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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    PGH, PA
    Posts
    68

    Getting comfortable with the drops

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    I'm checking out road bikes for the first time, and I'm finding the drop handlebars to be a little bit awkward. I don't think that I want a flat bar bike, because I like the idea of being able to change my arm position as I ride. Right now, my hybrid has bar ends, and I use them quite a bit.

    Do you have any suggestions for getting used to the drops? I think the awkwardness is probably also related to getting accustomed to a more aggressive position on the bike, so perhaps I'll just get used to it with more time in the saddle?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    4,632
    The best way to get more comfortable with the drops is to use them. That said, I don't use them very often, except on descents. I'm usually on the hoods or just behind them.
    At least I don't leave slime trails.
    http://wholecog.wordpress.com/

    2009 Giant Avail 3 |Specialized Jett 143

    2013 Charge Filter Apex| Specialized Jett 143
    1996(?) Giant Iguana 630|Specialized Riva


    Saving for the next one...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,897
    This is a very timely thread for me. I never used to ride in the drops. I felt very uncomfortable riding that way with my old (non-WSD) road bike and had trouble getting my hands around the brake levers.

    My current bike is a WSD model, with different frame geometry and smaller handlebars. About a month ago I read an old blog item about getting aero in the drops by Chris Carmichael. So on my next ride I decided to give it a try.

    It turns out to be quite comfortable for me now. I have no trouble handling the bike, shifting or braking. I can tell that I use different leg muscles in that position vs riding on the hoods or with my hands on top of the bar, but I think that's a good thing. It's definitely a better position for riding in the wind. The only problem has been a bit of saddle chafing.

    So if you find that having your hands on the hoods is comfortable but being in the drops is awkward, make sure the bike and handlebars are the right size so that you're not reaching too far forward.

    If the fit is right, then just practice. Find a straight flat stretch of road or bike path that is not crowded, and ride in the drops for a couple of minutes. When you've done that enough to feel more comfortable, try staying in that position longer. You'll get used to it.

    When I get home later I'll try to find that Carmichael blog.

    - Gray 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    San Antonio Heights, CA (Upland)
    Posts
    1,067
    breeze, I think when you say getting used to "drop handlebars", you are referring to the different position you are in on a road bike as a whole, versus a hybrid or something that keeps you in a higher more upright position, yes?

    What the two replies you got so far were referring to was getting down "into" the drops, which is one of the positions you can ride on a road bike. However in regard to getting used to a road bike in general, what ny biker said about bike fit is very true, as is getting used to it over time.

    It is definitely a different feel to be hunched over as you do on a road bike, but it is more aerodynamic, the bikes tend to be lighter and you can generally ride longer distances more easily and faster than on other types of bikes. These are some of the main reasons people chose them over hybrids, etc.

    Whatever road bike(s) you have tried, may not have been the right fit for you and, therefore, felt more awkward than they should have.

    Try to find a reputable bike shop to help you determine the right size frame for you. Most good bike shops will not only make sure you get the right size bike, but will adjust the seat and handlebars to fit you. This is only a quick adjustment, though. It's always wise to have a real bike fit, which takes more time and is much more precise. (Also costs money, where as the bike shop should include their fit with the price of the bike.)

    Avoid going to big chain stores like REI. A friend of ours bought a bike at REI and it was absolutely not the right bike for her. I still shake my head at the notion that she didn't bother to ask my husband for help in finding the right bike, but that's another matter. Luckily, because REI is amazing with returns, my husband was able to convince her to return the bike and he helped her find one that, not only fit her, but was a lot more bike for the money.

    If you have a knowledgable friend, have them help you. Either way, go to a bike shop that will actually measure you and help you find the right bike for you.
    GO RIDE YOUR BIKE!!!

    2009 Cannondale Super Six High Modulus / SRAM Red / Selle San Marco Mantra

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    PGH, PA
    Posts
    68
    Thanks, Jiffer, for clarifying. I should have been more clear myself! Sorry about that!
    /newb

    After trying an assortment of road bikes, I can definitely feel the difference in position when using the drop handlebars (instead of the position on my hybrid or MTB), and found myself being wobbly/tentative when trying to go down "into" the drops as well.

