Descending in the drops



Nathan55

New Member
Mar 20, 2014
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At the moment when I try to descend in the drops, the front wheel feels as though it gets very twitchy to the point the slightest bump could send me sailing. Is this a normal feeling at first and what things could I possibly do to change it?

I'm finding the more I put weight on my pedals helps a bit but that's difficult especially in steeper descents, as does bringing my chest further down. Doesn't feel like I'm completely there yet, but I know it's not the bar/seat height as I've seen the pros in even more drop. What's people's advice?
 

oldbobcat

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Aug 31, 2003
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Maybe stop trying to fight the sensation of flying nose-first over the handlebar. You won't. Sit on the back of the saddle but keep your chest down, your head up, and your weight on the outside crank. Some finds it helps to point to the inside of the curve with the inside knee. I find it helps to pull up a bit on the inside crank.
 

CAMPYBOB

Well-Known Member
Sep 12, 2005
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Relax.

Keep your eyes parallel to the ground. Level the pedals at 3 and 9 o'clock for fast, open descending turns and keep your knees tucked against the top tube. Look through the apex of the turn towards the exit. Lay the bike over and push a little on the inside bar to hold it down. Use all the road that's safely available to you.available; start wide on the outside of the corner and cut inside into the apex. Let you building speed carry you back outside.

For tight descending turns, drop the outer pedal to 6 o'clock and put you rear weight on that pedal. As OBC stated, you might want to throw the inside knee out. Keep pressure on the inside bar grip (Google 'counter steering'). Most of your braking should be done before entering the turn and do not cut the apex too early.

For the really tight stuff and off camber turns, keep the bike more upright and hang the upper body off the bike towards the inside of the turn. Practice this at slower speeds and work your way into it.
 

jhuskey

Moderator
Oct 6, 2003
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Dang Bob, how can I relax if I have to think about all those things at once?
 

CAMPYBOB

Well-Known Member
Sep 12, 2005
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That not auto-pilot! That's Otto Pilot! It's no wonder you can't descend! Details, man! Details!

 

alfeng

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Jul 23, 2005
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Originally Posted by Nathan55
At the moment when I try to descend in the drops, the front wheel feels as though it gets very twitchy to the point the slightest bump could send me sailing. Is this a normal feeling at first and what things could I possibly do to change it?

I'm finding the more I put weight on my pedals helps a bit but that's difficult especially in steeper descents, as does bringing my chest further down. Doesn't feel like I'm completely there yet, but I know it's not the bar/seat height as I've seen the pros in even more drop. What's people's advice?
Well, in addition to all the suggestions regarding bike handling skills ...

BUT, without knowing how your bike is set up, you may want to ...

  1. check your headset ...
  2. and/or consider changing the front wheel to one which is spoked differently ...

  • a 28x3 wheel should work for most people ...
  • a 32x3 wheel would be better ...

  • CHECK the spoke tension if your front wheel is one of the fore mentioned ...
  • AND, ensure that BOTH front & rear wheels are true!
 

dhk2

Well-Known Member
Aug 8, 2006
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Originally Posted by Nathan55
At the moment when I try to descend in the drops, the front wheel feels as though it gets very twitchy to the point the slightest bump could send me sailing. Is this a normal feeling at first and what things could I possibly do to change it?

I'm finding the more I put weight on my pedals helps a bit but that's difficult especially in steeper descents, as does bringing my chest further down. Doesn't feel like I'm completely there yet, but I know it's not the bar/seat height as I've seen the pros in even more drop. What's people's advice?
Good tips here for how to do it. Not sure what you are experiencing, but some road bikes feel more stable than others. If handling and road grip feel "very twitchy", or prone to speed-wobble on fast descents, could be something on the fork, frame, headset or wheels/tires that needs attention. For maximum grip and stability at higher speeds, reasonably round and true tire/wheel assembles matter.

Tire pressures are important too. Running the max rated pressure on the sidewall isn't what you need, unless you are a heavyweight. If you are a mid-weight rider on 23mm tires, try decreasing the front pressure to 90-95 psi and see how that affects the stability.
 

maydog

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Feb 5, 2010
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How steep are these descents?

I typically feel much more stable being in the drops, only felt like going over on some really steep stuff.
 

danfoz

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Apr 12, 2011
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I prefer descending in the drops too, unless it's on compact bars. When descending I want to be stretched out, not feeling like I am going to fall over the bars. Compact bars put me further out on the hoods and closer in the drops vs. a "classic" bend, exactly the opposite of what I prefer... closer on the hoods, more stretched out in the drops.

