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Taller bike = faster bike (No, not a troll)

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Taller bike = faster bike (No, not a troll)

Old 08-12-19, 02:55 PM
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aliasfox
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Taller bike = faster bike (No, not a troll)

Hi! Been lurking for a few months, finally had something that I thought might be worth sharing/discussing.

Was kind of a road cyclist a long time ago when I lived elsewhere. Took my Bianchi Vigorelli out whenever it was nice. Moved to NYC, and stopped riding for a few years. Decided to ride the 5Boro Bike Tour a few years back - 40 miles through city streets and on a few of the highways. Was hooked again. Now I head out to the Palisades if I have the time, or do a few laps of Central Park when I'm less ambitious. Did Levi's Gran Fondo (medio route) last year, planning on doing it again this year.

Anyway, two out of three times that I've done the 5Boro Bike Tour, it's been rainy/drizzly. My old Ultegra brakes weren't very responsive on some of the descents, but I chalked it up to 12year old brake pads and dirty rims. Cleaned up the bike, deglazed the pads, had no issues the rest of the season (I otherwise ride in the dry). Eventually switched to the salmon/black compound pads (Koolstop?), but didn't ride in the rain again until this year's 5Boro Bike Tour. Lo and behold, even these pads (and cleaned rims... at least, clean when I started the tour) didn't help. Going down a 2% incline at 15-20mph, the bike would still accelerate with just the rear brakes on, and would barely slow down with both brakes. Given that the Bianchi was 14 years old at this point, I decided I would get something new and shiny rather than diagnosing the Bianchi's woes. So the Bianchi gets boxed and sent to CA for fair weather riding, and this year's Levi's Gran Fondo in the fall.

Enter Lynskey R270, Ultegra with hydro disc. In the dry, she stops better than the Bianchi. Haven't tried her in the wet yet. What's surprising is that both bikes weigh just about the same - ~20.8lbs without pedals, according to my bathroom scale. In case anybody's curious:

- 2004 Bianchi Vigorelli, 55cm. Reynolds 631, Ksyrium Equipe wheels, full Ultegra with triple, stock cockpit except for Selle Italia Onda saddle and Thomson post. Rubino Pro 25mm folding
- 2019 Lynskey R270, ML. 3v/2.5al Ti, Vision Team 30 wheels, full Ultegra with hydraulic disc, stock FSA cockpit. UltraSport IIs, don't know if wire or folding

Those wheels and brakes must be pigs! Regardless, I should try taking 3-10lbs off of me before trying to do that on the bike, so while a bit disappointing she wasn't lighter out of the box, not going to spend any money on upgrading her yet.

Anyway, when ordering the bike and looking at the geometry charts, I was much closer to the ML size than the M (based on my Bianchi's fit), so that's what I went with, figuring I could play with stem lengths and spacers a bit if needed. When the bike arrived, she felt HUGE - the reach was within about 1cm of the old bike, but the stack was much taller - between a 20mm taller headtube and what looked like another inch of spacers, I felt like I was riding a cruiser.

But despite the nearly identical weights and taller front end, I find it easier to be a little bit faster on her - maybe 1mph faster avg over 50 miles. What I've noticed is that while I always rode on the Bianchi's hoods, I'm almost always in the drops on the Lynskey - she's tall enough that I can hunker down for much longer without my back hurting, which I couldn't do for any length of time on the Bianchi. In fact, she's too tall - I put one of the spacers on top of the stem before my last ride, and might move another one before the next ride.

So my question to others - has anybody tried raising their handlebars a bit to actually put them in a more aero tuck? Has it worked?
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Old 08-12-19, 04:47 PM
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Fell asleep half way through.
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Old 08-12-19, 06:57 PM
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No. My aero tuck is the same regardless of bar height. The bend in my elbows is the variable.
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Old 08-12-19, 07:12 PM
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Hands in the drops is typically slower aerodynamically than hands on the hoods with your forearms parallel to the ground.
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Old 08-13-19, 08:50 AM
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Not so good at bending elbows for any length of time - end up riding with mostly straight arms, regardless of hand position. Unless I'm doing a downhill aero tuck, but again - those aren't usually especially long. I guess that makes this more my quirk than anybody else's.
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Old 08-13-19, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox View Post
So my question to others - has anybody tried raising their handlebars a bit to actually put them in a more aero tuck? Has it worked?
I havent. I can get just as low on the tops as I can in the drops- its just a matter of bending my elbows more.
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Old 08-13-19, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox View Post
Not so good at bending elbows for any length of time - end up riding with mostly straight arms, regardless of hand position. Unless I'm doing a downhill aero tuck, but again - those aren't usually especially long. I guess that makes this more my quirk than anybody else's.
Plenty of people have this issue besides you. The fastest fit is the one that allows you to hold a position that optimizes your aerodynamics and your ability to sustain power over long periods of time. You may find that as you either get more miles under your belt or maybe do some more weight training with your arms or lose some weight, you are able to hold yourself up with bent elbows for longer periods of time, and then it'd be faster to lower your bars again.
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Old 08-13-19, 10:58 AM
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Nope when I lowered my bars I was like 2mph faster in both good and drops
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Old 08-13-19, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan333SP View Post
Plenty of people have this issue besides you. The fastest fit is the one that allows you to hold a position that optimizes your aerodynamics and your ability to sustain power over long periods of time. You may find that as you either get more miles under your belt or maybe do some more weight training with your arms or lose some weight, you are able to hold yourself up with bent elbows for longer periods of time, and then it'd be faster to lower your bars again.
I just need to remember to try and bend my elbows - I have thousands of miles under my belt, just never really bothered bending elbows unless ascending/descending - at which point bar height (and back pain) become the limiting factors.
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Old 08-13-19, 11:45 AM
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CSB.

