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  1. #1
    Air
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    How do you ride and dial-in a roadie?

    I know, this seems dumb. I know the following:

    1) There are a few different positions - top, hood, drops, and then maybe the bottom edge of the drops.
    2) Bike has to be dialed in so you can support your weight with your core and not with your hands comfortably for long periods of time.
    3) Typically the lower you are the better aerodynamics you achieve and the more power you can command from your legs.

    Now, when your hands are in the drops (below the hoods and able to grab the brakes) what angle are they supposed to be at? It seems if I bend my elbows I put a lot of pressure on the top of my hand (in between my thumb and forefinger). If I tilt the handlebars up it's much more comfortable but I don't think it's correct.

    I just replaced the cables, new Tekmomic stem and Nitti al handlebars (46 cm). I'm playing with the stem height and while I like being in the drops my body wants them the same height as my mtb handlebars (so the top would be about 5 inches above). I'm thinking this isn't right. My core is actually pretty strong but there's a tipping point that I can't keep myself up for more than a few minutes because of physics and gravity.

    I keep reading different things in the road forum so I figure I'll ask the guys who've got a little more weight on top I know you're supposed to change positions every mile or so but is there a place that's meant for the majority of riding? I keep reading over there it's the drops - which would make me feel safer considering the amount of short stops I make in traffic (wouldn't want my hands to fall off the hoods!). But without tilting the handlbars up at a 45 degree angle my hands really hurt.

    Also, I'll be using platforms for a while and will probably not be switching to clipless anytime soon if that makes a difference. There's been a few times I needed to kick off a car in traffic and don't feel safe having my feet clipped in - not in the city anyway. I know plenty of people do it but not now for me at least. You can post a picture of a yellow chicken and I won't care!

    Since this is worthless without pics, here they are! Yes, I know I haven't trimmed the excess cable yet, want to make sure everything is the right length in case I play with it some more and not make a mistake (ya know, measure twice cut once).






    For Tom - I kept the stem shifters on but added top mounts under the aerobrakes so I can shift while in the hoods or underneath. Can we call this PostModern I know, no tape yet. I have black I'll put on when it's dialed in though I do like the silver look too.

    [edit - original post on fixing it up here]
    Last edited by Air; 05-06-07 at 12:03 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member yeamac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air
    Now, when your hands are in the drops (below the hoods and able to grab the brakes) what angle are they supposed to be at? It seems if I bend my elbows I put a lot of pressure on the top of my hand (in between my thumb and forefinger). If I tilt the handlebars up it's much more comfortable but I don't think it's correct.
    I would say the angle for your hands in the drops should be so that your wrists are not bent up or down. Pretty much when you grip the bar you want your wrists straight.

    Looking at your photos, I would say you have your bars angled up too much ... the bottom of the drops should typically be parallel to the ground and/or top tube, if anything, pointing down a little.

    You have a little room in how you position your brake lever, where you place it on the curve of the bar, although there is a certain measurement where they are suppose to be. I have mine a little high. The reason for that is my stem is too short. A 120mm stem came on my bike; I swapped out to a 100mm w/17 degree rise, and it is STILL to short. I had a bike fitting last Friday and was told that a 90mm stem should do me fine. The problem for me is that I am STILL reaching too far when resting on my hoods, so I place too much weight on my hands. If a person is not comfortable on their hoods it is probably because they have too long a stem and are reaching and thus putting too much weight on the hands.

    Also, my 2 cents is that the drops are made for racers and skinny people (typically one and the same). To bend over that long for a period of time in the drops is uncomfortable for me, a smaller clyde (208/6-1). I think a larger clyde would have more of a belly than me and would find the drops even more uncomfortable. I do 95%+ of my riding on the hoods/tops.

  3. #3
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yeamac
    I would say the angle for your hands in the drops should be so that your wrists are not bent up or down. Pretty much when you grip the bar you want your wrists straight.

    Looking at your photos, I would say you have your bars angled up too much ... the bottom of the drops should typically be parallel to the ground and/or top tube, if anything, pointing down a little.
    I would agree that the drops on the bars are pointing in the wrong direction. To use them, you are going to have to bend your wrist in an rather unnatural position. Personally, since I - like yeamac - spend most of my time on the hoods, I like having the top of the bar parallel with the ground. When I use the drops, I'm using them on a fast downhill to pick up speed. Look at these bikes

    On this one, the bars are a little too high but I changed them before our blizzard - 5 long weeks ago - and haven't been able to check them yet



    This one is closer but I'm still doing some adjustments on it too. The camera angle is a little funny too.



