Sycling Snippets

by Bobby Nefdt

16. Aerodynamic Position on the Bike

Position on the bike is more critical than most people believe. Whilst it is not my intention to discuss bike setup, I will be looking at position on the bike, with particular reference to road bikes (not TT bikes).

When climbing a long hill at low speed it is important to hold the top of your bars (not the brake hoods) in order to open your chest to enable you to breathe easier (Sycling Snippet #3). The wind drag is minimal and doesn’t really increase your effort (power required). However, if you are riding into a strong headwind, it certainly would. Wind resistance plays an enormous role in cycling and the faster you go the more important it is.

When riding in the front of a pace line or into a wind it is very important to minimise your frontal area in order to reduce your wind resistance (drag) as much as possible.

The way to do this is to:
1. Hold the drops (the bottom of your bars),
2. Bend your elbows (90°),
3. Tuck your elbows in and hold as low a position as possible,
4. Keep your back straight.
5. Shoulders in,
6. Knees in.

Retain this position whilst you are on the front of the paceline/group or riding into a wind. This reduces the power required to ride at speed significantly.

When you have completed your turn on the front, move over for the next person to come through. Stay low until you are in the back of the group and in the slipstream of riders ahead of you. At that point you can sit up and catch your breath (Sycling Snippet #2). Sitting up would involve holding the tops of the bars and sitting more erect, enabling you to breathe easier.

I suggest you watch this short clip by clicking on the link:

Other ways of reducing your wind resistance are to:
1. Lower your handlebars (mine or as low as they can go – my saddle is higher than my handlebars),
2. Use deep section rims on your wheels (particularly when riding above 35km/h),
3. Wear tight-fitting clothing,
4. Wear an aero helmet,
5. Splash out on an aero bike.

Remember: Changing any habit requires much practise. Riding on an indoor trainer with a mirror in front of you and later beside you will enable you see what needs to change.