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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 05-13-14, 02:11 PM   #1
raydobbins
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When riding with only one hand on the bar...

Hello everybody. I searched this topic but didn't find any related discussions.

When riding with only one hand on the bar, such as when you reach for your bottle and drink, where is the best place to hold the bar? On top or on the brake lever?

I've always thought that it's best to hold the bar on top, near the center/stem, mainly because if you hit a bump, you are less likely to cause a wobble. Also, I feel that braking with only one hand on the bar is risky because the load on the bar is not balanced.

So, how many of you agree?

Cheers,

Ray
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Old 05-13-14, 02:16 PM   #2
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I hold the bar on the tops when going one handed to drink since I want to sit up to drink.
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Old 05-13-14, 02:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by raydobbins View Post
I've always thought that it's best to hold the bar on top, near the center/stem, mainly because if you hit a bump, you are less likely to cause a wobble. Also, I feel that braking with only one hand on the bar is risky because the load on the bar is not balanced.
I'm with you, Ray. But I don't ride one-handed much.

If I am signalling to turn, I won't shift the hand that stays on the bars. But I have to use both hands for any serious braking, so I have to signal before slowing to turn.
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Old 05-13-14, 02:37 PM   #4
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It really shouldn't matter. And I could be wrong but I don't think braking with one hand causes an imbalance (at least mechanically speaking).
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Old 05-13-14, 02:38 PM   #5
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Top of the bar close to the stem.
Try on the rollers; it works best.
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Old 05-13-14, 03:54 PM   #6
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Take both hands off the bar. You won't create any imbalance.
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Old 05-13-14, 03:57 PM   #7
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Take both hands off the bar. You won't create any imbalance.
I couldn't do this with my last bike, but on my current one it works great.
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Old 05-13-14, 04:40 PM   #8
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If I'm on the tops when reaching for the bottle/food/pocket/signalling, I keep my bar hand on the tops. Ditto for hoods, and drops.

If I have to brake suddenly while one-handed, part of my reflex is usually to bring the other hand back to the bar, even if there's a bottle or banana in it at the time. I don't grip the bar, just press the knuckle or rest my wrist against it.

Maybe it's worth your while to practice braking one-handed.
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Old 05-13-14, 05:24 PM   #9
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Signaling, I'll also keep my bar hand on the hoods or drops. But for something that takes a little more time, like drinking, eating, fiddling with the computer, or adjusting my toe straps, I will take it to the tops. I feel more balanced. But if it's a situation where I may have to slow down, like if I have to drink when I'm in a tight paceline, I will keep a hand on a brake - and hope that I don't have to do more than feather it. In any event, I am comfortable riding no-hands, but not when I'm riding hard on in a paceline.

All else being equal, I think it's safer to have your one bar hand near the center of the bar rather than an end of the bar.

I brought this up because I always assumed it was something most cyclists agreed on, but I recently found out (and have now confirmed) that there is no consensus. Thanks for all replies so far.
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Old 05-13-14, 05:25 PM   #10
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My other hand is wherever it is. Most of the time, that would be a hood, but it could be anywhere.
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Old 05-13-14, 10:33 PM   #11
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Top of the bar close to the stem.
+1
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Old 05-13-14, 10:36 PM   #12
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My other hand is wherever it is. Most of the time, that would be a hood, but it could be anywhere.
Pretty much. It only takes half a second to get a bottle but it shouldn't matter.
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Old 05-13-14, 11:17 PM   #13
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Closer to the stem is more stable. But who are we kidding?

What would zymblad do?
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Old 05-14-14, 04:18 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by banerjek View Post
My other hand is wherever it is. Most of the time, that would be a hood, but it could be anywhere.
Really it's is the only practical way.
If you can't do this then practice, because it is a very useful skill when group riding.
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Old 05-14-14, 05:49 AM   #15
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Depends on the situation. If I'm in a group ride or approaching a stop I'll have one hand on the hoods just in case there's a need to brake. If riding solo it doesn't matter. I feel comfortable in the drops with one hand or tops near the stem. Also, being able to maintain a steady pace while grabbing your bottle or reaching into your jersey pocket is important. Those that can't grab a bottle to drink and maintain the pace create a dangerous situation in group rides.
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Old 05-14-14, 06:10 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gluteus View Post
Top of the bar close to the stem.
Try on the rollers; it works best.
Yes. You can get extra stability if you grip with fingers and put thumb along bar near stem.
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Old 05-14-14, 06:18 AM   #17
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Man this topic came up just in time, yesterday riding back home I reach to grab my bottle and I'm holding bars w left hand on the hood, hit a bump and crashed super hard, broke my arm n wrist . So I'm thinking once I heal maybe use camelback instead of bottles.
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Old 05-14-14, 06:24 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by RPK79 View Post
I hold the bar on the tops when going one handed to drink since I want to sit up to drink.
Me too. It's a good time to give my back a rest too. Usually push back on my finger tips since the bar is pretty low, slammed stem on to me, a very aggressive bike. Next time going with something less aggressive like Synapse or CR1 geometry, haha.
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Old 05-14-14, 06:43 AM   #19
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Man this topic came up just in time, yesterday riding back home I reach to grab my bottle and I'm holding bars w left hand on the hood, hit a bump and crashed super hard, broke my arm n wrist . So I'm thinking once I heal maybe use camelback instead of bottles.
A cashed a couple years ago... also while rehydrating. When trying to return the bottle (with my favored right hand) to it's cage the bottle slipped from my fingers and under my rear tire. I tighten my grip while braking with my left hand.... and the bicycle ended up wobbling and laying down with me on top of it.

