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View Full Version : Are Brifters killing the sprint form?


William
06-18-2012, 10:53 AM
Just an observation over time...and brought home by the race video posted by The Domestique in the geaneral forum:

Seems that since the advent of the brifter riding/racing positions have migrated up (meaning I seem to see more people on the hoods) from the drops to the hoods. I think most people find it easier to shift the gears from the hoods than from the drops. Not that it's a huge difficulty difference, but it is slightly easier. Those of you who remember racing with DT shifters know it's actually a little easier to shift from the drops then from the hoods since you're down closer to the levers. It was mentioned in one of the responses, and by watching you will notice that many of the riders are racing from the hoods. I was taught that was a no-no, especially in crit racing. One can argue that it's more aero and better handling to be in the drops. And when the sprint starts you can get better leverage trying to rip the bike in two from the drops.

So has the advent of the brifter caused an unintended shift in racing positions? The evidence at first glance points to yes.






William

false_Aest
06-18-2012, 11:11 AM
Its a bad habit.

People that don't ride in the drops don't race in the drops, aren't comfortable in the drops, don't sprint in the drops.

When I first started racing I saw a dude's hands slip off the hoods during a sprint. Lost a tooth and broke a collar bone. Never saw another person sprint on the hoods that summer.

The next summer, Cat 5s were required to participate in a pre-race skills clinic..."hold your line" and "in the drops" were the most repeated phrases. Allegheny Cycling Association did a super good job with this.

Richard
06-18-2012, 11:16 AM
Racing on the hoods...OK. Sprinting from the hoods...loosing the sprint.

AngryScientist
06-18-2012, 11:16 AM
Its a bad habit.

People that don't ride in the drops don't race in the drops, aren't comfortable in the drops, don't sprint in the drops.


i agree. since i discovered compact drop bars, i spend a good bulk of my time in the drops, love them.

azrider
06-18-2012, 11:20 AM
people that don't ride in the drops don't race in the drops, aren't comfortable in the drops, don't sprint in the drops

qotd

laupsi
06-18-2012, 11:21 AM
reasons most ametures don't ride in the drops varies from not aware of the difference, to not really pushing or playing "gutter ball" to not being comfortable. my take is that it just ain't that comfortable to be riding in the drops. most pro's are much more agile and more flexible and are built like orangutans and you see them in the drops throughout most of the race.

agreed that if you're sprinting and there's competition for the sprint and you are on the hoods, you've just lost the sprint.

martinrjensen
06-18-2012, 11:24 AM
Not that I would really know, but in the best fashion of the forum, I'm not going to let that stop me from voicing my opinion....
I think that the cockpit points have changed specifically because of the use of brake/shifters i.e. bar drop is different, saddle etc. Remember the term "a handfull of seat post"? Almost never see that anymore even on bikes with horizontal top tubes. (except on my bikes)
I have seen pics of old racers (in the drops) compared along side (specifically Contador riding the hoods) and the body angle is very much the same.
I'm saying the angles were adjusted for the new riding style and so it's kind of like the same but different.

EDS
06-18-2012, 11:24 AM
Just an observation over time...and brought home by the race video posted by The Domestique in the geaneral forum:

Seems that since the advent of the brifter riding/racing positions have migrated up from the drops to the hoods. I think most people find it easier to shift the gears from the hoods than from the drops. Not that it's a huge difficulty difference, but it is slightly easier. Those of you who remember racing with DT shifters know it's actually a little easier to shift from the drops then from the hoods since you're down closer to the levers. It was mentioned in one of the responses, and by watching you will notice that many of the riders are racing from the hoods. I was taught that was a no-no, especially in crit racing. One can argue that it's more aero and better handling to be in the drops. And when the sprint starts you can get better leverage trying to rip the bike in two from the drops.

So has the advent of the brifter caused an unintended shift in racing positions? The evidence at first glance points to yes.






William

Not sure which races you are watching, but people are still in the drops when sprinting for the most part. Also, super easy to shift in the drops as you can pull the shifter blade in and shift with a flick/twist of a wrist.

William
06-18-2012, 11:31 AM
reasons most ametures don't ride in the drops varies from not aware of the difference, to not really pushing or playing "gutter ball" to not being comfortable. my take is that it just ain't that comfortable to be riding in the drops. most pro's are much more agile and more flexible and are built like orangutans and you see them in the drops throughout most of the race.

agreed that if you're sprinting and there's competition for the sprint and you are on the hoods, you've just lost the sprint.


