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Is there a typical range for seat to handlebar drop? I ride with a fast group and noticed that I am always seat to be sitting a long more upright than the other riders. Longer stems really didn't seam to help much. The other day, I video taped myself and realized that while stem length obviously increases your reach, it doesn't necessarily mean you will bend over more and be more aero. I noticed what happens instead is that my shoulders and very top of my back seam to bend forward while the rest of my back does not. I'm assuming I have a stiff back.


Tried lowering the bars today to about a 2.5 inch seat to handlebar drop and that seam to do the trick. I was just curious if there is a common or typical range? I'm 5' 10.5" with relatively shorter legs (32" real inseam).
 

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range

negative 2 inches to 8 inches or more. Depends on your flexibility, body type, riding style, etc. Often drops as a rider gains experience, fitness, flexibility. Do what's comfortable for you. If you try to copy someone else you may push yourself into a position that doesn't work for you, and may even hurt.
 

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Here's a short version of my handlebar rant...

Whatever's comfortable for you is fine, though one of the bad things about threadless headsets is that lowering or raising the bars is no longer the 10-second, no charge change it used to be.
For general riding, though, there's a lot to be said for having the bars about level with the saddle. Drop bars were invented to allow a comfortable cruising position on the tops, with the option of getting aero by going down on the drops when you wanted. Over the years, augmented by the trend toward smaller and smaller frames, we've lowered the bars so many riders have the tops about where the drops used to be.
Not that anybody who wants to go fast would use me as a role model, but all three of my road bikes have the bars level with the saddle within an inch. I'm no slower than I was when I had to reach way down to them, and I can ride at least 50 percent longer without discomfort.
 

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I'd say 5 cm.

Tlaloc said:
10 centimeters is pretty typical.
Seems like way too much for the average rec rider. But if you're talking about riders who never use the drops, you might be right. Which brings up an interesting question: why lower your bars 10 cm below the saddle if that means you can't or won't go on the drops? Why even have drops? :D
 

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What he said...

Cory said:
Whatever's comfortable for you is fine, though one of the bad things about threadless headsets is that lowering or raising the bars is no longer the 10-second, no charge change it used to be.
For general riding, though, there's a lot to be said for having the bars about level with the saddle. Drop bars were invented to allow a comfortable cruising position on the tops, with the option of getting aero by going down on the drops when you wanted. Over the years, augmented by the trend toward smaller and smaller frames, we've lowered the bars so many riders have the tops about where the drops used to be.
Not that anybody who wants to go fast would use me as a role model, but all three of my road bikes have the bars level with the saddle within an inch. I'm no slower than I was when I had to reach way down to them, and I can ride at least 50 percent longer without discomfort.
...I'm probably about 5 cm. lower with the bars, and that's about as far as I want to go. I spend a lot of time on the hoods; I don't get into the drops except on descents or when I'm on something flat or slightly downhill where I can hammer a bigger gear and being aero is worth something. I also went to FSA K Force Compact bars this year, which have less reach and drop than typical, so when I do get in the drops, I'm more comfortable. I'm 60, and I want to keep riding a long time, so comfort is #1...
 

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Cory said:
Whatever's comfortable for you is fine, though one of the bad things about threadless headsets is that lowering or raising the bars is no longer the 10-second, no charge change it used to be.
For general riding, though, there's a lot to be said for having the bars about level with the saddle. Drop bars were invented to allow a comfortable cruising position on the tops, with the option of getting aero by going down on the drops when you wanted. Over the years, augmented by the trend toward smaller and smaller frames, we've lowered the bars so many riders have the tops about where the drops used to be.
Not that anybody who wants to go fast would use me as a role model, but all three of my road bikes have the bars level with the saddle within an inch. I'm no slower than I was when I had to reach way down to them, and I can ride at least 50 percent longer without discomfort.
+1. Mine are about level with the saddle, too. I had major back surgery with a four disc fusion at L3, L4, L5, and S1 and I no longer have the flexibility for lower bars.
 

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C-40 said:
Pros will often use even more drop, but for us mortals, 5-10cm is quite common. Even at age 55, I use a 9-10cm drop and I do a lot of long mountain descents, all in the drops.
Not arguing your experience, as you clearly know of which you speak. But it's worth noting that descents aren't the test of whether position in the drops is appropriate. An all-out TT-style effort to bridge a gap is the real test, and often folks set themselves up so low that they can't breathe properly and compromise power due to the closed hip angle.

The range you mention seems about typical for today's bikes and fit theories that tend to emphasize riding on the hoods. I do OK at the higher part of that range, though I'm giving up a bit of power in the drops when I do. I prefer the lower part of that range a bit more, as it gives me drops I can use properly (bent elbows in front of knees rather than alongside, long-distance comfort, insignificant power loss relative to aero gain.)

But that's on my 'modern' fit bikes, built with the assumptions of sti/ergo and a lot of time on the hoods. My old-school downtube-shifter bikes were more near level, but had an extra couple of cm's of drop within the bars, and hoods that were down the hooks a ways, rather than today's trend to 'level' hoods. It's arguably a better way to set up a bike, as it gives more meaningfully different positions on the bars for different conditions. Low is still in the same place, but there's a true 'middle', and 'high' on the tops is higher still.

