What’s Your Position on Position?

In an article published in the Eurobike Show Daily (and re-published at BikeBiz), Mark Sanders (designer of the Strida folding bike) makes the case for bicycles designed to place the rider in a perfectly upright posture, not unlike how a person would sit behind the wheel of a car, or in an ergonomic chair at a computer. From the article:

Although more upright than racing bikes, mountain bikes and hybrid bikes do not give good posture for everyday, and around town use; the lean forward posture, still strains the back, neck and wrists. Only the upright posture is really suitable for a pleasant journey by bicycle.

I’ve owned everything from hi-racer recumbents with steeply inclined seats, to diamond frame racing bikes with dramatic drops from the saddle to the bars. On diamond frames, I’ve found handlebar positions that distribute the rider’s weight somewhat equally between the saddle, pedals, and handlebars to be the most comfortable. For short rides, say under 5 miles, the bolt upright position works well (to be fair, at those distances, almost anything works OK). But, for longer rides, carrying all of my weight on my derrier eventually becomes uncomfortable, and I do better with a slightly stretched out position that takes at least some of my weight off of the saddle and places it forward on the bars and pedals.

How about you? Do you prefer to sit perfectly upright, or does a more stretched out position provide more comfort?

Which riding position do you prefer?

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77 Responses to “What’s Your Position on Position?”

  • brad says:

    I do prefer relatively upright for around-town riding, but for touring I really prefer the traditional road bike setup with drop handlebars. I disagree that a forward position strains the back (the key here is to bend at the hip rather than arching your back), nor do I agree that it strains the wrists; if your hands are resting on the brake hoods your wrists should be in a neutral position. A forward position does strain the neck, though, and I worked for a while with an Alexander Technique teacher on ways to reduce this. I can keep a relatively free neck if I look up toward the road instead of craning my neck.

    An upright position feels safer to me in city traffic as I feel I have a better wide view of everything going on around me and am less likely to slip into tunnel vision, and of course it creates less strain on the neck.

  • Dolan Halbrook says:

    I go back and forth between having the bars level with the saddle (my drop bar bike), and having the bars slightly above the saddle (my townie), but the days of reaching down to the bars are long over :)

    I see people commuting in a TT position, and I just think “ouch!”.

  • michael mcmahon says:

    Hey Alan,

    I have been thinking about this recently. I was wondering if you would ever do a post about various riding positions/bar set-ups and the different sorts of riding they are best suited for. I am tinkering with LHT and want to make it comfortable for both my daily 10 mile round trip commute but also be good for longer weekend rides and short tours. I imagine others out there might have similar type questions/needs. Maybe…. Anyways, as always thanks for all your work on this site…

    best,
    michael

  • Richard Masoner says:

    I’ve gone 25 miles on an ‘upright’ style bike, and all I can say is oh my aching butt; whereas I can go literally all day when I’m on the hoods of a drop bar road bike with little discomfort in my back, butt, or wrists.

    I’ve only experienced wrist pain when using flat handlebars, which I think pronate the wrists in an unnatural position. I’ve had hand pain from riding an ill-fitted bike.

    I respect Mark’s work and ideas with bike design, and he obviously puts a lot of thought into this stuff, but ergonomics may not be his strong suit. I have a Strida and it’s very very cool and I like it a *lot*, but it’s specifically designed as a way to improve transit effectiveness by expanding the distance you’re willing to walk — it’s the model of cycling as fast walking, rather than the “slow vehicle” model that’s somewhat more common here in the United States. The Strida is, frankly, uncomfortable to ride beyond about a mile.

  • Jeff I says:

    Alan, I think that saddle fore/aft relative to bottom bracket has as much (or even more) to do with your weight distribution as the height of your bars.

  • Eric says:

    To me, comfort vis-a-vis handlebar height has less to do with the length of the ride, but of my “power output.”

    I have an LHT with drop bars about 1cm above the saddle. I find that as long as I am moving at a good clip and some of my weight is distributed to my legs, I am very comfortable. However, this past weekend my wife and I (with our 9-mo-old in tow) participated in the Tour de Fat which involved a 6 mile “bike parade” which was 6 miles of the slowest riding possible on a bike (I think it took about 1:45). Because I was rarely distributing any weight to my legs, more weight was distributed to my arms and I ended up with some upper back/neck pain. In this instance, I would have liked to have been on cruiser sitting almost vertical with a nice sprung saddle.

    I’m torn because I use the bike for spirited longish (30-50mi) rides as well as evening errands and cruising to bars/restaurants and I don’t think that there a cockpit that will be ideal for both uses. Looks like I’ll need to explain to my wife why I need another bike.

  • Gavin says:

    I personally find upright riding to be slow, inefficient and uncomfortable . I set my commuting bike up for an upright position, but now the bars (mustache) are slightly lower than the saddle. much better.

  • Mark Sanders says:

    Hey – Its great to see a poll on this !
    I was expecting a bit of flack from within the bike industry :-)

    To be fair I was concentrating on city and suburban commuting, and use of bike as urban transport, rather than long distance touring. You can see the full article here > http://issuu.com/mark77a/docs/upright_is_right-the_view_ahead/1

    Also WE are all already bike users (or at least bike-curious :-) to be reading this. The ultimate aim of suggesting change is to attract more folk who never even consider cycling … ie as I’m sad to say, the HUGE 95%= of the population in the US and my own country UK, where bicycle journey’s are still hovering around only 1-2% of all journeys. [There is more on this ‘Blue ocean’ HERE > http://issuu.com/mark77a/docs/notes_mas_taipei09/3.

    I look across the English channel in awe and envy at Holland, and Denmark where 20-30+ % of all journeys are by bicycle ….. I think it is significant that in these places the upright riding position we call ‘Sit Up And Beg’ in the the UK, is chosen by the majority of riders. Likewise in other places like India, China, Oxford, much of Germany etc. where cycling is used for transport and has been used continuously since the birth of the bicycle. … are N million transport bike users mis-informed, and would be better off leaning forward to a less or more degree ??

    FWIW I have been fascinated by posture, after meeting a leading UK ergonomist whilst at college – he made me think ‘why’ and to really question the myths sometimes handed down over the (club) cycling generations .. For more on this and other stories please see other artitles in issuu > http://issuu.com/mark77a

    It would be great if we could persuade others to join ‘our religion’ but it it just wont happen – cycling will only become mainstream when it appeals to all, so that people choose it for themselves. (But then I guess some of us enthusiasts will just look for another minority specialism :-)

  • Mark Sanders says:

    Thanks Richard – I was not wearing my ‘Strida hat’ for this article – more the ‘Omafeits’ Dutch cap :-)

    Although Triangular Strida is an upright bike and is designed for mainly urban use – I was not trying to say IT is an exemplar of the upright riding position .. that goes to said Dutch Omafeits such as Gazells etc.