The one time I sprinted from the hoods I lost. I knew better, it was an uphill finish and when we hit the bottom of the hill I went to the hoods. I had a good position and when it was time to hit the hammer I came around and had it....except I stayed on the hoods and in pulling the bike I lifted the front wheel which hopped over allowing me to get nipped at the line. Never did that again.

It just seems like I see more of it these days.






William

fiamme red
06-18-2012, 11:32 AM
Interesting discussion in the comments here: http://gerard.cc/2011/09/27/worlds-bar/

http://gerardvroomen.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/cancellara.jpg?w=380&h=508

laupsi
06-18-2012, 11:48 AM
It just seems like I see more of it these days.






William

again I agree. I also think more people are cycling these days than even 5-8 years ago and not all are young and agile/flexible. I don't think anything has changed about bike position as a rule. I know from personal experience when I was in my 20's riding the drops was oh so comfortable, especially when racing. now that I am pushing 50 my back/neck can hardly take the strain unless it's for a few minutes at time.

MattTuck
06-18-2012, 11:55 AM
Soloing to victory... it's ok to use the hoods. and in my opinion you can produce more power this way.

http://velonews.competitor.com/files/2010/04/cancellara-1.jpg

in a group sprint, on the drops.

http://cubicicleta.info/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/stiri-turul-italiei-2012-despre-mark-cavendish.jpg

William
06-18-2012, 11:55 AM
again I agree. I also think more people are cycling these days than even 5-8 years ago and not all are young and agile/flexible. I don't think anything has changed about bike position as a rule. I know from personal experience when I was in my 20's riding the drops was oh so comfortable, especially when racing. now that I am pushing 50 my back/neck can hardly take the strain unless it's for a few minutes at time.


Very true, a larger cycling population today could make it seem that way.




William

jr59
06-18-2012, 12:01 PM
I think the bike are set up differently.

There are far more bars and stems out there than there use to be.

You can set you bike up to fit the way you want it. More aero, or power in the drops or hoods.

tannhauser
06-18-2012, 12:32 PM
Lost in this is what happens during a sprint one starts from the hoods.

Sometimes (well all the time for me) there's a guy accelerating away from you; there's a split second of power loss either real or perceived from the time you get from the hoods to the drops. Psychologically I used to find it hard to do in this circumstance.

Sometimes you're not sure of the gearing so you stay on the hoods. The wrist angle shifting from the drops is difficult for some guys too.

Of course once you commit to the drops you get that back and more.

sg8357
06-18-2012, 12:39 PM
Fistful of seat pin, when tall frames were the fashion.
1954 Claude Butler New All Rounder.

torquer
06-18-2012, 12:52 PM
Brifters definitely contribute to the situation William writes about, but I also noticed it when I returned to riding in the 90s, and I attributed it to the significant influx of mountain bikers to the road scene.

ergott
06-18-2012, 12:55 PM
I don't blame shift levers (see what I did there?), I blame riders that want to imitate the position of pros without the work that is needed to achieve that position. They put the bars lower than they can use them so the drops become vestigial. You don't need 10s of thousands of miles a year to get there, but you certainly need more than a grand or two.

fiamme red
06-18-2012, 01:05 PM
I don't blame shift levers (see what I did there?)When you say "shift levers," you can be referring to one of these:

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5111/7195207422_3af30d8ae9_c.jpg

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3603/3416141598_4377c5d591_z.jpg?zz=1

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3617/3400474926_563bddd04e_z.jpg

Ken Robb
06-18-2012, 01:07 PM
Once I realized that I liked my bars higher than the "experts" who fit me I changed from riding 95% of the time on the hoods because I couldn't stand being in the drops for more than a brief effort (arthritic neck and old age) to riding at least 50/50% drops/hoods. My drops are now comfy for extended periods and my hoods are for when I really want to sit up, relax, and look around.

When I look at pix of pros from the old days it looks to me like their bars were higher than most current pros prefer. I suggest trying raising your bars so you can spend more time in the drops and see how you like the trade-off.

ergott
06-18-2012, 01:13 PM
When you say "shift levers," you can be referring to one of these:

http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5111/7195207422_3af30d8ae9_c.jpg

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3603/3416141598_4377c5d591_z.jpg?zz=1

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3617/3400474926_563bddd04e_z.jpg

Not sure that those things are. Are they some sort of remote lockout for suspension?

Bob Loblaw
06-18-2012, 01:15 PM
With the advent of brifters, the brake hoods have gotten wider and longer and are a much better, more comfortable place to rest your hands than they were in the 80's and earlier. Add that they offer the ideal spot to for immediate control of braking and shifting, a good spot to hold on to if you need to stand and accelerate suddenly, a more comfortable posture, and a better view of surroundings and other riders (as opposed to the drops), and it's small wonder there's been a general gravitation towards that hand position.

