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I see riders at the head of the peloton and on breakaways with forearms resting close together on the tops on imaginary tri-bars.

Putting aside any safety issues, has anyone seen any data to show if there is any aero advantage on a normal road bike of this compared to forearms on the hoods?

 

14 comments

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dave atkinson [6528 posts] 4 months ago
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yes: from my time in the boardman wind tunnel (article & video soon) that position saved 23W at 45km/h compared to the standard breakaway position (hands on hoods, forearms flat)

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IanEdward [326 posts] 4 months ago
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Easier to maintain as well?

I'm doing some tricep exercises (dips, press-ups) to improve my stamina in the hands-on-hoods, forearms-flat position, but ultimately it's easier to go faux-time-trial with elbows on the tops and forearms forward of the bars. Less leverage on the triceps I guess.

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PRSboy [549 posts] 4 months ago
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dave atkinson wrote:

yes: from my time in the boardman wind tunnel (article & video soon) that position saved 23W at 45km/h compared to the standard breakaway position (hands on hoods, forearms flat)

Interesting - 23w is a reasonable 'free' aero gain, thanks Dave.

I agree on the position being relatively comfortable too, though easier with some bars than others. 

I do however feel I have a less powerful 'platform' as I dont have anchor points for my hands, the effects of which might offset any aero-related gain, though I've no power meter evidence for this.

The next question is what should you do with your hands for max aero benefit... flat out superman style, or curled up around imaginary ski sticks/bar ends?

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dave atkinson [6528 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes
IanEdward wrote:

Easier to maintain as well?

I'm doing some tricep exercises (dips, press-ups) to improve my stamina in the hands-on-hoods, forearms-flat position, but ultimately it's easier to go faux-time-trial with elbows on the tops and forearms forward of the bars. Less leverage on the triceps I guess.

yes, definitely easier because it's a shorter lever so you're not loading up your triceps as much. it's not a great position in terms of bike control though. ok in the breakaway but i'd never do it in a group, and you'd get DQ'ed in a british cycling race round here if you used it, even if you were riding solo.

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dave atkinson [6528 posts] 4 months ago
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PRSboy wrote:

I do however feel I have a less powerful 'platform' as I dont have anchor points for my hands, the effects of which might offset any aero-related gain, though I've no power meter evidence for this.

The next question is what should you do with your hands for max aero benefit... flat out superman style, or curled up around imaginary ski sticks/bar ends?

depends what you're doing i guess. if you're a pro rider in the break you're working steadily but nowhere near your maximum.

not sure about the hands! head says flat but i've no data for that

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PRSboy [549 posts] 4 months ago
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I can only dream of a day when 'working steadily' is anywhere near 45kmh!

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CXR94Di2 [2691 posts] 3 months ago
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Yes, ive used it a great deal on a smooth straight road when on the front of a group.

Ive seen 1-2 mph increase in speed. It allows you to get lower and more aero with most of your arms in front than widening your frontal profile.

Its relatively safe if used in the correct scenario. Dont do it drafting behind another rider

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Simon E [3811 posts] 3 months ago
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PRSboy wrote:

Interesting - 23w is a reasonable 'free' aero gain, thanks Dave.

The difference will be smaller at 'mere mortal' cyclist velocities. Also, pro riders have the core strength and raw power and practise it enough to do it effectively without any additional effort.

I remember once seeing a 1~1.5 km/h difference vs hands on the grips on my rigid MTB when I tried it on a gentle gradient but that figure is even less reliable than GCN's science videos.  3 Perhaps I should try doing it again on the road bike.

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MoutonDeMontagne [148 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

I do it quite frequently as end up with a lot of long straight stretches into head winds where I ride. Generally see a 2-3 kph increase over being on the drops/hoods. Plus, I actually find it incredibly comfortable where as I struggle with forearms flat on the hoods after 5/10 min or so. Hence tend to alternate between the false TT position and on the drops. I'm on bars with an oval/flattened top profile, wasn't so nice on older round bars.  Interesting that this is backed up in the windtunnel. Cheers for that info Dave. 

Final note: Just don't do it on raw carbon with suncream on! 

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Canyon48 [1147 posts] 3 months ago
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I often use this "mock time trial" position, it's noticeably much, much faster than riding with forearms horizontal on the hoods. That said, there is less control.

If you want to get more aero whilst keeping control, you can turn your arms inwards and roll your shoulders forwards whilst keeping your hands/palms on the hoods - this is certainly faster.

I can't quantify any of this of course, but it is noticeable when riding at a steady effort.

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cdean [63 posts] 3 months ago
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IanEdward wrote:

I'm doing some tricep exercises (dips, press-ups) to improve my stamina in the hands-on-hoods, forearms-flat position, but ultimately it's easier to go faux-time-trial with elbows on the tops and forearms forward of the bars. Less leverage on the triceps I guess.

 

On a slight tangent, are you doing any other exercises to strengthen your triceps or does anyone else have any recommendations for this? I spent a fair amount of time in the hands on hood with flat forearms position recently and it can make my triceps pretty sore, which is definitely a limiting factor in how long I stay in it.

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matthewn5 [1405 posts] 3 months ago
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Canyon48 wrote:

I often use this "mock time trial" position, it's noticeably much, much faster than riding with forearms horizontal on the hoods. That said, there is less control.

If you want to get more aero whilst keeping control, you can turn your arms inwards and roll your shoulders forwards whilst keeping your hands/palms on the hoods - this is certainly faster.

I can't quantify any of this of course, but it is noticeable when riding at a steady effort.

Rolling the shoulders forward makes a big difference. It's like free speed. Can't see why, but I've often felt the difference riding into the wind.

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Simon E [3811 posts] 3 months ago
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George Fox, with his hands on the hoods of his Propel, managed 19:19 for a 10 mile TT the other night:

https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/racing/time-triallist-looks-10-mile-r...

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billymansell [69 posts] 3 months ago
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Simon E wrote:

George Fox, with his hands on the hoods of his Propel, managed 19:19 for a 10 mile TT the other night:

https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/racing/time-triallist-looks-10-mile-r...

That takes me back thirty years doing that evening 10 along the A45 though on a slightly different course.

I suppose he could legitimately change to a 1x road bike setup to save some watts but probably not in the spirit of the game for beating the record.