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I have Montra Blues 1.1 hybrid bike with flat handlebar and 700x35C tyres. When I try to lean forward and try to increase my speed, my hands get fatigued and I can’t do it for longer durations.

How can I go faster on a hybrid bike with this tyre and handlebar combination? Can you suggest ways to increase my speed?

Edit (added from comments): my average speed is 11mph and max speed is 20mph. I usually ride for 40-50 mins daily.

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    Ideally you would a road bike, the drop bars already put you in a more aerodynamic position. – Dan K May 6 at 12:27
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    Thanks for the comment, is there anyway I can improve the speed using this bike without shelling money for new road bike? – harsha.cs May 6 at 12:30
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    How much riding are you doing? How fast are you going? If you're not at the point where you can ride for an hour or two without stopping, you really should concentrate on riding more. Then worry about getting faster. You'll know more about what works best for you after you've ridden a lot more. – Andrew Henle May 6 at 12:41
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    1) Increase your tire pressure. 2) Buy smoother tires. – Daniel R Hicks May 6 at 15:58
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    I feel like we're missing the obvious here: push harder on the pedals, be patient, speed and endurance will result. – Lamar Latrell May 7 at 0:20
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Before looking to improve the bike, I'd look to improve your fitness. I was able to average 13–14mph on my hybrid for 1–1.5hrs; at that time, I was commuting 3–5 miles each way per day and maybe a weekend ride of 15–20 miles once or twice a month.

Hybrids aren't designed for going fast but, at 11mph, there's not a huge aerodynamic difference between the more upright position on a hybrid and the lower position on a road bike. Make sure your bike is properly maintained – a rusty chain and, especially, soft tyres sap a lot of power.

I'm assuming your bike has reasonably smooth tyres but a possible bike upgrade that hasn't been mentioned yet in other answers is narrower tyres. I wouldn't spend any money yet but your tyres will wear out eventually and that would be something to consider then.

You might find that tracking your times on a site such as Strava helps motivate you to improve. Their app will work with your phone's GPS.

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Your hybrid has a riding position that is designed for comfort rather than speed. The bars are level with the saddle and not too far forward.

Presumably you are having to bend your elbows to lean forward, rather than being in a more neutral position with slightly bent elbows and shoulder s down.

You could try dropping the stem on the steerer tube, and possibly flipping it over to drop the bars down lower. A slightly longer stem may help also.

I'd also check saddle height and fore-aft position in case that is causing any problems.

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The key to a lower position on any bike is core stability. You may have a look at Emma Pooley's video exercises. I found them rather helpful.

Two further aspects are the power you put through your cranks and your position on the bike.

Ideally if your centre of mass (CoM) is roughly over the bottom bracket you should be able to reduce the force on your handlebars to zero. Provided you push with enough power to lift yourself almost out of the saddle and have the strength to cantilever your upper body very low over the bars.

You may go from that position continuously to more comfort by straightening your arms. Until you finally reach a slow cruise, sitting upright, on your buttocks.

When you reach the required strength you can get a better position on your bike by holding your bars at roughly shoulder width with bent elbows, forearms parallel to the ground.

If your reach us too short for that a longer stem or old fashioned Spinaci clip on bars might help.

There are plenty of very fast rolling 35-622 tyres. Wide tyres are the new trend in endurance road bikes. There are also many bad and slow tyres of any size. Search for good tyres.