    The TOP American Ergonomist Henry Dreyfuss got it pretty well spot on > http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/MAS.DPL/StridaPix#5216890560182962594 and as enthusiasts we are somewhere on a scale between these two extremes. The key question is .. its not what you or I want or like, it is what is actually best for the back, the view, safety and comfort cycling in cities.

    The transport ‘human-amplifier’ (I love that term for the bike) that is the last word on this has not yet been designed – in-spite of what many claim.

  • Alan says:

    @Mark

    Thanks for joining our conversation, Mark!

    One thing that is often overlooked when comparing the U.S. to Europe is trip distances. For the most part, the cities in bike-rich European countries are much more dense (and flat) than they are here in the U.S. The fact that we averagely make longer commutes and utility trips may play a role in our preferences; I know it does in my case (an errand run in my area may be as long as 15-20 miles or more, over varied terrain). I’ve owned and extensively ridden bikes with “sit up and beg” ergonomics, and for the trips distances I must cover on a regular basis, that type of bike doesn’t serve my needs well. I can imagine that if I lived in a city like Copenhagen or Amsterdam (or even NYC), my preferences might be different. All of this is a long winded way of saying that some of us purposely choose bikes that stretch us out a bit and more evenly distribute our weight between the bars, pedals, and saddle — not as a result of racing’s influence, but to match the type of riding we do. Horses for courses, as they say… :-)

    Alan

    PS – One other major difference between the U.S. and Europe is gas prices. When gas hit $4.25 per gallon in June of 2008 we saw an explosion of new bike commuters. By the end of that same year, gas prices dropped to $2 and bike ridership dwindled. I believe only higher fuel prices will drive the big wave of growth in U.S. bicycling we’re hoping for.

  • Sharper says:

    No vote here. My road bike-turned-commuter has bars about as far below the saddle as my mountain-turned-grocery getter’s are above the saddle.

    My five mile commute to work is about as far as I can go riding upright comfortably, and I can attest that I’ve been physically comfortable on leisurely paced centuries on my road bike. (A shout-out, certainly, to Adrian at iKon Cycles for his fit prowess!) However, for those first five miles, riding upright on the grocery getter feels fine and gives me the visibility, line-of-sight, and control that makes it more psychologically comfortable for around town. Horses for courses, with saddles and bars depending on the horse!

  • todd says:

    I didn’t take the poll because it doesn’t let one key one’s response to a given ride. Horses for courses!

    I absolutely do prefer a completely upright posture for rides up to about 7 miles in plain clothes, flat to moderate terrain. Especially in traffic: I see over the tops even of most SUVs and can look clear behind me easily without swerving since zero of my weight is on the bars. Since the city I live in is 8 miles on a side, that means pretty nearly all my “everyday” riding. This distance also describes most car trips. (I don’t drive; never owned a car, even with kids, home, business ownership etc.)

    For anything longer, steeper, more intense: absolutely let me stretch forward a bit. I enjoy this kind of riding too, but less often. Is it a race? Let me get low. I never race.

  • Roland Smith says:

    Missing choice in the poll! ;-)

    I actually prefer the recumbent position. With the backrest around 30° from horizontal. (My recumbent is a Hurricane.)

  • Mark Sanders says:

    Hi Alan, Yeh I hear what you say and actually agree, distances are bigger in the US – hence the request for the ‘faster horse’ as Henry Ford Noted – I’m lucky enough to have all sorts of bikes and indeed choose the appropriate ‘horse’.

    The snag is we (and our backs) are all conditioned by our experience and that passed onto us. The way I would argue is that Once the car took over in the US (and similarly in the UK) the bicycle was sidelined – and became a non-mainstream, mainly ‘sporty enthusiast tool’ the current bicycle industry is founded on this – for athletes that race to commuters in a hurry.

    I dont know the answer but I TRY and put myself into the shoes of the car bound (and largely bike indifferent) 95% Blue ocean. The key message from design school was to try to not necessarily design for oneself, but to make the product as best as it can be for the intended users. In this case for me its the 95% blue ocean. Having said that I dont always follow this – as worthy as designing for the mainstream is, inspiration often comes from just designing what you feel is just really cool :-)

    For the other person who has a Strida in the US …. please ignore Richards comments, when you use a Strida regularly, 10miles and more is fine – it really feels like great back massage – with a fine view ahead and the sort of low speed that means you are ‘at one’ with the world, pedestrians and all :-)

  • Alan says:

    @Mark

    Not to belabor the point, because I agree with a large majority of what you’re saying, but if we’re talking about the Blue Ocean of potential bike commuters, we really aren’t talking about cities in the U.S.; we’re talking about the suburbs. Five, or even ten miles of comfort is probably not going to be enough for those potential suburban commuters; they’ll need a bike that doesn’t cause pain in their derrier at distances beyond 15 miles. That bike is not going to look like a Dutch roadster, but more like a traditional touring bike or modern commuter such as a Breezer or Civia.

    Regards,
    Alan

  • peteathome says:

    For years, I enjoyed touring and doing other long-distance rides on my touring bike with drop bars. I achieved a nice distribution of weight between the three points of contact and I could ride all day without problem. I found riding on the “hoods” especially comfortable.

    But I developed a badly degenerated cervical spine and could not tolerate the effect the position had on my neck. So I gradually moved more to a hybrid bike configuration.

    But eventually, the relatively flat bars on the hybrid bike started killing my wrists, exacerbating my carpel-tunnel-like problems.

    So I recently got some “north road” style bars and converted my bike to a fully upright position. It’s not clear that I had to go this route… maybe I could have kept the semi-upright hybrid/mountain bike position and protected my wrists by switching to bars that curved in more.

    But I decided to go all the way.

    Except for my increased wind resistance, I don’t find the position that inefficient. I can grab the bars near the middle if I want a more tucked position, but I don’t use that much. I can even grab the end of the bars and stand going up hills. I’m somewhat slower but not by that much. The view is great.

    I haven’t gone further than about 10 miles in one sitting since I configured the ride. 10 miles was fine on my butt – I did put a suspension seat post on the bike, maybe that helped. I’ve been switching back and forth between a Brooks B17 that I’ve used for decades and a contemporary padded mountain bike saddle. Both worked well. I’ll have to do a 30 mile ride to really get a feel for this position.

