With cycling becoming more and more popular, the components of a bicycle are also newer and newer as well as more and more stylish. The handle bars do also so. Handlebar to a bike is as the steering wheel to a car. Besides controlling direction, handlebars often support a portion of the rider’s weight, depending on their riding position. Therefore, whether the cycling is new to you or you have been riding for a while, learning the fundamental of the bike is an important key to be safe and comfortable on your bike.
Different from a common handlebar, a drop handlebar feature a straight central section attached to the stem with each end curving first forward and down and then back toward the rider at a lower position. This kind of handlebar is very popular because of its cool shape. Many think the drop handlebars are designed for a faster speed, achieving an aggressively forward-learning position for maximum speed.
That is it. But it is not only one thing that a drop handlebar can be used for. Another important feature of drop handlebars is the unparalleled variety of ergonomic hand positions, which can offer the crucial condition for long rides. Although it is comfortable for long rides, it still has the dangerous factor when you use, which means that you can experience nerve damage to your hands. So reducing this happening, you should know how to correctly use the drop bars.
1. On the Hoods
The “hoods” position is to put your hands on the top of the rubbery brake hoods, which is considered as the standard and neutral position for riding drop handlebars. It allows you to reach the brakes and shifter without moving your body and keep an upright and comfortable posture. Most cyclists spend 75-90% of their miles in this position. It is extremely ergonomic and it’s nice to distribute the cyclist’s weight, providing optimal leverage for cycling at different speeds.
It is also a position that some cyclists say hoods make them lean forward too much. Concerning this situation, you can consider changing your handlebars setup. You can raise bars, get a shorter stem or get compact handlebars. The hoods should be easy and natural to reach by properly fitted bike.
You can also brake from the hoods by squeezing the brake levers with only two fingers and the rest wrap around the handlebars, ensuring that your hands will not off the bars. Those who adapted to upright handlebars may feel awkward and disconcerting at the first time to use the drop handlebars so need some practice to be comfortable. If you want to take part in the formal training rides, probably they will expect you to use the hoods as a standard position, even require you to do so.
2. On the Hooks
Actually, there are two positions referred to as the “drops” but they are two distinct positions. To distinguish them, this one is more specifically called the “hooks”. This position is to keep your hand directly behind the brake levers. It is a more aggressive position than hoods, which is useful when cycling downhill and attempting to fight wind resistance.
On this position, it is easier to reach the brake levers and more powerful than from the hoods position because it affords greater leverage. It is important to realize that do not accidentally slam the brakes when riding at high speeds.
3. On the Drops
This position, the “true drops”, is ideal more aerodynamic body position, or more athletic effort. This position is keeping your hands on the lowest of the handlebars, which is parallel to the ground and the hooks perpendicular. The curvature here is pretty dramatic but the curve is less defined on other drop handlebars. So it is hard to say where the hooks end and the drops begin. If you want to go hard, you can choose this position. You can reach brakes and shifters but may need to move your hands for depending on your setup. Most riders may use this position in the 10% or less of their mileage.
Both the hooks and the drops positions are aggressive. So for beginners, the crouching posture may make you feel scared. Even if an experienced rider, he can’t feel confident in riding from this position. You can learn some skills to be practiced. For example, when you are close to other riders who also ride downhill, you can chicken out and stay on the hoods with bending your elbows.
4. On the Top
This position may be the most comfortable position for more relaxed riding but may be also dreaded tops of the bars. It is usually used when going at an easy road and the situation where you are certain of the road position, traffic, and other dangerous factors, especially for the beginners.
The beginners who can’t use the drop handlebars will tend to hold their hands on the tops, because they may regard this as the handlebar of mountain bikes and make them maintain the upright posture than any of other postures, which is more safety in their mind. However, this is a serious problem. Firstly, you can’t reach the brake levers from the tops. If you are to encounter the emergency, you will not be able to brake quickly and effectively. In addition, the drop handlebars are narrower than mountain bikes and it is too close to the stem when riders hold the tops, which means that is not the best position for controlling the bicycle.
But there are some people think this position can help climb because it can open up the chest and facilitates deep breathing. Also, the tops can be a good position to put your restless hands when you do a long riding.
The most important thing is that all these advice are depending on how high your handlebars and saddle are and how far away they are. Also important is to remember your handlebars width, drop style and drop height. In the end, hope you can enjoy your cycling with drop handlebars!