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Do I have to learn to ride all over again?

Boy LardBoy Lard Posts: 445
edited November 2010 in Road beginners
I've been doing a lot of mtbing, but have recently bought a road bike to help increase my fitness levels, and hopefully to help improve my climbing. In the process, I appear to have completely lost any semblence of skill on a bike.

It's a good job I got the soft option and went for a triple because I am sh!t at climbing. I can't seem to stand up on the pedals at all because I feel like I'm going to fall over, and I definitely feel uncomfortable in the drops.

I am terrified doing 20mph downhill on a nice smooth road, where as on my mtb I seem quite happy doing 30mph down anything (well maybe not anything). I think this is because up on the hoods the braking feels too 'light', but again I feel pretty wobbly and not in control when in the drops.

I even have difficulty looking behind me without wobbling all over the place.

Is it a whole new skill set I need to learn, or will I just get used to the bike with more time in the saddle?


  • It takes time as road bikes handle very differently than mtbs.
    If your stem is to short (under 100mm) that can affect handling but the best advise is to relax your shoulders and elbows then follow so experienced riders to see how quickly you can go.
    Once you get used to it you will soon be going much quicker that you ever would on a knobbly beast
  • danowatdanowat Posts: 2,877
    Just relax, then more tense and worried you are about it, the harder it will be, relax, go with it and it will come, I remember the first time I rode my TT bike, it was scary, but I just relaxed and went with it, and it got better.
  • I had the same problem when I got my first road bike. You will get used to it, and as a bonus I found my fitne improved and my bike handling as well.
  • Boy LardBoy Lard Posts: 445
    I think I need to find some roadies to ride with.
  • furragfurrag Posts: 481
    My God, I could have wrote your post back in April, almost word for word. Quite simply it was a matter of confidence (and set-up!).

    After my first club run in April, I was left demoralised. I was terrified to take one hand off of the bars because I didn't feel stable at above 16mph. I couldn't drink on the bike, couldn't signal to other club members indicating potholes etc and couldn't indicate at high speeds.

    I could catch the riders going up the hills, but on the descents I was doing about 23mph with my hands on the hoods and pressing the brakes. I eventually got up to 42mph on that bike with some confidence and the changes I mention towards the end of the post.

    I sought help from my club and one rider kindly offered to help me descend. Outside pedal down, look 20-30 feet ahead of you where you want to be going, and hands in the drops - I had to get used to cycling with my hands in the drops on the flat first, usually in intervals of a few minutes to get my back and neck used to it. I would never descend now on the hoods - the leverage for breaking you get from the drops is fantastic and more importantly promotes confidence. I found out that the frame I was riding was too small for me. The alteration in set-up that I experienced are as follows:

    Your bars may be too narrow or wide - they should be shoulder width. I had 44cm width bars and swapped for some 38cm ones. In hindsight I should have gone for 40cm as it's probably too twitchy. It didn't feel like I had my hands on a bus wheel though! I also found it easier to get out of the saddle too. The drops on the bars weren't ergo and also shallower meaning I could reach them easier which I found a lot better - the FSA Compact Omega's are what I got.

    The stem length - as a guide, when in the saddle with hands on the hoods, take a look at the front hub. If your bars are obstructing it, then your stem is the correct length. If you can see the hub below the bars, a shorter stem is required and vice versa.

    The shifters - I had Sora to begin with. The thumb shifting was shite though and I couldn't shift gears from the drops. I picked up some Ultegra shifters for a bargain £60 on Ebay and that encouraged me to go into the drops.

    I'm not going to state that the changes to the set-up have transformed and propelled me into the zenith of bike handlers. It has however - combined with persisting - made me a lot safer and composed on the bike. I descend better, I can flag a pothole at 30mph, and I can drink about 20mph, albeit only freewheeling. I still have a lot to work on, but I'm getting there!

    Get out, get used to the bike, get a feel for it and how it reacts. The confidence will come with hours in the saddle. It took me about 1000 miles to feel comfortable.
  • I transferred from flat barred road bike to drop bar about 2 months ago and for the first month I did wonder wy I had bothered. General bike control was a big challenge, but after about a month I suddenly clicked and now I feel in total control and the benefits of having a 'real' road bike are showing.

    some of the basics of good bike fit can really help I think. The whole thing about relaxing the shoulders helped me immensely, but without good bike fit this can be hard to achieve.The idea of bending the elbows slightly more and tucking them in a bit helped me to gain confidence at speed, but I think the biggest thing for me was getting my head up a bit and looking maybe 10 or 20 yards further ahead than I was used to to allow me to anticipate more and have more time to plan my lines at speed. I have never really ridden off road but I assume that you have to focus more on the few metres directly in front of you to avoid obstacles?
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