I want to increase the drop on my road position (bump my stem down a few spacers) to be more aero and achieve that coveted slammed stem. I’ve heard it suggested in some bike fitting videos as well as on some episodes of the podcast that the amount of drop you can handle is proportional to your flexibility. What stretches should I be doing so that I can responsibly slam that stem?
This is a great topic! Actually for those living in flat land, I believe that an aero position will improve more your performance than a FTP gain. I am also working on this. Here are 2 links I found:
Plus this video in French which is really good as you also need to work on your nerves mobility and not just the muscle stretch.
There is always also good ol’ Abi Carver from Sufferfest - https://youtu.be/XnrRgW46M1Y
Great thread. I am trying to adapt my 50year old body so that I can ride a modern racing bike geometry. So far I have been able to remove 2 cm of spacers and have replaced the stem to decrease stack and increase reach. Aside form the stretches mentioned above, I am also working on my thoracic spine mobility with a foam roller and my hip mobility with hip capsule stretches and a thick rubber band to allow my hips more range of motion. I am also continuing to work on core strength. I would love to hear about others experiences and results.
Love the flexibility resources suggested so far, including Abi Carver. Of course the fastest approach is just to slam that stem and just never ever touch the drops haha. Wait, doesn’t @Pete do that?
Flexibility is good and I’m no expert but in my experience, you also need strength to be able to hold a more ‘extreme’ position for any length of time while producing power…
Have you worked with a fitter? How low you can go depends on many things like hip rotation and whether your knees are hitting your stomach when slammed.
What is preventing you from slamming your stem now?
One thing to notice is that pros often ride bikes that are two sizes too small. Because the smaller frame has less reach they can slam the stem with what looks like a long stem. So if you want to lose a few spacers think about trying it with a shorter stem (at least).
Are there any numbers of what bar to stem drop is considered low?
Strength where? Core, back, glute, quad? All of the above?
Yeah so the reason I started thinking about this is because I recently had a fit in preparation for ordering a new bike. At the advising of my fitter I’m going from a 58cm Trek Emonda ALR to a 56cm Madone SL. This should be a really good change for my reach/effective top tube but will be a pretty drastic decrease in stack. With my current fit I’m slammed but when I move to a bike with less stack I’ll no longer be slammed. Somewhat out of vanity, I don’t want to be the guy with an aero bike with 2cm of spacers under the stem. But also, this seems like an opportunity to increase my drop and make my current position lower.
Without knowing your details, in general, I’d rather have the smaller frame with a couple of centimeters of spacers over the larger frame slammed with a short stem.
A pro would probably be looking at a 52 or 54. Look at Sagan, slammed but arms not very stretched out in front. Pros often trade reach for drop.
If anything, aero bikes usually look fine with spacers since they are usually shaped and integrated. I wouldn’t worry about it.
I’m not sure there are any arbitrary ranges for drop… no drop would be considered saddle even with bars which I tend to see in touring/gravel/CX setups. Somewhat lower than that might be endurance bikes. Lower than that might be race bikes. Lower than that might be track bikes. (these are generalizations and probably not super accurate across the board) My current fit has 12cm of drop (assuming I measure that right…).
Again just my experience but I’d say core, shoulders, neck
I’d second fit as well eg crank length ie shorter but that’s getting very specific
youre also limited by your body shape - if like me you have long legs shorter arms youll just end up kneeing your stomach/chest if its too low, and no amount of bike fits, cranks or stem length will alter that.
Agree that sometimes it’s just body proportions - I’m riding 61cm or xl/XXL bikes just to get my 860mm seat height.
I would also try something like chirp wheel, for stretching up spinal muscles. It helps me a lot. But it really depends on personal feelings of each person. I can highly recommend this chirp wheel I’ve mentioned, you can see it here on this website with basic information of how it works.
No one has yet mentioned that lower does not necessarily equal more aero…and a slammed stem is not indicative of an aero position.
Your most aero position will be with your forearms parallel to the ground when out on your hoods. If you slam your stem, or lower your stack too much, your forearms become more vertical rather than horizontal…and a cylinder (your forearm) is one of the biggest aero drag shapes.
You can actually lower your body more effectively by increasing your reach and leaving your stack the same (or even raising it ).
Lower the bars a bit at a time, see how it goes. Ultimately you’ll either adapt or you’ll come back to your current fit. Watch for neck pain and saddle discomfort as you work down the spacer stack.