Thursday, October 2, 2008

Riding the hoods can be hazardous to your health

The pictures above show the results of last weekend's cyclocross race.  The first picture shows how my bars looked after the race.  The second picture shows what they looked like after I straightented them out.  The course was loose and sandy with good barriers and pavement riding, but had several bumpy downhill segments.  I was riding with my hands on the hoods and heard a loud crack noise.  At first I thought something had fractured, then after the terrain flattened out, I took stock of the situation.  My bars had rotated downward.  Now that I think about it, there's a lot of torque on the handlebar clamp when your riding in the drops, and that spikes when you're leaning on it during a bumpy downhill.  You rarely see handlebar rotation on mountain bikes because they are more or less straight and you generally don't hang on to bar ends during a descent since there are no brakes there.  

So what to do?  Whell, I finished out the race using my bar top brakes, and I could have been using those all along.  I also probably should have been descending in the drops for the best control and leverage on the brakes.  I don't think that any more clamping force would have prevented this unless the mating parts were splined (as in a bottom bracket axle).  I guess I should be happy to have learned a technique lesson with all my facial features intact.


Anonymous said...

Hi--I have enjoyed reading your blog--you don't happen to still have those Bianchi stickers do you? (from a post a while ago) I am converting my Bianchi mountain bike to more of a commuter and took a bunch of the damaged decals off--now it looks a bit naked.

-d said...


We do still have the bianchi stickers. Please send your address to:

dylan (at)

I'll get them out to you pronto!

Thanks for reading - if you'd like to send a photo once you convert your bike, we'll get it up on the blog.

Mark said...

Never seen that before, but then again, I have never ridden off road with drops - yet. Think I might try drops on my Commuter this weekend.

-p said...

Mark, I see more and more offroad bikes with drops, usually 29er touring/trail bikes with rigid forks. The added cushion of a 29er tire may make a difference but I'd stay on the bar tops for the rough stuff. Tell us how it works.

Anonymous said...

That's pretty scarey. I've also heard that the end of the brake lever (which points down) should align with the bar ends and both be parallel to the ground. I always thought the function there was ergonomics, but perhaps it balances weight distribution so that the hbar doesn't inadvertently loosen. I'm not sure if its a direct result, but I definitely ride loose in the drops on descents and use my body for handling more.

-p said...

Velomuse -

Good point. Putting the hoods up higher would decrease the torque you put on the stem clamp.