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Riding Position Discovery

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

Riding Position Discovery

Old 04-13-11, 10:25 AM
  #126  
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Originally Posted by Trouble View Post

The humerus/torso angle is measured when you're on the hoods...are you leaned over with a lot of elbow bend or more on the straighter side?
Just enough to absorb bumps and avoid getting knocked over by a passing rider who doesn't say "On your left." Just kidding about the second part. Fairly straight, but elbows more down than out.
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Old 04-26-11, 06:31 PM
  #127  
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I've finally gotten everything dialed in, and today I rode 81 miles with no discomfort. I'm going to micro-measure everything on the bike. The biggest factor may have been the bike shorts. Today I wore Aerotechdesigns Classic Padded shorts. These may be a little better than my recently purchased Aerotech bib shorts.

I also wore a lot of Queen Helene's Cocoa Butter Creme on my butt.

Seat is even with the handlebars and saddle angle is totally level.
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Old 05-07-11, 11:48 AM
  #128  
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Many thanks to those on this thread who contributed with good solid information and insight into some of the mysteries of bike fitting.

The video about lowering the bars has helped me a lot, I am riding with a lot more bar drop than I thought I could stand and I don't see ever riding with the bars higher again. I've moved from a 110 stem flipped up, to a 120 flipped down with no spacers...and I could go lower. An observation; the front end of the bike is so much more comfortable when standing on the flats and climbing. I used that as a gauge when I lowered the bars on my mtb, also flipped my stem and no spacers.
It eliminated neck and shoulder issues because I was wanting to drive my torso down past my shoulders, now I can round out my shoulders and handling bumps is not an issue, it no longer transmits or radiates up my arms into my neck/shoulders and riding with a bend in my elbows seems much more natural.
Incidentally, now the front end hook-up when cornering, especially on the mtb is insane.

As prescribed by many; as you lower the bars, move the saddle back a tiny bit for balance.

Also on the video, how to pivot at the hips to allow for a straighter back which improves neck alignment has made riding in the drops more comfortable and much more frequent. And the positioning of the saddle along with how you sit on the saddle info (in addition to lowering my saddle using Steve Hogg's method of saddle height) has eliminated any saddle comfort issues I have ever had. There is a lot more hamstring/glute engagement resulting in more power, less fatigue in my quads.
Another indicator that I use; when sitting up no hands and peddling, too high and the bike veers to the left or I just don't feel stable in the saddle. Just right, I can peddle sitting up no problem.

Someone mentioned (I think) about how counterintuitive some of these changes seem/are and they were so right.

Also, the advice about leave it alone for a while has finally sunk in and is no longer adding to my problem.

Last edited by Trouble; 05-07-11 at 12:56 PM.
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Old 05-07-11, 03:17 PM
  #129  
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The Cobb videos say you should lower the drop, so that you can take pressure off your sitbones. Aren't you then sitting on soft tissue?? Also, with the saddle tilted way up, wouldn't that kill your unit? How could an aggressive racing position be more comfortable than a more relaxed (less bar drop) position?
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Old 05-07-11, 05:03 PM
  #130  
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Originally Posted by AndyK View Post
The Cobb videos say you should lower the drop, so that you can take pressure off your sitbones. Aren't you then sitting on soft tissue?? Also, with the saddle tilted way up, wouldn't that kill your unit? How could an aggressive racing position be more comfortable than a more relaxed (less bar drop) position?
Kill your unit? You need the right saddle. Do not attempt on a Brooks. Find a saddle like Cobb sells or a Specialized with a cutout is my suggestion. Objective is to rotate forward to keep a flat back because back's do not like a lot of lumbar flexion. Rotating you should still be propped up on your sit bones on the right saddle. A suggestion is try a Specialized Toupe...but choose the right width to support your sit bones.

Since this excellent thread once again I have been suckered into playing with my position on the bike 'again'. Sadly I am a bit of a fit junkie and always tweaking my position on road bike and mtb...slight OCD searching for the holy grail of just the right fit. I slammed my stem down and paid for it for 2 days...sore back and neck. I can't ride with a lot of drop is the bottom line after a lot of experimentation no matter what Cobb says....his 12cm drop for a recreational cyclist is quite extreme. Most that ride have a sweet spot. Too high a bar = pain, too low a bar = pain. The trick is finding the spot in the middle. My theory after exhaustive experimentation with saddle setback, horizontal and vertical components of reach is...the less flexible and fit you are, the smaller the sweet spot for fit and riding long distance without pain.