I agree that descending, attacking and sprinting in the drops is definitely the way to go.

BL

EDS
06-18-2012, 02:38 PM
Fistful of seat pin, when tall frames were the fashion.
1954 Claude Butler New All Rounder.

Was that considered a good set-up in the day? Brake levers seem unreachable from any bar position and drops are not level.

benb
06-18-2012, 02:55 PM
I think it's just bad form when someone sprints on the hoods. Certainly bad bike fit can make it uncomfortable for someone to use the drops too.

Even Cancellara can make mistakes. Maybe he's not a great sprinter. it doesn't seem like you see many of the actual sprint specialists making this mistake.

martinrjensen
06-18-2012, 02:57 PM
Drops are pointing at the rear brake caliper, or about 10 degrees down. The classic setupWas that considered a good set-up in the day? Brake levers seem unreachable from any bar position and drops are not level.

benb
06-18-2012, 03:06 PM
Drops are pointing at the rear brake caliper, or about 10 degrees down. The classic setup

Yes the bars look fine (and they are actually pretty low I think) but the position of the brakes themselves looks pretty bad.

But this is no different then going to Trek.com right now and finding a picture of a Madone with the brifters mounted strangely. Marketing pictures don't always make sense.

EricEstlund
06-18-2012, 04:03 PM
(see what I did there?)

Thank you.

If I'm aiming for precision I use the common modifiers of "integrated", "down tube" and "bar end". Call me old fashioned.

54ny77
06-18-2012, 04:12 PM
what is this "sprinting" thing you speak of?

oh, one major disadvantage of the integrated brake lever/shifter is that gone are the days of being able to reach over and flick your buddy's downtube shifter into the biggest gear. on a hill. for fun.

not that i would have done that....

tannhauser
06-18-2012, 04:15 PM
Contraction Jackson, what's your action?

Hookin up tires and cogs and phrases

redir
06-18-2012, 04:15 PM
I think a lot of racers today set up their bars lower so that they can use the hoods regularly and for more situations. In the old days they used to have just a bit of saddle/bar drop and use the drops more often and the tops to chill out. I still like the drops especially in tight cornering crits so that if I get bumped nothing will get hooked.

fiamme red
06-18-2012, 04:15 PM
Thank you.

If I'm aiming for precision I use the common modifiers of "integrated", "down tube" and "bar end". Call me old fashioned.Do you say "smog" or do you insist on "smoke and fog"? :)

bikinchris
06-18-2012, 04:20 PM
I think it's a combination. Sure older riders have a hard time bending down, but the advent of the threadless headset makes it harder to size bikes correctly. Combine that with the fact that most people historically buy their bikes too small and the angle to the shifters is too steep to be able to reach the shifters easily, so they ride on the hoods. Another reason is that they turn the bars at an angle that make shifting from the drops becuase the bars are too low. If the bars were higher, they could be more level and you could reach the shifters and the brakes easier.
If you size the bike and place the bars high enough to actually USE the drops, then not only will the bike be more comfortable, you will get the full use of the bars and be more efficient too. IMO and experience the bars should be about 1 to 2 inches below the seat and when you look at the pictures of the pro racers, they are a lot lower. I made the same mistakes when i was young an drode a CDale Black Lightning with the bars drops a good 8 inches below the saddle. Useless and it was hard to reach the drops. When I rode the hoods and had my lower arm level to the ground, my back was level to the ground also. If I had the bars higher, I could have achieved the same position and not have half of my bars go unused.
When you are drafting in a pack, being higher means you can actually breath! When oyu are off the front, you can use the drops and still get aero. You are the most wind drag on that bike, not your head tube.
I still remember the kids putting bullhorns on their bikes with the same stem they used before for time trials and the would have been better with drop bars.

Germany_chris
06-18-2012, 04:24 PM
Its a bad habit.

People that don't ride in the drops don't race in the drops, aren't comfortable in the drops, don't sprint in the drops.

When I first started racing I saw a dude's hands slip off the hoods during a sprint. Lost a tooth and broke a collar bone. Never saw another person sprint on the hoods that summer.

The next summer, Cat 5s were required to participate in a pre-race skills clinic..."hold your line" and "in the drops" were the most repeated phrases. Allegheny Cycling Association did a super good job with this.

I ride in the hoods and sprint/buck headwinds/relax my back in the drops.

