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The Definitive Discussion as to the Benefit of High Hands
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I know this comes up a lot in various threads and the popular thought is everyone wants to have a high hand position. DesertDude talks about stats like 85/15, that is, only 15% of folks he tests test faster with a high hand position (I think Dave Luscan supports Brian here). Jim@ero had a post way back when championing the virtues (with data) of having a high hand position (interestingly I settled on 15Âș myself) and I am sure there are others out there too. The data I have is very limited and not exactly high hands, but I did find hands mimicking holding ski bends was faster than flat hands (7 watts faster) .


@10Âș 0.200 cda(m2)



@10Âș 0.193 cda(m2)


Now a whole host of folks have suggested that it is not just high hands that give you lower drag numbers, but the benefit comes from what it affords you. Jim spoke about this in his post and you can see some of it in the two photos above. I have more reach without changing anything other than how I hold my bars, that extra reach lowers my shoulders, gives me a bit more shrug, and even my head looks like it is in a better position. So, it's not the hand position in and of itself that makes this position faster, but the changes it facilitates. I'm not sure if Brian's 85/15 correlates with only moving hands to ensure everything else remains the same or if the benefits noted above are being exploited to no benefit and a loss in some cases. Please excuse the horrible fitting kit in the next photo, but I had to use it as it helps illustrate my point.





In the second photo I have my right hand stacked on top of my left, which really makes my shrug much more comfortable. When using a more traditional hand hold, as in the first photo, it takes significant muscular effort on my part and distracts from almost everything else. Also, I should note that holding my head low has never been an issue and I don't think hand position helps me there. What I am referring to in shrugging is the pulling of my shoulders in towards each other (i.e. narrowing my shoulder width). Something else to note from the photos above is that my PAD Y and X do not tell the whole story without seeing me on the bike. My elbows hang off the back at a 15Âș downward angle giving me lower effective arm/shoulder/back position then the same stack if it were run with flat pads.

Time allowing, and I have my bike setup to swap quickly just for this reason, I plan to test high vs low hands in the tunnel in early 2019. Also, I think this is something the folks at STAC can show with their Virtual Tunnel, but we'll have to wait to see on that as well (next 2 weeks I hope). I will do my best to mimic my position, but stack will not change on the bike (though my shoulders are likely to be higher) and reach will be pretty close as well. However, I really feel that even if it is a lower drag number with hands/arm level (I don't think it will be) that in the real world the inability to keep my shoulders narrow will affect my real-world CdA(m2).

I'm in the high hands camp for all the reasons stated above and not simply because I think hands in front of my face is faster. Where do you stand on this positional question?

The numbers presented above were gathered at A2 wind tunnel @30mph. I used 10Âș as the numbers look better. ;)

ETA: Video of 15Âș arm angle vs ~0Âș



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Last edited by: LAI: Dec 24, 18 11:31
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Re: Hands high?? [LAI] [ In reply to ]
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Question below......

Is some of the theory here that the hands help direct air around the head/shoulders somehow and thus they act as a system instead of two different obstacles to the air?

As a newb, it looks like that could be the case if you're fast enough. If you're slow, would the air would regroup behind the hands anyway and not provide much benefit?
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Re: Hands high?? [burnthesheep] [ In reply to ]
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burnthesheep wrote:
Is some of the theory here that the hands help direct air around the head/shoulders somehow and thus they act as a system instead of two different obstacles to the air?

I think this is what Desertdude says is not the case, at least from what he has seen in the tunnel. But yes, I think this is what people think they are gaining by holding their hands higher. My thought, is it allows for a better position if you take advantage of it. But there is more work involved than just getting ski bends and mounting them reversed.

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Re: Hands high?? [burnthesheep] [ In reply to ]
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The position also helps with comfort IE being able to stay on your extensions for the duration of a race. I'm not currently riding with my hands this high as I'm only at 10° angled up but I'm looking for options to move to either 15 or even 17% angled up. Also I believe that Arrowhead helmet tests very well with the hands up in front of the face.
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Re: Hands high?? [LAI] [ In reply to ]
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i did not find anything higher than the UCI limit of 10cm, pads to extension tops, to be faster, so my bars are at 0 angle
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Re: Hands high?? [LAI] [ In reply to ]
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Looks good. The higher position looks like it allows your head and shoulders to “sink in” and close the gap to your hands.
Do you have any head on shots? I think another point is if you’re dropping your head, make sure your shoulders aren’t flaring out to the sides.

