Riding position, why/ how does it matter in climbing hills?- Mtbr.com
Results 1 to 31 of 31
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    439

    Riding position, why/ how does it matter in climbing hills?

    Can someone explain why an upright "Dutch" type bike (Raleigh Detour, etc.) is at a disadvantage for hill climbing against a "road" type bike (thinking of tourers and endurance here, maybe Cannondale Synapse as an example)? I get wind resistance and gear ratios, tire physics etc. I don't understand what position does beyond shifting weight from front to rear or rear to front.

    My limited MTB experience, falling or flying off of bikes at greater than ideal speeds, has suggested that upright with low gear ratios is good and lets the front tire lift over roots and such rather than stalling. The road guys around here assume the praying mantis position, occasionally standing up in the stirrups.

    Assuming comparable gear ratios, similar tire rolling resistance, and no headwind, why am I more comfortable climbing the same road on a cyclocross bike than a hard tail mtb?

  2. #2
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    18,453
    I think if I can get my center of mass over the pedals I'm putting power into, I'm more relaxed and comfortable than if I'm behind them, and have to stabilize myself with my arms.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: newfangled's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    3,321
    Quote Originally Posted by Rustedthrough View Post
    Can someone explain why an upright "Dutch" type bike (Raleigh Detour, etc.) is at a disadvantage for hill climbing...
    I'll just say that I find the sweepy northroad-style handlebars of dutch bikes can be surprisingly effective for standing climbs. They really feel like oldschool barends. And I assume that was the point, since originally ye olde bike would have had limited gearing and faced unpredictable roads, so a versatile bar was a good thing to have.

    Nowadays though, the Raleigh Detour (and most bikes like it) comes with a boring riser bar to fit shifters and whatnot. But a Mary/Space/Open bar would be better for climbing.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    439
    Thanks folks, I am still curious about the mechanics of position for hill climbing.

    I took the plunge today and ordered a 2014 Jamis Bosanova with the option to take my deposit to the Rove AL if I don't like the Jamis as much as I hope to. I will play with position on the Jamis (the drop bars can be moved up or down quite easily), but I would love to know why one position is better than another.

  5. #5
    NDD
    NDD is online now
    mtbr member
    Reputation: NDD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    1,563
    I hope this helps you. Essentially, i find that climbing is best achieved on any bike by forward (that is, above the normal, centered, riding position). This is done easier on a road bike, in my experience, because of frame geometry and drop bars and all that. It is something that you should be able to achieve on a mountain bike by moving your bum up to the front of the seat and getting your body up to or ahead of the bars. That might set you up to flip over, but I haven't had that happen going up hill yet, only downhill when I try to hug trees on the fly.

  6. #6
    NDD
    NDD is online now
    mtbr member
    Reputation: NDD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    1,563
    If I provided any misinformation, let me know and then shame me.

  7. #7
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    18,453

    Re: Riding position, why/ how does it matter in climbing hills?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rustedthrough View Post
    Thanks folks, I am still curious about the mechanics of position for hill climbing.
    Sounds like this will be your first road bike?

    Play around with it. I bet the reasons become abundantly clear.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
    jrm
    jrm is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation: jrm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    11,608
    road and cx bikes have tighter angles, shorter wheelbases and less rolling resistance. More hand positions with a drop bar & your hands & upper body are positioned forward towards or over the axle of the front wheel.

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Saul Lumikko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Posts
    1,801
    A more aggressive position allows you to put more power to the pedals when standing. If the bar is too high your arms will be very bent and you'll have to "reach for the pedal" in the bottom of the stroke. If the bar is too close to you (also typical for upright position bikes) your thighs come very close to it.

    Even when you're seated, a forward position allows you to help the pedal stroke with your upper body weight. If you're in an upright position, you have to provide counter-force to the pedal stroke with your arms.

  10. #10
    since 4/10/2009
    Reputation: Harold's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    28,990
    Balance and traction, like a mtb, but most importantly it's finding the body position where you can more effectively put power to the pedals. It's a biomechanics thing.

    Sure, if you have a gear low enough, you can sit up (to an extent) and spin. But you won't be going very fast. That's not exactly what road bikes are for.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    439
    Sounds like I will have some experimenting to do next week. It is my first road bike, the miles on the loaner cyclocross bike went by a lot faster than they did on the Talus 2.0.

    I am also curious about the lower rolling resistance between the two types of bike. With my Continental Town and Country tires at about 60 psi the outer height of the tire was only slightly smaller than the 700x30s on the Cyclocross at similar pressure (70psi). The 700x30s also had a small knob tread while the Continentals have a pretty smooth strip at the center line. Is there really a lot more to this than simple physics and number charts, or is it largely perception?

    Thanks for all the great replies so far.

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    439
    Sorry forgot to mention the mtb is on 26x 1.9 tires.

  13. #13
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    18,453
    I think bigger wheels are faster. Also, a lot of MTB tires have a pretty thick tread, so a lot of energy loss there. Schwalbe has an interesting white paper arguing for wider tires, other things equal. But other things never are equal.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  14. #14
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation: mtbxplorer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    7,716
    Quote Originally Posted by Rustedthrough View Post
    Can someone explain why an upright "Dutch" type bike (Raleigh Detour, etc.) is at a disadvantage for hill climbing against a "road" type bike (thinking of tourers and endurance here, maybe Cannondale Synapse as an example)? ...
    Well, it's pretty flat in the Netherlands, isn't it? So no too surprising that bikes commonplace there would not be good climbers. Road bikes on the other hand have been developed and are used over a variety of terrain. I can't say that I know all the mechanics of it, but bikes "evolve" just like living things do.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rustedthrough View Post
    Assuming comparable gear ratios, similar tire rolling resistance, and no headwind, why am I more comfortable climbing the same road on a cyclocross bike than a hard tail mtb?
    Key word here is road, the MTB will be more comfortable on trails, unless the hill is so steep that you run out of gears on the cross bike.

    The Bosanova looks fun, enjoy, and let us know how you like it!

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    439
    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I think bigger wheels are faster. Also, a lot of MTB tires have a pretty thick tread, so a lot of energy loss there. Schwalbe has an interesting white paper arguing for wider tires, other things equal. But other things never are equal.
    Point well made, other things never are equal are they. Can I find the Schwalbe white paper online? I love contradictory physics explanations.

    I have read several arguments between wide and narrow tires at similar PSI, in principle I buy it. In practice, my typical grocery shopping trip was averaging 14mph on the cyclocross bike vs 11.5mph on the slick tire mtb with (what felt like) similar exertion levels.

    My weight distribution on the two bikes was also vastly different with the mtb giving about 85/ 15% rear to front and the CX closer to 60/40% rear to front using the bathroom scale. This must change the way tires respond as well as pedaling dynamics and drag? Am I still too busy thinking of tractor pulls?

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    439
    Mtbexplorer, thanks for the response. I am certain that I will enjoy the mtb more on rough trails, weight distribution allows for much more hopping etc. and the road bike on roads. I will certainly post a few lines and photos when I get the Bosanova through the first few commutes.

    The evolution of bikes is exactly my question. The Netherlands, and my home state of Delaware (New Netherlands/ New Sweden) are all largely flat with hilly bits at the edges. Both places have a lot of flat bar or swooping dramatic bar bikes on the road (some with tassels and tiny front wheels). How does this work?

    In Mozambique and Uganda, I see countless flat bar, single speed steel framed bikes of Chinese and Indian manufacture with road bike shape and tires climbing and descending alarming hills with easily two hundred pounds of charcoal/ wood/ bananas/water jugs/ passengers. All this on a mix of dirt and poorly maintained asphalt roads. It is clear that I am an overfed wimp who lacks the motivation of these cyclists. Maybe it is all about the "engine."

  17. #17
    since 4/10/2009
    Reputation: Harold's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    28,990
    I can almost guarantee that if you look at the gearing you will get your ultimate answer. A bike can go a lot of places and do a lot of things if geared correctly

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Saul Lumikko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Posts
    1,801
    Rolling resistance varies a lot more depending on other factors than width. For that reason precisely I think it's incorrect to generalize that road bikes have the lowest rolling resistance. If you make a rule one way or the other, wider tires roll better - but they must be of a rolling variety, not knobby mud tires.

    No matter what your gearing is, riding position and bike fit affects how much power you can put to the pedals.

  19. #19
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    18,453
    You're too busy thinking of tractor pulls. As long as both tires stay hooked up, weight distribution per se doesn't matter for power transfer.

    For me, the front bias on a road bike makes them easier to climb in a straight line.

    The speeds you reach on your shopping trips are enough to make air resistance matter. Road bikes almost always make the rider narrower and usually lower. That's probably the lion's share of the speed difference if both your road and your mountain bike have slicks.

    Schwalbe's article is on their web site. It helps them sell tires.

    If you look at old pictures, you can see that drop bars were already starting to evolve when people were riding high-wheelers. But they've always been a choice made by athletic cyclists. I think they're great for riding to work too, but I was already comfortable on road bikes when I started making that choice. When you stick a random person who rarely rides on a bike, they feel uncomfortable with drop bars. So a lot of non-competitive bikes still have flats or cruiser bars.

    I got to visit Bangladesh a while ago. I noticed a lot of those same Indian bikes. They looked like they were all the same size, too. My theory is that the Brits set up a factory there when it was a colony, and the Indians have just been manufacturing tons of that bike ever since.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Saul Lumikko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Posts
    1,801
    Schwalbe is selling different tire sizes and tell people what the difference between them are. Hardly a marketing gimmick to fool people into buying their stuff over other brands.

  21. #21
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    18,453
    Not really what I meant. I think they're right.

    But we do tend to have a bias toward buying things from companies that we perceive as a source of good information. So I don't think it's a coincidence that Schwalbe both publishes an argument for wider tires and has adopted somewhat wider sizes in their race lines.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  22. #22
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Saul Lumikko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Posts
    1,801
    Well that certainly is true. I consciously choose to support companies who provide information that I find useful.

  23. #23
    mtbr member
    Reputation: rogbie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    1,255
    The difference in riding positions is a function of air resistance and efficient power transfer. The biggest factor, though, is weight and rolling resistance between the bikes.

    An upright position exposes more area to air resistance. Also, physiologically less power is available to an upright cyclist. For example: a crouched sprinter accelerates faster than from a standing start. A more aggressive position on a bike produces more power. Therefore the difference in designs and purposes of bicycles.

    A city bike is made for durability, comfort, slow speeds, convenience, and short trips. Because of these qualities city bikes are less efficient than the more aggressive road bikes.

  24. #24
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation: mtbxplorer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    7,716
    But yet, when I switch to a MTB for the commute, it immediately feels more powerful, aware, in control, and in charge than a drop-bar bike. Add snow or ice, and double that.

  25. #25
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    18,453
    I think I develop power a little better on my road bikes. For me, though, the biggest advantage is that I'm more comfortable riding palms-in than palms-down. It's also nice that they come out of the box with the right tires and gearing for the job.

    I'm on a MTB too if ice and snow get involved.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  26. #26
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    200
    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Schwalbe has an interesting white paper arguing for wider tires, other things equal.
    IIRC, the point is that narrow high pressure tires are only a little more efficient on pavement: something like 5-10%.

    Of course, they're comparing it to a Big Apple, not a knobby.

    Thinking of the physics, this makes sense, because a fat tire inflated to 50-60psi isn't really going to deflect much more than a skinny tire inflated to 90psi.

    The real gain with skinny tires isn't rolling resistance, it's weight...


    The surprise of Schwalbe's paper is that fat tires are MUCH more efficient than skinny tires over loose/soft surfaces, because they don't sink in as much as skinny tires.

  27. #27
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    439
    Thanks all for the replies and theories. This is some fascinating stuff. I pick up the Bosanova on Wednesday (unless I play hooky from work Tuesday).

    I can't wait to start testing out and moving the drop bars up and down to play with riding position. This will also be my first bike fit of any sort beyond the sales guy saying "Man you're tall, like 6'2" I think you need a large." I am only 6'2" in my logging boots which I have never worn on a bike nor to a bike shop.

    Any thoughts on what to ask at a fitting? I will wear the shoes and such I expect to ride in most often. Is it better to go into a fitting after a large calzone or scrapple sandwich to ensure I don't try to lean forward too much, or to have a reasonable lunch an hour before?

  28. #28
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    18,453

    Re: Riding position, why/ how does it matter in climbing hills?

    For a proper bike for, dress like you do to ride and try to arrive warmed up. People sometimes ride pretty differently for the first 10-60 minutes. It's how you ride for the bulk of a ride that you want your bike to fit.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  29. #29
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    439
    AndrwSwitch, that sounds sensible. Any common trends on how folks ride differently after 25- 35 minutes than at the outset?
    My grad school commuting/ grocery shopping rides are mostly in the 25 minute range, with the longer commute to work expected to be around an hour to 90 minutes. When I ride on weekends I don't pay any attention to how I am riding as I can stop and have a coffee any time it suits me, 35- 50 miles usually works out to about 80 miles per gallon of coffee and a desperate desire for a different saddle than I like for the shorter runs.

  30. #30
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    18,453
    Jeeze, I dunno. One of my teammates does fits out of his garage and was complaining about people arriving cold, and when I did one several years ago, the guy I worked with had me warm up before we got started. For myself, I notice that I feel different doing intervals about ten minutes in than if I try to start right away. And, I sometimes find myself using the drops more right at the beginning than when I've settled in a bit more. So, I think I lose a little tone in my core or relax or something. At the same time, I'm maybe a little more flexible. My track bike has more drop than my road bikes and feels weird at the outset but great by the time I'm racing, for example.

    Bottom line being, it's different, and I think some of the changes work in opposite ways, so it's hard to predict.

    I don't want to sound like I'm mystifying bike fit. At heart, it's very simple, and I think it's something a lot of us can get the hang of easily enough. It's more that it's more art than science.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  31. #31
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    439
    Thanks Andrw, I went in today immediately after a shortish ride on the old bike. Hopped on the new one and went for a spin with great big grin. We played with saddle and stem a little to find the best mix, nothing moved more than a centimeter before it felt perfect on a three mile ride.

    The shop offered to go over fit again, and over the cables, brakes etc. when I go back in to get my rack and extra brake levers installed Saturday. I should have a few miles on it by then.

    I will try to get some pics in the next day or so.

    Thanks again.

Similar Threads

  1. Hand position when climbing
    By John K. in forum Beginner's Corner
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 11-03-2013, 10:03 AM
  2. Climbing hills
    By crash926 in forum Beginner's Corner
    Replies: 34
    Last Post: 11-25-2011, 03:03 PM
  3. Climbing position
    By zorro in forum Singlespeed
    Replies: 23
    Last Post: 10-03-2011, 07:12 AM
  4. Does it matter if you do intervals on hills or flats?
    By Okie Dokie in forum XC Racing and Training
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 03-06-2011, 11:59 AM
  5. Problem Climbing Hills
    By Kaotic in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 45
    Last Post: 05-22-2007, 02:36 PM

Members who have read this thread: 0

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

THE SITE

ABOUT MTBR

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2020 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.