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How Important is an Aero Position?

bernithebikerbernithebiker Posts: 4,148
edited September 2016 in Road beginners
Short vid that may (or may not!) be of use / interest for riders wondering about riding position and it's impact on speed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1S4muZVeZs
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  • The sacrilege of turning your bike upside down on the grass!
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • bernithebikerbernithebiker Posts: 4,148
    The sacrilege of turning your bike upside down on the grass!

    It's OK, my team of 6 trained mice are holding it off the ground :D (1kg each!)
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    As he says himself at the end of the video, there are no real surprises. I think though that chin resting on the stem is a bit unrealistic for any sort of distance and dangerous. There is no way my chin can get down anywhere near my stem even if I wanted to.
  • bernithebikerbernithebiker Posts: 4,148
    As he says himself at the end of the video, there are no real surprises. I think though that chin resting on the stem is a bit unrealistic for any sort of distance and dangerous. There is no way my chin can get down anywhere near my stem even if I wanted to.

    I'm not really advocating that extreme position for 'normal' riding (although I do use it quite often in most rides (I like hills!)).
    It's just to illustrate how much faster you can go if you can get your body into a very aero position.

    I have noticed that some newer riders hardly ever even use their drops. In this case, something isn't quite right; either the bar has too big a drop or the whole bar is too low. There's no point having a drop if you don't use it.

    And then, once you are in the drops, it's not all over. You can still change your body position to get more aero.

    Of course, if you're just out for a bimble, fine. Sit up on the hoods and enjoy the view!
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,550
    Would have been interesting to see the "pro" position of sitting on the top tube in the completely "slammed" position - it always seems quick when I try it in company but that's not a proper test.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • ForumNewbieForumNewbie Posts: 1,664
    As he says himself at the end of the video, there are no real surprises. I think though that chin resting on the stem is a bit unrealistic for any sort of distance and dangerous. There is no way my chin can get down anywhere near my stem even if I wanted to.

    I'm not really advocating that extreme position for 'normal' riding (although I do use it quite often in most rides (I like hills!)).
    It's just to illustrate how much faster you can go if you can get your body into a very aero position.

    I have noticed that some newer riders hardly ever even use their drops. In this case, something isn't quite right; either the bar has too big a drop or the whole bar is too low. There's no point having a drop if you don't use it.

    And then, once you are in the drops, it's not all over. You can still change your body position to get more aero.

    Of course, if you're just out for a bimble, fine. Sit up on the hoods and enjoy the view!
    I find when I do go down on the drops it is harder to keep up a fast cadence, when it really should be easier to up my cadence in the same gear on the flat because I am more aero. It is just feels for me a little less comfortable to get a smooth pedalling action compared to being on the hoods.
  • bernithebikerbernithebiker Posts: 4,148
    As he says himself at the end of the video, there are no real surprises. I think though that chin resting on the stem is a bit unrealistic for any sort of distance and dangerous. There is no way my chin can get down anywhere near my stem even if I wanted to.

    I'm not really advocating that extreme position for 'normal' riding (although I do use it quite often in most rides (I like hills!)).
    It's just to illustrate how much faster you can go if you can get your body into a very aero position.

    I have noticed that some newer riders hardly ever even use their drops. In this case, something isn't quite right; either the bar has too big a drop or the whole bar is too low. There's no point having a drop if you don't use it.

    And then, once you are in the drops, it's not all over. You can still change your body position to get more aero.

    Of course, if you're just out for a bimble, fine. Sit up on the hoods and enjoy the view!
    I find when I do go down on the drops it is harder to keep up a fast cadence, when it really should be easier to up my cadence in the same gear on the flat because I am more aero. It is just feels for me a little less comfortable to get a smooth pedalling action compared to being on the hoods.

    That's quite normal, and I think most experience something similar. Practice makes perfect. An old Breton pro who I ride with sometimes said every ride should include time in the drops, no matter how easy the ride. Your body needs to become accustomed to it.
  • Really good video.

    I'd have liked to have seen a change of wheels from your Lightweights to a non aero set - you changed from a set of very expensive aero wheels to a slightly less expensive set, which is a valid test, but in this context I'd rather have seen an alloy training wheelset. Like you, I think the position will have a far greater effect so it would be great to demonstrate it.

    Also one of the positions I use frequently is with hands on hoods facing backwards, elbows bent and tucked in and flat back. When riding on the hoods you don't have to be bolt upright with your arms locked. Probably very similar aero performance to drops as (for me) my back doesn't move when I shift to the drops, only a small hand movement. Means I can mix up my position so my hands don't get tired on long rides without going into an upright body in the wind position. Possibly not so easy to repeat in a roll down test mind!
  • super_davo wrote:
    Also one of the positions I use frequently is with hands on hoods facing backwards, elbows bent and tucked in and flat back.

    That's the pedalling position that's supposed to be most aero according to the wind tunnel tests I've seen. It certainly reduces the frontal area compared to hands on the drops. I can't say I find it very comfortable though - but, as above, that probably because I don't practice enough.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • super_davo wrote:
    Really good video.