    The main problem is I keep hearing the theme music for Miss Gulch every time I ride. I think Toto has escaped my basket already …http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4kiXh8YOzk

  • Richard Masoner says:

    I absolutely agree with you, Mark, that upright bikes are more appealing to the Blue Ocean. I just don’t agree that they’re necessarily more comfortable :-) but like others noted, the comfort is more than adequate for typical Continental ride distances. I’ll concede up to 5 miles on your Strida is doable, but 10 miles — that’s 16 km — yikes!

    This discussion highlights the impact of commute distances on our transportation choices. The Big Blue Ocean for the most part aren’t willing to bike 15 miles or more to work — that a distance for enthusiasts and our more “racy” bikes.

    Take a look at commutes into downtown Sacramento — the average commute is 14.5 miles, according to 2000 US Census data.

    I work in Menlo Park, CA where the average commute is 13.4 miles.

    Someplace like San Francisco has a fairly high capture rate — the average commute distance is still a fairly long 12+ miles, but that’s because the high number of local commuters is offset by the very long distance commuters, and a public transportation that brings workers in from the suburbs. BART reaches all the way out to Pleasonton, Pittsburg and Fremont, which are each about 40 miles away from SF; and Caltrain transports commuters nearly 50 miles from San Jose into SF in under an hour.

  • Mark Sanders says:

    @Alan

    Conditioning ?

    In Holland 15 miles in from the suburbs is pretty normal, with much longer distances from the massive suburbs of Bombay, Dehli, Shanghai etc. etc. The unborn bike I imagine would have the posture of the Dutch bike coupled with a contemporary clean uncluttered design …. daja vu … I remember similar conversations when James @Bicycledesign ran the commuter bike for the masses competition – http://bicycledesign.net/2008/10/%E2%80%9Ccommuter-bike-for-the-masses%E2%80%9D-design-competition/ I guess the same views return.

    This summer, I was amazed to see many super smart italian men and women, in 30+ degC heat (90F) cycling in from the suburbs of Milan (gently in that zone where there is more cooling than heating). Some pix on the original Article : http://issuu.com/mark77a/docs/upright_is_right-the_view_ahead/1
    It gave me such encouragement – to see cycling as mainstream transport, AND really cool (in BOTH senses).

    I realise that views on this forum will be nearer to the (US) industry norm, yet it is SO refreshing that you are willing to engage with alternative ideas. <> SO much for the opportunity to put these views. … now its home time this side of the Pond :-)

  • Alan says:

    @Jeff

    “Alan, I think that saddle fore/aft relative to bottom bracket has as much (or even more) to do with your weight distribution as the height of your bars.”

    Yeah, and top tube length has an affect as well. I had to simplify the choices for the poll due to limited space, so I went with bar height as the metric.

  • Janice in GA says:

    Most of my rides are 5-6 mile hops, though I may do 4 or 6 of those hops on any given day. I recently raised the flat handlebars on my hybrid up a bit so that now they’re about level with my saddle. I do seem to get more efficiency out of this position, especially when I bend from the hips and really put my back into pedaling up the hills we have around here.

    But I’d have to agree with @mark: most of my non-cycling friends would HATE riding like that. They’d want to be upright.

    Now I have to go finish working on my old Cannondale touring bikest, where I’m putting North Road-type bars on upside down. Not as low as drops, but still a bit lower than my saddle.

  • Andrew says:

    I think upright positions are just fine for very short rides (i.e. most urban commuting), which explains their overwhelming popularity in European cities. When it comes to long-distance riding such as touring, however, the actual ergonomics matter a lot more. Boring personal anecdotes ensue:

    My tourer/commuter was originally a flat bar bike, which I converted to use trekking/butterfly bars. This had the effect of bringing the controls much closer, which was very uncomfortable unless I raised them more (I have a very good Ritchey Comp angle-adjustable stem). By the time the bars were at a comfortable height and reach, much more of my weight was on my saddle. I didn’t notice it being a problem until I rode 220 km in a weekend and noticed that my B17 was really punishing my sitbones.

    As a result, I reconverted it to a flat-bar with large, bar-tape-wrapped L-bar-ends that put the controls ever-so-slightly below saddle height, and the bar-end “hoods” position approximately level. I just came back from a 120 km weekend tour and had no butt pain whatsoever, and only very minor wrist pain because I haven’t been doing much riding. I’m going to add another layer of padding to the bars, and consider tweaking the stem angle just a little bit, but I feel like I’ve got a pretty solid set-up this way.

  • bongobike says:

    My favorite choice is not here! Recumbents rule the comfort zone! I recently sold my Bacchetta Bellandare and bought a new RANS V2 Formula. What a ride! No upright can compare.

  • James says:

    Hmm, this is always a tough subject to address on a bicycle blog for the reason Mark already noted. Those of us who read and write about bikes also love to ride them and we feel pretty strongly about what works and what doesn’t. Sometime though, even a very efficient riding style that has developed over time doesn’t translate to the average person who hasn’t been on a bike since childhood. When those people finally try out a bike, they want to go slow and see what they are doing. A position that works great for a bike fanatic like me is almost certainly not going to immediately feel comfortable to them.

    I personally commute on a road bike that has a very significant drop from the seat to the bars, but I think it is hard to argue with the success of the typical Dutch upright “omafiets” design. The first time I rode a rented omafiets in Holland (around 17 years ago), the position did feel strange to me. I found myself bending my elbows and leaning forward, because a typical road racing position was what my body was used to. Later in the trip though, I began to enjoy riding slowly, chatting, and taking in the sights. Bolt upright may be slower and less efficient, but it allows for great visibility and already works for a lot of people who don’t really think of bikes as anything more than simple tools for transportation (a mindset that many of us have a hard time grasping).

    Alan’s point about greater travel distances in the U.S. suburbs is a good one, but statistics still tell us that a large percentage of car trips in this country are less than 2 miles. Not everyone is going to commute from the suburbs to the city by bike, but I do believe that some of those very short trips can be addressed with bikes that are comfortable for the short term.

  • Buck-50 says:

    Who sits perfectly upright in their car or at their computer?

    Fully upright isn’t comfortable for me and how I ride. I like being able to lean forward for extra power when pulling a trailer up a hill, I like being able to duck out of a headwind, etc.

    But hey, more power to those that like to be up.

  • Tim D. says:

    This question isn’t meant to be mean, but how do people that ride sitting straight up steer quickly? Every time I’ve been on a bike that you are completely upright on, it’s like trying to wrestle a wet dog to handle the thing. Again, not to be mean, but I think the entirely upright position is favored by those who don’t ride bikes a lot. My commuter has what I consider to a fairly upright position, but it’s definitely no Dutch bike.