Last edited by Campag4life; 05-07-11 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 05-07-11, 07:24 PM
  #131  
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Originally Posted by AndyK View Post
The Cobb videos say you should lower the drop, so that you can take pressure off your sitbones. Aren't you then sitting on soft tissue?? Also, with the saddle tilted way up, wouldn't that kill your unit? How could an aggressive racing position be more comfortable than a more relaxed (less bar drop) position?
It does take pressure off your IT and No, you're not sitting on soft tissue, by that I mean your perineum. It used to be when I hit the 3 hour mark my sitbones hurt. It was because I wasn't sitting on them properly. I describe it better in my post with the attached image.

I don't see it as an aggressive racing position anymore. I see it as a balanced, aerodynamic position that utilizes the big leg muscles and allows me to use the drops and see down the road without neck ache. It's actually way more comfortable to me than the higher bar position and I'm an average 50 yo rider without great core strength.


Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
Objective is to rotate forward to keep a flat back because back's do not like a lot of lumbar flexion. Rotating you should still be propped up on your sit bones on the right saddle.

Since this excellent thread once again I have been suckered into playing with my position on the bike 'again'. Sadly I am a bit of a fit junkie and always tweaking my position on road bike and mtb...slight OCD searching for the holy grail of just the right fit...
I laugh only because I was adjusting my bike during every ride and worst, after the ride. Not anymore. Once I read and comprehended Hogg's and White's articles, burned the sheets from my so called "Pro" fits, cleared my head of all the BS rules of thumb and positioned my bike to me and how I ride, I've been much better off.
Oh yeah, and not messing with the position has helped a lot. It was adding to my frustration. After about 300 miles, I take a look at what I want to adjust and why.
I hope you find yours.

I was watching the Paris Nice race on the DVR and putting it in slow motion when the camera shot was next to the rider. Their saddle height is a lot lower than some of you might think... taking into consideration where they are sitting on the saddle and foot position.
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Old 05-07-11, 08:55 PM
  #132  
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Many thanks for bringing this up. I wish I had known this 40 years ago. The older I get it seems the less I know.
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Old 05-07-11, 09:23 PM
  #133  
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This thread is awesome. I did 80+ miles today in northern VA and I know something isn't right. There's too much strain on my shoulders and neck. I find myself wanting to look straight down all the time to relieve the pain. Here's a pic of my current setup:



I plan on dropping my stem down to the headset cap and cutting down my fork to eliminate the need for any spacers, but I was going to flip my stem up to try and keep the bars in the same position they are in now. Now, after coming across this thread, I think I'm going to try and keep the stem flipped down and slam it anyways. Also, just by looking at this pic of my bike it looks like the bars are tilted too far back. I'm going to try and rotate them forward so the hoods are more parallel with the ground. My seat might need to be moved back and tilted down a tad as well for this setup to work.

I can't wait to try it. Thanks to the OP for starting this thread!
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Old 05-08-11, 06:15 AM
  #134  
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Originally Posted by ilovecycling View Post
This thread is awesome. I did 80+ miles today in northern VA and I know something isn't right. There's too much strain on my shoulders and neck. I find myself wanting to look straight down all the time to relieve the pain. Here's a pic of my current setup:



I plan on dropping my stem down to the headset cap and cutting down my fork to eliminate the need for any spacers, but I was going to flip my stem up to try and keep the bars in the same position they are in now. Now, after coming across this thread, I think I'm going to try and keep the stem flipped down and slam it anyways. Also, just by looking at this pic of my bike it looks like the bars are tilted too far back. I'm going to try and rotate them forward so the hoods are more parallel with the ground. My seat might need to be moved back and tilted down a tad as well for this setup to work.

I can't wait to try it. Thanks to the OP for starting this thread!
Slamming your stem down to the head tube may or may not work for you. I strongly suggest you don't cut your fork tube until you have tested your new position for many miles. Fit to me is a window. Too low hurts my neck and back as much if not more than too high a handlebar. Keep in mind there has to be a window or everybody would be riding a road bike like a TT bike to be more aero. Virtually everybody has a tolerance for how low they can ride comfortably. In this sense, I believe Cobb is overly simplistic with his videos. I can't ride with nearly the drop he suggests and I have done the testing. To me your road bike set up looks plenty aggressive for an amateur cyclist in particular. Many including Boonen like their bars rotated forward with angled hoods and I do as well.
You have to take the good advice offered in this thread as a guideline and not an absolute as each of us are different. An 80 year rider can not ride in the same position as he could when he was 20...and every gradation in between.
I hope after you adjust your bike and ride it over several miles with an aggressive position you will come back and tell us what you think. Slamming your stem down to head tube will give you a full pro race fit which doesn't work for about 90% of those that ride and train on road bikes recreationally. Good Luck.

