Since my dad bought my first bike when I was a kid I tended towards a leaned forward position. I don't mean hands on the drops position, just a more leaned forward one. Skip forwards for almost 30 years and I feel the same. Yet I keep hearing that the upright position is supposed to be the more comfortable one. What am I missing here?

  • 8
    If you revisit this question in 20-30 years, you will be able to provide your own answer.
    – mattnz
    Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 21:27
  • It's now 5 years later - have your preferences changed at all ?
    – Criggie
    Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 21:51
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    A bit of personal experience. I have four different bikes with different positions. On the exercise road bike it is the most aggressive lean-forward position, on the touring bike it is the almost upright position. And somewhat forward lean on the MTB and on the commuter (which is a small MTB-like so-called "hybrid" with crap brakes :). I spend many hours on all of them. When I am slowly enjoying the landscape I want to sit upright. When I am racing against the clock and pushing hard, I want to lean forward. So it might be more of a riding style question than specific person question. Commented Dec 23, 2023 at 11:56
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    @Criggie I'm 44 now and still prefer this position. Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 18:55

4 Answers 4


In general terms, a more forward position will mean that more body weight is supported by the arms, and that the back/spine is rotated forwards to a greater angle. The neck will also need to support the weight of the head at a more strenuous angle.

This will put more stress through joints in all of these areas and lead to faster fatigue of the supportive muscles, some people will find this less comfortable if they aren’t used to it.

Perhaps you have grown accustomed to your position because it’s how you’ve always ridden. Maybe your arms are used to supporting your body weight for example. This conditioning means you can be comfortable in a forward position for longer than average.

Riding out of your normal position probably means certain muscles have to work in unusual ways to support your body weight in a new position and they just aren’t used to it, so for you it is less comfortable.

Meanwhile, there will be other riders don’t have the same conditioning and experience things the other way around.

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    Riding upright will put shocks straight through your spine. When leaning forward some of the force is taken up by the arms and your core muscles can also provide some suspension.
    – Michael
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 7:41

Old question but came up in my search in 2023, so here's the issue, at least for me...It's not a matter of back upright necessarily, but when you have to lean forward too far, then your spine AND NECK are angled forward, so you have to lean your head back to look straight. For people with tight necks, this causes constant pain and soreness and position is difficult to sustain for a long period of time and renders the ride not enjoyable.


'Upright' is relative.

When you hear or read 'upright is more comfortable', that does not necessarily mean a near vertical dutch or cruiser bike riding position.

It's reasonable to say that most casual riders will find a torso angle of 25-45 degrees from vertical more comfortable than an aggressive position with the torso more than 45 degrees from vertical.


Some eyeglasses are verticaly too narrow for a bicycle. When taking less upright position, eyes roll up to watch obviously forward, but if glasses are too narrow they may end up watching over the top of of them. You can "fix" this by raising head more up but then is inconvenient.

At some point there was a big marketing push for these narrow glass frames: with the choice of color and what not, many shops were offering narrow versions only, with one another wider marked as "special" and horribly expensive. I learned to order my cycling glasses online since these times.

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