0

Can a hybrid bike's stem be slammed to make it nearly as fast and powerful as a road or cyclocross bike?

More aggressive positions are thought to improve power transfer. That means a better workout when doing HIIT.

With a lower position, we tend to be more aerodynamic. People often find that road bikes are a few km/h faster than hybrid bikes. A cyclocross bike isn't much slower than a road bike. It must be mostly aerodynamics that played a role.

Someone might want to do this because it's cheaper and prefers handlebar mounted shifters. A pair of STI shifters can cost a few hundreds of dollars while equivalent speed shifters may cost only one third that for non-drop style handlebars.

According to the following article, it looks like we need to select a stem with an angle and length that makes the handlebar height 5 to 10 cm below that of the saddle. https://www.mec.ca/en/explore/fitting-your-bike

If I use the right stem so that the reach and handlebar heights are similar to those of road bikes, would it work? The stem may need to be longer than you can find in stores because there are no hoods to extend the reach.

Photo of my bike. The bike fitter used a long stem for a performance fit. enter image description here

  • 1
    Post the pictures of your current setup, please. We can then provide you with more accurate answer. – Mike Nov 26 '18 at 8:16
  • 1
    "More aggressive positions are thought to improve power transfer. That means a better workout when doing HIIT." No it doesn't; it just means you go faster when doing HIIT. – David Richerby Nov 26 '18 at 9:39
  • 2
    Try it. Instead of holding your bars, simply sit on the bike and hold an imaginary handlebar lower down. Think for how long you could ride in that position, and whether you can comfortably see the world around you. And as you bring your hands in toward the center you get more aero. And look you just defined the drop bars. If you want a road bike get a road bike - conversions tend to cost too much. – Criggie Nov 26 '18 at 9:49
  • I would love to see the research that shows you can achieve better power transfer in a more aggressive position. In my experience its the opposite - you can recruit more muscles and generate more power when sitting more upright (in a climbing position) – Andy P Nov 26 '18 at 10:04
  • @AndyP I agree. I can make more power on the hoods than the drops. I doubt that the OP is going to get his bar so low that he'll affect his power output though – Argenti Apparatus Nov 26 '18 at 21:58
6

There is no absolute 'correct' way to get a lower more aggressive position.

You probably can get a lower, more aggressive position on a hybrid bike by adjusting the stem angle and length, but how much lower depends on the inherent stack and reach geometry of the frame. You are also limited by flat bars which obviously do not have the drop sections that allow a very low position. Flat bars tend to be a bit wider than drop bar hoods which also compromises how aero you can get.

There is not a magic vertical distance between the seat and handlebar, so forget the 5-10cm measurement. Just experiment with what you can do on your bike, and what works for you.

If you can get a significantly lower bar position, you may need to pull the saddle forward a little. Bikes with more upright riding positions typically have a slacker seat tube angle that puts the saddle further behind the bottom bracket.

Update added a few days later:

Be aware you are very unlikely to make your hybrid 'nearly as fast and powerful as a road or cyclocross bike'. The riding position is not the only factor. Hybrids have other design features that sacrifice speed for comfort and lower price: wider tires, lower gearing, heavier components, less stiff frames and wheels etc.

  • +1 on this. He is escentially trying to hack a cruiser into a road bike. It might be faster and more efficient than before, but it's still a cruiser. So in fact the only "correct way" is the one that will work for OPs budget/avaliability/ergonomics/looks. – dmb Nov 26 '18 at 20:51
  • @dmb I'm interested in getting a hybrid bike faster. – Han-Lin Nov 27 '18 at 7:46
  • 1
    Also, if you do 'slam your stem'. Do it in small increments to allow your body to adjust otherwise you might injure or just hurt yourself quite a lot.. – John Hunt Nov 27 '18 at 9:43
  • @Han-Lin if you want Maximum speed then you need to lose all the extras, like the basket, kickstand, comfy saddle, rack, mudguards, mirror, etc. After that, costs start rising quickly. Then put drop bars on, or aerobars, and decent light performance tyres, etc. – Criggie Nov 27 '18 at 9:46
  • Good point on the components - my tourer is geared about 5% higher than my hybrid, and that's the slowest kind of road bike. – Chris H Nov 27 '18 at 12:29
3

Can a hybrid bike's stem be slammed to make it nearly as fast and powerful as a road or cyclocross bike?

More aggressive positions are thought to improve power transfer. That means a better workout when doing HIIT.

Fit will always be a compromise between:

  1. aerodynamics
  2. power
  3. comfort

Very low positions can be great for aerodynamics, but they can compromise comfort and power. If you train in an upright position, suddenly dropping your position your bio-mechanics can become compromised, which will impact your power production. Similarly, if a position is too uncomfortable you it can be hard to maintain, which will impact amount of training and by extension sustainable power.

Low == Fast is an over simplification.

You need to start with your end goal and work backwards. If you only goal is power during High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), then buy or borrow a power meter and experiment with position until you max out your power numbers.

