7

I just wanted to ask how come some cyclists when they ride they lean forward, with their arms straight, resemble a 45 to 60 degree angle (which looks cool by the way).

I have a hybrid bike and I wish I could get that look and it seems to be more efficient because some of the weight looks to be shifted in the front wheel compared with cycling on a straight back (90-80 degrees angle).

Is it the distance between the seat and the handlebars? Is that the reason they have to bend their body? Or is it something else?

  • 1
    Head to your bicycle shop and get fitted for some drop bars! Disclaimer: you will probably need new shifters for your new bars. – Scott Hillson Oct 15 '12 at 21:00
  • thanks for the tip @hillsons, I guess that is the cheapest option I have. cheers – niccolo m. Oct 16 '12 at 21:17
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    @ScottHillson Drop-bar conversions are rarely cost-effective: drop-bar brake levers tend to be incompatible with the sorts of brakes fitted on flat-bar bikes; you might need new derailleurs to go with those new shifters. And you end up with a bike whose geometry probably doesn't make sense at all: precisely because drop bars give a very different riding position, the whole frame needs to be designed around that position. – David Richerby Feb 24 at 12:16
19

To complement Neil Fein's answer, the rider's position is almost entirely controlled (given a particular rider) by the geometry of the bike.

Compare the following bikes. In the first image of a hybrid bike, the saddle is slightly below the handlebars. In the second image depicting a road racing bike, the saddle is well above it, forcing the rider to lean farther over to reach the lower handlebar position. In the third image of a time trial bike, the seat height and handlebar height have remained relatively unchanged, but the seatpost is at a much steeper angle and the intended grip brings the arms much further forward, forcing an even more horizontal position in order to put the hands on the bars.

Now look at the riders in this next series of images to better see the difference.

upright riding position on a blue bike (source: bicycledutch.wordpress.com)

Road bike position on the tops (source: www.flickr.com)


(source: bikesportmichigan.com)

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    The pictures are a really nice touch. Looks like the hybrid rider is on a bike with seat and handlebars even, not handlebars higher like the no-rider hybrid. Also seems worth pointing out that leaning further forward requires back and hamstring flexibility. – freiheit Oct 15 '12 at 22:29
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    @StephenTouset thanks for the answer, yes the pictures really helped on this one. looking at the picture with the USA woman, can men with beer bellies be able to do that position? their thighs would hit their belly even before they do a full circle of the pedal – niccolo m. Oct 16 '12 at 21:32
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    That's something one can only answer for themselves. – Stephen Touset Oct 16 '12 at 22:29
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    @glorfindel I substituted in a new photo to fix the final broken link and replaced the first rider with a more upright rider on a blue bike (hybrid rider was a bit of an aggressive position). hope that's ok – Swifty Feb 24 at 21:00
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    @Swifty thank you for putting in the extra effort - its much appreciated. – Criggie Feb 25 at 8:10
8

What you're referring to is tucking, an act that's most easily done with drop bars - the curved handlebars with multiple hand positions you see on road bikes. The holy grail for some hardcore roadies (road cyclists) is the flat back, where the rider is tucked all the way forward, their hands on the lower part of the drop bars - the "drops".

This is done so that the cyclist will present less surface area to the wind, and therefore there will be less drag. The "flat back" is most easily achieved when the saddle (the seat) is higher than the handlebars.

To my knowledge, placing more weight on the front wheel is mostly incidental here.

Hybrid bikes almost always come with flat handlebars, so while it's technically possible to tuck to the degree a road cyclist does, it'd be intensely uncomfortable to maintain. The distance between the seat and the handlebars is a factor here, but less of one than saddle height. (You can look up questions on for more information on these variables, since fit is a bit of a black art and there's a lot of information available on the subject.)

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    Agreed. Also, it has a lot to do with either personal preference and "body-type". Some folks are comfortable riding so flat-backed. I for one have been rising my handlebar year after year since my late 20's: I just CANNOT anymore ride with such a low torso that is "normal" among road racing enthusiasts. – heltonbiker Oct 15 '12 at 21:13
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    I would add you need good flexibility in your mid and lower back to properly and comfortably ride in the "flat-back" position. – Rider_X Oct 15 '12 at 22:21
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    @Neil Fein thanks for the answer man, really appreciate it. will check bike-fit after this – niccolo m. Oct 16 '12 at 21:26

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