Cliffs for others.........the right combo of flexibility and bike fit optimizes your power output and comfort.

/thread
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Old 08-13-19, 12:52 PM
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Csb?
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Old 08-13-19, 01:56 PM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox View Post
So my question to others - has anybody tried raising their handlebars a bit to actually put them in a more aero tuck? Has it worked?
You finally figured out that looking pro doesn't mean you'll actually be faster.

Yes, people have done this. Track riders often have upturned stems for this reason.

And Rubik's response is correct.
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Old 08-13-19, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox View Post
I just need to remember to try and bend my elbows - I have thousands of miles under my belt, just never really bothered bending elbows unless ascending/descending - at which point bar height (and back pain) become the limiting factors.
Riding with bent elbows is easier on your body on rough roads anway, it adds an element of flexibility to your interface with the bike that's sorta like suspension for your shoulders/back.
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Old 08-13-19, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
Hands in the drops is typically slower aerodynamically than hands on the hoods with your forearms parallel to the ground.
I liked it before I saw who posted. Which is why we sometimes raise bars to get more aero, and sometimes get wider.

My kid is spending a whole lot of time on aero stuff now with several PHDs on this (called teachers). It is mostly about fast stuff, but has changed some of his position and thinking for cycling.
In many cases he will look for that parallel to the ground but maybe wider apart arms allowing air in between and to have escape.
If you are not able to really get small you may be better to have the wind go in between at a wider position rather than create a wedge with increases frontal area.
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Old 08-13-19, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by MyTi View Post
Nope when I lowered my bars I was like 2mph faster in both good and drops
You likely lowered your torso. With the torso in the same spot, forearms parallel to the ground is less frontal area than on drops.

The thing often ignored is arms angled in. So while the hands and elbows are maybe on the same plane/distance from ground, the hands might be 2-3 inches apart (or on top of each other) while the elbows are far apart. You want those forearms pointing forward.
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Old 08-13-19, 07:45 PM
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And one more...
Power = (Force x Distance)/Time. Most of that cancels and the difference between a pro-like rider and not is force on the pedal - and rider mass (generally). So a 140# rider putting out the force of a 230# rider is going to be taking lots of pressure off their hands and other parts. They can get lower. That 230# rider should be more upright. Not because of aero, but because of pressures. Copy the pro when you are pro weight and pro power.
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Old 08-14-19, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
I liked it before I saw who posted. Which is why we sometimes raise bars to get more aero, and sometimes get wider.

My kid is spending a whole lot of time on aero stuff now with several PHDs on this (called teachers). It is mostly about fast stuff, but has changed some of his position and thinking for cycling.
In many cases he will look for that parallel to the ground but maybe wider apart arms allowing air in between and to have escape.
If you are not able to really get small you may be better to have the wind go in between at a wider position rather than create a wedge with increases frontal area.
Interesting. I have often thought about this in that Ive never understood why getting my arms in is going to make me faster when my shoulders are already wider than where my arms are and my hands are placed wider than where my arms are. Obviously it makes sense that you dont want to be as wide as a sail, but if you take up 3 sq ft of space, I havent understood why it matters if that 3sqft is all together or if its split apart with space between. The same total amount of space is blocking wind either way.
But I admittedly have little learned knowledge on wind resistance so I silently roll with the commonly accepted view and figured that wind is disturbed in those open pockets or something like that.
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Old 08-14-19, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Interesting. I have often thought about this in that Ive never understood why getting my arms in is going to make me faster when my shoulders are already wider than where my arms are and my hands are placed wider than where my arms are. Obviously it makes sense that you dont want to be as wide as a sail, but if you take up 3 sq ft of space, I havent understood why it matters if that 3sqft is all together or if its split apart with space between. The same total amount of space is blocking wind either way.
But I admittedly have little learned knowledge on wind resistance so I silently roll with the commonly accepted view and figured that wind is disturbed in those open pockets or something like that.
If you CAN take two surfaces and make them one while having similar frontal area you are better off. You reduce skin drag (helps to shave your arms and/or wear aero sleeves too).
If you can't, then it is about minimizing frontal area - and layers of frontal area. Arms blocking your torso @20MPH is not the same as arms blocking your head at 30.
Even the flow around the arms is generally re-hitting the hips at 30+ mph, but if you can flow it around the hips by having elbows wider, that helps too.
It varies by rider shape, setup and speed. Ultimately you want to be wind tunnel tested, but that is so expensive best fine tune the obvious. I've seen some very tuned wind tunnel guys go pretty slow, maybe due to comfort, I don't know, but at a certain level it is very hard to say which is better. You will see the UCI ITT riders with a number of different setups and positions. The ones that are clear advantages will be done in common, or banned.
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Old 08-15-19, 03:52 AM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox View Post
So my question to others - has anybody tried raising their handlebars a bit to actually put them in a more aero tuck? Has it worked?
Yup. And yup.