    But the thrust of the pictures is that the lower part of the bar is at a more natural angle for your wrists. And, with the tops parallel to the ground, you won't feel like you are falling on your nose while riding the hoods. It will aslo take some pressure of the dangly bits
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  4. #4
    Air
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    Hmm - I guess I was putting them up to make my wrists straight to grab the brakes from underneath. What if I moved the brakes to the bottom part of the bar - that would be comfortable though I'd lose the ability to stop while on the hoods.

    For really hard stops I like my hand getting caught by the bar. A few times on my mtb I had to stop fast and I felt a ton of pressure from the bar against my hand because of the change in momentum. I don't know if the hoods would have stopped me.

    [nice rides by the way!]

  5. #5
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air
    Hmm - I guess I was putting them up to make my wrists straight to grab the brakes from underneath. What if I moved the brakes to the bottom part of the bar - that would be comfortable though I'd lose the ability to stop while on the hoods.

    For really hard stops I like my hand getting caught by the bar. A few times on my mtb I had to stop fast and I felt a ton of pressure from the bar against my hand because of the change in momentum. I don't know if the hoods would have stopped me.

    [nice rides by the way!]
    I find, even in hard stops, that I can brake from the hoods better than from the drops. I hook my thumb over the top of the hood and then use the outer three fingers on both hands on the levers. Even pulling a touring bike down from 40 or 50 mph with a load, I brake this way. By braking from up high, I can shift my weight rearward like on a mountain bike and I stop very quickly.

    If you move the brake levers to the lower part of the drops (if I'm reading correctly), you'll change your center of gravity too much and be in greater danger of going over the bar in a panic stop. I'd think you'd have a little of that problem with your current set up.
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  6. #6
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air
    Hmm - I guess I was putting them up to make my wrists straight to grab the brakes from underneath. What if I moved the brakes to the bottom part of the bar - that would be comfortable though I'd lose the ability to stop while on the hoods.

    For really hard stops I like my hand getting caught by the bar. A few times on my mtb I had to stop fast and I felt a ton of pressure from the bar against my hand because of the change in momentum. I don't know if the hoods would have stopped me.

    [nice rides by the way!]
    I agree, your handlebars are canted wrong. The drops should definitely be either parallel or very slightly canted the other way. Leave the hoods a bit high, that way they also act a bit like the bar ends on flat bars. You'll find you tide the hoods more often anyway. The drops are for power, speed or riding a headwind primarily.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member rokphotography's Avatar
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    nice to see the bike is just about there Air!! still thining about paintin it?

    PS. i keep my handlebars just about parallel to the frame.. the bottom of the brake levers should line up with the bottom of the drops.. its hard to explain but that is so the hood positioning is optimal for resting on the hood and also being able to reach the brake levers while on the drops too

  8. #8
    staring at the mountains superdex's Avatar
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    Point the ends of the handlebar at your rear brake as a starting point. I know I prefer a level top, since that's where I spend 98% of my time. I'm almost never in the drops...



    And take a ride for a few (>10) miles between changes; as you get closer to dialing it in, do more and more miles between changes. When I got fitted a couple summers ago, I was told 50mi between tweaks...

  9. #9
    Air
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    Quote Originally Posted by superdex
    Point the ends of the handlebar at your rear brake as a starting point. I know I prefer a level top, since that's where I spend 98% of my time. I'm almost never in the drops...



    And take a ride for a few (>10) miles between changes; as you get closer to dialing it in, do more and more miles between changes. When I got fitted a couple summers ago, I was told 50mi between tweaks...
    OK - what handlebars do you have? I think I need those because it forms a nice angle with your hand while in the drops. This is my biggest problem (I think my hand is too big to fit nicely in there; plus the bend makes it very uncomfortable) and that may very well help it.

    I really enjoy the handling of the bike while I'm in the drops, I feel much more in control of where I'm going and a bit more brazen. But it's the top of my hand that kills (and I tried rotating them - hurts 10x worse). Grr...

  10. #10
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Those are ergo anatomically bended bars!Something like that...It's nice to be able to ride the drops, but I think that comes with flexibility and practice. Like the other poster mentioned, you only use them for sprints and hard efforts. Not as often as maintining speed which is usually riding ON THE HOODs. You should concentrate on setting up the hoods first. Then practice riding the drops as you apply more saddle time. Same concept as aerobars. You can't install them then expect to ride 20 miles in them. Takes practice while developing some flexibilty.

    One thing you might pay attention to is Bar width. I have a roadie with wide bars and one with not as wide. The wide bars make it easier to stay in the drops as I am a broad shoulder clyde myself.

