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Brake Hoods Tilted Inward... Have You Tried It?

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Brake Hoods Tilted Inward... Have You Tried It?

Old 09-06-20, 01:01 PM
  #1  
PoorInRichfield
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Brake Hoods Tilted Inward... Have You Tried It?

I don't typically watch a lot of bicycle racing but have noticed that some riders setup their brake hoods to be angled inward a bit.



The following video goes into this bike setup "hack" and although not a scientific study, claims the setup is more aero than how we normally setup brake levers...


Have you/do you have your brake levers angled inward?

I typically setup my levers to be "straight forward" which is perhaps not the most ergonomic setup for my wrists. However, I'd have to think that if angling one's levers inwards was somehow more aero and obviously free to implement that everyone would be doing it.
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Old 09-06-20, 01:38 PM
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rubiksoval
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A tiny bit, but nothing like that.

When I'm aero I like to hook my pinkies around the hood with my forearms on the bars. Angling them too far in would make that nearly impossible.

And I think that extreme of an angle looks really, really ugly, and that's probably all that matters most.
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Old 09-06-20, 01:49 PM
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popeye
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About half as much but my bar tops are narrower than the drops so the brifters pretty much match that angle.
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Old 09-06-20, 01:51 PM
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Racing Dan
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Mine are tilted inwards, but not by that amount. It does relieve some strain on the wrists, compered to the hoods pointing straight ahead.
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Old 09-06-20, 01:53 PM
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HTupolev
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
and although not a scientific study, claims the setup is more aero than how we normally setup brake levers...
The reasoning is really simple. Resting the forearms straight forward on the handlebar ramps is quite aerodynamic for a posture that retains full pedalability and a high degree of control. But when your arms are in a relaxed posture, the hand is fairly inline with the forearm, it doesn't really sit outboard. So the brake hood is occupying the space that the palm wants to exist in. This means that, in order to use this position, you need to either twist your wrist outward or set your forearms on the bars at a weird angle, both of which make the posture much less relaxed and comfortable to maintain. Rotating the hood inward effectively moves it "inboard" so that it does not interfere with the hand, and you can spend more time in this nice fast posture.
(The is the same reason that, on aerobars, the hand grips are usually placed inboard relative to elbow and forearm supports.)

The reasons that you don't see more people setting their hoods rotated inboard are:
1-It looks weird.
2-Having the hoods straight can work better for when the arms are outstretched on the hoods, and some people aren't fond of using the "aero hoods" posture either way.
3-A lot of peoples' bike fits are slammed to where they can hardly use any postures other than the tops and hoods with arms outstretched, so they have more pressing fit issues they need to solve before this matters at all.
4-A lot of people aren't aware of this fitting consideration, or generally operate on conservative logic when making bike-related decisions, such as...
However, I'd have to think that if angling one's levers inwards was somehow more aero and obviously free to implement that everyone would be doing it.
...this.
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Old 09-06-20, 08:05 PM
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colnago62
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I was was watching UCI Worlds junior road race, the year Remco won and the announcer commented that it was all the rage in the junior ranks. I we see more of these young riders make their way up the ranks, we will probably see more of it
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Old 09-06-20, 08:12 PM
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79pmooney
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Mine about 1/3 of that photo. I look at it as simply finding the angle that works best and leads to the fewest hand and wrist issues. What it looks like? That's somebody else's problem.

I believe that rider is about to win a race, That toe-in doesn't seem to be hurting him too much.
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Old 09-06-20, 08:23 PM
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The hoods of my grsvel bike angle inward and are canted a bit too. They match the angle of the bars. Great feeling. Haven't tried it on any road bikes though.
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Old 09-06-20, 08:48 PM
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Beach Bob
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
The hoods of my grsvel bike angle inward and are canted a bit too. They match the angle of the bars. Great feeling. Haven't tried it on any road bikes though.
Ditto, my gravel bike came with that angled setup and flared drops... fantastic setup for having to dig in AND stay in the saddle. I can see where sprinters wanting to keep good and low may prefer the setup on a road bike.
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Old 09-06-20, 09:57 PM
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surak
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We'll know it's faster when the UCI bans it in competition and concocts a hood-angle measuring device to check riders' handlebars.
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Old 09-06-20, 10:25 PM
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The hoods on my road bike are probably around 1/2 the angle of the photo in the OP.

The hoods on my CX bike (with 24º flared bars) have probably double the angle of the photo in the OP.

I don't go by photos, a ruler, or by what anybody else does. I set them up to be comfortable for me.
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Old 09-06-20, 11:34 PM
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woodcraft
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Not that much, but quite a bit.

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Old 09-07-20, 02:01 AM
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rousseau
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Thanks for this thread, I'm gonna try this!
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Old 09-07-20, 02:53 AM
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I like to spend a lot of time in the drops and having the levers straight makes it more natural to operate everything from the drops.

If you like spending a lot of time in aero hoods position, why not?

