Why is Position important?

Cycling, probably more than any other sport, is a combination of man and machine. As a cyclist your position aboard your machine is controlled by the machine ...yet if you are to function at your highest level that position has to be exactly right. The machine has to be perfectly shaped to you such that you can channel all of your energy into propelling it forward. Without this harmony, brought about by your position (and your conditioning) you are fighting the machine and it is fighting you.

Comfort

To spend any length of time on your bike you have to be comfortable - your muscles have to be working in a natural manner and those not working must be relaxed. Staying in a fixed position, however comfortable it might be to begin with, ultimately becomes uncomfortable so a second feature of comfort is the ability to move around slightly.

Aerodynamics

At anything over about 20mph (relative to the wind) overcoming air resistance takes the bulk of your effort so reducing it becomes important. Reducing frontal area and minimising disturbance to the air flow past your body are objectives of a good position. The first is achieved by being as low and narrow as possible and the second by being as still as possible.

Power

Itís no good being comfortable and aerodynamic if you canít apply sufficient power for turning the pedals at the same time. Any power that you donít or canít channel in the right direction is wasted.

Control

In most cycling circumstances precise control of the bike and rider are required. Being fast, powerful and aerodynamic is no good if the bike wonít go where you want it to.

Efficiency

For all but the shortest of physical activities efficiency is essential - you have a limited supply of resources (energy) and you want to get the maximum return.

Safety

Most of the time that you're cycling you're also interacting with the rest of the world. You need to be alert and attentive to everything around you.

Different cycling circumstances make different demands and your position on the bike can affect your ability to meet them. An ideal position for all cycling disciplines is impossible to achieve as special circumstances force some factors to be compromised in favour of others. Over short distances power and aerodynamics might take precendence over comfort and efficiency. Over longer distances the opposite might be the case. Solo efforts on the velodrome require power, aerodynamics and efficiency but can lighten up on safety and control. Riding through town is all about safety and control and seldom has much to do with power or aerodynamics.

In the following sections we look at the different aspects of cycling mechanics and consider how they influence bike setup.



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