  • Victor Khong says:

    What a timely post! I have just reconfigured by commuter bike which I use for a 40 km round trip ride to the office. The route involves flats and long hilly stretches. I started out with 24″ flat bars cut down to 17″ with a pair of short bar ends. I then mounted trekking bars to put me in a more aerodynamic position with the forward “drops” portion being an inch lower than the seat. I also mounted a fairing.

    Just this past weekend, I reverted back to the flat bar with bar ends and no fairing. Why? My average commute was no faster regardless of handlebar choice (affects seating posture) or fairing. In fact, I felt less confident navigating city traffic stretched out on the forward drops of the trekking bar (mounted upside down) than the flat bar. I had a better view of traffic, was more visible to traffic and better slow-speed control with the flat bars than trekking bars. This is a more upright position though not quite sit up and beg. I also had neck pain from a crouching position which went away when I sat more upright.

  • Jym says:

    =v= Just dropped in to see what position my position was in …

  • Cecily says:

    I prefer an upright ride. I’m not trying to win a race (as evidenced by my current bike), I’m trying to get to my destination as sweat-free as possible. I recently raised the seat on my Trek bike to take some stress off my knees which put me in a slightly forward position, and while I can get a little more power when I ride this way, I feel it in my back and wrists at the end of the ride. I’m upgrading to a Batavus Breukelen in a few weeks, and I’ll be completely upright, slower than ever, and more able to take in the scenery as I ride past. I’m really looking forward to it.

  • Cecily says:

    Tim D., to answer your question, I use a bell and ride slowly. Pedestrians are my biggest obstacle, and the bell tells them I’m coming. In the event that they still don’t move, I’m usually riding slowly enough that I can maneuver around pedestrians by politely announcing “on your left” as I get near. Or sometimes I just wait until they move.

    I mostly ride on traffic controlled bikeways or designated bike lanes in Vancouver, so I don’t usually have to quickly react to automobile traffic. I ride this way 6 days a week, which I think qualifies me as riding a lot. :)

  • Mark Sanders says:

    Folding bikes … there I’ve said it :-) ….. are the key to extended commutes for folk who dont want to ride more than say 5miles and still get the door to door, refreshing cycling benefits.

    James balanced the points with skill, and now I’ll just swing to the other side of the discussion – I’m pretty tall 6’4″ so its quite hard to get standard bikes to adjust so handle bars are above the seat, so although I would choose a nice ‘sit up and beg’ omafiets (or Strida) for city rides, its a rare treat from testing other bikes.

    The poll shows most visitors to this site prefer the laid forward posture away from its natural Lordotic S shape – pity as the picture took ages to put together :-) http://www.flickr.com/photos/carltonreid/4986461400/lightbox/

    I meant to say a BIG THANKS for a great poll / discussion in last comment not , here are some fabulous upright pictures from marc http://twitter.com/amsterdamized http://www.flickr.com/photos/mindcaster-ezzolicious/with/4987678295/ Mark 

  • Lovely Bicycle! says:

    For under 10 miles on relatively non-hilly terrain I prefer a bolt upright, easy on/off (step through frame) bike. And I do think it matters for distances that short, especially since on these types of rides I run a lot of errands, wear skirts, carry a camera around my neck, etc. All of that is far less comfortable on a bike with considerable forward lean.

    For longer rides on hilly terrain, an upright bike rapidly becomes uncomfortable and I prefer to be leaned over. I especially like drop bars for the variety of hand positions they allow. One thing I find, is that the key to a comfortable ride on a bike like this is good positioning – so that the weight is indeed evenly distributed between the saddle, bars and pedals. Otherwise, too much weight on the hands is anything but comfortable.

  • Bob B says:

    Bravo on Mark’s essay. How about we start getting more people on bikes for short trips of 3, 5 or even 10 miles. Later we can work on those 16 mile American commutes. Last Fall I spent a few hours at Dutch Bike Seattle and was just amazed at the refinement of the Dutch riding position. An essential point seems to be a wide sprung Brooks saddle with the nose high. When they were setting it up, I thought this would never work. Boy was wrong. Another key factor is the very relaxed frame geometry. My own bikes now have North Roads / Albatross style bars. And I keep thinking about those Dutch bikes. If I was going to take a tour, I’d probably opt for Trekking style butterfly bars to get more hand positions.

  • Nick W. says:

    Very useful discussion, and food for thought.

    I ride my ’09 Raleigh Superbe bolt upright, and have had no problems on rides of 20 to 25 miles. (It’s my flatland bike, because of it’s weight and limited gearing) Bars are as high as I can get them with a stem extender.

    When I started riding routes with hills, I changed over to a more conventional touring bike. Drop bars were giving me hand pain, so I switched to mustache bars – still with a high stem. Jury is still out on them, but so far I have no after-ride hand pain, and my other contact points are doing OK too….

  • CedarWood says:

    @ Tim D.

    “…I think the entirely upright position is favored by those who don’t ride bikes a lot.”

    Well, I sold my car, and both my cargo and city bikes are upright, so I think that equates to riding a lot. I recently did 35 miles on the city bike, with 75% of that on fast, open roads. No pain the next day, but then I pay very close attention to ergonomics when building a bike for myself. And yes, I do ride quickly.

    “…how do people that ride sitting straight up steer quickly?”

    Slow steering has more to do with the head tube angle, fork trail, and front/rear load distribution than the height of the bars. In general, a steeply-angled head tube with a low trail fork favors a heavier front load while preserving quick steering, whereas a slack head tube with a high trail fork prefers a heavier rear load.

    Putting a heavier front load on that high trail fork could cause slower steering than normal. Add a set of narrow-ish bars, and you might have to wrestle it down the road. The solution would be more weight in the rear, wider bars for greater leverage, and you’re set.

  • Ron says:

    It seems to me many are leaving the saddle out of the handlebar height equation and that this may help explain much of the comfort issue with various positions. It’s critical to comfort that the saddle match the style of riding; wider, sprung saddles for very upright positions, middle width saddles for lower bars and narrow saddles for bars below or well below bar height. Anyone trying to ride in a “sit up and beg” position on a narrow saddle is in for serious butt pain on a long ride. It’s not dissimilar to sitting upright in an office chair the width of a bar stool. How comfortable would you be in that position?

