Riding in the drops
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  1. #1
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    Riding in the drops

    I just can't seem to get comfy while doing it, wrist angle , trying to get to the levers, etc etc. most of my rides are spent with my hands on the lever mounts or just behind them. What am I missing out on and any tuning tips.

  2. #2
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    Every year that goes by makes it a bit harder for me to do. It is more aerodynamic, so if you care about speed, you might be missing out. Otherwise, who cares, as long as you can brake effectively from above. You can raise the stem/bars up by a spacer, but I think that just rearranges the problem.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terrasmak View Post
    I just can't seem to get comfy while doing it, wrist angle , trying to get to the levers, etc etc. most of my rides are spent with my hands on the lever mounts or just behind them.
    What am I missing out on and any tuning tips.
    Generally speaking...
    Hoods = the most common hand position for general riding/ cruising. Provides easy access to most integrated shifters. Also good for climbing out of the saddle.

    Bends = same general use as hoods, with less accessibility to shifters.

    Bar Tops = Good for climbing while remaining seated or cruising. Requires moving your hands for shifting and braking and (FWIW) is the most upright riding position.

    Drops = Best aero position and IMO offers the best balance. Good for intervals/ sprints, headwinds and some crosswind situations, but I use them for cruising - alternating between drops, bends and hoods. The drops are also the preferred position for fast descents. IMO/E rider control is superior, and leverage/ modulation for braking is somewhat better.

    Ideally, your bike is sized/ fitted to you and fitted with bars that allow you to comfortably ride in all hand positions. IMO/E many cyclists almost never leave the hoods or seldom use the drops. Reasons for this could be lack of comfort or inflexibility - both related back to incorrect fit (primarily saddle to bar drop) for a given cyclist.

    Speaking of which, fit should allow a rider to avail themselves of all hand positions, with tweaks to fit accounting for preferred positions. As an example, if a cyclist has the right bars at the right height, they'll be comfortable riding on the hoods, tops, bends, drops as conditions dictate.

    Additionally, having the shifters correctly positioned on the bar makes a difference in the level of comfort while riding the hoods, as well as the ability to brake and shift comfortably from them.

  4. #4
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    What PJ352 said. Plus-- If you are physically uncomfortable using the drops it's probably a fit and or a flexibility issue.

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    In my case, it is a fat and inflexibility issue.

  6. #6
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    I live I a very windy area I don't know how I could get around with out the drops. If it is angle problem try repositioning the bars. If your bike fits you should be able to have a straight wrist and bent elbows. If your wrist is flexing reposition until you can hold the drops with a straight wrist. Also make sure your seat is right so you have most of your weight there and on the pedals not your hands. The more you use them the better your core will get at holding you up. You can help the core strength along with numerous off the bike exercises like planks and similar. It may be fit related though have you been professionally fitted or at least a well studied personal fitting?

  7. #7
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    Never been professionally fitted, been thinking about it. I wanted to get my pedals first, still using MTB clipless.

    Also so been thinking about dropping 10mm out of stem length. My bike is a 58cm Trek 2.1 , the 56 was a hair small, the 58 feels just a hair long. I'm 6'1 with a 34.5 inch inseam (all legs ) and also have pretty long arms.

    Torso, really not that flexable. Especially after I broke my back 8 years ago.

  8. #8
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    As others have noted, personal flexibility is a limitation. With that taken into account it then becomes a matter of fitting to you.

    My complete WAG is that your current "fit" (or setup) has you positioned in a way that you are carrying too much of your upper body weight on your arms and hands, and as you move from bar tops to hoods to drops that just increases and becomes increasingly uncomfortable. If that's accurate (it's just a guess) then the solution is a proper fitting that fits the bike to you with your physical needs and limitations, rather than trying to force you into some prescribed geometry derived by looking at other riders, who for road bikes are often racers.
    Last edited by ibericb; 04-13-2015 at 01:52 AM. Reason: typo
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terrasmak View Post
    I just can't seem to get comfy while doing it, wrist angle , trying to get to the levers, etc etc. most of my rides are spent with my hands on the lever mounts or just behind them. What am I missing out on and any tuning tips.
    Re: the part in bold-That's a good indicator your stem is too long.

    The rest of the comfort issue is probably due to the bars being too low and/or long. Also, flexibility issues or too much girth (fat) around the middle will make it difficult to lean over to reach the bars. If you're not willing to experiment or pick up any of the books which discuss bike fit, then try having a fitting done at a local shop to address your issues.

  10. #10
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    and learn to bend at the waist not by arching the back
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    still not figgering on biggering

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by atpjunkie View Post
    and learn to bend at the waist not by arching the back
    How far anyone can rotate their pelvis is individual and a physical limitation. Once that is reached, the only option to go lower, as down in the drops, is spinal flexion. The degree to which pelvic rotation vs. spinal flexion determines a riders abilities is what Steve Hogg refers to as "effective torso length".
    "When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments."
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  12. #12
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    I can't ride in the drops either. I have 4 screws in my lower back (thank you navy), and it's just too much. I too live in a windy area. I went out out and bought a set of detachable aero bars (yes I understand all the safety concerns and protocol, so no lectures please). Problem solved, I can be a lot more aero than on the hoods and it's just enough relief for my back not to scream. BTW I mainly ride endurance, long distance riding...