    Thanks so much, y'all for your comments. I'm learning so much around here, and just wish that I could chat with a bunch of knowledgeable cycling ladies in person more often. I think I'm going to try to find a riding group once I get the new bike settled, and maybe I'll look for a women's group.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    San Antonio Heights, CA (Upland)
    Posts
    1,067
    I highly recommend you find a group to ride with and, yes, if you can find a women's specific group even better. I started out on a tandem with hubby, so it was a good way to ease into group rides and I learned a lot. However, if I were starting out now, I'd ride with our club's women's ride on Sundays. It is perfect for beginning women who want to ride in a group and glean from others and ride at a pace that is more typical for beginning to intermediate women. I tried it once after I had my own bike and had already ridden with the regular club several times. By that time it was too easy for me, but I could see how I would have loved it as a beginner without a hubby on a tandem.

    You can learn a lot from other riders and most cyclists are very friendly and helpful. (It's them serious racer types that you "sometimes" get the snub from!)
    GO RIDE YOUR BIKE!!!

    2009 Cannondale Super Six High Modulus / SRAM Red / Selle San Marco Mantra

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    the dry side
    Posts
    4,367
    Quote Originally Posted by Owlie View Post
    The best way to get more comfortable with the drops is to use them. That said, I don't use them very often, except on descents. I'm usually on the hoods or just behind them.
    I hardly use mine either. I find the best position is on the hoods or just behind them.
    2015 Liv Intrigue 2
    Pro Mongoose Titanium Singlespeed
    2012 Trek Madone 4.6 Compact SRAM

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Rowland Hts, CA
    Posts
    461
    I learned to ride on the drops because the hills in my complex have steepness grades ranging from 4% to 40% (per Google Earth). I was new at biking and didn't want to go down hill more than 10 miles per hour. The only way to brake slow enough was for me to use the drops (you can squeeze the brakes stronger on the drops than on the hoods). So, I was forced to use the drops and now I feel that I have much better braking control.

    Also, I learned that going downhill, your feet should be even (at 3:00 and 9:00) for better balance and that you use your thighs to squeeze the saddle for better control if the bike shimmies/wobbles. You can also move your buttock a little bit more towards the rear of the saddle when you ride downhill on the drops.

    I'm a newbie, so take my advice with a "grain of salt". Now I go probably 40mph (which scares the crap out of me still) as I scan the road for objects that can flip my bike over and for cars.
    ____________________________________

    2012 Specialized Amira Elite, upgraded carbon handle bars, Jett saddle 143mm switched to 145mm 2012 Selle Italia Max SLR Gel Flow saddle

    2011 Specialized Ariel Sport,suspension post,Serfas Rx Women's Microfiber saddle

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,501
    Don't underestimate the importance of fit.

    If your bike was originally set up on the assumption that you'd never be using the drops, it may not fit you all that well in that posture. It may be worth a new fitting.

    I have one stem that makes riding comfortable for me on the hoods, and a different one that makes riding comfortable for me in the drops. Either stem is okay in the opposite posture, but each is notably better in one. I'm not sure if that's normal, or if it means there's something else going on that can be fixed ... or that my frame doesn't fit me as well as it ought ...
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    North Bellmore, NY
    Posts
    1,346
    I agree with the fit and geometry of the bike. There is a huge difference in the changes that were made from my 2007 Specialized Ruby to now. I was never comfortable in the drops on this bike. I can just speak for Specialized only but over the last few years they have made huge differences on their women's bike (can't speak for mens either). The handle bars are more compact and the drop part is a little longer then on the 07 Ruby. The Dolce I won is the same size as the Ruby but I am very comfortable riding in the drops when need be. I even reach the hoods better. I did got a size smaller in the Amira and so glad I did. All positions are comfortable. I had to get in the drops yesterday as we had a long stretch of road way in a head wind. I would have not been able to stay in the drops on the Ruby, I was in the drops the whole stretch of a couple of miles on the Amira.
    2012 Specialized Amira S-Works
    2012 Vita Elite
    2011 Specialized Dolce Elite (raffle prize) - Riva Road 155
    Ralaigh Tara Mtn Bike

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Boise Idaho
    Posts
    1,162
    The Bike Hermit spent two hours with one of our female customers yesterday on picking out different drop bars for a Lemond bike she found on Craigslist. All drop bars are not created equal. Don't be afraid to take your bike to your favorite shop and try different handlebars, yes it take some time but can be worth it. We have several different drop bars in stock for that reason. We have several posts about handlebars and stems on our website if you want to do any more research.
    I ride the Nitto Grand Randonneur b135's and like the way the ramp is designed
    Sky King
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    Surly ECR "Eazi"
    Empowering the Bicycle Traveler
    biketouringnews.com

 

 

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