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  1. #1
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    has cycling position changed in the past 30 years

    I have been watching some old-school cycling videos (from eddy mercx era... sunday in hell, champions and watercarriers etc). It seems like the cyclists of that era had a lot more knee flexion in their cycle stroke as compared to the more recent TDF coverage i had been watching on torrents... is it just me or has there been a small shift in cycling position

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    No access to the UCI pro race data, for how the team mechanics did setups,
    your guess is as good as mine on that, but,

    I'm less flexible at 60 than I was at 30, so my handlebar height has come up
    and the extension-reach shorter.

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    I'll have to get some screen shots and my goniometer out, see what i can fing

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    I don't know if this counts as a position change, but I've been riding since I got out of the Army in 1968, went back to college and found out that bikes got cool while I was gone. Main thing I've noticed is that a lot of people are on bikes that would have been considered too small then. Of course there's the old "smaller is lighter and stiffer" argument, which probably has some validity. Still, it looks weird to me to see a foot of seatpost sticking out of the tube. I followed the fad until about five years ago, when I bought an Atlantis and followed Rivendell's size guide. It put me on a bike 3-4cm bigger than I'd been riding, but it's much more comfortable.
    Other changes here and there: Lots of people went to bars much lower than the saddle about the time Lemond was winning Tours. Now, maybe because a lot of us are getting older, I'm seeing bars moving up. Mine are level with the saddle, with no loss in speed (might not apply if you're fast enough to generate drag, though...). KOPS used to be a hard rule, but now I think it's often considered a starting point. My knees are about 2cm behind the spindle.
    I ride with a lot of guys in their 50s and 60s, some of them still pretty strong. As we age, many of them are relaxing some of the old racer-fit rules, making small adjustments in position to accommodate their changing abilities. I laughed at one friend who put old-style three-speed bars (Rivendell's Priest bars) on his custom touring bike. Then he rode from Reno, Nev., to Lee Vining, the eastern entrance to Yosemite, about 140 miles, in 10 hours. At age 61.

  5. #5
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adam_mac84 View Post
    I have been watching some old-school cycling videos (from eddy mercx era... sunday in hell, champions and watercarriers etc). It seems like the cyclists of that era had a lot more knee flexion in their cycle stroke as compared to the more recent TDF coverage i had been watching on torrents... is it just me or has there been a small shift in cycling position
    as relates to racing and only racing - not sure if 30 yrs is a break point, but maybe prior to that, say 35 + yrs back.
    If you look at bikes from about that era and prior, they were more 'laid back' - for lotsa reasons.
    Prolly biggest of which the Euro race scene dealt with lots of racing on much poorer road surfaces than anything we have to ride these days. Much of the mtn stages of the grand tours and many other races were run over dirt roads. And as with racing on courses such as Paris-Roubaix cobbles, the idea has always been to use a larger gear and power smoothly over difficult surface. Part of this was also a lower saddle position, a little more rearward, than current favor.
    Adding to this shoes and pedal connections which certainly had less support than the current stuff.

    All this changed dramatically from the early 70's to the late 70's as more country roads and mtn passes became asphalt paved. However even as late as the late 80's, road surface had huge affect on racing - A La The Giro...

    As measurement and computing power came into the hands of more people, cycling science also leapt forward. Looking at racing in the late 80's and early 90's, equipment appearnace aside, the positions are comparable with today's.

    Given road conditions of those prior decades, I'm certain we'd all be riding lower positions as well. Today's Paris-Roubaix is a comparative toothless *****cat compared to the awesome monster it was back in the day.
    ...also given the lower position, there's prolly less risk of loosing any of those 3 bottles of wine, hanging in your jersey pockets...
    Golden rose, the color of the dream I had
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezen View Post
    ...also given the lower position, there's prolly less risk of loosing any of those 3 bottles of wine, hanging in your jersey pockets...
    HAHA... i loved the part in the watercarriers section of the documentary i was watching where they talked about the water carriers bringing beer and other 'necessities' (wine) to the 'premier' riders

  7. #7
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Yes. I raced locally and regionally back in the early to mid 70's. We had a bit more relaxed position and apparently stretched out on the bike more. Another notable change was the movement towards "tri" bikes. Where the rider was moved forward on the bike to give them the feel of "running" on the pedals. I haven't paid too much attention to racing form recently. I mostly ride upright or when riding a drop bar bike, I have the bars just above saddle height.

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