  • Thanks @gschenk :) – harsha.cs May 6 at 12:48
  • A little narrower on the tyres wouldn't hurt (slightly lighter and more likely to be optimised for rolling resistance). Durano 28s would be quicker than any hybrid stock tyre and aren't expensive. – Chris H May 6 at 16:06
  • @Chris H according to bicyclerollingresistance.com Duranos are fairly slow tyres (18W for a 25). Even cheap Ultra Sports are roll easier (14W). A fast G One at 35 mm will have a similar rolling resistance in a smooth test stand. Out on roads it will likely run easier as one may run it at much lower pressure and has supple side walls. However, I did not find data for a G One at about the same price as the Durano. My point: What tyres to ship is an entirely different question, and should be answered in its own right. – gschenk May 6 at 19:34
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    @gschenk You're right, but I come from the position that a decent level of puncture protection is a given; the debate is over the details of how much. I run marathon supremes on the tourer (which came with marathon mondial), marathon plus on the hybrid (road cruisers originally). There's no data for typical stock hybrid tyres but they're often slow touring tyres and the Kendas as stock on the OPs bike don't look any better (if anything the opposite). So it shouldn't be hard to knock 1/3 off the rolling resistance while gaining puncture protection. Example was based on what I could remember – Chris H May 6 at 20:55
  • @ChrisH it would definitely an improvement. A mid price tyre gains in so many aspects over a cheap stock tyre. – gschenk May 6 at 22:29
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From your post here is what I understand the issue is:

When I try to lean forward and try to increase my speed, my hands get fatigued and I can’t do it for longer durations....How can I go faster on a hybrid bike with this tyre and handlebar combination?

So, you'd like to find a way to be comfortable leaning forward and to go faster for a longer period of time.

In my experience leaning forward shifts more of your body weight to your hands.

Here is a description of the issue I think you are describing:

There are several nerves in your hand and if they are compressed then you will start to feel that tingling sensation. The ulnar nerve runs through the bottom of your wrist and to your pinky and ring finger, where as the median nerve runs through the middle of your wrist and to your thumb, index finger, middle finger and ring finger.

Here's what has worked for me to reduce hand fatigue.

  • Riding position, your wrist and hand need to be in line with your forearm. From the article linked above:

To prevent numbness setting in you need to ensure that your wrist and hand position is in line with your forearm. If there is a bend in your wrist it will cause a pinch in the nerve and your hands will go numb. Per Swifty's suggestion below - rotating your brake levers to improve your wrist, hand, forearm alignment can help.

  • Cycling gloves. Gloves will provide a layer of protection that spreads your weight over a larger surface area and offers cushion to absorb a little of the shock going into your hands from the handlebar.
  • Use different hand holds. Find different ways to hold the handlebars to shift the pressure point of the handlebar to different parts of your hand. I'll shift my grip from a normal palm grip to a more finger-tip or a mid-finger-tip grip as an example.
  • Different handlebar grips. There are many kinds grips designed to spread your weight over a larger area of your hand. Below is one example - not an endorsement just using this grip as an example.
  • A combination of all these suggestions. enter image description here

What the other comments/answers are saying is true. A hybrid bike is designed for on/off road use and has a relatively upright seating position. As you go faster wind resistance increases dramatically. If speed is your goal you will need a bike that puts you into an aerodynamic position.
According to Sheldon Brown:

At approximately 12 km/h, rolling and air resistance are equal. At higher speeds, air resistance is strongly dominant.

Here is a chart from Sheldon Brown's site to illustrate the challenge: enter image description here

Without leaning forward your hybrid is something like the "Dutch Style Upright" bike in the graph.
Leaning forward helps but it still won't get you to the "Racing Bike" curve on the graph.
Note: Per Ian's suggestion below - "Gold Rush" is a recumbent bike

You should be able to find a way to prevent your hands from tingling. But, it takes a lot of work to make a hybrid go fast.

  • To me, a "Dutch-style upright" is very upright, whereas a hybrid would still be leaning forward to some degree: compare the "Dutch" and something more like the "trekking" position here. So the asker's hybrid is probably somewhere between "Dutch" and "Racing bike" in Sheldon't graph. – David Richerby May 6 at 15:19
  • David Richerby - you are correct. Dutch style is probably less aerodynamic than a hybrid. That's why I said "something like". You are correct, the hybrid curve would be to the right of the Dutch style curve. Leaning forward would move the curve little more to the right. The goal to provide some kind of visual reference for how important wind resistance is and approximately where a hybrid might be on the graph. – David D May 6 at 15:27
  • This is a well-considered answer +1. I wonder if you could add a mention of how the position (or angle) of the brake lever affects the wrist position you have identified. – Swifty May 6 at 15:59
  • It would be nice if he mentioned on his site that "Gold Rush" is a recumbent bike. – Ian MacDonald May 6 at 16:12
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    Thanks for the suggestions Swifty and Ian. – David D May 6 at 16:18
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Bike shop fitter here. Three recommendations:

  1. Try out some road saddles that have a large cutout and a shape that lets you lean forward more effectively while still supporting your pelvis. Make sure the shop has a trial period on saddles in case it doesn't work out after a few rides. Good road saddles run $100-$150. I recommend the Specialized Power saddle to start (disclaimer: I work for a Specialized dealer), but there are several copycat designs from other manufacturers.

