drops (Nitto BLL65, lovely classic drops), which help a bit, but really need even less drop. My next project is a shorter stem, more compact drop and the Nitto bar will go on my Ironman.

Only time I notice how other folks ride is when it's totally inappropriate for conditions. I bailed out of a semi-fast group ride this weekend after watching how some new-to-me participants were riding. One was drafting a few inches from the wheel in front of her, with her hands on the bar tops nowhere near the brakes. And the next rider behind her was riding the aero bars. I moved several feet to the side and well back from the group. I had planned to get in front of them so whatever happened wouldn't entangle me, but then they added half-wheeling to their repertoire of nerve-wracking practices. So I just made some polite excuses about dropping back to hang out with a slower friend and let 'em go. Apparently all survived that 50 mile ride, but it sure looked like a disaster waiting to happen. I gather all were experienced, fit cyclists, but it appears their experience was mostly time trials/triathlons, not pacelines or even reasonably competent fast groups.
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Old 07-31-19, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
Yeah, got em.
OMG, that's some drop. Pretty easy to see the issue.
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Old 07-31-19, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
I have used compact bars a few times and I simply couldn't figure out what all the shouting was about. When I switched to the drops, my body position did not change at all, so I was thinking to myself " why bother with the drops?" If I go to my drops, I want to know that I am on my drops I want to lower my centre of gravity to be more stable. Compact bars are made for old guys who want to think that when they are on the drops they are in a "racing" position
That's because you just moved your hands down and decreased your elbow bend, leaving your upper body where it was. When you go into the drops, it's OK to lower your upper body, so keep or increase that elbow bend, all the way down to horizontal forearms. Straight arms in the drops is slow. It's also OK, and the advantage of compacts to not move your upper body, keeping the same hip angle, but changing your grip and elbow angle to prevent hand and arm fatigue on long rides.

Deep drops are a relic of the days when bar tops were about even with the saddle.
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Old 07-31-19, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
OMG, that's some drop. Pretty easy to see the issue.
Been using pretty much that position for 25 years... might be time to rethink it
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Old 07-31-19, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
Been using pretty much that position for 25 years... might be time to rethink it
30" inseam so envies long-legged cyclists.
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Old 07-31-19, 10:22 PM
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A fraction of it is the stack height of runners...
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Old 08-01-19, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
Hmm, looks like maybe I should flip my stem for group rides; my hoods are where most drops are, and the drops are just for occasional use.
I keep my hoods lower, too, so my drops are just that little bit lower when I sprint.

I only go to drops in attacks or the last 1k, though. I rarely stay in the drops. Hoods are more aero when I need to be aero.
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