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Old 05-24-09, 07:46 AM   #1
CmJc
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The Bertolini Method

I was fascinated to see how Snr. Bertolini hunched forward; with his chin over the front wheel, groin against the headstock, and his shoulders resting on the handlebars, to stop his front wheel losing traction on the wet downhill parts of Giro Stage 7:

Have a look:

http://www.velonews.com/article/9209...s-giro-stage-7

Does this really help, or is it mere schoolboy psychology?
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Old 05-24-09, 07:51 AM   #2
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i've done something similar, but not as far forward.

it helps (as long as your on smooth, straight roads). that said, it's a tad too aggressive to use regularly.
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Old 05-24-09, 07:58 AM   #3
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On a smooth straight road it "helps" in what way?

Surely you don't need extra front wheel grip if the road is straight.

On the bends, certainly, and that is where I assume the advantage comes in.

He's certainly going for it, and I'm eager to try it on my next downhill, but I'll wrap the front of my top tube with some Spenco rubber!
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Old 05-24-09, 08:02 AM   #4
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On a smooth straight road it "helps" in what way?

Surely you don't need extra front wheel grip if the road is straight.

On the bends, certainly, and that is where I assume the advantage comes in.

He's certainly going for it, and I'm eager to try it on my next downhill, but I'll wrap the front of my top tube with some Spenco rubber!
put on your thinking cap, and figure it out.
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Old 05-24-09, 08:38 AM   #5
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Nah. You sure he's doing it for traction? That's a good way to loose skin if the traction goes.

I think he's going for aero but he's too far forward so his shoulders and head are too high and his cranks are perpendicular to the road. Too much frontal area. He could move back, get his shoulders behind the bars, his cranks parallel to the road, and squeeze the top tube with his knees to get a better aero tuck.
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Old 05-24-09, 08:44 AM   #6
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sounds like we need a wind tunnel tuck-off.
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Old 05-24-09, 10:23 AM   #7
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sounds like we need a wind tunnel tuck-off.
Fattest wedge wins
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Old 05-24-09, 10:55 AM   #8
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I use a tuck like this one. I have gotten some pretty fast downhill speeds for a lightweight (134lbs) by doing it.

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Old 05-24-09, 12:49 PM   #9
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^^^
Dopers pose(ur)
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Old 05-24-09, 12:50 PM   #10
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wow you can tell that from one pic? I should go hide my syringes.
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Old 05-24-09, 03:03 PM   #11
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wow you can tell that from one pic? I should go hide my syringes.
funny...
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Old 05-24-09, 04:13 PM   #12
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I use a tuck like this one. I have gotten some pretty fast downhill speeds for a lightweight (134lbs) by doing it.

That's the same tuck I use on straight-ish descents. You have to be careful not to get too much weight on the front or it unbalances the bike and it gets loose. I have no idea how Bertolini can ride like that, it looks like the front wheel would be all over the place with that much weight on it.
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Old 05-24-09, 04:29 PM   #13
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I notice Snr. Bertolini is hugging the fork stays with his knees.

http://www.velonews.com/photo/92111

Presumably, this helps to stabilise the wheel, and prevent tank-slappers, as well as improving front wheel traction by moving the CoG forward.

The hunched body position must be more aerodynamic than just sitting on the seat, and in the drops.

Notice his right tibia is horizontal.

I often wonder, on long down-hills, which is the best freewheeling crank stance. I bet this chap has done wind-tunnel tests to find the optimum position.

He is acknowledged as a downhill expert.

He holds the top bar... not even touching the brake levers.

Gulp! It'd be quite a buzz to try to follow him eh?

This was the same rainy day Mr. Armstrong grumbled that it was a bike race not MotoGP, and noted he saw 110kmph on his computer at one point.

In contrast, here's my style for juddering downhills:

Vice-like grip of the drops, fingers on both brake levers (remembering to avoid using rear brake if possible), bracing arms to hold ischia onto my seat, and both knees gripping the top tube. Teeth clenched, concentrating intensely, adrenal glands at warp secretion... whilst trying to relax and not think of front wheel blow-outs.
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Old 05-24-09, 04:41 PM   #14
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You have to be careful not to get too much weight on the front or it unbalances the bike and it gets loose. I have no idea how Bertolini can ride like that, it looks like the front wheel would be all over the place with that much weight on it.
Not having tried it...*yet... I suspect the opposite effect. The weight moved forward, and knees clenching the forks, keeps the front stable, and he lets the back end take care of itself.

