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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I took a 23 mile ride yesterday and never really felt like going low into the hoods. Does this come with experience or what? When I do go low I don't feel all that comfortable and looking up kinda cramps the neck after a few mins. I know there is the obvious aerodynamics reason for riding low but aside from that.....When, Where? Why? on going low... How do I make it hurt less? How can you see?

BTW... I have been riding here.... Anyone guess where this is? :D

 

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Takes practice

You get more comfortable with time. Maybe your bars are too low for your flexibllity. Some people hardly ever ride in the drops, some do it a lot.

Things it's good for:
-getting more aero (headwinds, fast downhills, trying to catch up with that guy)
-most stable position for very high speeds (big downhills)
-best leverage/stability when sprinting hard out of the saddle.

You see by tilting up your head and opening your eyes. If it hurts too much to tilt your head enough, you need either more practice/stretching, or a higher bar or shorter reach, or some combination of those.

I suggest practice a little bit each ride. Use intermediate low positions, too, to gain flexibility (hands on hoods, arms bent).
 

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sbglax13 said:
Lowe's Motor Speedway ??
The giant Delta sign (not to mention the logo for the speedway) indicates Atlanta Motor Speedway.

My rough guestimate of where you took the picture:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=en&geocode=&saddr=33.383801,-84.311249&daddr=&mra=mi&mrsp=0&sz=19&sll=33.38347,-84.311163&sspn=0.001597,0.00317&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=19


Area seems pretty flat. Don't see a lot of reason to go low unless you were hammering.

That and the cops suck hard. I got a $270/3pt ticket for an improper left turn trying to make a left from the Wendy's across the street on an otherwise empty road at 15mph. Drove from Atlanta down there to that dinky train station/courthouse 3 times to fight the ticket and still lost. Everyone else in the courthouse was in for meth. Not the most fond memories of AMS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
mishap said:
The giant Delta sign (not to mention the logo for the speedway) indicates Atlanta Motor Speedway.

My rough guestimate of where you took the picture:
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=en&geocode=&saddr=33.383801,-84.311249&daddr=&mra=mi&mrsp=0&sz=19&sll=33.38347,-84.311163&sspn=0.001597,0.00317&ie=UTF8&t=h&z=19


Area seems pretty flat. Don't see a lot of reason to go low unless you were hammering.

That and the cops suck hard. I got a $270/3pt ticket for an improper left turn trying to make a left from the Wendy's across the street on an otherwise empty road at 15mph. Drove from Atlanta down there to that dinky train station/courthouse 3 times to fight the ticket and still lost. Everyone else in the courthouse was in for meth. Not the most fond memories of AMS.
Yup, AMS is correct. Your approximation of location at the speedway was dead-on too. The bus lane around the speedway is pretty popular for rides around here. It's a 2.2 mile loop if you stay on the bus lane but can be extended to 3.5 if you take the side road on the Southside of the track around past the airport.

Yeah, sounds like you went to the courthouse in downtown Hampton.
 

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Another thing I learned (that some will argue with) is that you don't have to see 1/4 mile down the road....when you are in the drops, try not to totally 'crick' your neck and look down the road. Try to tilt it up a little so that it is still somewhat in line with your back and then 'use your eyes' to look down the road to a comfortable distance for you. When I say 'use your eyes', I mean roll your eyes up a little. When I ride alone or in groups, I feel comfortable only looking 10-20 yards in front of me, but in line, I am only looking 'through' the rider in front of me to 2-3 riders ahead of me. Might now work for a lot, but it works for me and I don't experience much neck pain. I used to when I would 'crick' the neck so I could see a mile down the road.
 

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The drops are overrated, if you ask me. The only time I'm in the drops is when I'm descending, and that's less for aerodynamics than it is for a more solid grip on the brakes. I see people riding in the drops on flats all the time and I don't get it. I can get the same position they do on the hoods. Try this: Get in your drops, then, without changing of lifting your back position, bring your hands up to the hoods. Okay, you might need to slightly adjust your position, but not much, if at all, and you'll have effectively the same aerodynamic profile as being in the drops.
 

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Chair really has nailed it...

mohair_chair said:
The drops are overrated, if you ask me. The only time I'm in the drops is when I'm descending, and that's less for aerodynamics than it is for a more solid grip on the brakes. I see people riding in the drops on flats all the time and I don't get it. I can get the same position they do on the hoods. Try this: Get in your drops, then, without changing of lifting your back position, bring your hands up to the hoods. Okay, you might need to slightly adjust your position, but not much, if at all, and you'll have effectively the same aerodynamic profile as being in the drops.
You can actually get more aerodynamic on the hoods if they are configured appropriately....do what Chair suggests, keep torso as still as possible, bring your hands up on the hoods and if they are correctly positioned, you should have enough platform to rest part of your wrist and a little forearm on the bars...
 

