How To Hold Your Handlebars Like A Pro
Articles Blog

How To Hold Your Handlebars Like A Pro

October 16, 2019


This position gives you the most control of
your bike. This is perfect for descending or when riding in a nervous peloton. You are
closer to your brakes and also have the greatest leverage in this position, and therefore more
stopping power. This is the safest position to ride in, as
you can maintain a good grip at all times, especially on uneven, potholed roads. This
is the most aggressive position on the bike. With your hands lower, it pulls you forward
to be more aerodynamic. This low stance does not always come naturally, so be prepared
to practice to get really comfortable and efficient. Out of the saddle – hold the drops
when you are sprinting – it keeps you low over the bike and in control, and in a really
powerful position as you haul on the bars. Keep your elbows tucked in when you ride on
the drops. If you’re thinking about aerodynamics this is really important and crucially it
looks more pro, too. This is the most common position to spend
the majority of your time on the bike. As a starting point, make sure your brake hoods
are positioned correctly, at least horizontal to the ground, sometimes pointing slightly
upwards and never, ever down. The hoods put you slightly more upright than the drops,
which should make it more comfortable, but you can also brake and change gear from this
position too. Do watch out though, as your hands can slip off on uneven roads. It’s also
not ideal for fast descending, as your centre of gravity is not low enough, so cornering
fast is better from the drops. Because you’re more upright than the drops, it does create
more aerodynamic drag unless you really bend your elbows and back. As a rough guide, expect
to be about 3km per hour slower for the same effort when in this position. You want to
be holding the hoods when you are climbing out the saddle. This is a really strong position
for climbing, and if you watch the pros, this is what they will all be doing. Holding your bar on the tops is great for
climbing long, steady climbs. It brings your body up, opening your diaphragm and also tilting
your hips back, which makes it easier to recruit your glute muscles for powerful, efficient
climbing. This upright position does make it the least aerodynamic one available, creating
significantly more drag than both the drops and the hoods. You should really use this
position only for climbing or riding slowly because you are a long way from your brakes. Do not
ride like this in a bunch as you won’t be able to react in time and it is a bit irresponsible.
Never, ever ride out of the saddle like this, simply because you look like an idiot. So: drops for descending, control and aerodynamics,
hoods for all day comfort and climbing out of the saddle, and tops for efficient climbing
in the saddle.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. You really think you pathetic comment is going to change the entire sport of road cycling? I advise you see a doctor, because I fear you may be mentally challenged.

  2. lol you think holding tops while out of saddle makes you look more stupid than the lycra shorts!! you can hold what ever position at what ever time and it will never ever ever make anyone look as stupid as lycra 🙂

  3. What about the position between the hoods and the straight bar, where it begins to bend? I prefer to climb like this instead of the position mentioned.

  4. Well done, quite!. I learned a few new things from this video, even after 35 years of road cycling. It makes such a safety difference having the shifters incorporated into the brakes: one does not have to remove hands from the bars to shift. For extreme speed in descending, some of us do the hands on the bars right next to the stem, and body fully tucked in and down, which might not be a good idea for comparative beginners.

  5. just got my first road bike, i find it quite uncomfortable, it fits me size wise, im just not used to leaning forwards so much and my hands and wrists start to hurt even after a short ride, will i get used to it plus should i put more handlebar tape on?

  6. All of this came to me intuitively whilst riding.  Good to know the actual explanations, but the old mantra of "if it feels good, do it" is what led me to holding my bars like a pro without thinking about it.

  7. I find it disconcerting when in the drops on a fast & steep descent. Feel too close to the road I think, but I know it does bring the C.O.G lower.

    In your opinion is it safe or at least accepted to be tightly wrapped on the hoods when descending very fast?

    Great videos.

  8. "Never ever ride out of the saddle whilst gripping the tops simply because you look like an idiot!" – What a retarded thing to say. Although I agree that it's not a good way to ride out of saddle, it couldn't be any more elitist. 

