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Hand Position On Steep Climbs

Wayne PlungerWayne Plunger Posts: 462
edited September 2019 in Road general
So always willing to learn off more experienced cyclists or seek opinion.

I was going up this climb yesterday, average according to Strava, 12.3% with some parts in the late teens.

One thing until yesterday I had never really considered on climbs was hand position. On lesser climbs I usually just spin up in my own time with my hands in the centre of the bars so to speak. However when I got to the really steep bit I found being on the hoods gave me a bit more "pull" for want of a better term.

Is there an accepted most economical / efficient hand position or is it just what suits the individual?
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  • mrb123mrb123 Posts: 2,419
    Use the hoods on steep stuff. I think you get a bit more leverage from your arms in that position (hence why MTBers used to use bar ends back in the day) plus you'll be out of the saddle a fair bit so you won't have to change your hand position when you stand up.
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    Never really thought about it TBH but I naturally find myself grabbing the hoods on steeper stuff
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,283
    Can't see that it matters - I'm not sure what I do apart from trying to haul on fenceposts to get me up faster
  • I use the tops. Opens the body up to breathe better and something to pull against.

    Careful of lifting front wheel
  • I think the natural body position (as I've just tested on my desk) would be to use the hoods.
    Advocate of disc brakes.
  • davep1davep1 Posts: 732
    Definitely the hoods, or even the drops for some Pantani style. :) Would move your weight forward too, slightly, to help keep the front wheel down.
  • Just do what feels natural - as long as you're getting up the hill then it's working. Personally I'm on the tops until the gradient gets above 12-15%, then I'm usually out of the saddle, en danseuse.
  • step83step83 Posts: 3,739
    I generally alternate from hoods to bars, main thing is you go a touch forward in the saddle.

    End of the day if you get up there without stopping it doesnt really matter.
  • pilot_petepilot_pete Posts: 1,871
    I use the tops. Opens the body up to breathe better and something to pull against.

    Careful of lifting front wheel

    Eh? What is ‘opening up the body’? And how does being on the tops (hands closer together) facilitate that rather than being on the hoods, which would mean the hands were further apart? Do you have any evidence to back up this claim?

    I’m with those who advocate whatever feels comfortable. And 12% isn’t exactly steep to the point that you have to worry about the front wheel coming up or need to be honking on the pedals out of the saddle swinging the bike from side to side.

    I’ll often change hand grips from tops to hoods and maybe back again as the climb progresses. When it really ramps up to 20%ish + I may well stand for several pedal strokes at which point I will generally be on the hoods. I try to stay seated as it is more efficient and especially when it is wet I will try not to stand at all to keep the weight over the rear wheel to prevent wheel spin. Having a low enough gear to facilitate this is the key - I’m fine on 34/28 getting up just about everything seated around these parts with the occasional stand up to relieve the pressure and get the blood flow back to the nether regions.

    PP
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 10,862
    Pilot Pete wrote:
    I use the tops. Opens the body up to breathe better and something to pull against.

    Careful of lifting front wheel

    Eh? What is ‘opening up the body’? And how does being on the tops (hands closer together) facilitate that rather than being on the hoods, which would mean the hands were further apart? Do you have any evidence to back up this claim?

    As above. 'opening up the body to breathe better' is a bit of a false premise. Firstly, because as Pete suggests, your hand position is no wider (in fact it's probably narrower). Secondly, hand/arm position has no particular relevance to the body's ability to 'breathe better. If that were the case, time triallers and team pursuiters on tri-bars, or track riders on 33/38cm bars would struggle..
  • Just means I can sit up a bit easier rather than forward and low on the bars.

    My setups are all very comfy over long distances, but seeing as aero is less of a concern on long climbs, it means I can sit up.

    Width of bars has nothing to do with it.
  • I never use the tops. Usually y hoods or the palms on the horns.
  • whatever you are most comfortable with.
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • For me, when tackling the really steep stuff, I find that left hand on the saddle and right hand on the bars works a treat.
  • Get the butler to ride the bike up the steep bits while sipping gin in the rolls.
  • asprillaasprilla Posts: 8,440
    Pilot Pete wrote:
    I use the tops. Opens the body up to breathe better and something to pull against.

    Careful of lifting front wheel

    Eh? What is ‘opening up the body’? And how does being on the tops (hands closer together) facilitate that rather than being on the hoods, which would mean the hands were further apart? Do you have any evidence to back up this claim?

    I’m with those who advocate whatever feels comfortable. And 12% isn’t exactly steep to the point that you have to worry about the front wheel coming up or need to be honking on the pedals out of the saddle swinging the bike from side to side.

    I’ll often change hand grips from tops to hoods and maybe back again as the climb progresses. When it really ramps up to 20%ish + I may well stand for several pedal strokes at which point I will generally be on the hoods. I try to stay seated as it is more efficient and especially when it is wet I will try not to stand at all to keep the weight over the rear wheel to prevent wheel spin. Having a low enough gear to facilitate this is the key - I’m fine on 34/28 getting up just about everything seated around these parts with the occasional stand up to relieve the pressure and get the blood flow back to the nether regions.

    PP

    12% not that steep? Bloody felt it last time I went up the Mortirolo.

    Of course, it depends on the length as well as the steepness and for a long climb I use the tops. Its a more upright position that takes stress off your core and hip flexors.
    Mud - Genesis Vapour CCX
    Race - Fuji Norcom Straight
    Sun - Cervelo R3
    Winter / Commute - Dolan ADX
  • If I'm putting some power effort in, then I'll be on the hoods, plus probably out of the saddle (if my cadence drops to below ~75rpm).