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    I like compact bend drop bars on most of my bikes. I'm still less comfortable in the drops in general, but they're a great position for descents and really big efforts, which is what I want from them. I was never able to make ergo bend drops work for me - the angles were always wrong. I do okay with classic, but I like the transition from the tops to the ramps to the hoods better with compact.

    Paying for a pro fit is some of the better money I've spent on cycling. I don't think your use of mountain bike pedals is a problem. I think they're probably better for a ton of road cyclists, actually. And IME, it's not too hard to adjust a good fit once I know what it feels like. You might bring up your handlebars when you go to get fit.

  14. #14
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    Before you go buying a new stem, and with a nod to my general "go get a fit, it is more than worth it" statement, I'd suggest simply flipping your stem. That is, if it, like mine, is angled. That was one of the (many) things that happened during my fitting. Wouldn't you know, at 52, I'm not as flexible as one might like. Today, I'm most comfortable in the drops, but my drops are not are droppy as they were. It also addressed what might otherwise be a reach issue.

    Remember, the reason for the drops is that they are comfortable. And the flat back thing is really important. Rotate the pelvis, flatten the back, enjoy the ride.

  15. #15
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    Just get fitted... Eat the investment. It made my bike seem like a completely different bike the first time I did it. In the long run it will be among the best investments you can make in cycling.
    To date, philosophers have merely interpreted the world in various ways. The point however is to change it.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by PBL450 View Post
    Just get fitted... Eat the investment. It made my bike seem like a completely different bike the first time I did it. In the long run it will be among the best investments you can make in cycling.
    Ditto this!
    "When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments."
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  17. #17
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    Maybe it's the shape. I really don't like traditional shape bars. I prefer the pointy compact shape without a flat bottom. Normal bars aren't comfortable for me.
    use a torque wrench

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by MMsRepBike View Post
    Maybe it's the shape. I really don't like traditional shape bars. I prefer the pointy compact shape without a flat bottom. Normal bars aren't comfortable for me.
    I thought about bar shapes and have been keeping an eye on the local for sale stuff, same with a stem.

    For now, I'll flip my stem and see how it rides tomorrow night. Simple and easy.

    A fitting session is on is in the future. I just want to work out the little kinks first. Got my pedals today, one less thing that will change, that's why I wanted them before a fitting.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terrasmak View Post
    I'm 6'1 with a 34.5 inch inseam (all legs ) and also have pretty long arms.
    You're not all legs, I'm 5'8" with a measured inseam of 34"

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    Quote Originally Posted by southpaw533 View Post
    You're not all legs, I'm 5'8" with a measured inseam of 34"
    Surely you are a lot closer than he...
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  21. #21
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    Honestly, I don't spend much time in the drops even in races. But, I think there's an important consideration I don't see addressed (unless I missed it). Being on the hoods with your arms in the proper position (elbows near the body and bent at near 90 degrees) is more aerodynamic than straight/locked arms in the drops.

    Spend some time watching your arms while you're on your hoods. I'd be willing to bet you're arms are nearly straight or completely straight. This effectively means you're putting your upper body weight on your arms (as was mentioned by someone else). This hurts the upper back and neck, makes the arms tired, and god help you if you're on long stretches of rough road.

    Bend at the waist, keep your arms relaxed on the hoods, and the elbows bent. If you do that, honestly, you rarely need to be in the drops. If you're doing a TT or are coasting down a 15% in a tight tuck, sure. Otherwise, it's not that big of a deal. Correct posture, on the other hand, is that big of a deal.

  22. #22
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    One of the better over 65 riders in my area has a 36-37 inch inseam but he's not THAT tall. The guy is figuratively all legs. He was unable to buy a standard production frame as the size to accommodate his seat height left him too far from the handle bars even with the shortest reach setup. He had to have a custom bike built for his use. (He uses it well too!)

  23. #23
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    A fit is money well spent - I was quite amazed at the difference. Give some thought in advance to any issues you are having on the bike including the drops - comfort / soreness etc and make sure you let the fitter know about these at the start of the session (he/she will surely ask too).
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  24. #24
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    i love riding in the drops. it is where i have the most comfort and yes it is a flexibility issue along with a core strength issue.

    if the belly is getting in the way, keep riding it will come off (if you watch what you eat).....and take some yoga flexibility classes. they are great for that as well.

  25. #25
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    As others have said it is probably best to get fitted. I have been fortunate that I was able to do my own setup without discomfort and for now, at 63, I am able to ride in the drops.

    The key, regardless if it is a road bike or a mountain bike, is to be balanced to where you can literally loosen your grip on the handlebars and not feel like you are falling forward. Peter White has a nice write-up on bike fit.

    My younger brother had an issue with riding in the drops and he raised his drop bars enough but also adjusted the stem length to where he can now ride comfortably in the drops. If you are having a problem with the wrist angle you may want to look at a more traditional shallow drop bar instead of a flat top, or even a randonneur type of drop.

    John

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