Bike Tip: Bend Your Arms for Relaxed Safety!
August 28, 2017
Most sport riders today I see are riding with STRAIGHT arms, or nearly so. This is good for checking bike fit, and it's OK as another hand position while riding. But most sport riders are using it as their main position. ...Even a lot of pro's today do it! (And they seem to be crashing more than they used to!)
In reality, when you're riding fast on a bike it seems like half the time your elbows should almost be brushing your knees. And when you're really jamming your knees can often come up higher than your elbows.
When your arms are straight you're unstable and can easily crash. You're not powering from your awesome glutes and your back is stressed and you tend to drop your chin, strain your neck. It's like doing pushups while you ride. This is the cause of flat tires, of painful pothole slams -- and most crashes! You can easily endo, either forward or to the side because straight arms act as a pivot. ...Many bad things!
When your arms are bent you float your torso weight on your thighs, adding to your power and relaxation. You can breathe deeply and relaxed: the biggest key to speed! You are aerodynamic. You power from your awesome glutes. You are ready for any bump. If anything surprising happens you can adapt instantly and never crash! If you're forced off the road, no problem. You can easily lift your chin and look down the road, way ahead. Crashproof yourself by riding with bent arms!
You don't have to be strong to ride relaxed. Most of the time you just don't want weight on your hands. It takes more work to ride bad, not less! When you have your forces working nice, you should be able to let go of your hands and your head shouldn't droop much. You should be able to get into the drops of your bars without stress. You should feel your hands driving FORWARD as you ride. Hands push into the back of your bars or levers. Feet drive over the top! Feel the power from 10 > 1 oclock! Feel your achilles stretch as your heel lowers. Push into the back of your pedals. You're DRIVING your bike! It disappears beneath you.
Basically, we're just riding in the "normal athletic ready stance"! It's easy to practice. Just stand. Then drop into a ready-stance, hands in front. Or a weight lifting squat stance. Balanced and relaxed. Practice it before you get on your bike. Also, try riding on the tops with a "break" in your wrist plus bent arms. Exhale, relax, float.
Check out these pics!
Classic style. Bent arms in front. Resting behind.
'Ready for action' stance as used in speed skating.
The standard "ready for action" stance as used by wrestlers.
Bent arms -- ready for anything!
Niki Terpstra -- superstar -- bends his arms!