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Not comfortable in the drops

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Not comfortable in the drops

Old 08-23-10, 06:54 PM
  #1  
dellwilson
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Not comfortable in the drops

After a decade absence, I got back into cycling about 15mo ago. I've been commuting to work for a little over a year and I log about 120-140mi per week during the summer between commuting and fitness rides.

I've started trying to get used to riding in the drops lately when I started joining the lead pack on group rides. It's just too hard to take my pull on the front at those speeds without getting low and reducing the air resistance.

However, I just cannot seem to get comfortable. When I'm riding on the hoods, I feel great on my bike; 40, 50, 70 mile rides no problem. When I get into the drops, I have to concentrate very hard to keep my knees in. I feel like a fat dude on a little bike.

Is this indicative of a flexibility issue or a bike fit issue?

FYI. I'm a 46 year old male. Not fat. Not at all thin and flexible. More athletic build with a couple of hand-holds. ;-)
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Old 08-23-10, 06:58 PM
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try compact drop bars, they are pretty miraculous
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Old 08-23-10, 07:14 PM
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I don't know if drops will ever be comfortable. It's a tool you can use but that doesn't mean you have to like it. I use them because they're a good tool but I don't really enjoy it.
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Old 08-23-10, 07:28 PM
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I am a 47 year old male new to the sport, it took time to gain the flexibility for the drops. If you take time for a stretching program and warm-up on the hoods it will become easier on the drops. Fun getting older isn't it?
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Old 08-23-10, 07:32 PM
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Your fit is all wrong. Get a new bike.
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Old 08-23-10, 07:34 PM
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I got some 3T ergonova bars, they make the drops much more comfortable for me. I also went from a 42 to a 40.
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Old 08-23-10, 08:11 PM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by AngryScientist View Post
try compact drop bars, they are pretty miraculous
Originally Posted by rangerdavid View Post
I got some 3T ergonova bars, they make the drops much more comfortable for me. I also went from a 42 to a 40.
Yeah, compact bars worked for me, too.

I got some FSA Omega compact drop bars. They are cheap, near $40.00, and a bit heavier than the 3T.

I went one size narrower, 40 instead of 42, and changed back to my original 100 mm stem ( I had a 90 mm with my other bars) since the Omega has a short reach.

Before, I was like you, in the drops with a big headwind or a fast downhill, and otherwise on the hoods. Now I use the drops as another hand position all the time. The Omega's smoothly curved drops give me a lot of choices on where to hold the drops, unlike some ergo bars.

Last edited by rm -rf; 08-23-10 at 08:15 PM.
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Old 08-23-10, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by damnpoor View Post
I don't know if drops will ever be comfortable. It's a tool you can use but that doesn't mean you have to like it. I use them because they're a good tool but I don't really enjoy it.
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Old 08-23-10, 09:01 PM
  #9  
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I remember once thinking that riding in the drops was uncomfortable. For two weeks I forced myself to ride in the drops on all my rides, for at least an hour. That solved the issue.
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Old 08-23-10, 09:13 PM
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Um, practice? If your fit is decent, it gets easier with more time there.
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Old 08-23-10, 09:19 PM
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As an ex Mountain Biker, I had issues with the drops..

I'll echo Nachoman and DScott...it just took me spending time in them. I actually had to force myself, to go in the drops and make sure my posture was right. The flexibility came and the lower back/glutes got used to it. In two weeks time, I was in the drops, getting out of the saddle and hammering as a fifth position. I actually like the drops now, FWIW.
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Old 08-23-10, 09:24 PM
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Takes a while to curve. You'll get used to it eventually. But you can't spend all day in the drops.
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Old 08-23-10, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Banzai View Post
Takes a while to curve. You'll get used to it eventually. But you can't spend all day in the drops.
I don't really agree with this. I think that's more of a fit issue than an issue with the drops.

Once you get used to the drops, using them becomes more comfortable than being on the hoods.

But really, it's best if you're comfortable on both.
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Old 08-23-10, 10:25 PM
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I rode for 25 years without using the drops more than maybe 2 percent of the time. Really, almost never. Then I got an Atlantis for my midlife crisis, and followed Grant Petersen's advice on setting it up. One of his points was that drop bars were designed to allow an aero position when you wanted it, but with the tops available for cruising and general riding. Over the decades, people lowered the bars more and more, until now you see people with the TOPS several inches lower than the saddle.
Grant's solution, which worked for me: Raise the bars so they're about level with the saddle. Then you can cruise comfortably, but you still have the aero position when you need it. Which, for me, is still almost never, but more often than it used to be.
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Old 08-23-10, 10:57 PM
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I don't know if someone said this, as I only read the first three posts.

