QUESTION: After doing yoga for three months, I’m a lot more flexible. Now my handlebar seems too high and too close. Do you think I should change my position to reflect my increased limberness? — Brad D.
RBR REPLIES: Yoga is great for flexibility and many riders are discovering its benefits. This is a fine time of year to begin a program and incorporate it into your off-season training.
Your position on the bike is governed to a large extent by how flexible you are in the lower back and hamstrings. If you can’t touch your toes without bending your knees, you probably won’t be able to get into a low, relaxed riding position.
So, if you’re now loose as a goose, you can probably improve your position with a longer stem and lower handlebar.
But remember, flexibility is specific just like the rest of training. In the same way that endurance gained by running doesn’t transfer directly to cycling, so the ability to put your palms flat on the floor without bending your knees doesn’t necessarily mean that you can sustain a low riding position.
When you do flexibility exercises, you’re holding a stretch position for 10 or 15 seconds. But when you pedal, your low back and hamstrings stretch and shorten rhythmically with every pedal stroke. It’s not the same thing.
If you try a lower and longer position, do it cautiously. Don’t reduce bar height by more than a centimeter. Same for increasing stem length. Use the new position for several rides to adapt and see how it feels. Then you might want to stretch out a bit more. Don’t go so far that you experience pain or tightness.
And don’t forget that while a low position is more aerodynamic, it can compromise power output. An ideal position balances power production, comfort and aerodynamics.