Saddle to bar Drop - question

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
User avatar
Posts: 283
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:20 pm
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

by G6612

I have never had a big drop from saddle to bars on any of my bikes so I have decided to give it a try to get more by lowering my bars. I rode yesterday and while riding I felt pretty comfortable with no problems after riding later that night I did feel a little stiff in my shoulders and neck and my back did feel it a little. Now my question is should I assume that judging by the way that I feel should I quickly change it back or should I give myself a few more rides for my body to adjust. Appreciate any input and experiences.

Posts: 642
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:02 pm

by SL58

The reason you have never had a big drop is because you do not have enough
years of riding and /or your bike head tube is wrong size.
It used to be said that every decade of riding results in extra 1cm. in your top tube.
3" difference and more between saddle and bar is commonly seen in pro peleton.
That and slammed -17deg. stems of course.
The fact that it feels uncomfortable does not indicate that the fit is wrong no more
that 190HRM is wrong even though it is uncomfortable. :welcome:

Posts: 414
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2011 1:26 am
Location: California's country side

by PoorCyclist

When I adjusted the conservative cockpit assembled by the store, I lowered the bar and mounted the hoods flat to the bars, at first I felt like I was going to go over the bars, and on the climbs it was hard to reach the hoods. I stuck with it and now I want to go lower again. It took a few months to get used to, though.

I had to try it at the height to know. I am not doing other things to improve flexibility besides riding. 1cm change seems to be a good step as it is not so disruptive.

Posts: 265
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 5:49 am

by Zachariah

The body can always adapt, albeit painfully...
Due to the urging of all the ladies...I do NOT shave my legs!

Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:03 pm

by Edster

I am not sure what your "big drop" dimension is. Depends on how flexible you are, and big drop in itself does not necessarily make you faster. I can put my palms flat on the floor and run 105 mm from top of saddle to center of bars. I would suggest you go to either a Retul fit center or the Guru fit system for a proper fit session and go with their setup.

Good luck!

Posts: 188
Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 12:23 am

by clarkson

Lets be sure to clarify that there are so many variables in terms of body flexibility, unique anatomy, bicycle geometry, bar size, stem length, etc that everyone will have a different setup that may work equally well for them. So there is no 'correct' saddle to bar drop, just what works for the individual.

However if you have doubts about your current setup, or are curious about bike fit, I would suggest you seek out a local reputable bike fitter or knowledgeable friend who could offer you some guidance based on how you are currently riding. Slamming your stem just because all the cool flexible kids are doing it is just a recipe for pain.

Posts: 1365
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 2:08 pm

by artray

If your not in any real pain just muscle aches ,then give it a chance. It will take a while to get your body used to a new position , but remember the idea is to ride faster and easier. Keep a check and make sure your level does not drop and you get some gains from the change. Not all of the pro riders slam there stem.Good luck.

Posts: 839
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:26 pm

by konky

If you felt OK at first with a lower bar the chances are the pain you later feel is just muscles getting used to a different position. But you need to give it a month at least of regular riding to know if the lowered bar is going to feel good long term.

Good luck with it. It's really worth going for the lowest position possible. When and if you get to a really low position it feels great. You feel like a pro.

Posts: 182
Joined: Mon Dec 26, 2011 9:04 am

by milkbaby

Everybody is different... Try it and see if your body will adjust. Your shoulders and neck may be a bit sore due to needing to hold your head up higher with the lower front end. Instead of holding your head up so much, you can look up with your eyes some instead.

I posted these in another forum, but the bikes below were ridden by a gentleman who is the fastest rider in the pro peleton, and his saddle to bar drop is only 90 mm according to this article (it actually looks like less in these photos). It hasn't stopped Mark Cavendish from clearly being the best sprinter in the pro ranks the last few years, lead out train or not (see 2011 WC RR).



Posts: 1485
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2011 3:25 am
Location: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

by Valbrona

With positioning, you go as low as is comfortable enough to do so. One ride is maybe not enough to judge level of comfort.

The trend over the years has been towards very low and longer stems, and in many eyes this gives a certain 'look' which some types find quite appealing. But you have your bars in a position that feels right rather than looks good.

And with Cavendish he is by default probably having to have the smallest frame in the range, which maybe doesn't allow as much variation in positioning than if he was a taller guy of more average proportions.

User avatar
Posts: 1235
Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 7:09 pm
Location: In the industry

by elviento

I just want to add that comfort can sometimes be a bit overrated. The sport of cycling by definition is not the most comfortable to begin with. Pros clearly sacrifice comfort (to a degree) in exchange for performance benefits. So for a recreational rider, how much comfort should you, or are you willing, to give up, for performance gain, will be a largely personal question.

The crouching position is one of the top complaints I hear from non-cyclists. Your body will generally get more used to the discomfort after you spend more time in the saddle. So if there is SOME discomfort it may not be a deal breaker.

That said, I'd recommend trial and error in very small increments (say 5mm at a time).

Or course the other end of the spectrum -- too much drop which is torture and reduces performance -- should clearly also be avoided.
Fast falcons:" onclick=";return false;
Facebook: falcobikeglobal

User avatar
Posts: 283
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:20 pm
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

by G6612

I appreciate all the responses exactly what I was looking for. Actually on the bike I felt no pain and I felt comfortable. It was a few hours later that I felt little muscle aches which I think is due to the new position. I will give it some time and see how I feel with a couple more rides on the bike.


Posts: 336
Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2008 9:56 pm

by motorthings

you may also find (if you can measure it/and care) that your power/efficiency is at least temporarily reduced with larger drop as your body adapts. it can take a while to get back to your previous efficiency/power with a change like that.

Posts: 720
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:31 am

by RussellS

Valbrona wrote:The trend over the years has been towards very low and longer stems, and in many eyes this gives a certain 'look' which some types find quite appealing. But you have your bars in a position that feels right rather than looks good.

With the professional peloton this is probably true. With everyone else its not. High handlebars even with the saddles, upsloping stems, TALL headtubes is very common with recreational riders. And for the recreational racers and professional racers, you rarely if ever see them using the drops. Their long, low stems have the drops so low as to be unusable. All they ever use is the tops of the hoods. Always seemed rather stupid to me to put the drops so low as to be uncomfortable to use.

Posts: 700
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:53 am

by tinozee

It's humorous and kinda sad hearing performance over comfort/health advice from young guys. I have a good amount of drop, but it's not for everyone, especially if your body sends you the pain message. For example, you can't always identify potential for FAI or dysplasia in the hips with a pro/visual fit.

Be sure to listen to the body and understand what is going on. Don't listen to young wannabe pros who have zero clue.

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Last post