Last edited by Campag4life; 05-08-11 at 06:19 AM.
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Old 05-08-11, 07:57 AM
  #135  
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Originally Posted by ilovecycling View Post
This thread is awesome. I did 80+ miles today in northern VA and I know something isn't right. There's too much strain on my shoulders and neck. I find myself wanting to look straight down all the time to relieve the pain. Here's a pic of my current setup:



I plan on dropping my stem down to the headset cap and cutting down my fork to eliminate the need for any spacers, but I was going to flip my stem up to try and keep the bars in the same position they are in now. Now, after coming across this thread, I think I'm going to try and keep the stem flipped down and slam it anyways. Also, just by looking at this pic of my bike it looks like the bars are tilted too far back. I'm going to try and rotate them forward so the hoods are more parallel with the ground. My seat might need to be moved back and tilted down a tad as well for this setup to work.

I can't wait to try it. Thanks to the OP for starting this thread!
Awesome Cervelo! Love the blue and white theme.

I am selling my De Rosa Merak because I could only get the bars as high as yours are in this photo. That 4.5" drop caused sore shoulders and a stiff neck from craning to see in front of me. I changed frame to a 2" drop, and that solved the problem. If I slammed the stem down and flipped it, it would LOOK really cool, and I would be more aero, but I would be so uncomfortable it would ruin the experience!
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Old 05-08-11, 08:06 AM
  #136  
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
Kill your unit? You need the right saddle. Do not attempt on a Brooks. Find a saddle like Cobb sells or a Specialized with a cutout is my suggestion. Objective is to rotate forward to keep a flat back because back's do not like a lot of lumbar flexion. Rotating you should still be propped up on your sit bones on the right saddle. A suggestion is try a Specialized Toupe...but choose the right width to support your sit bones.

Since this excellent thread once again I have been suckered into playing with my position on the bike 'again'. Sadly I am a bit of a fit junkie and always tweaking my position on road bike and mtb...slight OCD searching for the holy grail of just the right fit. I slammed my stem down and paid for it for 2 days...sore back and neck. I can't ride with a lot of drop is the bottom line after a lot of experimentation no matter what Cobb says....his 12cm drop for a recreational cyclist is quite extreme. Most that ride have a sweet spot. Too high a bar = pain, too low a bar = pain. The trick is finding the spot in the middle. My theory after exhaustive experimentation with saddle setback, horizontal and vertical components of reach is...the less flexible and fit you are, the smaller the sweet spot for fit and riding long distance without pain.
I agree on finding the sweet spot, which may or may not be KOPS. But the way Cobb sets up the bikes with huge bar drop, and saddle angled nose up, has to cause pressure on the soft tissue. How could it not?

Also, I tried a Brooks Team Pro last week for the first time. After adjusting it to be a hair higher than level in the front, even though it's hard as a rock, it's more comfy than my Alias. Not sure why, but I may be a Brooks convert!
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Old 05-08-11, 08:41 AM
  #137  
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I am an advocate of rotated pelvis, increased drop, etc. on the majority of my bikes, which I guess means I should be advocating against the Rivendell school of fit & comfort. Great thread, but: the truth is my slower touring bikes (26" and 700c) and commute bike are set up to ride with a more upright pelvis, higher bars. The reason is: taking in the view and being a more neutral weight back position.

My impression is the rotated, out and down riding position tends to emphasize everything forward, it's about laying down power and miles. Great for faster bikes and purposeful rides, and for technical riding. I think it's one of the reasons why cross and MTB bikes have longer top tubes. The unrotated, compact and front up riding position tends to emphasize taking in the scenery, a more contemplative, light hands position - and, I'm not taking beach cruiser here, I mean saddle and stem somewhere around the same height.

I think both can be comfortable if the bikes are set up correctly. To my way of thinking the rotated forward, down and out creately improves the bike handling and power, and perhaps comfort if the ride involves any real effort. Almost a necessity for real MTBing; being upright is dangerous. However, the unrotated position can't be beat for fully experiencing the ride, commuting, and can be comfortable if the ride stays relaxed and the fit gives you enough latitute to make make some small changes in your sit and stretch position.