Personally, when I'm doing it mostly I'll put my palms on the "knobs" of the hoods.
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Old 09-07-20, 05:16 AM
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SkepticalOne
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I had a bike fitting Friday and the fitter made such an adjustment to my hoods. A 100-mile ride Saturday confirms that it is noticeably more comfortable on my hands and wrists.
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Old 09-07-20, 05:22 AM
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illdrag0n
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Yep, mine slightly inward as per fitter. 40cm bars, 38cm hoods and my shoulders are 44cm. Feels so much more natural than locking out the wrists
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Old 09-07-20, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by colnago62 View Post
I was was watching UCI Worlds junior road race, the year Remco won and the announcer commented that it was all the rage in the junior ranks. I we see more of these young riders make their way up the ranks, we will probably see more of it
I hear they're also wearing boxers under their cycling shorts now, with the boxers sticking out the top several inches.
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Old 09-07-20, 02:48 PM
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PoorInRichfield
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Rather than just theorize if this brake hood adjustment is good or not, I'm a firm believer in "don't knock it until you've tried it"... so I tried it today.

The Experiment

I didn't go super-extreme with the brake lever angle; I adjusted them inwards to the point where they look kind of goofy (in my opinion) but felt comfortable and natural for my wrists. It's hard to get a good picture of how inward the levers look, but here's a shot...



Like illdrag0n , my bars are 40cm which is pretty narrow. The brake levers are Ultegra Di2 hydraulic levers on a 2020 Trek Domane. My ride was just over 68 miles which made for a good test as I've been having wrist pain and numbness after about 30 miles or so on most rides and I was starting to think this was normal.

The Verdict

While I can't speak to any aerodynamic benefits of moving my brake levers in, my wrists loved it. My wrists were so happy and pain-free that I'm certainly leaving the levers pushed inwards. Whether riding on the hoods while seated or climbing out of the saddle with hands on the hoods, both felt great. Heck, I'm now wondering if the Ultegra levers were actually designed to be mounted with a slightly inward angle? My hands fit so naturally on the hoods now and my thumbs can easily reach the buttons on top of the levers to flip my Garmin screen.

As for the cons of doing this, I hardly found any. Handling was unchanged. Riding in the drops is a smidge more difficult to reach the shifter, but not enough to really matter. The Ultegra Di2 levers flare-outward by design, so they still seem like they're in a pretty good place even with the levers angled inwards. If one did have problems reaching the levers in the drops, the reach can be adjusted on the Di2 levers via a screw under the lever to bring the lever in or out. If one really, really, really wants easy shifter access, there's always the sprint-shifter option. Also note that I have my Di2 setup for "full synchro" shifting which means I only need to reach the right-hand shifter, so I don't even care if the left shifter is out or reach or not.

Long-story-short, moving my shift levers inward was a free ($) and very welcome change from an ergonomics perspective. If there's an aero advantage I wouldn't know, but if such an advantage exists, that'd just be gravy on top of an already good meal.

Last edited by PoorInRichfield; 09-07-20 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 09-07-20, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
...
Are those aero handlebars? Wouldn't you get more aero effect by not wrapping the entire bar? Or is it for comfort on your setup, to wrap them completely?
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Old 09-07-20, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by ridelikeaturtle View Post
Are those aero handlebars? Wouldn't you get more aero effect by not wrapping the entire bar? Or is it for comfort on your setup, to wrap them completely?
Yes, they are the Bontrager XXX Aero Handlebars. While they are very nice, there's no way on earth I would've paid what Bontrager is asking for them had they not come on my bike to begin with.

In regards to bar tape, I debated whether I should tape the tops or not, but am very glad I did. I used Shimano padded tape and because the tops are now slightly padded, I can ride in an time-trial position in relative comfort when on smooth roads. Without the padding of the tape, riding in that position would pretty much be elbow bone on carbon... ouch! I did see riders riding in this position in the 2020 Tour de France. Here's what I'm talking about...

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Old 09-07-20, 03:56 PM
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I have mine tilted in a little. Not for any aero advantage but because it feels more natural on my wrists
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Old 09-07-20, 09:20 PM
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I've tried to be extra aware of all those tilts and positions from having hand, finger and wrist issues related to being a drummer with sticks and especially bare hands. For me personally, when wrapping handlebars recently I put on that foamy first aid tape called Nexcare for cushioning before cotton tape and found that at least for now it's more comfortable having the right lever tilted in a little more than the left. I'm left handed
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Old 09-07-20, 10:18 PM
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I do it, not as much as that picture but some. I tend to force the hoods in over time anyway, so I just set them up that way in the first place. It seems more comfortable to me.
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Old 09-08-20, 06:25 AM
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PoorInRichfield
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I tend to force the hoods in over time anyway
Sounds like you have a death-grip on your brake hoods!
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Old 09-08-20, 06:26 AM
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I've done this for as long as I've been on drop bars, since the early 90s. In that decade, some goose in a bike shop had the temerity to start reefing on my levers out of the blue when he assumed they were like that from being crashed...

To my eye, the fact that almost everyone else points them straight ahead doesn't make that look any less dumb. IMO the way to line them up for looks is with the inner edge of the hoods pointing straight ahead, which gives more or less toe-in depending on the levers; it does look a bit rad with 1st-gen Ergos but fairly subtle with anything else. But yeah, the reason I figure it looks better is because that's where your hands want to be.
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