Scooting to the back of the saddle may help. It's possible you may need a longer stem, not saying you do need one but often stretching out a bit reduces a bikes feeling of "twitchiness". Even that very small difference in the handlebar shape I mentioned is enough to make a bike feel wonky to me during high speed descending. Bringing your chest down will help some too, it leads to a lower center of gravity. Caveman says lower center of gravity is bikes friend.
 

oldbobcat

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Aug 31, 2003
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Originally Posted by alfeng a 28x3 wheel should work for most people ...
  • a 32x3 wheel would be better ...

  • CHECK the spoke tension if your front wheel is one of the fore mentioned ...
  • AND, ensure that BOTH front & rear wheels are true!
That's a lot of **** to haul up the hill.

Oh. And before I forget, keep your vision focused as far ahead as possible
 

Nathan55

New Member
Mar 20, 2014
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I must thank you guys a lot, its all very sound advice. Had a bit of a break through today, rather than feeling locked into the drops, I was able to relax more, especially in the hands and elbows. The front wheel doesn't feel like it's going to squirrel over bumps anymore, except a bit on turns.

Probably the size of the bike is a bit of a factor too, I bought it knowing it was intended for people a few cms smaller than me, so as danfoz said I might look into a longer stem. I suppose like the stretching out thing I also found directing my front weight forwards rather than directly down to the wheel made a difference, as did getting my **** as far back on the seat. Both of which was probably a big factor in allowing me to relax.

I'm pretty happy, I just get a sore neck now which is probably reasonably normal to begin with.
 

oldbobcat

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Aug 31, 2003
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat
That's a lot of **** to haul up the hill.

Oh. And before I forget, keep your vision focused as far ahead as possible
Cool. Taking your first steep descent at a decent clip is a lot like the first time you ski an advanced trail.
 

jpr95

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Oct 11, 2010
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I remember one of my first high-speed descents. I didn't have a computer, but I was following my (then-future, now-ex) bro-in-law, who did have a computer, down Hwy 421 in Madison, IN. When we got to the bottom,

Me: "How fast did we go?"

Him: "Just over 44 MPH."

Me: "Cool!" (Or thereabouts--my first known foray into 40+MPH territory).

Him: "Did you see the turtle?"

Me: "No. What turtle?"

Him: "Oh, the box turtle we missed by about 6 inches..."
 

swampy1970

Well-Known Member
Feb 3, 2008
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Twitchy bikes - I've not been on one of those in years... I thought basic "frame geometry 101" weeded out the idiots that built bikes like that these days.

If you have a "death grip" on the bars then relax your hands. If you sit on the front of the saddle or have a saddle that's all the way forward on the saddle rails, scoot your ass back to take some weight off the front wheel. Check your stem length too.

If all else fails buy some good inner tubes, Conti GP4000S tires and a good pump with a pressure gauge. Inflate to the correct pressure before every ride and enjoy...

One of the weirder trends I've seen around SF is running your forks backwards and/or using a 26" front wheel. Both are a recipe on their own for face plants, wipeouts and general **** handling. Fashion - sometimes it's good for clothes but never really works for bike design.

JPR - almost got the turtles head at 40mph? Just wait until you do 60! ;)
 

Volnix

Well-Known Member
Feb 19, 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swampy1970 .
If all else fails buy some good inner tubes, Conti GP4000S tires and a good pump with a pressure gauge. Inflate to the correct pressure before every ride and enjoy...



Just got a pair of those. They are faaast.
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I allready beat my PR on a segment I created on the first ride and it was with headwind too!
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...and have managed to make a few second best times on the way back allready but the wind is stronger some days so I guess I am gonna have to wait for a good day to make a PR on that.

I started to use them at 115psi, I am 80kg and they are rated up to 120. They say on the manual that you can adjust that by + or - 5psi or something for racing.

First impression was that they are really fast. As far as for the "supple" ride due to the 330tpi, well, didnt notice any difference from the wired Specialized Espoir but maybe these were worn and maybe a bit "softer" anyway.

Havent tried them on the rain yet. My last spill was the bike just slidding sideways on a road right after the rain started, but I suspect that there might have been some oil spills there too. I was also taking the turn at 35km/h.
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But... If you lose your balance, you will probably be "ejected".
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They seem to have a very definite traction limit if you go a bit on the side.

Btw, most of the accidents I had were due to "something" touching the handlebar. With everything else, if it doesnt knock you right off, you can probably re-balance the bike.

But if something knocks the handlebar (car, pedestrian etc) then it's usually 5 meters or so sideways and then "down".
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