    I'd have liked to have seen a change of wheels from your Lightweights to a non aero set - you changed from a set of very expensive aero wheels to a slightly less expensive set, which is a valid test, but in this context I'd rather have seen an alloy training wheelset. Like you, I think the position will have a far greater effect so it would be great to demonstrate it.

    Also one of the positions I use frequently is with hands on hoods facing backwards, elbows bent and tucked in and flat back. When riding on the hoods you don't have to be bolt upright with your arms locked. Probably very similar aero performance to drops as (for me) my back doesn't move when I shift to the drops, only a small hand movement. Means I can mix up my position so my hands don't get tired on long rides without going into an upright body in the wind position. Possibly not so easy to repeat in a roll down test mind!

    Thanks. There is indeed a lot more testing we could have done, but my camera (wo) man was getting bored! A friend has a non aero set of Rolf Sestrieres (that I gave him!) that I could use, but they are 10 speed, so could be tricky. Also, would need to find a day with the same conditions (warm, no wind, etc). Or start from scratch.

    You're right - the hoods position I used was not a very aero one, I probably should have made it a bit more aero to move it away from the worst case 'flats' position.

    I don't really use the position you suggest, although I can see it's merits. My stem is already 130mm, and my bar has a long reach on top of that, so not sure I could get my hands behind the hoods easily.

    There is also a more extreme aero position I use sometimes when the speed >65km/h which is chest on the stem, head flat right over the front wheel. I find it the best compromise for stability vs aero vs comfort (not much!). It's good for 90km/h on the short steep hills we have around here.
  • There is also a more extreme aero position I use sometimes when the speed >65km/h which is chest on the stem, head flat right over the front wheel. I find it the best compromise for stability vs aero vs comfort (not much!). It's good for 90km/h on the short steep hills we have around here.
    That definitely doesn't sound safe.
  • You expend a good 70-80 percent of your effort pushing air out of the way. Aero is significant.
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    There is also a more extreme aero position I use sometimes when the speed >65km/h which is chest on the stem, head flat right over the front wheel. I find it the best compromise for stability vs aero vs comfort (not much!). It's good for 90km/h on the short steep hills we have around here.
    That definitely doesn't sound safe.

    And utterly pointless for riding about. The sort of thing you see from total choppers trying to get their avg speed up so they're not too embarrassed to upload their ride.
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • okgo wrote:
    And utterly pointless for riding about. The sort of thing you see from total choppers trying to get their avg speed up so they're not too embarrassed to upload their ride.

    That's a can of worms... basically you are saying racing the Etape du Tour is not real racing... :mrgreen::lol: :twisted:
  • okgo wrote:
    There is also a more extreme aero position I use sometimes when the speed >65km/h which is chest on the stem, head flat right over the front wheel. I find it the best compromise for stability vs aero vs comfort (not much!). It's good for 90km/h on the short steep hills we have around here.
    That definitely doesn't sound safe.

    And utterly pointless for riding about. The sort of thing you see from total choppers trying to get their avg speed up so they're not too embarrassed to upload their ride.

    I wouldn't use that position for nipping down the shops, that's for sure.

    And is anyone really interested in my average speed on Strava?!

    And be careful interpreting too much from average speeds anyway. There are some young neo-pros that I ride with sometimes that will go out and do 3 hours + at 25 - 28km/h. Un-impressive huh? Indeed, but they could rip the legs off 99% of riders on this forum.
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    Bet they don't go down hills like that either unless they are racing, which is generally the only place I could see it as vaguely acceptable.
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • okgo wrote:
    Bet they don't go down hills like that either unless they are racing, which is generally the only place I could see it as vaguely acceptable.

    Next time I adopt a "non-standard" position, I'll be sure to do a mental check that it's 'acceptable'... :?
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    Riding down a hill with your chest on the stem?

    Get a grip, not only do you look like a prat, but one pothole or stone could have you in serious bother.
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • As he says himself at the end of the video, there are no real surprises. I think though that chin resting on the stem is a bit unrealistic for any sort of distance and dangerous. There is no way my chin can get down anywhere near my stem even if I wanted to.

    I'm not really advocating that extreme position for 'normal' riding (although I do use it quite often in most rides (I like hills!)).
    It's just to illustrate how much faster you can go if you can get your body into a very aero position.

    I have noticed that some newer riders hardly ever even use their drops. In this case, something isn't quite right; either the bar has too big a drop or the whole bar is too low. There's no point having a drop if you don't use it.

    And then, once you are in the drops, it's not all over. You can still change your body position to get more aero.

