Basic bike fitting principles include setting a proper seat height and bar reach, and just getting the correct seat position is going to give you a better position than many riders (some of whom seem to ignore bike fit.)

But even with a “good” bike fit, there are numerous positions to test and tweak before getting a “great” bike fit. Most of these little tweaks never even crossed my mind, but thanks to Cyclo-Club, I’ve had a chance to get some tips from bike fit guru, Paul Swift.

You might not recognize his name, but you’ll probably recognize the products he has worked on – Paul has worked on the design of products including Cannondale’s Track 1000 bicycle, the LeMond RevMaster group fitness indoor bicycle, and the XO dual sided pedal. And he’s in charge of BikeFit.com, so he knows a thing or two about bike fit!

Anyway, I recently put one of his interesting little tips to use. This tip involves repositioning the hoods slightly to achieve a more natural hand position. It’s a very small adjustment – so small I never even considered it – but it works.

Basically you want to rotate your hoods slightly inwards (towards each other).

Funny thing though, I went to adjust my hoods and it turns out they were already rotated in slightly! I guess I set them correctly without even thinking about it last year when I switched to my new Ritchey bar and stem.

Anyway, the idea really makes sense when you think about how your hands naturally hang at your sides. They fall inward slightly, so your hoods should match that position.

Here are the pictures to illustrate it…

1. Hood straight in line with bar.

brake hood straight

That picture has my hood lined up perfectly straight with the bar. I don’t know if bike shops even sell bikes with the hood that straight, but if you get a bike like that, move that hood inward!

The line demonstrates how my wrist is ever so slightly bent backwards. It doesn’t look that bad, but holding your hands like that for hours on end, every single day, can surely wreak havoc in the long run!

 

2. The hood in an ideal position.

brake hood rotated inward

This looks almost like the last picture, but the hood has been rotated inward slightly. It’s just enough rotation to make it ultra-comfortable. Plus, the hood is contoured for an anatomic fit, so it doesn’t take much of a twist on your part to get it in position.

You definitely don’t want to overdo it and rotate the hoods too far in. They could become even less comfortable, and don’t forget about being able to shift and brake properly!

 

These two pictures show the hood straight with the bar and rotated in slightly. Without my arm on there, you can’t even tell the difference! (I can’t remember which picture I took first, so even I can’t tell!)

brake hood positions

See, the pictures look the same. But what matters is what your body looks like when it has to conform to the bike. You don’t want to have to twist and bend your body to fit the bike – adjust the bike to fit you!

Give it a shot. It’s free, and it could save your hands, wrists, and shoulders from unnecessary pain.

2 Comments
  1. Thanks so much for posting this. I had an epiphany yesterday that this is the root cause of my tennis elbow. I also have a separated shoulder on the same side and I’m convinced they are connected. I hope so, it’s been a huge nag!

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