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

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.

Mat has in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.