I now drink with my left hand and switched to bigger (taller) insulated (drier) water bottles. I also now keep my free/steering hand near the stem when using my other hand for tasks like drinking.
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Old 05-14-14, 06:46 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by raydobbins View Post
Hello everybody. I searched this topic but didn't find any related discussions.

When riding with only one hand on the bar, such as when you reach for your bottle and drink, where is the best place to hold the bar? On top or on the brake lever?

I've always thought that it's best to hold the bar on top, near the center/stem, mainly because if you hit a bump, you are less likely to cause a wobble. Also, I feel that braking with only one hand on the bar is risky because the load on the bar is not balanced.

So, how many of you agree?

Cheers,

Ray
In general the tops, near the stem. That's the generally accepted best place to hold the bars if you're riding one handed. If you want a good example of pro riders doing it look up "Madison sling". The rider giving the hand sling holds the bars at the tops, for stability. This enables the rider to give a really good shove to the rider getting slung into the race.

Here's an example where one guy is on the tops, one is on the drops. One hits the deck.

Here's where things go right. The race involves pairs of riders, one can sling the other into the race. The rider on the inside is the one pulling off, the rider on the outside is the one going into the race. Tactically a team can go much faster than a single rider so there are numerous hand slings at very high speed in any heated part of the race. In the clip below it's 5 laps to go in a 6 day event (racing over 6 days, which, back in the old days, meant actually pedaling for 6 days and nights, but now it's sort of like a 6 day stage race on the track).

If these guys could sling their teammate into the race harder using a different hand position they would. They can't so they hold the bars right next to the stem. It's absolutely the most stable position when riding one handed, for the reasons you mention (less prone to give mistaken steering inputs to bar/stem).

For the highest speed tucks on a descent holding the bars next to the stem is very stable. On rough pavement, in twists, etc, the drops are the best because it's very hard for your hands to slip off the bars, you have your brakes, and you have good weight distribution. The hoods are the worst on a descent.

In situations where you're already on the drops that could change, like if you're on a descent and need to signal a right turn. if you think about a typical hand signal it takes maybe a second and you don't cover that much ground in that second. Shaking a hand out, taking a sip, that's all fine from the drops in higher speed situations but again, it takes very little to move your hands and then do the drink or whatever.

Also, if you feel like you might need to brake and you need to take one hand off the bars for more than a second, you would want to have the one hand by a brake lever. However if that's the case then you should probably wait to take the other hand off.
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Old 05-14-14, 08:05 AM   #21
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Thank you carpediemracing for your clear and convincing explanation. The video of the Madison fall is just about conclusive proof that when riding one handed, you have greater control and stability with your hand near the center of the bar. If lgp927 (who posted above) had been holding the bar on top near the stem, it is less likely that he would have lost control and crashed. I'm not saying he definitely would not have crashed - that could happen even with both hands on the bar- but I think the chances of crashing would have been greatly reduced.

Dave Cutter's situation is a little different because it involves braking rather than hitting a bump, but you can still say that he probably wouldn't have lost control and crashed if he'd had his left hand on top.

Again, thanks to all for the interesting discussion.

Ray
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Old 05-14-14, 09:09 AM   #22
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It really shouldn't matter. And I could be wrong but I don't think braking with one hand causes an imbalance (at least mechanically speaking).
It actually does matter because the handlebar is a first class lever with the fulcrum at the stem. The farther away from the stem you are the less input is required to move the wheel.
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Old 05-14-14, 09:15 AM   #23
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It actually does matter because the handlebar is a first class lever with the fulcrum at the stem. The farther away from the stem you are the less input is required to move the wheel.
And conversely the closer to the stem you are the less impact a sudden jarring and subsequent movement of your arm will have on the stability of the bike.
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Old 05-14-14, 09:35 AM   #24
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tops
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Old 05-14-14, 09:42 AM   #25
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And conversely the closer to the stem you are the less impact a sudden jarring and subsequent movement of your arm will have on the stability of the bike.
Exactly.
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