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In light of Bradley Wiggins' recent hour record of 54.526km, I heard a lot about how Chris Boardman has the absolute record of 56.375km. What I didn't hear and (hence my question) what I want to know is exactly what features in Boardman's (now illegal) bike enabled him to cycle further in the hour.

All reports of the event just explained it as 'technical differences and riding positions.'

Can anyone break it down into a decent explanation?

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Boardman used what is known as the "Superman" position, as shown in this image.

Boardman in the Superman Position

This position has been deemed to be against the rules by the UCI. Compare it to the position that Wiggins had on the bike, shown here.

Wiggins' Bike Position For Hour Record

His arms are not as outstretched, and therefore it is not as aerodynamic.

The superman position was first used in the hour record attempt by Graeme Obree as shown here.

Graeme Obree in Superman Position

There's been a large history and debate over what the rules should be. If you are interested, you should watch The Flying Scotsman which is about Graeme Obree's run in with the UCI and regulations. It seems there is even some controversy over Bradly Wiggins' record, as he used custom made 3D printed handlebars when breaking the record. As per UCI rules, all parts must be production and commercially available. Apparently they do have 3D printed bars commercially available, but they are all one-off and have to be customed ordered to fit the rider.

  • Are you saying that the superman position was the primary reason why he was able to go further? Might try it on my next commute! – MyFamily Jun 9 '15 at 14:25
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    It's extremely uncomfortable, and it's also quite difficult to control the bike in this position. It's best used when you're the only one on a velodrome track. There's a reason stuff like this isn't allowed in competitions. – Kibbee Jun 9 '15 at 16:09
  • It's actually not that uncomfortable -- I've experimented with it. That said, it's definitely harder to control the bike so I wouldn't recommend it unless you were on a straight flat road or a velodrome. Alone. – R. Chung Jun 10 '15 at 1:09
  • I guess it depends on your flexibility. Every time I try getting really low like that, I find it helps me go faster, but my legs tire out really fast. I think this position forces you to use your muscles differently, – Kibbee Jun 10 '15 at 9:09

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