But at 61 with a busted up neck, shoulder and back, I had to change something to get a little more aero. A few changes helped me stay in the hoods/forearms parallel position longer:
  • Raising the stems a bit -- quill stem on the older bike, different angle threadless stem on the other.
  • Reducing the reach on both with shorter stems (from 120 to 90 on one, from 140 to 90 on the other).
  • Physical therapy. Got stronger, able to stay in tuck longer.

It didn't make me fast. It just made me faster than I was. I'm not really any fitter than I was last year, but more efficient. I can hang onto sorta-fast (by old dude/dudette standards) group rides better.

I also video myself as I try various bike tweaks to check my posture. Easy to do on the indoor trainer. But I've also done it outdoors, setting the camera on a convenient fence post, etc., and doing a few passes to check my form. Works better when I'm warmed up or even tired. If I pay too much attention to my form in the first 30 minutes, I'm both stiff and posing self consciously for the camera. After an hour or so I'm warmed up. After two hours I'm tired so if my form goes to heck, it'll show in the videos.
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Old 08-15-19, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by aliasfox View Post
...
So my question to others - has anybody tried raising their handlebars a bit to actually put them in a more aero tuck? Has it worked?
Assuming all other things are the same (torso etc.)...
If a slammed stem means most the length of your arm is hit by the wind, raising the bars means less of your arm will be hit by the wind as your forearms become parallel to the ground.

Does dragging your forearms in the wind really make a difference? It depends. At <20 mph, not so much.

I posted around 6 months ago here I raised my bars to get more aero. I posted in this thread that torso position is the most key and that is based a lot on the power and weight of the rider. Sad fact is on the tandem at 360# we put out around the same power as my 150# kid. He can have a torso parallel to the ground with very little pressure on his arms due to the force on the pedals "lifting" him off the bars. Most (other than the very low W/kg) in a sprint are actually pulling up on the bars.
So...the torso is what it is for a given rider at their W/kg. The next question is what else you going to put in front of the wind. Mind you at low W/kg ~ low speed, it may not matter much.
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Old 08-15-19, 10:26 AM
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Sounds like more of a reflection on the 150# kid, than on you. Congrats!
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Old 08-15-19, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
Assuming all other things are the same (torso etc.)...
If a slammed stem means most the length of your arm is hit by the wind, raising the bars means less of your arm will be hit by the wind as your forearms become parallel to the ground.

Does dragging your forearms in the wind really make a difference? It depends. At <20 mph, not so much.
Not quite the same scenario for me - my long term torso position is limited by flexibility in my lower back, and the drops on my old bike were lower than my back could sustain for 10 miles at a time, so I ended up staying on the hoods with straight arms.

On the new bike, the opposite is true, and the drops are more comfortable - again, with straight arms. But the drops on the new bike are a bit lower than the hoods on the old bike, so my torso/back are all slightly lower.

I really should learn to bend my elbows more.
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Old 08-15-19, 02:49 PM
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didn't have time to read through all of the more logical responses, but to get to the OP - i just got a new bike in the last few weeks and it seems to be a LOT larger overall than my old bike. bigger head tube, and everything just sits a little higher. my guess is that this bike just fits me a lot better, so i'm in the optimal position, while still being as 'aero' as possible. maybe more aero than 'hunched', if that's what i was for the last dozen years on the old bike.

so overall, more comfy, more natural position in the drops, gotta think i just have the right size of bike (and maybe you do too).
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Old 08-15-19, 02:58 PM
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You want aero, get a recumbent lowracer, or better yet a velomobile.

Velos are heavy, so they don't climb well, but damn they're fast on level ground. Lowracers are just plain stinking fast.

One of the fastest lowracers: https://www.bikeforest.com/m5_cromo_low_racer.jpg
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Old 08-15-19, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Notso_fastLane View Post
You want aero, get a recumbent lowracer, or better yet a velomobile.

Velos are heavy, so they don't climb well, but damn they're fast on level ground. Lowracers are just plain stinking fast.

One of the fastest lowracers: https://www.bikeforest.com/m5_cromo_low_racer.jpg
See them on about every ride. I can't remember seeing them go over 20. I know they can, just a statement on what I (don't) see.
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