  • Jen says:

    I have a Dutch omafiets and a 30-year-old Bianchi mixte. In the city (NYC for me), the Dutch bike is definitely my bicycle of choice for commuting for all the reasons mentioned in previous comments. It’s easier to see and be seen; it’s easier to hop off and on in heavy traffic; etc. In busy urban conditions, it’s simply a very comfortable, practical and safe way to ride. When I need to sprint or climb hills, I often find myself leading forward or standing for that short burst. My commute is eight miles, and my time on my Dutch bike or my mixte is almost the same. The interruptive nature of city riding — traffic, lights, etc. — determine my time much more than miles-per-hour potential speed. I would feel differently if those eight miles were on a straight clear stretch of road with few intersections. It seems instinctive to want a more efficient and aerodynamic position for longer road riding, and when I do it, I prefer my mixte.

    Commuting means very different things depending on where one lives. Suburb-to-city commuting is very different from in-city only commuting. Even in Amsterdam, most bicycle trips are just a few kilometers, whether to the office or the train station.

    The style of bicicle really depends on the kind of riding one’s commute requires. And as has been pointed out, the European attitude towards bicycles is very different from ours; they view bicycles as a transportation tool whereas we see cycling through its leisure or sporting history. And in big urban centers, the romantic image of the subversive bicycle messenger bombing through traffic reinforces the idea that bicycle must above all to be uber-efficient. It’s a bit cliche, but Europeans don’t tend to approach their bicycles or their lives that way. Once, I asked (in excellent Dutch) for take-out coffee and the waitress glared at me and said, “we don’t do that over here.” Certainly, the European city environment — more compact and flat — contributes to the practicality of uprights, though most bicycles in Amsterdam are single speeds whereas Dutch bicycles exported here account for our conditions with multiple gears, which lessens the importance of those physical factors a bit.

    In the end, one size or style does not fit all. And I’m very glad that we are at a point where there are so many options, and a place where they can be discussed and evaluated.

  • John says:

    It needs to be noted that for a change in rider position, a change in saddle is called for. That’s why folks experience pain after 30, 40, or 50 miles. They’re using the wrong saddle. For an upright position, something like a Brooks B67 is called for, where their B17 may be the ticket for a position in the drops or slightly higher. Don’t think that one saddle will serve well for all positions, it won’t.

  • Alan says:

    I agree, John, though 20+ miles on any saddle in a bolt upright position—B67, B33, whatever—is still torture for me.

    Alan

  • bentguy says:

    Feet first of course! The real trick to absolute comfort is to have your entire back supported and your head snuggled nicely into your head-rest. I prefer a half-fairing to keep my feet nice and dry during the winter. In this position I can, and have, peddled for over five hours at a stretch without stopping and without discomfort. My legs always tire out before my butt, shoulders, wrist, etc. ever complain. But I’m old and decided a few years ago that getting from point A to point B was the point… so I’m going to be comfortable if I can. And I carry more weight than most (sometimes 4 bags and a bob trailer) while being faster than average –when I want to be. When I moved to a recumbent I kept my upright bike because I thought that I would find that certain situations would make it the better choice. I still haven’t come across that situation and have since given it away. And my chronic back pain hasn’t bothered me since either. So I say, feet first, head back and eyes forward (don’t miss that view), relax and roll.

  • Alan says:

    @Bob B

    “How about we start getting more people on bikes for short trips of 3, 5 or even 10 miles. Later we can work on those 16 mile American commutes.”

    Sounds good. I wish it were as simple as a particular bike design, but I’m afraid it’s not. We have Townies, roadsters, crank forwards, cruisers, and recumbents, all bikes that meet Mark’s definition of “ergonomically correct”, and yet none seem to be doing much to get new people on bikes here in the U.S. I’m still convinced it comes back to gas prices first, followed by improved infrastructure.

    Alan

  • Bob B says:

    @ Alan, There are more transpo bikes available today than perhaps ever before. At the same time, we’re in a serious recession combined with the well publicized decline of the US middle class. McMansions, two cars in every garage and even the suburbs are in trouble. Perhaps out of this could come the beginnings of a paradigm shift: smaller homes, shorter commutes, simpler lives – more transpo trips by bike.

  • Alan says:

    “Perhaps out of this could come the beginnings of a paradigm shift: smaller homes, shorter commutes, simpler lives – more transpo trips by bike.”

    Certainly! Let’s hope so…. :-)

  • Mike says:

    I’ve heard this idea that one’s weight is distributed evenly between the three points of contact several times, and I seriously doubt that it’s true. I weigh about 150 pounds — if I was really supporting one-third of my wieght on my hands, that would be 25 pounds on each wrist. I happen to have a 25-pound dumbell, so I laid down on my back and held it overhead. I’m extremely skeptical that anyone could do that comfortably for more than a few minutes.

    I’m sure it feels like thirds, but that’s a subjective estimate. Has anyone actually measured this? The weight distribution varies significantly based on the level of effort if you’ve got a forward-leaning posture; when pushing really hard, I know I actually pull up on the bars.

  • AK Mike says:

    Under-seat steering recumbent for me hands down (pardon the pun). Absolutely no neck, shoulder or wrist pain.

    I just absolutely love my Street Machine! It’s my ride of choice over all my other bikes.

    AK Mike

  • lovard says:

    I agree generally with the upright riding position for commuter journeys, but I have noticed on poor road surfaces, that my back gets jarred. Admittedly I don’t have a sprung saddle or seat pole, I’m prone to back injuries and it’s only when I’m not paying attention to the road surface that this occurs. But as a result I have decided to adjust the bars on my Velorbis forward a little to ensure I’m not absoluterly upright.

  • Mark Sanders says:

    Great Discussion.

    Here is an interesting article about healthy backs and cycling posture:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/sep/18/fitness.cycling

  • David says:

    Great discussion and poll. I’m a recumbent rider. I’ve found that position to be the most comfortable and pain free for me. I regularly commute 12-23 miles each way. It has taken some time to work out how to make my recumbent a solid transpo bike as well as working out commuting routes. I have found no difference between recumbent and upright when riding in traffic; either way you have to be alert and ride defensively. The only drawbacks to recumbents, in my experience, has been high entry price (they are very expensive for the components you get), and compromised hill climbing ability (although in all honesty that may be a function of my age and mid-section).

  • Alan says:

    @Mike

    “I’ve heard this idea that one’s weight is distributed evenly between the three points of contact several times, and I seriously doubt that it’s true.”

    I agree. I think what people probably mean to say is “subjectively”. I know when I’m talking about distributing my weight between my handlebar, pedals, and saddle, really all I’m saying is that I like to take a little weight off of the saddle and place it elsewhere instead of having all of it concentrated in one location.