    Of course, if you're just out for a bimble, fine. Sit up on the hoods and enjoy the view!
    I nearly always stay on the hoods and I'm not a newbie. You can get a pretty aero position by having your arms parallel with the line of the hoods, and ducking / tucking down, so that you have a flat back, and elbows in position. I'll use the drops on steep decents, but that's about it. A lot of newbies who come on my guided rides, tell me that riding in the drops feels 'unsafe' compared to on the hoods, so I guess it's a confidence thing as well some times. I've been chinned by the stem once or twice, hitting potholes and things, whilst in an extreme position on the drops a few times, that's not good if there's traffic about
  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,632
    never understood the "it feels unsafe in the drops rather than on the hoods" ...... I am a newbie to road bikes, super newbie infact ..... but I find the drops far far safer .. you have a nice strong grip, cant slip off them when hitting potholes, far more braking power

    I would ride everywhere in the drops if I didn't think riding on the hoods looked more acceptable .... oh that and after a while I find I can get more air in me if I sit up on the hoods
  • fat daddy wrote:
    never understood the "it feels unsafe in the drops rather than on the hoods" ...... I am a newbie to road bikes, super newbie infact ..... but I find the drops far far safer .. you have a nice strong grip, cant slip off them when hitting potholes, far more braking power

    I would ride everywhere in the drops if I didn't think riding on the hoods looked more acceptable .... oh that and after a while I find I can get more air in me if I sit up on the hoods

    I'm told that it's the action in the transition from hoods to drops, and having to get back to the hoods that freaks them out a bit, rather than riding in the drops itself.
  • okgo wrote:
    Riding down a hill with your chest on the stem?

    Get a grip, not only do you look like a prat, but one pothole or stone could have you in serious bother.

    Look at this lot! Complete bunch of prats! Lycra heroes! And they don't even pay road tax! They should all be banned!

    aero1.jpg
    aero4.jpg
    aero2.jpg

    Watch out! This one will have you positively choking on your coffee!

    aero3.jpg
  • okgookgo Posts: 4,368
    All pro's, in races, not some random bloke in the lanes of wherever you live on non closed roads...as I said - sad and dangerous.
    Blog on my first and now second season of proper riding/racing - www.firstseasonracing.com
  • okgo wrote:
    All pro's, in races, not some random bloke in the lanes of wherever you live on non closed roads...as I said - sad and dangerous.

    I can assure you that in most of the 'no-pro' races I've been in, I've seen that position used many times.

    Noone was sad and noone was dangerous.

    There are worse crimes in life.
  • fat daddy wrote:
    never understood the "it feels unsafe in the drops rather than on the hoods" ...... I am a newbie to road bikes, super newbie infact ..... but I find the drops far far safer .. you have a nice strong grip, cant slip off them when hitting potholes, far more braking power

    I would ride everywhere in the drops if I didn't think riding on the hoods looked more acceptable .... oh that and after a while I find I can get more air in me if I sit up on the hoods
    I think it's a confidence thing going downhill on the drops - you do have better control of the brakes so I'm trying to do it more often, but on a steep descents I find it a bit harder to go down on the drops and still keep my head up enough to get a good view of the road ahead.

    Even by riding on the hoods on a flat road you will be able to go faster if you bend your arms to get a better aero position.

    fat daddy - I don't understand why it would not be acceptable to ride more on the drops if you wanted to?
  • If you're in the drops it looks like you're trying, this is bad; you should always appear to be not trying, even when dying inside.
  • haydenmhaydenm Posts: 2,868
    okgo wrote:
    Bet they don't go down hills like that either unless they are racing, which is generally the only place I could see it as vaguely acceptable.

    My stem isn't especially low and I'm really short so I don't find it difficult at all to get my chin near the stem on descents at all. I have to say I employed this tactic on long descents in the highlands while touring partly to get as much as I could out of my effort and partly to liven things up after hours of slogging. It's free speed, I feel very stable and the lines of sight were fine, why not? Putting your body weight over the stem like Froome is asking for trouble though, I certainly wouldn't do it if I didn't feel safe

    Being able to descent well is important, pros will 100% practice that position outside of races surely?
  • Interesting video. As always, you immediately start to think of extra things you'd like to see in such a comparison, like box section vs 38 vs 50 rims etc, but it's nice to see an objective comparison like yours, the aero tuck really does make a big difference.
  • Interesting video. As always, you immediately start to think of extra things you'd like to see in such a comparison, like box section vs 38 vs 50 rims etc, but it's nice to see an objective comparison like yours, the aero tuck really does make a big difference.

    Obviously it does, the problem is that I can't see the application in the real world... there is no downhill time trial and virtually all amateur races are NOT decided by downhill ability to go fast.
    It might get you a KOM on Strava or some bragging rights at the cafe' in the best case scenario, an afternoon in A&E in a less positive one, a 20 minutes slot at the crematory in the worst case scenario
  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,632
    I can't see the application in the real world...


    how about its just plain fun going really really fast and the danger aspect gives you that level of adrenaline and endorphine rush that gives you withdrawal symptons until you get you next Rush Junkie hit.

    ... I am guessing at this by the way, I don't have the strength to hold my self in that position long enough ... or the kahoonas to thing my little wheels will hold up !
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