  11. #11
    Air
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    Yeah - we ordered the widest he could (46 - my shoulders are wider but not enough that he was worried). I'm really flexible especially in my hips (I can easily throw my feet over my head) but it's the angle of the curve that really hurts my hand. The lower part closest to me is fine - but it's that damn curve that hurts like hell.

    OK - I'll try clipping the cables and giving it a good ride tomorrow, see how it feels. So far I just sat on it and leaned against the wall and was experiencing pain, figured I should fix that before even trying to ride.

  12. #12
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Also, I look at your seat and it is tilted a bit downward. Maybe putting pressure onto your wrists. tilt back a bit but not too much or you will stretch your lower back muscles.

  13. #13
    staring at the mountains superdex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air
    OK - what handlebars do you have? I think I need those because it forms a nice angle with your hand while in the drops. This is my biggest problem (I think my hand is too big to fit nicely in there; plus the bend makes it very uncomfortable) and that may very well help it.
    When I got fitted, the guy asked me to put my hands in the drops, then coaxed me into grabbing the bars near the ends, instead of in the curves. It's a little unnerving (and that was on a trainer), but more comfy than in the curve of the bar.

    And those bars above are FSA Wing Pros -- I dig them LOTS.

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    I have never seen an expert recomend riding on the ends of the drops. You often see short women holding this part of the bar on a bike that fits badly. You are far from the brakes and have less control.
    The default position for drop bars should be the hoods. If you place this in your comfortable cruising position you will have a lower option for headwibnds and descents and a higher option for eating/drinking and looking around.
    Most non-athletic touring style riders position the drops between 0 and 3" below the saddle but there is no rule about this.

    This is one of the best online fit giudes.

  15. #15
    Lanterne Rouge
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    I end up usually riding on the hoods, or with my palms on the curved end of the top of the bar. Going downhill or into furious wind I'll put myself in the drops for a while to cut down on drag. I typically climb with my hands on the tops as if it were a narrow flat bar bike.

    You can probably get those cyclocross style interruptor braks which would give you a spare set of brake levers on the tops of the bar... if you don't like using the brakes from the hoods it could be a godsend.

    +1 on the angle of the bar being tipped too far away from you, btw.

  16. #16
    My idea of fun kensuf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air
    I know, this seems dumb. I know the following:

    1) There are a few different positions - top, hood, drops, and then maybe the bottom edge of the drops.
    2) Bike has to be dialed in so you can support your weight with your core and not with your hands comfortably for long periods of time.
    3) Typically the lower you are the better aerodynamics you achieve and the more power you can command from your legs.

    Now, when your hands are in the drops (below the hoods and able to grab the brakes) what angle are they supposed to be at? It seems if I bend my elbows I put a lot of pressure on the top of my hand (in between my thumb and forefinger). If I tilt the handlebars up it's much more comfortable but I don't think it's correct.

    I just replaced the cables, new Tekmomic stem and Nitti al handlebars (46 cm). I'm playing with the stem height and while I like being in the drops my body wants them the same height as my mtb handlebars (so the top would be about 5 inches above). I'm thinking this isn't right. My core is actually pretty strong but there's a tipping point that I can't keep myself up for more than a few minutes because of physics and gravity.

    I keep reading different things in the road forum so I figure I'll ask the guys who've got a little more weight on top I know you're supposed to change positions every mile or so but is there a place that's meant for the majority of riding? I keep reading over there it's the drops - which would make me feel safer considering the amount of short stops I make in traffic (wouldn't want my hands to fall off the hoods!). But without tilting the handlbars up at a 45 degree angle my hands really hurt.
    Well, first off, a 46cm bar is pretty damn wide. Unless your name is Andre and you're a giant, you'd probably do better with a 44 or 42.. I'm riding a 42 right now and had a 44 on my tcr. It also looks like the bars are tilted too far down.

    Positioning varies depending on the ride, and time into the ride. I alternate between the tops of the bars by the stem, the outsides of the top of the bars (by the bend), and on top of the hoods. When on the hoods I literally have my hands right on top of them. I rarely get into the drops; going into the drops actually constricts your breathing, and while you'll gain 1-2mph out of it, your HR will go up just by being in that position with no extra effort on your part. When climbing, my hands are usually on the bends (top, not drops).

    I try to keep my elbows slightly bent rather than fully extended, but only slightly bent. This allows me to use my elbows as shocks.

    I also get a weird pinched nerve in my left ring finger if I wear my wedding band, the result is numbness in my ring finger on any ride over an hour. To resolve this, I have gotten spousal approval to put my wedding band on a chain around my neck when I go riding..

