How to get lower at the front

There are loads of threads on bikes and new bike advice and set up etc. You’ll have to excuse me if this question has been asked before and I tried to ask it rather clumsily last time.

In my search for a new best summer bike it seems to come down to stack for me based on my current ride and the fit on that. Many of the bikes I’m looking at have a lower stack than my current bike so…

What exercises can I do to assist my flexibility to see if I could get comfier working towards a lower front end. I do intend to do this slowly and taking the front end on the current bike down say 5mm at a time to work at this gradually. If it gets uncomfortable I will simply move it back.

Question is if anyone else has done this how did they go about it and what exercises did they do to help, if any?

I’m not aiming to be a racing snake and I mainly do long rides so sustainability is needed.

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Take a look at your current spacer stack - you may find that there is a combination of 2.5 mm, 5mm and 10mm spacers, that will allow you to do this even more gradually. (eg. take away a 2.5, take away a 5 and add the 2.5 back in, etc.

Flipping the stem may also allow you to reduce stack height, but this is a big adjustment (and involves changing reach as well). Using a calculator like http://yojimg.net/bike/web_tools/stem.php will guide you as to how many spacers to add back in to achieve a smaller adjustment when flipping/using a lower angle stem.

Fellow long distance rider seeking to become more sustainably aero - I managed to drop my stack my about 20mm over 4 months - a month with each 5mm.

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I think the best way is to just remove a spacer and ride until it feels nice. You should/could try to relax more and more in your elbows in your current setup to adjust to having to get lower on the new setup. Anyways, for most people i know including me, the best way to adapt to a lower setup is to ride the lower setup.

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Doing planks and core work is what makes the difference or allows you hold a lower position. A simple thing to do on the bike is on the trainer on the hoods then take your hands off but engage your core to hold your body in its natural position if you drop but are able to hold comfortably then that’s the correct height. Also do strength work a low position is more about strength than flexibility.

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Same as mcalista here - just over longer period of time. I also had a 13 deg stem as I have an endurance geometry bike, so when I used up all my spacers lowering it, using the same web calculator he linked to, I decided rather than flip it, which would have been a severe change, I bought a 6 deg stem also with 10mm more reach, put some spacers under it, then worked it down again over 4 months.

I also do a ramp test between each change to make sure I’m not sliding backwards - so far, so good - and also monitor speeds on segments where I do power intervals - it’s helping.

Last night after getting through 3 weeks of climbing RR MV specialty, I figured I’ve adapted ok so I flipped the 6 deg stem and put 6-7 mm of spacers back under it. Its a bigger jump as somewhere along the way on my initial dropping, I also cut my excess stem and can no longer put 15 mm of spacers under it - it looked SO stupid with 15 mm of spacers over my stem that I finally had to do it. Wish me luck as I try to look a little more pro today :sweat_smile:

Just make sure you can reverse each step, and if you cut the stem, I would still leave some room for a spacer, and only cut it after you ride for a while in the most aggressive position - leaves you some margin of error to fall back.

Ps, I should add that I did intentionally spend a lot of time riding in drops on both extended endurance rides and harder intervals as much as I could, plus used clip on aerobars for a petit type of ride or long SS intervals each week to just help adjust myself to being a bit lower. No other focused exercises yet.

I agree with mcalista that uojimg.net calculator is a good one. We tried to enhance this in a front drop calculator includes stem angle + spacers + torso angle and then tries (approximately) to calculator your watt and speed savings. Its open access here: http://fft.tips/stem (as we don’t ask for stack height this calculation is relative to your own baseline). ps we talk about the watt savings in this video review (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRnX1k0VMLM). Finally your suggestion to gradually make positional changes is spot on.

Dropping the bars alone will not necessarily cut it. Core strength was already mentioned. Hip & hamstring mobiliy plus saddle forward to open the hip angle when sitting low will help.

Also adjust in small increments and watch your knees.

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Thanks for all the helpful replies that make me realise that it is achievable - like most things the secret is consistency and small incremental changes along with some core work.
I’d come across the stem and a stack reach calculators before so know if I flip a stem I need a longer one. Fortunately I have a collection kicking around.
If I can get say, 20mm lower it opens up several new bike options. I’m no spring chicken but fed up of a limited choice on the bigger sized bikes.
Its a shame they got rid of the old quill stems which seemed to be more adjustable.
Oh well that’s evolution for you.
Once again - many thanks to all who responded.

check out this recently active thread too re: hoods vs drops for aero. You may find you don’t need to get your stem as low using the hoods for aero.

I’m still working this. I’m actually pretty comfortable riding in the drops and on the hoods, but am still figuring out my position to get more aero on the hoods. I may actually need to drop my bars a hair more to do that! :thinking:

No one has yet mentioned hip rotation…that is the real key to lowering yourself up front.

Several options to be able to achieve better hip rotation…proper saddle, moving your existing saddle forward, etc.