I plan on getting in some field testing playing with 0-20degrees of bar tilt, so very interested in following this thread. And perhaps hitting an ERO session if Jim plans to come back to Colorado Springs this season.

Alex Arman

Strava
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Re: Hands high?? [doublea334] [ In reply to ]
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doublea334 wrote:
Looks good. The higher position looks like it allows your head and shoulders to “sink in” and close the gap to your hands.
Do you have any head on shots?

I could probably do some screen shots, but I do have this video that shows three views:



doublea334 wrote:
I think another point is if you’re dropping your head, make sure your shoulders aren’t flaring out to the sides.


I used to roll with my shoulders flared out all wide, because I didn't think it was worth the effort to pull them in; however, it hasn't taken long to grow accustomed to holding tight when putting out power. I think this one change is going to lead to the greatest drop for me or at least I hope it does, as I know there is at least one guy out there that got slower with narrower shoulders. On a interesting side note, I now have to concentrate on relaxing my position when I am not on the gas.

Here is a great shot showing my relaxed shoulder stance:



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Re: Hands high?? [LAI] [ In reply to ]
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LAI wrote:
I think this is what Desertdude says is not the case, at least from what he has seen in the tunnel. But yes, I think this is what people think they are gaining by holding their hands higher. My thought, is it allows for a better position if you take advantage of it. But there is more work involved than just getting ski bends and mounting them reversed.

To throw another wrench into this, I remember reading that the high hands position does have an advantage but only at higher speeds. So while it may test great at 30mph (on top of my head) where the supposed explanation does work, at lower speeds say 20mph it may be a detriment.

It'd be great if this thread conglomerate the others and somewhat reach a conclusion on this. It does somewhat speak volumes when pros like frodo, lange, and sanders have flatter hands. But again caveat emptor, everyone's different.
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Re: Hands high?? [jeffp] [ In reply to ]
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did you just raise your hands or did you do what LAI did?

jeffp wrote:
i did not find anything higher than the UCI limit of 10cm, pads to extension tops, to be faster, so my bars are at 0 angle

Eric Reid
AeroFit | Instagram Portfolio
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Aerodynamic Optimized Bike Fitting, Retul Pre-Purchase Bike Fitting, USAT Level 1 Triathlon Coaching, Nutrition
Ask me: Scody Optimized Speed Suits | CeramicSpeed Oversized Pulley Systems | HUUB Skinsuits and Wetsuits | Ventum Bicycles and Frames
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Re: Hands high?? [ericMPro] [ In reply to ]
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I kept contact point of elbows the same(ie no drop increase since it does not test faster for me) essentially as angle increases, hands would get higher and closer to face(at 15 deg angle shield bumped into arms). I can't shrug anymore than I do and already have shoulders as narrow as rib cage and more reach also always tests slower for me. Angling forearms was last check on list to verify, well that and turtle vs dropped head position(one can see where I am going other is a tad faster).
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Re: Hands high?? [LAI] [ In reply to ]
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I have found stacking my hands makes it more comfortable as well. But there is a little loss of control. So brings me back to if I can get hands higher might not need to stack hands and be able to hold that position even more.

___________ https://www.instagram.com/toothengineer/ https://www.strava.com/dashboard https://slfmotion.com

2018 Races: Crashed out for the year
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Re: Hands high?? [zinny] [ In reply to ]
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zinny wrote:
To throw another wrench into this, I remember reading that the high hands position does have an advantage but only at higher speeds. So while it may test great at 30mph (on top of my head) where the supposed explanation does work, at lower speeds say 20mph it may be a detriment.

It'd be great if this thread conglomerate the others and somewhat reach a conclusion on this. It does somewhat speak volumes when pros like frodo, lange, and sanders have flatter hands. But again caveat emptor, everyone's different.


Anecdotally that jives with all the British Time Trial guys doing massively high hands. Which also works for me as I am looking for speeds in the 27mph range (with plenty of time spent above 30 and some around 25). So, if this holds true I think it would still be a benefit it my case.