    I also have my brifters set a bit higher than you do. Mine are almost at the top of the bend for the drops, and I find that makes a very comfortable setting/ride combination and that I can go all day long with it and still use them when in the drops. This is the only picture of my litespeed that I have, but it should give you an idea. Notice the brifters are a little higher up than the bike next to me.



    As for how do I ride it? I ride it like I stole it, of course!

    BTW, on my giant I never got a proper "bike fit" and just eyeballed it. On my litespeed I had the shop I bought it from give me a full bike fitting and I'll admit it was worth the effort. If you've got a shop nearby that can do a fit and will charge less than $100, then I'd say it's probably a good investment.

    Ken
    Last edited by kensuf; 01-23-07 at 08:15 PM.

  17. #17
    Air
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    And you can stop short from the hoods? On a ride in traffic I can easily make about 5-7 short panic stops (damn cabs). I look at that little rubber bump and wonder how much that'll stop my 260 pounds before my hands slide off the top...

    I also see the trade off from the higher brifters not being able to reach them as easily from the drops but more of a stop from on top.

    I did the online fit, came out to 46 cm. One of the mechanics measured my shoulders and said 48 or 50. I just measured my shoulder width again and it came out to 50. I do have a pretty big frame - though not Andre sized!

    [I appreciate all the pics - it's helping!]
    Last edited by Air; 01-24-07 at 12:35 AM.

  18. #18
    Air
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    Another dumb question for y'll. On my mtb I've gotten it so I can ride and apply no pressure with my hands to the handlebars. Since wrist pain was a major stumbling block this was a great breakthrough

    It looks like that picture above with that whole pack that everyone has quite a bit of tension in their arms against the handlebars. Could you hold that position and take your hands off the handlebars or would you have to shift your position? In other words, how much force is your hands/wrists exerting against the handlebars?

  19. #19
    My idea of fun kensuf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air
    And you can stop short from the hoods? On a ride in traffic I can easily make about 5-7 short panic stops (damn cabs). I look at that little rubber bump and wonder how much that'll stop my 260 pounds before my hands slide off the top...
    I can stop with no problems. Remember, the majority of your weight is supported by the core (and hips), not the hands on top of the brifters.

    Quote Originally Posted by Air
    I also see the trade off from the higher brifters not being able to reach them as easily from the drops but more of a stop from on top.
    Naw, I can access them fine from the bend in the drops. If my hands were on the bar ends then we'd be having a different discussion, but if they were on the bar ends you'd be asking for all sorts of trouble.

    Quote Originally Posted by Air
    I did the online fit, came out to 46 cm. One of the mechanics measured my shoulders and said 48 or 50. I just measured my shoulder width again and it came out to 50. I do have a pretty big frame - though not Andre sized!

    [I appreciate all the pics - it's helping!]
    Wow!

    In response to your last post, my hands help with balance/stability. When I ride no hands (oh no, he's going to die!!!!) I have to sit upright. The bent forward position is comfortable with grabbing bottles, gels, etc. as long as one hand is on the bars.

  20. #20
    Air
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    Quote Originally Posted by kensuf
    I can stop with no problems. Remember, the majority of your weight is supported by the core (and hips), not the hands on top of the brifters.
    Well, sure. [Rereading this next part keep in mind I was a math major...this is how my brain is wired]. The seat is a triangle with the smallest part forward. So the only lateral force that would stop your momentum is your hands and the friction between your butt and seat. I'm not talking normal stopping but going from 18 mph to 0 in 3 car lengths. When I do it on my other two bikes I feel a ton of force against my hands even shifting my weight back.

    Quote Originally Posted by kensuf
    Naw, I can access them fine from the bend in the drops. If my hands were on the bar ends then we'd be having a different discussion, but if they were on the bar ends you'd be asking for all sorts of trouble.
    [Are you on the right or left?]The guy in the front closest to the camera seems to have less options when it would come to grabbing the handle - a pointer finger on each without twisting his wrist.

    Wow!

    In response to your last post, my hands help with balance/stability. When I ride no hands (oh no, he's going to die!!!!) I have to sit upright. The bent forward position is comfortable with grabbing bottles, gels, etc. as long as one hand is on the bars.
    So there's no downward pressure on the bars? Seems that if there was no pressure downwards you could ride without hands in the same position.

    Sorry to be so micro in looking at this - all your comments help! Thanks!!