I've done centuries both ways.

So, my two cents is: buying into anyone's "correct fit" dogma risks something.

Last edited by FrenchFit; 05-08-11 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 05-08-11, 02:44 PM
  #138  
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As mentioned previously whenever I rotate the hips forward I always feel a noticeable, strong pressure on the soft tissue/perineum area. I've seen some people mention a new saddle. However I've felt this with at least a good half dozen saddles, including some with cutouts. It also tires and stresses my lower back faster. Personally I prefer the hips not rotated forward.
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Old 05-08-11, 03:54 PM
  #139  
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Originally Posted by FrenchFit View Post
I am an advocate of rotated pelvis, increased drop, etc. on the majority of my bikes, which I guess means I should be advocating against the Rivendell school of fit & comfort. Great thread, but: the truth is my slower touring bikes (26" and 700c) and commute bike are set up to ride with a more upright pelvis, higher bars. The reason is: taking in the view and being a more neutral weight back position.

My impression is the rotated, out and down riding position tends to emphasize everything forward, it's about laying down power and miles. Great for faster bikes and purposeful rides, and for technical riding. I think it's one of the reasons why cross and MTB bikes have longer top tubes. The unrotated, compact and front up riding position tends to emphasize taking in the scenery, a more contemplative, light hands position - and, I'm not taking beach cruiser here, I mean saddle and stem somewhere around the same height.

I think both can be comfortable if the bikes are set up correctly. To my way of thinking the rotated forward, down and out creately improves the bike handling and power, and perhaps comfort if the ride involves any real effort. Almost a necessity for real MTBing; being upright is dangerous. However, the unrotated position can't be beat for fully experiencing the ride, commuting, and can be comfortable if the ride stays relaxed and the fit gives you enough latitute to make make some small changes in your sit and stretch position.

I've done centuries both ways.

So, my two cents is: buying into anyone's "correct fit" dogma risks something.
Really a good post and well said. I too own a 29er mtb and ride more off road than on because of access more than preference.
I have tested my mtb set up from aggressive drop to well above and my bars with sag are around saddle height. This is vastly due to the pounding on the hands if setting the mtb up with drop. I could set it up like a beach cruiser of course but then I lose speed and handling. So it is a compromise. On the open tarmac I hunch down in a roadie position with hands right on the bar near the stem and hammer because the road is smooth and I can take that position.
Mtb's and especially 29ers make great commuters and touring bikes...best of all worlds.
Cheers.
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Old 05-08-11, 04:01 PM
  #140  
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Originally Posted by cooleric1234 View Post
As mentioned previously whenever I rotate the hips forward I always feel a noticeable, strong pressure on the soft tissue/perineum area. I've seen some people mention a new saddle. However I've felt this with at least a good half dozen saddles, including some with cutouts. It also tires and stresses my lower back faster. Personally I prefer the hips not rotated forward.
What I can tell you is...its all a matter of degree. Saddle position relative to the handlebar and saddle tilt are key. If the bar is too far from the saddle, when you rotate forward, you will pressurize your prenenium. Try pushing your saddle forward...check for KOPS as a reference.
Also you can try a shorter stem. The right saddle shape for your pelvis and correct tilt are important.
Keep in mind that top cyclists ride 12-15K miles a year with a forward rotated pelvis. Guys train in TT sitting on the nose of the saddle.
Position is key but so is fitness. The stronger you are, the harder you push on the pedals and the less you load the saddle. You will rarely hear of even a top amateur cyclist at 140 lbs complain about saddle pressure or pain. This is because they push hard on the pedals and weigh less than the average rider. The fast guys I ride behind and rarely in front of barely load the saddle when hammering...their butts only brush the saddle and they are constantly unweighting because of their effort and low weight and lighter guys can ride really any kind of saddle...low psi's and choose narrow saddles for less leg interference.