  • Alan says:

    @David

    You might know that I used to ride recumbents. They’re certainly the most comfortable bicycles by a long shot, and I found their inherent quirkiness a constant source of entertainment for a tinkerer like me. :-) The main reason I went back to uprights is because recumbents don’t interface well with public facilities such as bike lockers and bus racks. If it wasn’t for that issue, I’d probably still be riding one today.

    Alan

  • bongobike says:

    Alan wrote:
    “The main reason I went back to uprights is because recumbents don’t interface well with public facilities such as bike lockers and bus racks. If it wasn’t for that issue, I’d probably still be riding one today.”

    Alan, that is true of the LWB ‘bents you owned like the Tour Easy and the RANS V2. I think you mentioned somewhere that you also owned a high racer or two. But the “traditional” (if we can call it that) SWB with the 26/20 wheel set up, like the Bacchetta Giro 20, fits perfectly on bus racks, and I think you could fit one in a bike locker if you turn the fork 180° back and fold the flip stem down. Have you tried this type of ‘bent for commuting?

  • Doug says:

    I didn’t read all of the comments yet, but I have 4 bikes. I work at the Bike Kitchen and feel like I’ve ridden, and tried every type of bike possible. I also commute 30 miles a day……..the most comfortable bike for me is my racing bike. I also rode it in the Aids Lifecycle ride (545 miles in 7 days) and wouldn’t have wanted to ride anything else.

  • peteathome says:

    “…I think the entirely upright position is favored by those who don’t ride bikes a lot.”

    I doubt this is true for most of us posting here. I ride 3500 miles a year for basic transportation and use to ride another 1500 or so for recreational. So I think I know bicycling.

    As I mentioned above, I did NOT switch to a totally upright position for preference but due to medical problems. So I feel I’m unbiased in comparing the ride

    I was worried that in making the change that I might have bike handling issues, seat comfort, wind resistance, and being colder int he winter ( because of catching more wind).

    The bike I started with was an oldish 21-speed hybrid bike with a suspension seat post and front suspension. It also has an adjustable angle stem. I replaced the flat bars with generic “north roads”-style alloy bars. I had to redo all my cables as they were too short for this arrangement ( they needed redoing anyway, which is why I decided to do this now),

    I then had to readjust saddle position and height and play around with handle bar angle and stem angle for quite a bit to get the right position. And then readjust brake and shifter positions. The saddle is an unsprung but moderately cushioned mountain bike saddle, although I also tried my B-17. The B-17 has adjustment problems in that I can slide it far enough back on its short rails.

    So far, I am very pleased with the results. As I said, so far the longest ride I have done is only 10 miles, but that pretty much covers ( 1-way) all of my transportational needs. No seat discomfort, although I do have an iron butt ( or my butt fits very nicely onto standard saddles).

    Handling is good, although probably not as controllable as my mountain bike with short flat bars. I tested various emergency maneuvers on the bike and it seemed to do OK. I’ve tried to ride omafiets int he past but did not like their handling. I suspect the hybrid geometry makes for a quicker and more controllable bike, although not as rock stable.

    As I said, my speed is only a little diminished.

    I won’t know about winter riding until this winter but I suspect the position will make me colder.

    So overall, I ended up with a lightweight bike with good handling. But it is kind of ugly. A bike designed for what I was after might look more elegant.

  • Pete says:

    It’s a lot easier to hold an umbrella sitting upright, that’s for sure!
    Seriously, though, how many people have you ever seen in the US on a bike holding an umbrella? I think that one concept may well capture the fundamental differences between biking in most of America, and places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

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  • Saddle Up says:

    As someone that works in the bike industry and relies on bike fitting for a portion of my income I have come to learn that most people don’t understand the relationship between the height of the handlebars and the reach to the handlebars. Handlebars that are in a low position can be quite comfortable provided the reach to them is not excessive. Try an experiment. Hold your arms out fully extended at a 90 degree angle to your body, time how long it takes for you to start to lose energy and it becomes harder for you to hold them straight out. Now try the same experiment except this time hold your arms out pointing down at a 45 degree angle to your body. You’ll find it takes a lot less energy to hold your arms in the lower position. It’s really no different on a bicycle.

    In spite of what GP says it’s been my experience as a bike fitter that people have been traditionally sold bikes that are to big for them. The top tube is too long (without having the extra long head tube of a Riv type bike) that there is no way that they have enough core strength to support themselves on their bike, all of their torso/core weight ends up being supported by their hands, which leads to pain and discomfort. Proper bike fit is about finding the right balance between reach and drop.

    I find sitting totally upright to be the most uncomfortable riding position of all. It puts all of your weight sqaurely on your sit bones and your body acts like a sail in the wind. It requires higher power output even at moderate speeds and even with proper leg extension it does not allow your legs to support some of your weight through the pedal stroke. I recently had the opportunity to review the Electra Ticino 20D, http://saddleupbike.blogspot.com/2010/08/electra-ticino-20d.html, my only real criticism was the riding position, the upright position makes for harder work on extended rides. Conversely I’ve taken an Electra Ticino Lux which uses the same geometry and turned into into a replica of a Scorcher, http://saddleupbike.blogspot.com/2010/09/return-of-scorcher.html. By simply moving the handlebar position 6 inches lower and two inches closer I have made the bike much more comfortable and efficient, it requires far less power output from the engine to maintain the same speed, I can ride in comfort all day.

    The riding position of the Strida is a huge fail IMO.

  • Mike says:

    @Alan:

    “I agree. I think what people probably mean to say is “subjectively”. I know when I’m talking about distributing my weight between my handlebar, pedals, and saddle, really all I’m saying is that I like to take a little weight off of the saddle and place it elsewhere instead of having all of it concentrated in one location.”

    When I’m in a forward-leaning position (even a slight lean) I feel that most of my weight is on the pedals, not the saddle. Even without exerting much effort, I’m pretty sure that most of my weight is carried on my feet. You feel like your weight is mostly on the saddle?

  • DervAtl says:

    Great discussion here. One thing evident is that one-size-fits-all is not realistic. I started biking again last year, after a 20 year hiatus. I’ve turned into a commuter biker and recreational rider and love it. One of my displeasures is that most of the bike shops are still pushin the Lance Armstrong racing bike model. This does not fit my needs or desires. I’m fine with all those that like this and glad they have such a big following. However, I’ve been amazed that many of them think it is the only group that are “real bikers”. Accordingly, it seems that bike riders have been catagorized into three groups now — the racers, the hipsters, and the commuters. Sadly, the groups don’t seem to interact very much.