  21. #21
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    Air, take the bike for a spin and bring allen keys w/ you to make adjustments as you ride. You'll be able to dial in the position fairly quickly. You can also adjust the saddle this way til you find the right combo of saddle position and tilt and handlebar height and tilt.
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  22. #22
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air
    Well, sure. [Rereading this next part keep in mind I was a math major...this is how my brain is wired]. The seat is a triangle with the smallest part forward. So the only lateral force that would stop your momentum is your hands and the friction between your butt and seat. I'm not talking normal stopping but going from 18 mph to 0 in 3 car lengths. When I do it on my other two bikes I feel a ton of force against my hands even shifting my weight back.
    You should feel some forward shift in momentum as you stop...it's just physics. However you may want to look at the way you are stopping too. I stop my road bikes the same way I stop my mountain bike...I stand and push back- way back - over the rear of the bike. My arms are generally straight and my feet parallel to the ground (and slightly crouched over the saddle). It's such second nature that I even brake this way on a tandem where you don't need to (and your ride partner doesn't necessarily like it ).

    With the bars set up like you have in the original pictures, you are going to transfer momentum to the front and decrease the ability to stop. You've lowered your center of gravity but unfortuneately moved it forward too. This is probably bad. Sitting a little higher during a stop but being able to move your center of gravity rearward will help in panic stops.
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  23. #23
    My idea of fun kensuf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air
    Well, sure. [Rereading this next part keep in mind I was a math major...this is how my brain is wired]. The seat is a triangle with the smallest part forward. So the only lateral force that would stop your momentum is your hands and the friction between your butt and seat. I'm not talking normal stopping but going from 18 mph to 0 in 3 car lengths. When I do it on my other two bikes I feel a ton of force against my hands even shifting my weight back.
    If dialed in right, it is not a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Air
    [Are you on the right or left?]The guy in the front closest to the camera seems to have less options when it would come to grabbing the handle - a pointer finger on each without twisting his wrist.
    I'm the guy closest to the camera (with the bandana). I have plenty of options - hands on hoods, hands in drops, hands on top of bar by stem, hands on outside bend of top of bars. How many more options do you need?

    Quote Originally Posted by Air
    So there's no downward pressure on the bars? Seems that if there was no pressure downwards you could ride without hands in the same position.
    Sure there's some pressure, but it's not my body weight. It's just a little bit of pressure, but not enough to be uncomfortable. Even with doing 120 crunches every morning I couldn't maintain supporting my upper body with my core at a 60 degree angle for 5 hours at a time. Most of my weight is supported on my butt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Air
    Sorry to be so micro in looking at this - all your comments help! Thanks!!
    I've met engineers that think like you.

  24. #24
    Air
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    Destroyer of Wheels Air's Avatar
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    I'm the guy closest to the camera (with the bandana). I have plenty of options - hands on hoods, hands in drops, hands on top of bar by stem, hands on outside bend of top of bars. How many more options do you need?
    Haha - I meant options while grabbing the brakes. With the hoods up more (I adjusted them since those pictures) I can just, just barely grab the brakes with my pointy finger when in the drops.

    Took her out for a spin (6 miles to the lbs and back). First bump I hit my hands flew right off the hoods, just barely grabbed the bars to avoid the wipe out. This did not instill the aura of confidence (especially since this was in traffic)! Also couldn't really get enough leverage to stop in the distance I needed it to from the hoods (even with my thumbs wrapped around). The bike in general feels 'jumpy' though - maybe the larger yet thinner wheels to what I'm used to?

    I talked to him about getting those ergo bars but he checked and can't get them that will fit the stem. He did recommend though getting a few pieces of PVC pipe, cutting them and creating that angle. Then tape the heck out of it. Not a bad idea - next project. Probably would be a little shock absorbing by design as well. Needed to go to Home Depot to get a new drill anyway.

    I've met engineers that think like you.
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  25. #25
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air
    Haha - I meant options while grabbing the brakes. With the hoods up more (I adjusted them since those pictures) I can just, just barely grab the brakes with my pointy finger when in the drops.

    Took her out for a spin (6 miles to the lbs and back). First bump I hit my hands flew right off the hoods, just barely grabbed the bars to avoid the wipe out. This did not instill the aura of confidence (especially since this was in traffic)! Also couldn't really get enough leverage to stop in the distance I needed it to from the hoods (even with my thumbs wrapped around). The bike in general feels 'jumpy' though - maybe the larger yet thinner wheels to what I'm used to?

    I talked to him about getting those ergo bars but he checked and can't get them that will fit the stem. He did recommend though getting a few pieces of PVC pipe, cutting them and creating that angle. Then tape the heck out of it. Not a bad idea - next project. Probably would be a little shock absorbing by design as well. Needed to go to Home Depot to get a new drill anyway.



    Yeah, I pitied my teachers....
    Wait til you do a front wheel wheelstand in an emergency braking......avoiding that is one of the reasons you shift the weight back when braking a road bike
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