Track Talk: Drop Bars

Yesterday, we had our second excursion to the velodrome.  Well, technically, it was our third, but last Monday we got there just as they were turning off the lights…so I’m not gonna count that one.

I thought I’d start a bit of a weekly post, sharing with you pointers I learn each week (and yes, I've decided to call it Track Talk...I like alliteration).  Some posts might be track specific, but I’m going to try to share things that can be applied to urban riding too.  And this week, it’s all about bars.

On the track, you’re required to have drop bars.  Whether they be classic drops or pistas, it’s drops or disqualification.  Being someone who rides mainly with bullhorns (and by mainly, I mean exclusively) I picked up a few key tips from our sensai, Henry.

It’s all about angle:

You want your drops set up so that the bottom angle is pointed towards the hub of the rear wheel.  It seems natural to have the drop ends set up horizontally, but this actually decreases the amount of power you can get out of the bike because…

Here's a good diagram showing drop bar angle.  The picture on the right is perfecto.

Oh, uh, it’s also all about grip:

Having the drop ends pointed at a slightly downward angle gives you the best grip.  You want your hands just on the bend of the bar.  This creates leverage with your arms that can transfer into power with your legs.

Check out that grip!

If your drop ends are horizontal, and your hands are on the ends, you lose the ability to rear back and really push with your legs.  By tilting the bars and gripping the bend, you get that extra bit of leverage, allowing you to really push with your legs, and push back with your arms.  This means significantly increased speed and acceleration on the track and on the streets.

Stay tuned for more updates next week!