Video: How to improve your position on the bike

A quick guide to cycling positions and when to use each of them

by Mat Brett   August 21, 2014  

Riding position 1

A new video from GCN shows you how to improve your position on the bike. The video is really aimed at beginners but more experienced riders might pick up some tips too.

You really have three different hand positions available to you on a drop-bar road bike: on the hoods, on the drops, and on the tops. The video explains when to use each of them.

You’ll probably spend most of your riding time with your hands resting on the hoods because that gives you a comfortable body position and easy access to the levers for braking and shifting gear.

Holding the hoods is also a good option for when you’re climbing out of the saddle, although you’ll want to stay seated most of the time to maximise your efficiency.

The video advises you to use the drops for descending and other fast riding because this is the most secure position. Plus, of course, getting into a low, tucked riding position with your elbows bent reduces wind resistance so you can ride faster, making it the best choice for sprinting.

Riding with your hands on the tops of the handlebar is comfortable for long, steady climbs when you know you’re not going to need to change gear or brake for a while.

8 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

This video is mostly about hand position — there is no mention of moving back or forward on the saddle under different conditions.

Have a nice day.

DavidC's picture

posted by DavidC [112 posts]
21st August 2014 - 8:05

33 Likes

More good work by the GCN guys.

Took me a surprising amount of time to get used to riding on the tops while climbing but do it all the time now.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [1155 posts]
21st August 2014 - 12:21

25 Likes

I've been riding road bikes for a couple of years now but I'm learning something new all the time. I think I'm only just really getting to know how to handle the bike properly.
I've just started using the tops now for climbing some of the gentler climbs but I am also now finding it a lot easier on the drops and am now using them a lot more than i used to, although I'm no demon descender on the steeper slopes.
I noticed there's no mention of saddle position.

posted by fennyvelocarbon [6 posts]
21st August 2014 - 19:18

16 Likes

For a start, there's 5 hand positions on a road bike, not 3. The hoods, the hooks, the drops, the tops, and the ramps/shoulders. This explains it well:
http://lovelybike.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/drop-bar-hand-positions-introdu...

posted by dottigirl [51 posts]
22nd August 2014 - 20:45

17 Likes

dupe

posted by dottigirl [51 posts]
22nd August 2014 - 20:59

15 Likes

dottigirl wrote:
For a start, there's 5 hand positions on a road bike, not 3. The hoods, the hooks, the drops, the tops, and the ramps/shoulders. This explains it well:
http://lovelybike.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/drop-bar-hand-positions-introduction.html

Nice link, thank you! That and the video are both helpful.

But neither address the issue of going downhill and not wanting to do it too fast. Do you ride the drops, where resistance is less but braking strength is greater, or on the hoods? Does the extra resistance of the more upright position overcome the lesser braking efficiency?

“Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling.” James E Starrs

posted by truffy [649 posts]
23rd August 2014 - 20:42

12 Likes

If you want to descend slower, I'd be on the drops still : better braking and more stable. i.e more control, which is really the bottom line. And if you want to work on your descending, its the best place to start.

posted by edster99 [299 posts]
23rd August 2014 - 23:11

9 Likes

edster99 wrote:
more stable. i.e more control, which is really the bottom line.

Good point, thank you!

“Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling.” James E Starrs

posted by truffy [649 posts]
24th August 2014 - 21:51

1 Like