    But from memory, I have pootled up the local "wall" https://www.strava.com/segments/19974352 that hits ~20% in my Cube's lowest gear (34/32), sitting down and holding the tops... However, I almost certainly would have had my arms very bent while doing this, so still putting a bit of weight over the front wheel.
    ================
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • jamesesjameses Posts: 640
    When it's steep enough that aero becomes less of a consideration, I find it easier to get more power out with my hands on the tops (no idea why); when it's really steep, I need my hands on the hoods and weight further forward to stop the front wheel lifting.
  • I use the tops. Opens the body up to breathe better and something to pull against.

    Careful of lifting front wheel

    This is what I struggle with on the really steep stuff no matter where I place my hands.
  • Thanks for all the replies, I am no super cyclist by any means but am a bit of beligurant devil who doesn't know when he is beat and will "get up it" by any means.

    On the way up, especially at the 18/19% bits I was alternating between tops and hoods and breathing out of my backside!! That is why I asked the original question, could I have made life a bit easier for myself if I was better positioned.

    KOM on this particular hill was 4 minutes faster than me but he is a pro with Katusha and many years my junior so don't feel so bad.

    Cheers all.
  • ibr17xvii wrote:
    I use the tops. Opens the body up to breathe better and something to pull against.

    Careful of lifting front wheel

    This is what I struggle with on the really steep stuff no matter where I place my hands.
    Palms over the top of the hoods and sit at the front of the saddle.
  • balthazarbalthazar Posts: 1,567
    Thanks for all the replies, I am no super cyclist by any means but am a bit of beligurant devil who doesn't know when he is beat and will "get up it" by any means.

    On the way up, especially at the 18/19% bits I was alternating between tops and hoods and breathing out of my backside!! That is why I asked the original question, could I have made life a bit easier for myself if I was better positioned.

    KOM on this particular hill was 4 minutes faster than me but he is a pro with Katusha and many years my junior so don't feel so bad.

    Cheers all.

    On at-the-limit efforts like cycling up roads that steep, you end up just doing what comes naturally. Matters of style, such as where to put your hands or contrived ways of breathing, go out the window and you do whatever you can to keep going. Personally, I tend to climb standing more than average, but I also prefer slightly higher climbing gears than average. (I’m still dog-slow though)

    If you didn’t watch the Vuelta this year, have a look at some of the steep mountain stages: apart from marvelling at the speed these youngsters can blast up 20% climbs, note that they all have different styles. Some stand most of the way. Others barely leave the saddle. Some are jaws agape and others gritted teeth. All get there well before us lot, nonetheless...
  • It's not something you think about.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • It's not something you think about.

    You may say that but a few people who have responded have said to move further forward on the seat. Was on a hill today, not as steep as previous, but tried this and I found I could definitely get a bit more leverage through the pedals which kept the relative speed up.

    Some "expert posters" on here may find this hard to believe but there are some people in the world with a bit of humility who are willing to learn off others with more experience but can also differentiate between the genuine person who is trying to offer help and the know alls.
  • svettysvetty Posts: 1,904
    On really steep climbs - Rosedale Chimney, Trooper Lane etc - using the hoods and sitting on the nose of the saddle definitely help keep the front wheel down. On climbs less evil I find sittting upright with hands on the tops does make breathing easier by making me less hunched (abdominal pressure not impeding diaphragm). Aero isn't an issue at 4mph.......
    FFS! Harden up and grow a pair :D
  • drlodgedrlodge Posts: 4,824
    Hands on the top while climbing, except when it gets steep and the front wheel starts to lift, then on the hoods.
    WyndyMilla Massive Attack | Rourke 953 | Condor Italia 531 Pro | Boardman CX Pro | DT Swiss RR440 Tubeless Wheels
    Find me on Strava
  • On really, really steep climbs, I'll go one handed...








    ...as I walk up.
    You can fool some of the people all of the time. Concentrate on those people.
  • tonysjtonysj Posts: 317
    Longshot wrote:
    On really, really steep climbs, I'll go one handed...








    ...as I walk up.
    :lol:
    I tend to sit up hands on top of bars if it's 4 - 8% spinning
    On hoods and over the bars more if it's over this.
    I find the hoods and out of the saddle leaning slightly forward when things get nasty 15% plus as by this time I'm grinding more and tend to lift the front wheel if I'm not careful.
    Wynatts Pass was typical for me and at one point lifted the front wheel sideways about 6" which is not good for your composure lol.
    I find if seated and steep I have to focus on not pulling on the bars too much but forcing the legs round. Helps the front wheel stay on the tarmac.
    T.
  • step83step83 Posts: 3,739
    While not a saddle position, I see quite a few people going past my house (I live on 12% gradient hill) so I get to see all sorts from MTB guys spinning up in some comedy gearing no handed to the idiots that attempted it on fixies and everything between.
    There is no set "style" just what ever works long as you get up an over it doesn't matter.
  • davidofdavidof Posts: 2,020
    Longshot wrote:
    On really, really steep climbs, I'll go one handed...








    ...as I walk up.

    You are not on road shoes then, or walking on the dirt at the edge?

    I used to ride more on the top of the bars, now I tend to be on the hoods, I think it was a lower back strength thing that changed my position. What does the OP class as steep? The steepest climb I sometimes climb is 15% over 5km which has some challenging ramps hidden in that average.

    Anything short and steep and I take it as an opportunity to get out of the saddle and use power to get to the top.
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