Last edited by Campag4life; 05-09-11 at 04:48 AM.
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Old 05-08-11, 08:37 PM
  #141  
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I know I will be making some changes for tomorrows ride too. I am sure the changes will make a much needed difference. Can hardly wait for the sun to rise in the AM to get started.
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Old 07-18-11, 04:13 PM
  #142  
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Does the shape of the saddle effect your ability to rotate your hips forward? For example, is it easier on a flat profile saddle like a Specialized Toupe, or one of the curved profile saddles like Selle SMP?
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Old 07-18-11, 04:24 PM
  #143  
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Originally Posted by RMMJ View Post
Does the shape of the saddle effect your ability to rotate your hips forward? For example, is it easier on a flat profile saddle like a Specialized Toupe, or one of the curved profile saddles like Selle SMP?
For me it definitely did. Had to go through the whole saddle picking process again. Worth it though...

Edit: playing with saddle rotation also made a difference btw, I'd try that first.
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Old 07-18-11, 04:27 PM
  #144  
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Originally Posted by Waves77 View Post
For me it definitely did. Had to go through the whole saddle picking process again. Worth it though...

Edit: playing with saddle rotation also made a difference btw, I'd try that first.
Which shape worked for you?
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Old 07-18-11, 04:30 PM
  #145  
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Fizik Aliante, which is definitely more of a cradle/curvy saddle compared to my previous flatter Selle Italia SLR.
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Old 07-27-11, 03:14 PM
  #146  
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If your riding forward like this with a flatter back, lower stem. Aren't you essentially riding on your "crank". Thats what stops me from dropping anymore is that all the pressure is further on the front of my pearial area.
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Old 07-27-11, 09:04 PM
  #147  
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Originally Posted by mdrew9 View Post
If your riding forward like this with a flatter back, lower stem. Aren't you essentially riding on your "crank". Thats what stops me from dropping anymore is that all the pressure is further on the front of my pearial area.
I don't think the position is maintainable for everyone, but if it's the junk that is causing the problem, then I think there are some simple tweaks that can fix the issue. If you have it set up properly, that is (correct position and a saddle that works for you). Assuming the saddle is good, tilt the nose up a hair (you will want to slide back ever so slightly, pressuring the back half of your behind, not the soft tissue in front). If that still doesn't help, your reach may be too long, so either slide the saddle forward or use a shorter stem (often when dropping the bars lower, you need to shorten the stem to keep the same reach). Finally, if nothing works, you may be weak in your core strength. If you can't comfortably let go of the bars and hover in that position, you are either (a) too low, (b) too far forwards, or (c) too stretched out. You can address each of a,b and c to fix this (which may involve moving the bars up... not everyone can hold that low position for a variety of reasons), or work on strengthening your core. Or both.
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Old 07-28-11, 10:36 AM
  #148  
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Reading this thread inspired me to try a more aggressive position on my ride last night. I tried lowering my torso with a straight back, and I think the straight back helped reduce neck fatigue.

One thing I noticed, though, was that when I kept my back straight and lowered my profile, it felt like a lot more weight was being put on my hands and arms than I was used to. How much weight is normal to be felt in the arms in this position?

Does this mean I need to move my seat back? Or maybe that's just how it's supposed to feel and I need to HTFU?
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Old 07-28-11, 11:11 AM
  #149  
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Typically, as you move down your seat should move back to help your balance. Remember, that as you move your saddle back, you are increasing your reach to the pedals, and will most likely need to lower the saddle slightly, too. This all should be in very gradual increments; think millimeters. As to weight on your hands: This should be pretty mild. You should be able to ride in your neutral (home) position with a relaxed upper body and as a rule, be able to lift your hands from the handle bar without falling forward. Core strength is a pr

A few notes:

- Balance in position is mostly controlled by the saddle fore/aft positioning and saddle tilt.

- As a general rule, The further forward your saddle is the more weight goes on your hands. The same is true of tilting the saddle nose down

- A good starting point, is to set the saddle level, or with a slight (~1 degree) upward tilt and figure out the saddle fore/aft and height first.

- Core strength is also (very much) a function of balance. The stronger your core, the more your torso will tend to suspend itself and the more leverage it gives you against the pedals. This means that the stronger the core is, the less weight is supported by your hands.

- As the core develops your fit will need to change slightly to optimize this new strength. For a lot of people, that make a preference for a lower cockpit relative to the saddle. This is also dependent on riding style and the proportion of the rider.
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Old 07-28-11, 04:36 PM
  #150  
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Nice, after riding around with my forearms pretty much parallel to the ground for a couple of weeks, I went out and moved 1/2 of my spacers to the top of the stem and rode out 25 miles. It was a lot more comfortable - even in the drops. Tomorrow I'm going to move the rest of the spaces to the top and let that go for 100 miles or so.
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