Remember, this was on a slippery wet day (note his leggings), perhaps he uses a different position for dry descents.
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Old 05-24-09, 04:45 PM   #15
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lol@traction. nub.
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Old 05-24-09, 05:12 PM   #16
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>>> Traction; grip, purchase, friction, adhesion.
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Old 05-31-09, 04:48 PM   #17
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The Bertolini method:
http://www.velonews.com/photo/92111

Inconclusive test in the dry.

I first tried the Bertolini method during a training run on my entry-level road-bike.
It was down a completely dry local TT I know well; 13km., 7-8 percent gradient, good tarmac.

I only dared to try it on the straight parts, and noticed little difference from a normally seated freewheeling tuck.

However... Boldly go...

Today I tried the Bertolini method on a longer, steeper, and WET downhill freewheel.
(Getting to the top was a 45km uphill grind to an old Chinese KMT stronghold to buy 2 kg of Green Tea from the plantation.) About 8-10 percent gradient with numerous 15-20 percent parts. Tremendous fun freewheeling down, steep and twisty, so you need the brakes a lot.

The tarmac is good, but because it was showery, with plenty of wet (tea) leaves, fat caterpillars marching across the road, and mud from the monsoon: MUCH trickier.

Several times I boldly got into the Bertolini position.

There's no doubt, in wet conditions it feels more stable, with knees braced on the forks, and more weight over the front wheel, you immediately feel more in control, and less of a passenger; so it is reassuring when zooming downhill at over 60kmph on wet tarmac.

But I must add a serious word of CAUTION

I got a real fright on the steeper bends (15-20 percent) where both brakes were required. Entering bends, the rear wheel locked and squealed even with light braking, and the rear end began to fish-tail. I slid back onto the seat, ceased rear braking, and recovered. But it was alarming.

So if you are going to experiment with this:

1) Do it in the dry first, on roads you know.
2) Practice sliding from the crossbar onto the seat SMOOTHLY. I almost caused a tank-slapper by being too heavy-handed.
3) If you approach a section so steep that you need to use the back brake (like I did) carefully slide onto the seat first.
4) Use the front brake GENTLY in the Bertolini position, or you will flip it like a unicycle.

I salute Snr. Bertolini: A very brave and skilful chap.
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Old 05-31-09, 04:55 PM   #18
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It's silly. There's a few cat 1's that do it on every 30+ mph decent here. They swerve a lot at first trying not to fall over.
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Old 06-01-09, 05:49 AM   #19
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I'm more a Sella type descender, with my head as low as it goes. It's easy to move to the drops (1/2 second, maybe), you can go around curves (not corners), and you can hit insane speeds.

Before the internet (or when cycling was "popular") I tried to figure out how to get into that standard Sella position (with very few pictures as reference). I used to hold the bars from underneath (!!!) like I was curling the bike. It gets you much, much lower but it's very hard to exit that position. That's when I burned my chin on the front tire on a descent.

I'm not keen on any position where the bike can't move under you. If you hit some pavement waves (i.e. bumps that become apparent at 50 mph, but at 25 they're barely discernible undulations), you need to let the bike move literally a foot vertically under you. I hit such undulations once at ~45-50 mph in the standard tuck and my chest hurt from the stem slamming into it over and over, not to mention the fact that I thought I was going to go over the bars each time.

The standard position is quite flexible. Easy to exit, easy to get to the brakes, stable in all sorts of conditions, etc.

The only thing that isn't good about the standard position is that you have to support your weight. On a long day that can get tiring, and on long descents, even more so. On very long descents I find myself getting into various tucks where I'm sitting on the frame of the bike, just so I can rest my arms/legs. I think that first position would be good for that.

cdr
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Old 06-01-09, 07:26 PM   #20
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I think that first position would be good for that.
Yes it is, in the Bertolini position most of your weight is resting on the handlebars. I thought it would be painful on the groin, but it was okay even without sorbo rubber wrapped around the top tube.

I haven't seen a video of Bertolini on stage 7 in the wet, but I suspect he changed to the normal position when he needed to brake, or came to a curve or corner. If only to be able to get his hands on the brake levers. He probably only used this stance on the straight down parts.

Be bold but Careful pedalists!
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