    Lastly, as an upright rider, I think not enough has been said about picking the right saddle for upright biking. Those racer bike seats are not adquate for sitting upright for long rides. The Brooks Saddle site has an excellent article about this. It specifically says that upright riders need a larger saddle with springs to support more weight on the bum. I like their B-67 saddle and it is quite comfortable for 20 miles or so. Upright riding needs two things for comfort — the right handle bars, AND the right saddle.

  • Ken says:

    As a lot of posters mentioned, the distance traveled make quite a difference as to the type of riding position preferred. But, I think even beyond that, there is the issue of they style of riding.

    As an example, 12 years ago, I lived in Amsterdam for a year. Amsterdam is flat with lots of pedestrian and bicycle traffic and so the “style” of riding was slow and leisurely as the general “people” traffic was keeping speeds very slow.

    Now in Portland, my commute is about the same distance as when I lived in Amsterdam. However, now I have hills and much quicker “car” traffic to account for. My exertion is much higher and I need to accelerate quickly and climb on a regular basis. Even though my commute distances were the same, if given the choice, I would always choose an upright bike in Amsterdam and always choose a drop bar touring bike for Portland.

    I don’t think the dutch style bike is the bike answer to increase US ridership. I think that style works for Holland, but maybe not here. The Dutch has the Oma style, the Chinese have the Flying Pigeon and I think there will need to be a bike created specific for the needs of many US riders. A bit more forward than the Oma to account for our longer distances and hills, and a bit lighter.

    Maybe its something close to the Breezer Uptown, but I think the design needs to have more style to it. It also needs to be cheaper if we want to bring in the masses.

  • Mike says:

    “Upright riding needs two things for comfort — the right handle bars, AND the right saddle.”

    I certainly find that my hands are comfortable in different positions based on my torso lean. If I’m sitting upright and my hands are up fairly high, I can comfortably use a flat(ish) bar, but if I’m leaning forward much, I want my palms facing toward each other to keep my wrists comfortable.

    On another note, I wonder how many of those who dislike the upright riding position are trying to travel at the same speed regardless of the angle of lean. I don’t like an upright position if I’m pushing hard and trying to go fast, but conversely, I don’t like a lot of forward lean if I’m taking it easy and going slow.

  • Mike says:

    @Saddle Up:

    “Try an experiment. Hold your arms out fully extended at a 90 degree angle to your body, time how long it takes for you to start to lose energy and it becomes harder for you to hold them straight out. Now try the same experiment except this time hold your arms out pointing down at a 45 degree angle to your body. You’ll find it takes a lot less energy to hold your arms in the lower position.”

    Now try the same experiment, but instead of holding your arms up in mid-air, rest your hands on a table (or some conveniently-placed handlebars, or the steering wheel of a car). I don’t know about you, but my handlebars don’t just float in mid-air; they’re attached to something, and can support the weight of my arms (and more!).

    I believe you do have a valid point, but your gedankenexperiment is bogus.

  • Saddle Up says:

    @ Mike

    I think you may have missed my point, I tried to illustrate the relationship between the height and distance of the handlebar. I’m not sure what kind of bikes you ride but I’ve never ridden one where I was able to use the handlebar to support my arms, my arms and hands support my body.

  • bongobike says:

    saddle up,

    Mike is right. You’re talking about HOLDING your arms up in the air in front of you for X amount of time until they get tired and then claim it’s no different on a bicycle. Well, it IS different on a bicycle! On the bike you are resting your hands on the bar. The handlebar holds the weight of your arms so you are no longer holding them up with your muscles.

  • Aaron says:

    I definitely prefer my bars to be 2-3″ below my saddle, both on my road bike and my MTB. When I sit too upright, not only does my butt hurt far worse, but I never feel like I can get full power to my pedals. I don’t have a link to my source, but I’ve read that the more forward-leaning position is much more conducive to putting down full power.

    Perhaps it’s because I have less weight on the base of my spine, but the further I lean forward, the better my lower back feels over the length of a ride.

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  • Tim D. says:

    @CedarWood

    I understand the different feel of different geometries. I ride everything from track bikes to old English three speeds. I’m talking about the folks that ride bikes with the handlebars at nearly eye-level, all of their weight centered over the rear wheel. My old Raleigh sports definitely isn’t a racing bike, but I have the stem slammed down so that the grips are right at seat level, which leans me just a little forward. The track bike is set up with traditional track drops, so I’m in a racing posture. Both are equally comfortable for their intended use.

    @Cecily

    I think you may have hit the nail on the head. I ride in a medium-small sized town that quickly turns rural at the city limits. I ride on roads with 50 mph speed limits and low pedestrian counts. I’m most worried about keeping a good pace and being seen. Your style of riding just isn’t conducive to where I live, except for maybe in the small downtown area. My commute takes me 10 miles, most of it outside the city limits on rural roads. Different tools for different jobs :).

  • yebamoth says:

    Maybe we shouldn’t be all that concerned with the Great Blue Ocean. According to most sources we’ve maybe five more years of cheap oil and then for the Great Blue Ocean it will be a matter of sink or swim. So what will the post car age look like – Mad Max Thunderdome? – Probably not, I recently discovered a hundred and twenty year old map of my city and to my surprise every street was exactly the same as today – the streets where we live our lives were designed for bicycles! So our future is right there before our eyes: 1890’s. And what were the bicycles like back then, well they were pretty much the same as today: uprights for the ladies and double triangles for the men, even the venerable Sturmey Archer was around and there were chainless shaft drives, there were bicycles that even looked like the strida. There are many excellent designs out there today, some better than others, but if I had to pick the things that would get the Great Blue Ocean out of their cars seats and into their saddles it would bicycle lots, storefronts where you check your bike safetly away, where there’s coffee and showers and lockers with a change of clothes, with a person to watch over them and even maintain them. Oh, and by the way, the best chair ergonomically speaking is no chair at all.

  • RI Swamp Yankee says:

    Body type can determine the “best” position as well. Big, heavy individuals may experience back and shoulder pain or numb hands when leaning forward onto the bars. In such a case, perfectly upright works and works well, and since these riders already have a fair amount of padding “built in”, a wide saddle that’s not too squishy is all-day comfortable sitting upright.

    The most comfortable bike I’ve been on was a 5-speed IGH beach cruiser with a springer fork and sprung saddle. I could kick back and tool around the city for hours and hours and hours, as comfy as on my living room recliner.

    I can see how a skinny rider would not be into that, as it’s slow, and you’re on your butt the whole time. For someone with the size and build of a lowland gorilla or black bear or ’80s bad-guy pro wrestler, upright dutch bikes and cruisers are the only way to fly.