  9. gotta hand it to GCN these how to videos are tailored perfectly to their audience, every one is all about what does and doesn't "look pro"

  10. .just a thought, since this is ine about handlebars, i have flip n' chip kind of bar, basically improvised a bullhorn-ish bar by cutting off my drops, can you give me a few tips on it?
    .if you need a picture, i'd be glad to e-mail you a few..
    .thanks gcn, you rock..

  11. What is the disadvantage of having the bars tilted down? Mine are about 10° below horizontal and I find it comfortable.

  12. Interesting you say that the hoods should be gripped a majority of the time. One of my cycling coaches said to be in drops a majority of the time, and my teammates are always yelling "DROPS! DROPS!" during crits. I feel like I only go to my hoods if I am not in a race and my back starts to tighten up.

  13. I rarely ever go near the drops, I just don't feel safe when I'm holding onto them, it feels like I'm about to fly over the handlebars, especially when going downhill!  

  14. Thank you. I tend to hold the hoods on decent possibly as I believed there to be more control.I have recently started using the drops on flat and save around 15 mins on a 25 mile commute home.I will try the drops on decent tomorrow.

  15. hi im looking at a lighter and faster bike than my mtb but not sure weather to go for a hybrid bike or a road bike like the one in the video

  16. I've not used these types of handlebars very often. I've just bought a road bike and I wasn't even sure what angle to fix them, so this was really helpful, cheers 🙂

  17. Before u comment about the vid, please read the title carefully first. This vid teaches u how to be a pro. So in my opinion the statement about looking like an idiot is true

  18. hello I`m new to road cycling (MTB positive)
    I have no idea what angle should my bars to be set up (I mean the angle attached to the stem)
    is there video where are you explaining this?

  19. Hi I've just bought my first road bike and was out on it during the week, I noticed my hands getting sore when holding on to the hoods, is that normal for a first time rider ?

  20. Worrying about how you look?  A bicycle poser is worried about his pose on the bike looks to others.  A bicycle athlete is trying to adjust his position on the bike to optimize her/his performance.
    Number one important fact is that to use the drops successfully the legs need to generating a minimum wattage per kg in order to support the body and keep the weight off the hands – or within minutes the hands, shoulders, back, etc. will become numb/uncomfortable and power will decrease due further due to the pain.  This minimum wattage depends on the bicycle fit and how low the handlebars are set.
    With regards to wattage per kg which can be generated there is obviously a large variation between riders, and also for any individual rider the wattage / kg which can be generated decreases with the length of the ride.
    So fit, length of ride, and physical condition, are all factors which must be considered when deciding when and how long to spend in the drops.  Staying too long in the drops without the power to support it will leading to pain and dysfunction, leading to lower power and even giving up.  
    Similarly for the hoods but the hoods are easier.  The bar tops provide a valuable respite.  On a long ride one can be strategic and save the drop position for where it counts the most, e.g., going into a heavy headwind, going fast downhill, etc.

  21. I'm a new road bike rider after doing mostly mountain biking, so this was really helpful and informative.

  22. What gets on my tits about road cycling is the 'look at me' mentality. Do this and do that because it looks more PRO. Only wankers use that word.

  23. When on the hoods have your hands parallel to the ground and never down? But looking at the video they look down and not parallel to the ground. Can someone explain?

  24. Have a bit questions here please, hope somebody could explains this. First and foremost, I am road noobie and I just don't get it.

    There any reason why I get less tires when I use drops position than hood position? I just felt so wrong… I thought hood are suppose to be the most comfort one and drops are the one that got you tiring out quickly because you ducked and got less comfort position.

    Now I use drops pos all the time whenever I ride on flat, its just amazing how faster I could ride with this position yet less tiring, only switch to other pos when my palms getting numb or climbing or ride into crowded traffic cars (with hood pos).

