Unlike most bicycles, road bikes have more variations of riding positions, because of the unique shape of handlebar. It is shorter in length that flat bar on other, such as mountain bike, curved downwards on both ends, giving it a special look and purpose for handling in different situations during the ride. Knowing these positions and learning to use them properly will make your whole road cycling experience better, with having more efficiency for performance and less unpleasant moments, such as pain, discomfort & exhaustion.
First of all, there are two fundamental cycling positions for any type of bicycle:
- Riding in saddle is common and well know position that cyclists use 95% of the time, while having casual rides / commuting, or high effort steady rides.
- Riding out of the saddle is best position for short outburst of speed, acceleration and good way to stretch muscles from cramps. It is not practical to use it for longer period of time, because it drains energy faster, but doing that often should serve as a good exercise for training strength, endurance and pain tolerance.
- Basic position that cyclist will use most of the time, placing hands directly above shifters, having great accessibility and handling.
- Good for pacing on steady rides and the most practical for riding out of saddle to accelerate or overcome obstacles on climbs, such as big slope.
- Handling position where riders grab lowest part of the handlebar to increase power output & aerodynamics, making it more useful for cycling on flats, descends and sprinting out of saddle.
- Best control of the bike, because hands are in much secured position for cornering and hard braking.
- Especially good position on drops, because it lowers center of gravity, evenly distributing weight on bicycle, making you more stable for accelerating and handling.
- Placing your hands on top of handlebar will give the most upright and comfortable position.
- It is very good position for steady climbs, but it reduces the level of bike control, as it unable cyclist to brake or shift gears without switching hands to other handlebar position.
- Also it disables you to ride out of the saddle (it is possible, but handling can be an issue), so it is recommendable to temporarily or completely change handlebar position on hoods in order to elevate yourself to accelerate our stretch muscles.
- Special type of handlebar intended for time trial or tri-athlete bicycles, which can be installed on regular bikes for road cycling.
- It gives you the most aerodynamic position, putting your arms close to one another, leveling them parallel towards ground, same as your back.
- Best position for flats, drops and small climbs, but not recommendable to ride on big hills, because it will further influence on bike stability. Frames on time trial bikes are shorter than regular and if you ride it normally seated on big slopes, there is a high chance, because of the ‘back-pushed’ center of gravity, that bike will elevate itself on back wheel. To avoid this, use side bars for riding out of the saddle and for handling on sharp flat/downhill corners.