If your goal is time trial then you will need to work on balancing all three components with a focus on aerodynamics. For example, if you have trouble producing power in an aero position, you will need to work on your flexibility and slowly transition your position during training.

If your goal is road racing you will need to determine what type of road racer you are, then that will indicate the compromise between aero/power/comfort you will need to focus on.

According to the following article, it looks like we need to select a stem with an angle and length that makes the handlebar height 5 to 10 cm below that of the saddle. https://www.mec.ca/en/explore/fitting-your-bike

Those are very general guidelines for people that have limited cycling experience. Your mileage may vary. Some people simply can't ride a large saddle to bar drop, but can still be competitive with a higher handle bar height (there are many ways to try and whittle down your frontal area).

If I use the right stem so that the reach and handlebar heights are similar to those of road bikes, would it work? The stem may need to be longer than you can find in stores because there are no hoods to extend the reach.

There are many aftermarket stems at a variety of lenghts and angles that open up a very large fit window for most bikes.

You can play around with the calculation here: https://www.bikegeocalc.com

2

If you want your bike to be as fast as a road bike, the first thing you need to do is get the shopping basket off the front and the rack off the back. They're heavy and cause huge amounts of air resistance and, if you use them to carry loads, then you're not going to be riding fast anyway because loads are even heavier and cause even more air resistance. Lose the kick-stand: it's dead weight. Lose the blue second mudguard thing: it's doing nothing for you because you already have a fitted mudguard. If you really want speed, lose the mudguards altogether.

Fundamentally, though, if you want a fast bike, don't start from there. Your bike has a heavy frame, low gearing, wide tyres and flat handlebars. Basically, every part of your bike is unsuitable for your stated goal.

You need to decide if your bike is for going fast or for carrying stuff around and being practical. You can't do both at once.

1

I would recommend an alternative change to the bike rather than the stem. There are two ways to replicate the fit of a road bike on a hybrid.

One of the major differences between a hybrid and a road bike is the handlebar itself, which adds a lot to the reach on the bike. By swapping the flat bar for a drop bar, you can get a position very similar to an endurance road bike which sounds just like what you're after. Unfortunately this will mean swapping the brake levers and shifters for ones made for drop bars. Levers such as Shimano STI ones will also add to the reach of your bike as well.

The other, cheaper option is to add a set of clip-on aerobars to your current flat handlebar. To ride the aerobars, you lower your body and reach your hands out in front of you, ideally with your elbows lined up directly below your shoulders.

  • 1
    Except that the new levers and shifters probably won't be compatible with the existing brakes and possibly derailleurs. And, by the time you've replaced all that, it would have been cheaper to just buy a second-hand road bike, which would be a better bike than the Frankenhybrid and also give you the flexibility of having two bikes. – David Richerby Nov 26 '18 at 12:56
  • 1
    The good part of this answer is the suggestion to try clip on bars (assuming you can make them fit). You can get very cheap ones, which is what I've done to see if I get on with them. They're only useful on a straight if you can afford to get away from the brakes, but they help (the difference is about 1 sprocket higher at the same cadence compared to the drops for me) – Chris H Nov 27 '18 at 12:33
1

Much was said already, let me please put my two cents in this discussion based on the evolution of road and track bikes over the past century.

In my observations there are two main factors that determine how aggressive your position on a bicycle is:

  • height difference between the saddle and the bar - the more you lean forward the more aggressive you are.
  • seat (tube) angle (see attached image) - the closer to vertical the more aggressive you are.

Bike frame geometry from GeometryGeeks.bike

You can change the former by various actions like putting a shorter quill, installing slammed stem, putting drop bars (those in fact give you at least 3 riding positions - dropped, hoods, top).

The latter is determined by frame geometry only. However one can adjust the saddle position by moving it forward or backward. More radical action is installing an oldschool seat post like the one on this Allright bicycle:
https://starostneradost.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/shameless-self-promotion/

The idea is to be able to lean forward like you were in starting blocks.

The question on how to get a more forward position was already asked and answered.


Coming back to the OP's initial question:

  • yes, you can put slammed stem to get more aggressive position, however putting a drop-bar can be of more benefit as it offers at least 3 positions (dropped, hoods, top) which can improve your HIIT as you can alter your position between power and rest cycles
  • it's not only the stem that affects the aggressiveness of your position - by shifting your saddle forward and backward (how close over the bottom bracket you sit) you determine how comfortable you are during the power cycles or whether you are set more on power or more on rest, respectively.
  • Well, downtube is not always straight - see Basso Classic Time Trial bikes. What I meant is "straight angle", but got the translation wrong. What I really meant was "right angle" (90°), yes, closer to vertical. The post is corrected already, thanks for pointing out. – Mike Nov 27 '18 at 15:02
  • I edited your edit, since "vertical" is unambiguous whereas, if you're going to say "at a right angle", you need to say at a right-angle to what. Anyway, +1 now I know what you mean. :) – David Richerby Nov 27 '18 at 15:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.