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I'm having problems getting rolling on my road bike.

For some reason I have hard time hopping back into the road bike saddle. It's the pedals spinning causing my feed to lose grip, or the bike tilting on my way up. That's what I've struggled with, and I can't quite figure out why it' so hard for me.

I ride a mountain bike and my feet have no issue hitting the ground and waiting until it's time to go again. That's not the case with the road bike, where I have to get out of the saddle when stopped.

I never had issues with a mountain bike but last year I struggled a lot on the road bike.. not with braking but with the actual complete stop and then starting again. I’m about to get back in the road bike again for the season and am hoping to do better this time. I guess I don’t understand why stopping / starting is so much harder than a mountain bike.

Does anyone have any tips/tricks in starting a road bike?

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    To stop a road bike you crash into the asphalt. To stop a mountain bike you crash into a rock. – Daniel R Hicks May 15 '19 at 2:31
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    Are you changing gear before stopping or are you pulling away in a high gear? – Criggie May 15 '19 at 3:54
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    @DanielRHicks And bushes/trees for stopping a CX bike.. It works.... – Andrew Henle May 15 '19 at 9:34
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    The main "trick" is to place the bike in the right gear BEFORE you stop (since most multi-speed bikes do not allow you to effectively change gears while stopped). It needs to be a low enough gear to allow you to start pedaling right away, but not too low. – Daniel R Hicks May 15 '19 at 11:47
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    Clarify - please grab a tape measure, and check the distances from the middle of the bottom bracket axle, straight up the seat tube, to a level with the top of your saddle. They should be pretty similar. I wonder if your road bike saddle is significantly higher than your MTB relative to the pedals. – Criggie May 17 '19 at 14:13
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I ride a mountain bike and my feet have no issue hitting the ground and waiting until it's time to go again. That's not the case with the road bike, where I have to get out of the saddle when stopped.

You say you have to get out of the saddle when you stop the road bike. Is there a large difference is saddle height between your road and mountain bike? Are you staying sat on the saddle with a foot on the ground when stopping the MTB, but have to drop out of the saddle to get a foot down when stopping the road bike?

You should be able to reach the ground with your toes when sitting in the road bike saddle, without tilting the bike. You should be able to start sat in the saddle, one foot on the ground and the other on a pedal. Make sure you stop in an appropriate gear so pushing down on the pedal gets you underway and able to lift the other foot of the ground.

Look at the saddle height on your road bike. It may be too high. Also your MTB saddle may be too low.

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    “You should be able to reach the ground with your toes when sitting in the road bike saddle, without tilting the bike.” This really shouldn’t be a required feature. Saddle height should make riding as comfortable and efficient as possible. It’s totally normal to get out of the saddle when stopping/standing. If you are able to reach the ground with the saddle high enough it will be on tip-toes which is of little use in any case. Just watch the start of a road bike race. – Michael May 20 '19 at 12:23
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The first thing that may help quite a lot is to push off quite quickly then pause your stroke and stand up on one pedal to get on the saddle. You can even stand on both pedals with the cranks horizontal, which is handy if your clothes snag on the saddle nose.

I like to put in a couple of pedal strokes before this, which works well in my touring (/commuting /MTB) shoes, with the pedal under my arch for those 2 strokes. Trying this in road shoes with hard plastic soles is less successful and results in bruises on the inside of my left ankle. So it may actually be your shoes that are the issue. On the road bike I run clipless pedals - it's not clear whether you do, but clipless just adds an extra step compared to platforms.

When stopping, it should be possible to point your toes and tilt the bike to the side while on the saddle. It may not be comfortable for long.

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I ride a mountain bike and my feet have no issue hitting the ground and waiting until it's time to go again. That's not the case with the road bike, where I have to get out of the saddle when stopped.

If you can put a foot on the ground while still seated on your mountain bike, your seat is too low. It sounds like you've gotten entrenched in a bad habit, and finding it difficult to adapt to a different setup. As with so many things, practice should solve it.

Many riders have a "good foot" that they prefer to start off it. When you approach a stop, downshift a little and rotate your pedals so that the crank on your good foot's side is at about 2:00, so you can get the full benefit of a pedal stroke. When you start, put all your weight on the pedal, which will naturally force your body up so you can get your butt back in the saddle. Trying to do this while thinking about it will be a lot harder than doing it without thinking--you want to get to the point where this is automatic.

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  • +1. Pushing off as hard as possible also helps. With clipless pedals you can essentially pedal with a single foot if the selected gear is easy enough. – Michael May 20 '19 at 12:29
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One suggestion is to observe other people riding, and try and spot the differences between your method and what others are doing. You need to note what they do that you don't, and vise versa.

Either casually observe other people on the road near you, or look out for beginners riding groups. You can find these by asking at the local bike shop or cycling clubs.

Or check out Strava's heatmaps to see where people ride in your area of the world, and ride those roads on weekend mornings to see other riders.

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    Or, complementary to your first point, get a competent cyclist to observe you riding, so they can spot what you are doing wrong or have wrong in the set-up of either your MTB or RB.. – Penguino May 19 '19 at 23:28
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My suggestion: practice riding out of the saddle directly from a stop, and don't put your keister in the saddle until you've got some momentum going.

That is, rather than kick-stomp-sit-pedal, try kick-stomp-pedal-sit.

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