I truly don't know about other people as I don't ride with them, but I don't see the death of drops "hooks" anytime soon

benb
06-18-2012, 05:03 PM
I'm not very old (34) but I have a pretty healthy drop and yet still am fine riding in the drops.

e.x. I went out and rode 20 miles at lunch, I wouldn't be surprised if I was in the drops 30 minutes out of the 1 hour.

Gummee
06-18-2012, 05:30 PM
I've got one bike that's more comfortable in the drops and one that's more comfortable on the hoods. I go just as slowly on both of em.

AFA 'harder to set the bike up right.' I'm going to disagree. No, its not as easy to set bar height, but nowadays there's LOADS more options for stem angles than -17 or -17. you can flip em up or down. Flip spacers, etc.

...and different bar drops/extensions too! I mean lookit the QBP catalog for goodness sakes! How many pages of bars are there and they don't carry all of em!

No, I'd rather be riding today than when I started 20-ish years ago.

M

benb
06-18-2012, 05:41 PM
Eh.. only been riding road bikes for 13 years but I think it is easier to screw your bike fit up today..

It's getting better but head-tubes shrunk when quill stems disappeared. It was a heck of a lot quicker/easier to raise & lower a quill stem then the modern stuff...

I only had one bike with a quill before they disappeared but it sure was the easiest one to setup and adjust. A minute or two to find the wrench, loosen the nut, adjust, tighten, done. No need to go order a new stem or find the right combination of spacers to get everything buttoned up again. And the overal stack was such that you could easily go from a decent (but not huge) drop all the way to level bars/saddle.

My current bike has an integrated seatmast, etc.. you'd have to go to a super goofy major high rise stem to get the bars level with the saddle. Most of the performance stem makers don't make a stem that would allow you to do it. You'd have to get one of the hinged stems off a hybrid.

Peter P.
06-18-2012, 06:34 PM
I'm with bikinchris on this one.

Threadless stems, in combination with that "slammed" stem look which is all the rage, have πput the bars too low for riding the drops to be practical. So unknowingly, we spend more time on the hoods, including in the sprints because if we were to sprint in the drops our heads would be to low to see the road ahead comfortably.

Most of us would do better to raise the bars to make the drops more accessible.

jr59
06-18-2012, 06:52 PM
Just an observation over time...and brought home by the race video posted by The Domestique in the geaneral forum:

Seems that since the advent of the brifter riding/racing positions have migrated up (meaning I seem to see more people on the hoods) from the drops to the hoods. I think most people find it easier to shift the gears from the hoods than from the drops. Not that it's a huge difficulty difference, but it is slightly easier. Those of you who remember racing with DT shifters know it's actually a little easier to shift from the drops then from the hoods since you're down closer to the levers. It was mentioned in one of the responses, and by watching you will notice that many of the riders are racing from the hoods. I was taught that was a no-no, especially in crit racing. One can argue that it's more aero and better handling to be in the drops. And when the sprint starts you can get better leverage trying to rip the bike in two from the drops.

So has the advent of the brifter caused an unintended shift in racing positions? The evidence at first glance points to yes.






William


Seems to me that form in a sprint is what gets you to the line first!
We old guys, remember when we were taught to do it one way, but it seems now, with different stems, and bars they can do it in another way.

Not right, nor wrong, but what wins the sprint.

ergott
06-18-2012, 07:00 PM
I'm with bikinchris on this one.

Threadless stems, in combination with that "slammed" stem look which is all the rage, have πput the bars too low for riding the drops to be practical. So unknowingly, we spend more time on the hoods, including in the sprints because if we were to sprint in the drops our heads would be to low to see the road ahead comfortably.

Most of us would do better to raise the bars to make the drops more accessible.

A stock road bike that fits and has 0-2cm of spacers isn't too low. Whether or not people can generate power in that setup depends on many things.

Most threaded stems of the day were -17deg to match the toptube. Now most stems are 4-10deg. I went from a 12cm -17 on one bike to a 12cm -10 stem on another bike. The difference there alone is almost 2cm of drop. Most people don't ride with a threadless -17 stem.

A 54cm road bike typically can be setup with a 7cm drop if using a 12cm, -4 stem and 2cm of spacers (at least some of the bikes I've been looking into). I run my 54cm Spooky with 10cm drop using a 12cm, -10 stem. On my Ottrott which is a 53cm setup like a Colnago, I use a 12cm, -17 stem because the headtube is longer overall after factoring in the external headset. I think a 54cm Cannondale would make me use a .5cm spacer (they are low bikes). For that size bike, that isn't that extreme. We are talking about race bikes here not touring, etc.

