One for the newbie roadies – handlebar positions

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  • One for the newbie roadies – handlebar positions
  • stratobiker

    I’ve been reading a number of newbie roadie threads about handlebars positions, aching hands, fear of the drops, and so on. It got me thinking about the way I use my drops, and I decided to try and share this with you. It is in no way the right or wrong way to use them, and I’m sure there are other ways. I hope my post might help you.

    Firstly, being a veteran, and a bit stiff, I use very shallow drops (like a lot of the TDF riders do).

    I use 8 different hand positions as follows……

    Right on the tops – For long seated climbs, or sitting up in the buch. For easy riding. Though I sometimes ride hard in this position, especially with a tailwind.

    On the tops – A sort of ‘ready’ position where I can relax but quickly and easily more to a more serious position.

    On the corners – I use this postion a lot in a bunch. When riding close. It’s easy to ‘touch’ other riders from this position. They like it! 🙂 Slide forward and you’re on the hoods.

    Touching the hoods – I use this position a lot when training. It’s a little lower and a good ‘working’ postion. Can be used standing.

    On the hoods – Fully on the hoods. I can brake from here. A good position if you are riding with riders you are not sure of. Or communting in heavy traffic. Low enough to go fast, high enough to see ahead. Can be used standing.

    On the hoods top – when the pace is high I’ll ride here. It allows you to get down and suffer.

    On the drops/brakes – Going fast and needing to brake. Voila! Can be used standing.

    On the drops – Going fast on my own, or in a small group, or if it’s raining and windy. On the drops. Bend elbows and grimmace for better effect. Also used for ‘commited’ sprinting. Can be used standing.

    FWIW – I’ve been riding on the road since the early 80s. I was schooled in road riding by scousers, mostly from the Liverpool Cantury Road Club. Happy days! 🙂


    Nice hat.


    Useful for the noobs but dont publicise widely as I a need a new road bike and i want one the “wrong size”.

    Premier Icon pedalhead

    Well done for taking the time to do this Stratobiker. Bit of a shame that you’ve had to wait this long for any thanks, but thanks 🙂


    There’s also the super weird wrist breaker that Luis Leon Sanchez used in the 2012 TdF to solo to the win on stage 14, where you kinda twist your hands around, put them inside the hoods, and hold onto the levers. Never seen anyone else do that.

    And of course

    Look Pro, Part VIII: The Phantom Menace

    Premier Icon stever

    You really have gone native, haven’t you Steve!?

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    Why would a man wearing a dashing cap have a hairbrush on the window sill beside him?

    and a starting handle for a Morris Minor by the looks of it.

    Premier Icon BigJohn

    I missed this 1st time around, so (even though it’s not really relevant to me, having stopped serious road racing a long time ago) thanks for your public spirited endeavours.

    And having spotted another of your posts, while looking if this was part of a series – I recall I spent 3 weeks in Le Dorat in about 1967. Small world etc. Exchange visit with lad called Roland Bancel, lived in Avenue de Verdun. Also hung around with his mate name of Bouzat. Both be getting on for 60 now. I don’t suppose they’re still around?

    Premier Icon Lifer

    BigJohn – Member

    I missed this 1st time around, so (even though it’s not really relevant to me, having stopped serious road racing a long time ago) thanks for your public spirited endeavours.


    I spend most of my time in the ‘on the hoods top’ position but on longer rides I find that switching around really helps my back. On the tops is weird though; when riding it feels like one side is wrapped further in toward the stem, which really annoys me. Had to check when I got home and they’re wrapped to the same point I think I’ve just got massively different sized hands.

    Premier Icon BigJohn

    I have this subconscious habit of linking my thumbs together when I’m right on the tops. Probably a bit dangerous but It’s a fixie with toe overlap, so it doesn’t make it significantly more so.

    Premier Icon tomhoward

    Never mind taking pictures of yourself (in a nice hat) holding handlebars, crack on with sorting out your paving’s weed issue!

    On a more serious note, thanks for posting!

    Noob Roadie

    Premier Icon Cheezpleez

    Can’t believe you left out the ‘Playground Smoker’ where you grip the drops with the very ends of the fingers and thumb and cup the ‘lit end’ in your palm.



    Thank you for that. I have recently bought a road bike for commuting and it had not even occurred to me to use any position other than “on the hoods”!


    Well thanks very much everyone!!!
    I’m glad it helped, or gave you a smile.

    The hat – my favourite beret! 🙂

    The hairbrush is for the dog, and the starting handle is for the canopy which shades the disgraceful terrace when it’s hot.

    Le Dorat is still going stong BigJohn. I haven’t come across Bancel and Bouzat, though it is entirely possible they still ride. Lots of the guys in the club I ride with are well into their 60s, and still very capable.

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