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Just a thought but some companies do make bars with a really shallow drop. Those helped me out a lot as I never used to do the drops unless I was dencending fast. Now Ive noticed that when Im on a good long flat and pacing over 20mph the aero benefeits of the drops seem to be pretty good. Could just be the placebo but with my current set up ive "tested" how aero my drops are by hitting the same hill twice. I was spinning up to 20mph and then coasted while on the hoods, the second time I did the same thing but was in the drops and noticed about a 1.2mph increase for the duration of the hill. Both runs were on the same day right after each other and I coasted and exactly the same point each time so it was a pretty fair test. I figure that if it made that much a difference on the short hill than pounding about 8 miles of straight flats should translate to a good increase too. It was about 5% faster or so which when youre doing a 60 or 70 mile ride translates to a pretty good difference. The other thing to note though is that when youre actually pedaling your fit will make a big difference between hoods/drops. So what worked for me may not work for you, I tend to make good power when pedaling in the drops but thats me on my bike with my adjustments so just try some stuff out and have fun with it.
 

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I don't use the drops once in 50 miles.

Not that you'd necessarily want to copy me in anything except taco consumption, but I rarely use the drops. I'm a recreational/fitness rider, don't care if I get passed, and don't go any faster in the drops anyway. About the only time I go down there is on long rides into a headwind.
If you WANT to ride the drops, there's all kinds of advice about stretching, strengthening etc. online. Also consider raising the bars. Drop bars were designed to allow a comfortable cruising position on the tops with the option of going aero when you wanted to. Over the years they've gotten lower and lower, so a lot of people now ride with them four inches or more lower than the saddle. Flip the stem or get a new one to raise the bars up about level with the seat, and the drops will fall readily to hand.
 
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Location, location, location

Yesterday I visited a friend of mine who has a bike shop, and he showed me some bars with very shallow drops. I was intrigued.

These shallow bars might catch on, if other riders are like me. I am rarely in the drops -- only on major downhills.

For me, traditional drops are wasted real estate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Honestly, with the cost of STI shifters v/s high quality Deore/LX/XT shifters I'm not sure why I wouldn't be happier with a flat bar setup. I ride my MB as much as my road bike so I tend to use the hoods anyway. I could use a flat bar with some bar ends mounted to the inside of the shifters and grips and get the same overall effect and hand position options
.
 

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dr.mediocre said:
I took a 23 mile ride yesterday and never really felt like going low into the hoods. Does this come with experience or what? When I do go low I don't feel all that comfortable and looking up kinda cramps the neck after a few mins. I know there is the obvious aerodynamics reason for riding low but aside from that.....When, Where? Why? on going low... How do I make it hurt less? How can you see?

BTW... I have been riding here.... Anyone guess where this is? :D
Okay, I don't see where the OP mentions riding in the drops. He says "going low into the hoods". When I was fit to my bike the fitter did most of it with my hands on the top of the bar near the stem. He said I should be there 80% of the time, 15% of the time on the hoods and perhaps 5% of the time in the drops. I would say a steep descent is the only time I go to the drops. I am probably 80% on the hoods and 19.9% on the top of the bars. I find the hoods more reassuring for control and access to the brifters.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Unfortunately I am new to the roadbike world so I simply used the wrong terminology. Luckily I did so in the "Beginner's Forum". Please explain the different terminology used with handlebars. Thanks
 

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The 'drops' are the entire lowest part of the bars, from where the brake lever mounts on down.

The hoods are the rubber hoods over the brake levers.

The top is the horizontal part that sticks out of the stem, before it curves forward to where the brake levers mount.

They all have their place in riding. I would not want to give up the drops for pack riding or battling into a headwind.

If you're having problems feeling comfortable in the drops, you may need to make some adjustments. Before you raise your bars, first check to see if when you are in the drops there is anything interfereing with your vision. Like a helmet visor, glasses that sit low on your face so you're cricking your neck so you don't look through the rims, or even a helmet that's too low on your forehead can also cause you to have to tip your head up farther than you need. It only takes a little bit to cause a lot of pain.

Then check your posture. Are you hunching up like Quasimodo? Your back should be flat or flatish. Your lean angle should come mostly from rotating your hips forward, not hunching your back. That closes up the rib cage and restricts breathing, and it makes it harder to tip your head up to see the road. It takes some practice a good bike fit and core strength to get to a rotated forward hip position so don't dismay if you're not there.

Finally, you may just not be used to it yet. Simply riding more can do it, or you can do some exercises. When I do my winter weight work, I do some wrestlers bridges while holding weights to strenghten my neck muscles for riding.
 

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drops...almost exclusively only on steep descents....or into a stiff headwind. Rest of the time on the hoods, if I want to get my torso down lower, I am more comfortable bending my elbows more.
 

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dr.mediocre said:
I took a 23 mile ride yesterday and never really felt like going low into the hoods. Does this come with experience or what? When I do go low I don't feel all that comfortable and looking up kinda cramps the neck after a few mins. I know there is the obvious aerodynamics reason for riding low but aside from that.....When, Where? Why? on going low... How do I make it hurt less? How can you see?

BTW... I have been riding here.... Anyone guess where this is? :D
As others have suggested, the drops are often only used for sprinting, descents, and headwinds. How far (vertically) is it from the top of your seat to the top of your handlebars? You may already be in a very low position, but you may just need to gain some flexibility by going into the drops for 30 seconds every 10 minutes or so.
 

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I never rode in the drops and have an older cdale with downtube shifters. I was tired of downtube shifters and since I never rode in the drops, I put bullhorns on with ultegra bar end shifters. I am REALLY enjoying the ride now. If I need to get more aero in a headwind, I just bend the elbows and get lower.
 
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