Fixed
06-18-2012, 07:18 PM
A little coaching goes a long way .
Let's say the average beginning racer sends three thousand on gear
A few extra hundred on coaching would be a good investment IMHO
Cheers :)

benb
06-18-2012, 07:23 PM
A carbon frame purchase or a Di2 purchase buys a lot of yoga, physical therapy, or flexibility coaching too... Good way to get to the point where you can ride these newfangled frames with said -17 degree stem. (Raises hand)

Fixed
06-18-2012, 07:27 PM
I think it's a combination. Sure older riders have a hard time bending down, but the advent of the threadless headset makes it harder to size bikes correctly. Combine that with the fact that most people historically buy their bikes too small and the angle to the shifters is too steep to be able to reach the shifters easily, so they ride on the hoods. Another reason is that they turn the bars at an angle that make shifting from the drops becuase the bars are too low. If the bars were higher, they could be more level and you could reach the shifters and the brakes easier.
If you size the bike and place the bars high enough to actually USE the drops, then not only will the bike be more comfortable, you will get the full use of the bars and be more efficient too. IMO and experience the bars should be about 1 to 2 inches below the seat and when you look at the pictures of the pro racers, they are a lot lower. I made the same mistakes when i was young an drode a CDale Black Lightning with the bars drops a good 8 inches below the saddle. Useless and it was hard to reach the drops. When I rode the hoods and had my lower arm level to the ground, my back was level to the ground also. If I had the bars higher, I could have achieved the same position and not have half of my bars go unused.
When you are drafting in a pack, being higher means you can actually breath! When oyu are off the front, you can use the drops and still get aero. You are the most wind drag on that bike, not your head tube.
I still remember the kids putting bullhorns on their bikes with the same stem they used before for time trials and the would have been better with drop bars.
I remember when those l.a. 84 bars sucked
What matters now is .....the bike looks fast setting still
In the old days ....bikes looked fast when they were going fast
IMHO :)Cheers

bobswire
06-18-2012, 08:24 PM
For pros it depends on the situation.
I seen Sagan doing both. I think it depends on situation like working your way thru the bunch or having a clean hole shot, or uphill vs. flat.

This is an uphill sprint Sagan won.

http://i50.tinypic.com/2dujxva.jpg

This is from a flat stage.

http://i47.tinypic.com/28r1cpk.jpg

FlashUNC
06-18-2012, 08:38 PM
They do eliminate the old Roger De Vlaeminck style of shifting in a sprint -- using your knee.

estilley
06-18-2012, 09:14 PM
When I see people riding in the drops their usually doing about 10-12mph on a bike path.

false_Aest
06-18-2012, 09:31 PM
Brah,

The thread drifted a bit.

OP is about the 1%.

I have a hard time believing that the 1% is about comfort, etc. It's about getting there in the fastest, most energy efficient way...while still upright.

Waren't it Fixed that said something about technique?

How many Cat 5-2 sprints have you seen where Sprint Sprintstrong winds up at the final corner and drops his gear so that he's now wrestling the bike more than he's going forward?

I see it a lot. As much in Cat 5 as I do in Cat 3. Brahs don't know how to ride a bike. Don't know how to spin up a 53x14 and hope to make up for it with a 53x11.

I don't think its new tech that's preventing form I think its that most of us can buy a certain amount of speed and most of us are just cocky enough to say, "Shut the eff up!" when someone who knows offers advice.

Ken Robb
06-18-2012, 10:41 PM
When I see people riding in the drops their usually doing about 10-12mph on a bike path.

Are they sprinting past you? :)

oldpotatoe
06-19-2012, 09:16 AM
Interesting discussion in the comments here: http://gerard.cc/2011/09/27/worlds-bar/

http://gerardvroomen.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/cancellara.jpg?w=380&h=508

Fabian had to be able to reach the electric motor's controls..come ON!!

sandyrs
06-19-2012, 09:21 AM
this isn't something i've ever seen, but there are a lot of total races under this forum's belt and i'm wondering...

has anyone ever seen someone sprint with their hands on the bar tops?

Gummee
06-19-2012, 09:56 AM
this isn't something i've ever seen, but there are a lot of total races under this forum's belt and i'm wondering...

has anyone ever seen someone sprint with their hands on the bar tops?

Not standing. No.

M

tannhauser
06-19-2012, 01:19 PM
this isn't something i've ever seen, but there are a lot of total races under this forum's belt and i'm wondering...

has anyone ever seen someone sprint with their hands on the bar tops?

Fast Freddie has done it, seated.

Some fixie dudes stand and do it.