  • Scott Davis says:

    For me it’s all about the bars…and being able to adjust. I’ve put together two tier handlebars that allow me to ride flat like a mountain bike or upright like a dutch bike – I like about 11 inch rise above the saddle for up, most riding I go upright. The upright option is adjustable in every way – reach, sweep, width, height. Inspired by Craig Calfee’s bike frame fitting machine. The bars are way ugly, but comfortable and I can adjust. I bought 5 different handlebars trying to optimize rise/reach balance. I thought about custom bars, but then just assembled my own adjustable. Allowed me to tinker until I found optimum comfort. Being able to change on the fly (upright or flat) and dial in exactly the width, rise, sweep and reach for my body and riding conditions was the solution for me.

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  • MohjhoRyder says:

    Rides under 10 miles I use North Road bars. Lets me enjoy the scenery and keeps lots of wind on me for cooling.
    Rides over 10 miles I use a recumbent, there is no comparison in comfort to a diamond frame bike.

  • Mark Sanders says:

    Peeters Hugo of Brugge in Belgium sent me a huge list of links and some alternative comments – here goes….
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    About Psition / check these links (have Google translate handy or open in Chrome)

    http://fahrradzukunft.de/11/ledersattel-1/
    *** http://fahrradzukunft.de/11/ledersattel-2/ (*** = must ! )
    http://fahrradzukunft.de/11/ledersattel-3/
    *** http://junik-hpv.de/assets/download/Bike_Ergonomics_for_All_People.pdf
    *** http://www.fa-technik.adfc.de/Ratgeber/Sitzen/
    http://tour-magazin.de/?p=346
    http://www.fahrradwelt.de/cms/startordner/1980_d888u1w889.html
    http://www.helmuts-fahrrad-seiten.de/Ergonomie-Seminar.html
    http://mecano.gme.usherb.ca/~jmdrouet/velus/album_photo_fra.html
    http://www.tri247.com/article_3319.html
    http://www.schmidtkuntzel.de/11.html
    http://www.kin.msp.ulaval.ca/kin20740/hiver2003/projet_velo/page2.htm
    *** http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1756210/pdf/v033p00398.pdf
    http://www.backpaindetails.com/pain/causes-of-back-pain/back-pain-causing-factors/how-cycling-and-back-pain-are-related.htm
    http://www.athleteinme.com/ArticleView.aspx?id=333
    http://www.pile-poil.net/
    ***** http://pile-poil.pagesperso-orange.fr/Telechargerdivers/choixselle.pdf
    I don’t agree with every thing said above / but it will help remember a dutch study published in Fiets magazine said that 1000000 hollanders suffer from saddle problems
    professor frobose ( koln ) said = the best postion is the next
    I could not agree more / ergonomically good means maximum variation / a dynamic style the “best” position is leaning forward with the back in a ± correct S-shape this is bettter for the neck this can be obtained easier with the saddle slightly tilted downwards
    if the shoulders are very well supported by the arms ( thanks to a well choosen position of the handelbar ( sufficiently close and not too high ) ; a rounded back ( wich personnaly I don’t like at all ) is not so harmfull if you want more people on a bicycle its better to tell that there is no ultra-comfortable saddle only one witch you can live with its better to explain what cycling is it is “playing with gravity” and therefore the position of everything ( handlebars / seat tube angle etc ) can and will make an important difference

    it is possible to obtain a position that is acceptable for the back and the neck and ( ! ) the butt and and … should be the message

    it is also important to see whats happening in practice many people on a dutch upright do not 100 % have their lower back and their neck in the wanted natural S shaped position in an attemp to put more weight on the hands and for other reasons

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Thankyou Peeters (i’m still wading thro these links so good to share with other interested peeps).

    I ride in all sorts of positions – and love upright especially about town – the advantage of high bars over low bars is they give a choice – you can lean down by bending arms, but with low bars the only way the stretch the back is to ride hand off – which is another story :-)

    It has been good to read the poll and all the fascinating comments. However it is clear that the vast majority of responses appear to be from the USA, and as said – in the USA the whole culture and industry is squewed towards cycling as sport and enthusiast touring and commuting etc. There may have been more alternative views if on an european blog – where bicycles are used for transport by everyone not mainly male enthusiasts !
    For inspiration of how this looks please check out the hugely popular sites
    http://amsterdamize.com/ (catch phrase – “100% Lycra-Free, Guaranteed”) and
    http://www.copenhagencyclechic.com/ (catch phrase – “CycleChic” which they claim to have coined)

    Cheers mark

  • Mark Sanders says:

    “Four out of five people riding bikes with saddle pain” Dutch survey of 1100 people: http://bit.ly/cP6FDV posture also important via Hugo Peeters

  • Hervé Huisman says:

    Hi there, great discussion!
    Here is a response from Amsterdam (the old one, in The Netherlands)! Here we have on average 1.2 bicycles per person. Our prime minister goes to work on a bicycle wearing a suit :-)

    My answer is as follows:- If you consider cycling a SPORT you should sit with your back bent downwards, like Lance Armstrong – he knows what efficient biking is!
    – If you consider cycling to be TRANSPORT you are better off sitting upright: go in style, no sweat- same position as you would have sitting in a BUS or Car – comfort matters!

    BTW there is a new Dutch brand being introduced to the US who is telling this story: http://www.Hugogo.com

  • Steve says:

    Different strokes for different folks. The correct position will be different for different people. I recently converted from drop bars to an upright position. For me it is much more comfortable and my average speed actually increased a little bit. Don’t know about long rides since I haven’t done anything over 60 miles on it yet.

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  • kanishka new england says:

    i just switched to upright, civia (loring?) bars on my swift, mostly as a result of months of reading about upright position on here and various other transportation bike related sites. i have mixed feelings. after six miles with some small hills, just feels like lots of wasted energy. i might get back to less sweep and lower bars in a month or so.

  • Brian LBC says:

    I really think this is all relative. No one position works for everyone. I’m 5’10” with a 30″ inseam and short arms to match the legs. I commute on a mountain bike not only because the roads in my plant are atrocious but because the slightly forward (bars are about 3 cm above the seat) ergos work well for me. I have a road bike, a classic ’68 (I think) Raleigh Supercourse. It’s been updated with all Dura-Ace components, and I love the frame, but the leaned over ergos don’t work well and my back and neck are sore after only a few miles. I’m updating it now with a longer stem and moustache bars which will make it a perfect city/short touring bike for me. That doesn’t make it right for everyone, but for this 48 year old troll body, it works just fine!

 
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