Today, the largest-selling aftermarket bars are the 'compact' bars with 125 or so drop measurements. Why bother? Just install a set of bullhorns and be done with it. :)

Off topic a bit and not to feed the religious wars, but one of the reasons Shimano looks so goofy is that their hoods were designed for the more traditional position. Down there, they look reasonable (well, at least better.) But when they're set up for the 'shelf' or flat-to-top position that Lance popularized, they look just plain goofy. Campy looks good either way, though relatively better 'flat.'
 

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I finally found the perfect fit
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Normally about 5 inches
 

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I am a beginner rider and when I was shopping for a bike I was concerned about the posture and back pain. My seat is only about 1-2 cm above the handle bar and I have no complaints. When I am on the flats, I often go down and grab the drops. I guess if you have longer legs than I but the same upper body length then you would have to raise the seat on my bike to be 'fit on my bike' and that will cause the handle bars to be a lot lower than the seat.
 

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i'm a bit on the extreme side of it i think. I've got a 6" drop (might be 5 3/4") But i ride a lot and am flexible as heck. (touching toes is easy, my palms can lay flat) For crits and 80% of road races i'm in the drops. Even with my year round training i have to get used to it come spring. Winter time i'm not in the drops much.

For most riders having the bars just a bit below the saddle is best or even level. The key is comfort. If it hurst to push an agressive position, it's going to make you slower and create pain. Neither are what you want.
 

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Tt...

You don't see many pros sitting very high on their TT rigs do you? They get lower than their already low road position. I ride the drops plenty on the flats too, but I also get just as low and perhaps a bit more aerodynamic by draping both palms over the knobby top of the brake hood. Of course this is a position isn't smart to use unless you're riding solo or in the front of a group.

The actual amount of drop in the bars does not tell the full story about body position either. A 145mm ergonomic bar, like my Easton EC90 Equipe bars has no straight end long enough to grab onto, so the hands are usually up higher than the 145mm dimension would suggest. My newer EC90 SLX3 round bend bars witha 130mm drop have a straight end long enough to grab and really don't put me any higher. If I want to get lower, I just bend my elbows a bit more.
 

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Cory said:
Whatever's comfortable for you is fine, though one of the bad things about threadless headsets is that lowering or raising the bars is no longer the 10-second, no charge change it used to be.
For general riding, though, there's a lot to be said for having the bars about level with the saddle. Drop bars were invented to allow a comfortable cruising position on the tops, with the option of getting aero by going down on the drops when you wanted. Over the years, augmented by the trend toward smaller and smaller frames, we've lowered the bars so many riders have the tops about where the drops used to be.
Not that anybody who wants to go fast would use me as a role model, but all three of my road bikes have the bars level with the saddle within an inch. I'm no slower than I was when I had to reach way down to them, and I can ride at least 50 percent longer without discomfort.
+1 more

The tops of my bars are about 1cm lower. If I want to get aero and frisky and fast, I just get down into the drops. I gather the fashion is to have a really low bar compared to the seat, because that is what the pros do. That means you need a smaller frame to fit you properly.
 

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danl1 said:
...it's worth noting that descents aren't the test of whether position in the drops is appropriate. An all-out TT-style effort to bridge a gap is the real test, and often folks set themselves up so low that they can't breathe properly and compromise power due to the closed hip angle.
+1 to that. I used to ride too low (bars about 2 inches below the seat, which is more like 3-4 inches for anyone else, due to my long torso/short upper arm combo), in emulation of LeMond, Hinault, etc.

I thought it made me more aero, but all it really did is turn me into a hoods/tops rider. I was nearly never in the drops, because I COULDN'T BREATHE worth a good goddamn in 'em. :nonod:

It's yet one more thing in biking where ppl try to 'outmacho' themselves in a 'more must be better' way to their own detriment. :rolleyes:



.
 

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C-40 said:
You don't see many pros sitting very high on their TT rigs do you? They get lower than their already low road position. I ride the drops plenty on the flats too, but I also get just as low and perhaps a bit more aerodynamic by draping both palms over the knobby top of the brake hood. Of course this is a position isn't smart to use unless you're riding solo or in the front of a group.

The actual amount of drop in the bars does not tell the full story about body position either. A 145mm ergonomic bar, like my Easton EC90 Equipe bars has no straight end long enough to grab onto, so the hands are usually up higher than the 145mm dimension would suggest. My newer EC90 SLX3 round bend bars witha 130mm drop have a straight end long enough to grab and really don't put me any higher. If I want to get lower, I just bend my elbows a bit more.
TT rigs aren't particularly meaningful to this discussion. They're also set up much more forward, which opens the angles back up to regain that power. Try the equivalent with a conventional bar, and discomfort abounds and handling goes all to hell.

I'm not a fan of the nobby position. As you note it's a control problem, I personally find it less comfortable, and am not convinced that it has any particular aero benefit for me. That said, I'm long and flexible enough to get elbows in front of knees. Other builds might get more benefit than I.

Your point about bars is fair enough, but it's a bit apples and oranges. Comparing similarly designed bars of different drops is a more fair way to consider the question at hand. In any case shallow drop bars don't work well for me because of wrist interference when sprinting. Some add flare to help, but that brings other compromises I'd as soon avoid. Perhaps they work better for builds different than mine.
 
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