  2. Get a fit from a reputable shop and explain to the fitter what your goals are (ride faster, more efficiently). They'll help you select the right saddle for your needs and make sure it's positioned correctly to deliver power to the pedals, and then position the handlebars appropriately so you're not putting too much weight on your hands. Fit prices vary widely, but estimate around $100 for a basic fit, $50 for a possible stem change, plus the saddle mentioned above. If you go to the shop where you got the bike, they should give some sort of discount on the fit.

  3. Get some lighter, smooth tread road tires. Even if the tires you have are pretty smooth already, hybrid tires tend to have a lot of rubber for durability; the same size road tire is often 30-50% lighter, and reducing rolling weight can make you noticeably faster. You don't have to sacrifice too much flat protection or stability; Continental Gatorskins in 700x32 are very light but have kevlar layers to resist punctures, MSRP is around $60 each.

One thing I don't really recommend: aero bars. The aero position is best achieved when the saddle is slid much further forward than possible on a hybrid or road bike; triathlon-specific bikes have a much steeper seat tube angle to support this. For most people, the slacker seat tube angle on a hybrid or road bike pushes the hip angle past the normal range of motion when leaning on the aero bars. While some people can tolerate this, you're likely to strain your lower back when pedaling from this position.

  • Welcome to the site! This looks like good advice generally but, in this specific case, implementing all of your recommendations involves $370-$420 on a bike that only cost about $300 new. That doesn't seem like a good plan. – David Richerby May 7 at 16:04
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If riding conditions allow you to have your hands far from the brakes (unlikely on commutes or many bike paths) you could fit clip-on aerobars. They're rare on flat bars but can often be fitted. Your arms do bear some weight but not in the same way as trying to tuck on flat bars.

I have some on my tourer (with drop bars) and they're really beneficial on a long straight, especially into a headwind.

When I only had a hybrid, I got a little quicker by taking 25mm off each end of the bars, and tilting them slightly forwards (riser bars).

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  • Make your riding position more aerodynamic by turning the stem downwards and removing as many spacers as comfortable.
  • Make sure your saddle position is good (especially saddle as high as possible without having to rock your hips).
  • You’ll probably need a firmer, narrower saddle at this point.
  • Get road bike tires with low rolling resistance, see this website for a lot of reviews: https://www.bicyclerollingresistance.com/road-bike-reviews
  • Get a rigid fork, it will be lighter and more aerodynamic.
  • Get tight fitting bicycling clothes.
  • Get clipless pedals and shoes.
  • Make sure the bicycle is well maintained.
  • Get aero clip on bars.
  • Get a bell if you are riding on bicycle paths and people are blocking it.

That’s pretty much all you can do for a reasonable cost/benefit trade-off. Of course you could get equipment like aero wheels for 1000€ but at that point you are better off investing in a real road bike.

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    For a bike at this level (about 300USD/275EUR/225GBP), it's not really worth replacing major components such as the forks. If you're going to spend that much money, you may as well sell the bike you have and put the proceeds towards the bike you actually want. – David Richerby May 6 at 18:19
  • "Get a bell if you are riding on bicycle paths and people are blocking it." Bells are supposed to warn other users gently about one's approach. Not to clear one's path by shying people out of the way. – gschenk May 6 at 18:50
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    @gschenk Sure but you can still go faster (not necessarily "fast"; just faster) by giving a gentle warning from farther away, rather than having to get close, slow to walking pace and say "Excuse me." – David Richerby May 7 at 14:06

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