A profile pic of you on your bike would help people advise you on your current position and how to best achieve better hip rotation.

FWIW, I have a very aggressive road position with a LOT of HB drop. I do zero stretches and zero core work to achieve it. Super comfy and I can ride low all day long…It is all in the hips.

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Thanks @Hampstenfan i’ll give that thread a read.
@Power13 - I do have a proper saddle (Toupe Comp) in fact the same across all my bikes. Why would moving forwards create rotation in the hips? I would have thought a slight nose down would do that because if I move it forwards then my knee will no longer be above the pedal spindle at 3 O’clock which I thought was a key of my bike fit?
I’ve got around 100mm drop from saddle to handle bar already but then all are different.

Also I’m happy to flip my stem and work on from there - but doing a bit of research managed to find these bars that could help as they give me 15mm additional stack at the bars which is not stem or spacer dependent.

https://www.wiggle.co.uk/prime-kanza-gravel-handlebar/

now to decide which bike to get… :slight_smile:

The Toupe May or may not be the proper saddle for you…it is difficult to say without seeing your position on the bike. A nose down saddle is often (not always) a crutch for a bike fit that is too stretched out or trying to achieve a lower position without taking compensatory steps in saddle position.

Think about rotation with the BB being the center of a clock. That is the point around which you are rotating. So as you rotate forward (whole body as a system) your HB moves down but your saddle also needs to move forward.

The “knee over spindle” is not locked in stone…it is a starting point for a basic bike fit. Trying to adhere to that single point may mean sacrificing aerodynamics or power, depending on your fit. Given that there is no prove mechanical advantage to that point, it doesn’t make sense to hold it as dogma and sacrifice other proven areas of bike fit.

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sorry - To clarify I was wondering whether I should do that rather than move it forward. As it’s level at the moment and super comfy for me and having tried many saddles that’s what i’m staying with for now.

So would it also make sense if the saddle does move forward to heighten it?

I may regret asking this then but what are the other proven areas of bike fit? Having had three over the years with slightly different experiences in each… My contact points are all, to my current comfort level, sorted.

All I was asking my original question for was to try and see what steps, if any, people had taken to get lower at the front as my current size and set up when considering a new bike limits me to what could potentially fit. If I can get lower at the front and therefore reduce the stack of a potential new purchase compared to my current bike it makes the group of bikes that I could chose from potentially bigger.

I genuinely appreciate the suggestions but think they’re going off at a tangent from what I was looking for.

Yes, absolutely.

In that case, simply rotating forward makes even more sense. Your position, relative to the contact points, does not change. You are simply taking that same position and rotating forward around the BB. You would keep you saddle to HB reach / drop the same, but your HB stack relative to the BB will be lower and your overall frontal area will be lower.

So if you remove a 2.5mm spacer, slide your saddle forward a bit and raise it slightly. Same position, but rotated forward and down.

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Thanks for that - I’ll give those a try. Much appreciated.

Apologies if I offended anyone - I seem to have problems explaining myself sufficiently on line but perhaps thats the nature / trouble with forums. :+1:t2:

Sorry to hijack the thread @Johnnyvee but I am also in to process of adjusting the front of the bike and found @power13 answer interesting.

I had stretched out fit that felt very comfortable two years back after I adjusted my saddle nose down (it helped with the lower back pain tremendously). Somehow, it is not that comfortable anymore. I’ve changed saddle (took some time to solve the issues with that) and can get lower without any “sitting” discomfort. However, even though I ride mostly on the hoods I now get a lot of upper traps/neck pain. I feel like my position is too stretched out. I don’t get lower back pain anymore (unless I do some very hard low cadence intervals) and will try to experiment with shorter stem. Right now I have a 14 cm one and will try to switch for the original 12 cm stem (I know it is a big change but I don’t want to buy another stem just to try it out). Do you think this could help with the upper traps? Is there any way to ease into it, a coupled change to go with it, perhaps?

I am also looking into a new bike and a regular 12 cm stem on my current bike would make things easier as the bikes I am looking into are a tiny bit shorter (or too long).

I had this for a few years. To the point of getting frozen shoulder twice…try getting a gel out of your pocket with that! As it turned out the fit solution wasn’t what I thought: reach. It was bar width. My bars were too wide. A professional fitter mentioned it during a fitting almost as an after thought. Said I was hanging my head because the bar was too wide.

An easy test if you don’t want to risk wasting money on new bars is to tip in your hoods. On my new bike that’s how I had to do it as the aero cockpit was a fixed width that is just too large for me.

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Thanks. I was wondering about the handlebars width for quite some time anyway! Actually, after traveling with my bike (and crashing) it happened that I had both my levers turned in for a month or two during the winter (I was lazy to look how to fix it, was easy). It wasn’t uncomfortable, that might be a hint. On the other hand, my handlebars are 42 cm wide/narrow already. I guess time to admit that I am skinny guy with no shoulders :wink:

I prefer to think of it as aerodynamically gifted

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