Road Bike Maintenance : Learn Sitting Positions for Road Bikes


Besides saddle height, the thing that’s going
to make the biggest difference in how you feel over the long term riding your road bike
is going to be the reach from your seat to your handlebars, and the drop from the top
of your handlebar up to the top of your seat. Those two measurements really — by getting
them just right, eliminate a lot of the complaints people have about riding road bikes — that
their back is sore, that their neck is sore, that their arms are sore. So, if we start
out with a nice level seat, so we’re not always sliding down off the nose if it’s pointed
down, or sliding off the back if it’s pointed up. That’s a good starting point go get a
nice, balanced position. So, I’m going to show you, as I’m up here, pretending that
I’m riding along, instead of just here on the floor. You can see I start off naturally
going to the hoods. That’s sort of my default go-to position. As I’m sitting here, you can
see if I’m riding down the road looking forward, my neck’s at a fairly relaxed anatomical angle,
I’ve got a nice, healthy bend to my arms instead of being locked out — I’ve got a nice bend
to them, and I can just lightly wrap my hands around the handlebar. There’s hardly any pressure
on my hands at all because I’ve gotten the height of my bars just right. And the way
I can do that on this bike is by adjusting the drop of the stem. I can also change to
a stem with a different angle. So that’s for height. And then for the reach, you have a
couple other ways you can determine reach. You can use a different length stem. For the
reach from the center of the bars out to the hoods they make bars that have a different
amount of reach built in, in the center here out to there. For the drop they also have
bars that have a different amount of drop built in. For most people I find that a bar
that they call a short and shallow bar is actually the most comfortable. So, the bar
with the shortest amount of reach and the shortest amount of drop. That allows you to
effectively use all the hand positions with pretty minimal change in your overall neck
or back position. So, here I am in the drop — you can see my arm still has a nice bend
in it. I can get my back considerably flatter, and as I cycle through the pedals I’m not
hitting my knees on my chest. If I had more drop, it’s possible that when I was in the
drop I’d hit my knees against my chest, pretty much rendering that position unusable. Probably
the most comfortable position for just casual cruising on the road bike is here on the tops.
You see here once again my reach isn’t so long that my arms are locked out, and it’s
not so short that I’m really scrunched up. I can comfortably — by changing the angle
of my back by pushing it down — I can ride with a fairly upright position, which is good
in traffic, if you’re seeing around, or I can drop my elbows and bring them in and have
a fairly aerodynamic position, which is a good change from the hoods or the drops over
the course of a longer ride.