You need to stretch every night. Can you touch your toes? I do a series of stretches every single night for a period of 15minutes. It's really helped my bike stature.
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Old 08-23-10, 11:33 PM
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If you have a proper fitting bike and you have no back issues, then all you have to do is practice riding in the drops. Do it for short intervals and keep increasing the time you spend in the drops. If you do this regularly, you should develop the flexibility to be in this position.

There is one thing I learned a while ago....if you have much of a belly, it's going to be very uncomfortable in the drops no matter what. Pedaling is even more uncomfortable because you will end up squishing your belly with your knees. So if you have one, you need to loose most of it to be comfy in the drops.
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Old 08-23-10, 11:39 PM
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I can touch my knees. That's about it. I've had back surgery too. My seat to bar drop is pictured below and I spend about %40 of my time in the drops. You can and will get used to it if you have the bike fit dead on:

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Old 08-23-10, 11:54 PM
  #18  
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Try this, just to start eliminating possibilities, flip your stem. It's possibly currently around negative 8 degrees to the steering tube or so. Most road bikes come with reversible stems. This should raise your bars an inch or so, give that a try.
It's quick, immediate, and above all free.

If this doesn't help, LBS fitment and stretching are good ideas as mentioned by others.

I am also coming from almost a decade of not riding, and Im going 4 the old school approach, ride in nothing BUT the drops for a few months. It worked for me back then, it will work again.
Having said that, compact handlebars are new, and so are many new choices to stem lengths and angles.
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Old 08-24-10, 12:08 AM
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Flexibility is the key. I had similar problems being comfortable in the drops earlier this year. Stretching is a no brainer, but also getting your muscles used to working while your hip angle decreases is key. One thing that worked VERY well for me was implementing a simple rule --
Go downhill in the drops.
Simple as that, anything even slightly down. Even 1% I would force myself to use the drop bars. Almost a year later, I can motor in the drops all day.
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Old 08-24-10, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by DRietz View Post
Can you touch your toes? I do a series of stretches every single night for a period of 15minutes. It's really helped my bike stature.
Yes. I can tuck my fingers under my toes and touch the ground with my first knuckle. I can't do palms on the ground. Other than touching my toes, are there other specific stretching exercises that will help?
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Old 08-24-10, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Palomar01 View Post
if you have much of a belly, it's going to be very uncomfortable in the drops no matter what. Pedaling is even more uncomfortable because you will end up squishing your belly with your knees. So if you have one, you need to loose most of it to be comfy in the drops.
Not too much of a belly. But as frequently happens with middle-aged men, I have a little insulation protecting my six-pack. I may be wrong, but I don't feel that is the problem. However, point taken. It wouldn't hurt me to lose a few; even if it is just to kick the strength-to-weight ratio up a notch.
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Old 08-24-10, 07:57 PM
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Static stretching is no substitute for riding more in the drops. Make a point of it during every ride.
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Old 08-24-10, 08:00 PM
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+1 on FSA compacts. I've got the Omega and the K-Force compact.

https://www.competitivecyclist.com/za...=&QUERY_BRAND=

Last edited by kleinboogie; 08-24-10 at 08:04 PM.
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Old 08-24-10, 08:04 PM
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Thanks so much for all the responses. I really appreciate the constructive feedback. In summary, the majority of the feedback suggests stretching to improve my flexibility and just riding more in the drops to become more comfortable with it. I especially like the advice to always ride negative grades in the drops. That's a good mental reminder to hang on to. In the spirit of that, I just rode my favorite short loop (12.5mi) in the drops with the exception of sprinting out of intersections and two short, steep climbs. While I won't win any races, I did tie my personal best on a relatively windy day and didn't really put in max effort to do it. I won't say that I was comfortable in the drops, but I felt like it may be something I can get used to if I work at it.

I also appreciate the advice about handlebar geometry and height. I have a Ritchey Biomax Comp bar. I put a level on my seat and my handlebars are about 3.5"-4.0" inches below my seat. I'll stop by my LBS and talk to them about it. But I probably won't change my bike much until I see if the flexibility advice pans out for me.

Thanks again, all.
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Old 08-24-10, 08:16 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by kleinboogie View Post
+1 on FSA compacts. I've got the Omega and the K-Force compact.

https://www.competitivecyclist.com/za...=&QUERY_BRAND=
I love that CC video review where Andy talks about the "hallelujah chorus" breaking out the first time he rode these bars.
I have a weird fit on a 54, or in my case a Giant TCR medium bike, FSA compact bars did the trick for me helping to shorten the length of the bike while still being able to ride a 110 stem. With these bars, I swear I can ride all day in the drops.
Fexibility helps.
But IMO not as much as core strength - work on strengthening the lower back and abs, you'll be able to ride "lighter" in the drops, putting less pressure on your arms and more power into the pedals
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