Road Cycling Skills

Ask the Expert: When Should You Use the Drops?

We look at why you should take the time to master your drops

New to road biking and utterly confused about the different riding positions available? Not sure when you should be on the drops? Fear not we have the answer.

Kerry Bircher from Revolution Cycling says:

When discussing the cycling position ‘on the drops‘, it usually refers to holding on to the parts of the handlebars that curve outward, with the cyclist’s hands directly behind the brake levers.

Here are the main reasons to use your drops:

1. It’s a more aggressive and aerodynamic position than the hoods. This is especially useful when attempting to fight wind/air resistance and descending long hills.

2. You’re giving yourself a more secure hold on the bike, the centre of gravity is lower 

Braking when on the drops is generally more powerful as you have greater leverage, which is important to consider, so not to accidentally snatch the brakes when riding at higher speeds.

It can help to reduce fatigue and improve comfort. It is good practice to be able to ride in several different hand positions when cycling as occasional changes in hand position and posture will lessen fatigue and improve your comfort.

If you are new to cycling, changing up position can be a little unsettling as it does require a little bit of balance and coordination. Practice changing hand position on a quiet, straight stretch of road.

Start with both hands on the ‘hoods’ and whilst looking forward and maintaining a smooth constant pace, take one hand at a time onto the drops and hold the curved part of the bar where you can still reach the brakes. Ride in this position for as long as you feel comfortable before reversing the process and taking one hand at a time back to the hoods.

Gradually, over a number of rides, increase the amount of time you spend in your drops allowing your body to adapt to a more aggressive position. Initially practice this position on stretches of flat road, then progress to descents, cornering, headwinds and group riding situations.

You may also enjoy:

Road cycling hand signals and what they mean

7 Steps to overcome your fear of descending

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