My Favorite Hand Position

I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of hands going numb on a ride. For some of us, it thankfully doesn’t happen much. For others, it occurs regularly. We keep going, and shake out our hands to get some feeling back into them. We can also check to make sure our hands are positioned to minimize pressure, by putting most of the weight on the heels, rather than the palms of the hands.

Or, we move our hands around on the bar. The nice thing about drop bars is that the rider can ride in a number of hand positions. I spend 80 percent or more of my time on the brake hoods, as I suspect most road riders do. I like to ride in the drops, not so much because I go faster that way, but because it’s a different position, and relieves pressure on the hands from their time on the hoods. And sometimes, I’ll grab the bar on the flat top part, especially going up hill.

But I’ve got another hand position that has become my favorite. I simply move my hands back from the brake hoods by an inch or two. That puts them over the bar just after it has curved forward from the flat part.

This position appeals to me because of one overriding factor: comfort. My hand is still able to grip in a handshake attitude. I can wrap my fingertips around the drops. It’s a lot like the hand position we used to take when riding those cruiser bikes we grew up with, where the handlebars curved toward the rear.

It also puts me more upright. That’s very welcome after being in the same bent-over position for awhile. I can relax a bit, sit back and look around.

Some handlebars are better adapted to this riding position than others. Randonneur-style bars, such as the Nitto Noodle, have relatively long “ramps” up to the brake hoods that give the rider a generous area to place the hands.

The Nitto Noodle bar.

For myself, I’ve found that making sure the “flats” or “ramps” that lead to the brake hoods are parallel with the ground means my hands on the flats will be a little more comfortable.

I’m still on the brake hoods 80 percent of the time, but when I need a break, I just back off an inch or two. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s worth a shot. See if you agree.


  1. Janice in GA says

    I agree. I like to ride with my hands in the position you describe too.

    On my current road bike, hands on the drops is a really comfortable position for me too. If I had bar-end shifters, I’d probably ride there even more than I do now.

  2. says

    I agree. I spend most of my time on the hood. I still have yet to get comfortable enough to get down on the drop bars. I feel I don’t have much control in that position. As far as climbing I use the top of my bars like straight flat bars and hold very very loosely. I don’t even wrap my thumb around the bar. I’ve found I can climb even the smalles hill better this way.

  3. Barbara says

    Likewise, I share your taste in hand position. I went through the new Specialized BG fit process on my new bike and they wanted to make adjustments so I wouldn’t do this….but I nixed that. I find that hand position to be a good cross between being ready for anything and relaxing and enjoying the ride! I also use a light touch on the flat part of the bar for hill climbing. That combined with making some recent modifications in how I manage cadence makes a world of difference in both hill climbing and riding into strong headwinds….not that we ever see those here in the DFW area! :)

  4. David says

    I tend to hold a little higher than the described position by Bike Noob. I ride on a bike path that also doubles as a jogging path, so it’s good to keep 2 fingers on the brakes just in case. Holding too far down doesn’t allow me to squeeze the brakes fast and hard enough to avoid a collision.

    That said, I know I probably should be holding the brake levers a little lower for more braking power. However, it’s too far a strech forward for my fingers, and getting down in the drops isn’t exactly comfortable.

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