    Why? or its just placebo? lol

  25. Im a very light cyclist (50-52 kg) and just start getting used to road bikes. I have noticed though, that strong gusts of wind can easily take me off my course, no matter what position I am in the handlebars. Is that common? Anything I can do to help?

  26. Riding on bumpy urban roads in traffic I will always ride on the hoods. Contrary to the claims in this video for me it's the position with the greatest control and ability to hit the brakes, jump potholes, or avoid car doors on a dime. I only ride in the drops when I'm relatively free and clear of traffic.

  27. Hello there +Global Cycling Network I have a question… I just bought a new road bike yesterday and I think the handlebars are a bit too far for me.. How do I make my handle bars nearer to me so that I can have a smooth riding comfort bike…and how do I adjust my seat height? Pls do reply,tq.

  28. Simon, you missed the "ends" between the tops and the hoods, which is another nice one for climbing with. And what about invisible aero bars for the real pro look…

  29. Hello GCN, I am an XC mountain biker. I have a question for Simon (who is also an XC affictionado). A couple of days ago I rode a road bike for the first time. Since it was my friend's bike, the setup was not fine-tuned for me. In relation to my XC bike setup, I've felt that road bike tops were 1-2cm closer to my body (and I was quite happy with it). On the contrary, I was not comfortable to climb on the hoods while I was sitting on the saddle, it felt like they were too far from my body. Does it takes some practice to get used to that position (the hoods)?
    In relation to a XC MTB handlebar, how would you chose the position of the road bike handlebar? In other words, would it be ok to chose a road bike stem length in order to get the tops a few cms closer to the body (in respect to the MTB) and the hoods a few cms farther?

  30. Bought a road bike then the next day i broke it by crashing into a metal fence or something… My frikin saddle is bent, my handlebars are bent and my shifters are busted… fml

  31. These tips are great for a hybrid bike as well. I'm about to make the transition and buy a road bike, went out and tried as mentioned in this video, and the scare is gone!

  32. According to researchers, it's faster riding on the hoods. What do you think?
    http://road.cc/content/news/133598-want-ride-faster-hunker-down-hoods

  33. Tip: putting notations in a place where it's impossible to reach the "X" button, leads to people turning annotations completly off. Why? Just why?

  34. I just started riding a road bike and its great im having so much fun and im 15. If there are any tips anybody can tell me please tell me im still new 😊😊

  35. "Tops", "Hoods" and "Drops". Been riding non-professionally but intense for several years on the road, on a MTB. Never new what these terms referred to handlebar-wise. Might be adding a road bike to my riding training workouts; nice to know I won't totally ignorant when talking to road-bike bicyclists or that future salesperson… thanks GCN.

  36. Don't order us to not ride tops because we look idiots. Your sci fi helmets looks idiotic too. Geez ever heard of freedom in cycling!

  37. Seems I need to practice using the drops more, to me they feel far less stable than using the hoods, and I'm not too confident using them on fast descents, especially when it's a rough road surface and bendy. I think it's just a matter of getting used to it but when things get sketchy I always feel safer on the hoods and tucking my body in. (Still fairly new to road biking)

  38. Guys, I love your channel! Ever since I subscribed to it, I've had loads of questions and each one has so far been answered with one of your videos. Thank you so much for doing what you do!

  39. Got into a road accident yesterday on my new road bike..got hit by a scooter , got 5 stitches on my left eyelid in the emergency ward…wasnt wearing a helmet as it was close to my house (so stupid of me) & my hands were an inch far from the brakes (was just used to my mtb & its easy braking) couldnt reach them on time.. (so the position on the bars in traffic has to be perfect)..Just telling riders my experience so you can learn from me..:)

  40. Watching this video I think my shifters are positioned way too far up. Is there any videos you would recommend about how to properly position your shifters? I have always felt unstable in the drops, and I think my shifters are not positioned even remotely correctly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *