17 Oct 2019
Vision Tech Guide: different styles to grip your road handlebars.
There are three main ways to grip road handlebars on a racing bike: with hands on the hoods/levers, with the hands on the upper part of the handlebar, and with hands in the drops. Each of these has its strengths and weaknesses, but above all else, each one allows you to better face certain racing situations. If it’s true that the manoeuvring of the handlebar can also be influenced by the habits and posture of the cyclist, we must not forget that there are unwritten "rules" that should be respected. In this article we will focus on the advantages and disadvantages of the various hand holds and when it’s better to adopt one rather than another.
HANDS ON THE HOODS/LEVERS
This is the most universal grip because it is the only one that can potentially be used uphill, downhill and on the flat terrains. It guarantees a balance between aerodynamics and comfort, with the great advantage of always having the brakes immediately at hand. This grip style is recommended during training, both individually and in group rides, since it allows a fairly comfortable posture without compromising safety. It is also the most universal grip during races (also in the Pro field) when riding in a group since it can be maintained for many hours without great effort.
It also allows the ability for riders to get up quickly on the pedals to respond to any sudden increase in the pace without having to change the position of the hands. This grip with the entire hand on the brake controls can also be adopted downhill if there is no need to descend at great speeds. This grip position allows the rider to operate the brakes with ease while still having good stability and drive. If a rider wants maximum control and braking power, it’s better to resort to the low grip in the drops.
HANDS UP HIGH
In this case the hands are placed on the upper part of the handlebar across the top. Comfort is the main advantage of this grip, since placing the hands closest to the body the back remains more upright and the torso has a less pronounced angle than the hip. In contrast, aerodynamics worsens considerably.
Leaving aside the aspect of aerodynamic performance, it is a position that is discouraged when the speed increases, because it is not very safe; mainly because the brakes are not immediately available. Another reason is that the hands are closer to each other in this position which reduces the driveability of the bike in the event of emergency manoeuvers, such as sharp turns or obstacles in the road. For these reasons, it is a grip that’s recommended while either riding uphill or on roads with no traffic when you are confident you won’t need to use brakes.
HANDS IN THE DROPS
This is the most aggressive grip. It’s less comfortable than the other two options, but it allows for more torque on the handlebar, improves aerodynamics and ensures optimal control of the bike in every situation, especially in the event of emergency manoeuvers.
Additionally, it allows you to always have the brakes at hand and is operated using the entire brake lever, which therefore, gives a rider more power than when on the hoods. It’s no coincidence that this grip style is recommended in the trickiest stages of the race or training: high-speed sections in groups, sprints, short descents or bursts in the plains or uphill. You will hardly see a professional rider doing a sprint or facing a descent with their hands positioned differently from this.
With this grip style, the back approaches a horizontal orientation and the angle of pedalling for the hips closes, all of which helps with an aerodynamic posture on the bike.