That being said, I am pretty confident Brian is testing at 30mph in A2 and still reporting that 85% of people test slower. Is this at 0Âș or 10Âș or something else is unknown, but wind speeds should be 30mph.

ETA: I changed the title to reflect that the design of this thread is to arrive at a conclusion on the topic

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Last edited by: LAI: Dec 18, 18 7:38
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Re: Hands high?? [Toothengineer] [ In reply to ]
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Toothengineer wrote:
I have found stacking my hands makes it more comfortable as well. But there is a little loss of control. So brings me back to if I can get hands higher might not need to stack hands and be able to hold that position even more.


My hand stack is a little different maybe. I grip the extension normal with my left hand and then overlay my right over my left cupping it from above if that makes sense. Now, i've only ever done that on the trainer as stacking my hands–both flat on the extensions–has always seemed a little too iffy outside for me, as you've found. I'm hoping this new method my give me back that stability I get from properly holding the extensions. I guess, I should also note that I always run a deep front no matter the winds, so, control In other words very important to me.

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Last edited by: LAI: Dec 18, 18 7:36
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Re: Hands high?? [LAI] [ In reply to ]
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LAI wrote:
Toothengineer wrote:
I have found stacking my hands makes it more comfortable as well. But there is a little loss of control. So brings me back to if I can get hands higher might not need to stack hands and be able to hold that position even more.


My hand stack is a little different maybe. I grip the extension normal with my left hand and then overlay my right over my left cupping it from above if that makes sense. Now, i've only ever done that on the trainer as stacking my hands–both flat on the extensions–has always seemed a little too iffy outside for me, as you've found. I'm hoping this new method my give me back that stability I get from properly holding the extensions. I guess, I should also note that I always run a deep front no matter the winds, so, control In other words very important to me.

I do the exact same and have been doing it for years outside! Its pretty stable but I dont use it on bumpy parts of the road or turns that much.

___________ https://www.instagram.com/toothengineer/ https://www.strava.com/dashboard https://slfmotion.com

2018 Races: Crashed out for the year
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Re: Hands high?? [Toothengineer] [ In reply to ]
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Good to know. I kind of had a feeling it would be more stable than just having my hands laying on the extensions.

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Re: The Definitive Discussion as to the Benefit of High Hands [LAI] [ In reply to ]
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I just bought a set of extensions that will get my hands up higher, trying to look like you in the second pic Luis. I keep my head down and shoulders tight (my arm pads touch each other), but every pic I have shows a big gap between my hands and my chin. Hoping to get faster making the change....
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Re: The Definitive Discussion as to the Benefit of High Hands [ridenfish39] [ In reply to ]
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ridenfish39 wrote:
I just bought a set of extensions that will get my hands up higher, trying to look like you in the second pic Luis. I keep my head down and shoulders tight (my arm pads touch each other), but every pic I have shows a big gap between my hands and my chin. Hoping to get faster making the change....

I still have that image of you overtaking me at church creek and my only thought was that guy looks fast enough to win. You proved me right that day! lol It pains me a bit that I am helping you get faster. However, one has to have competition or else the victory is hollow. Look forward to seeing you out there again this year.

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Re: The Definitive Discussion as to the Benefit of High Hands [LAI] [ In reply to ]
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I hope I can get back to that and not have a Lyme relapse :(
See you out there next season hopefully. I’ll be 45 plus then.
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Re: Hands high?? [LAI] [ In reply to ]
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LAI wrote:
zinny wrote:
To throw another wrench into this, I remember reading that the high hands position does have an advantage but only at higher speeds. So while it may test great at 30mph (on top of my head) where the supposed explanation does work, at lower speeds say 20mph it may be a detriment.


It'd be great if this thread conglomerate the others and somewhat reach a conclusion on this. It does somewhat speak volumes when pros like frodo, lange, and sanders have flatter hands. But again caveat emptor, everyone's different.


Anecdotally that jives with all the British Time Trial guys doing massively high hands. Which also works for me as I am looking for speeds in the 27mph range (with plenty of time spent above 30 and some around 25). So, if this holds true I think it would still be a benefit it my case.

That being said, I am pretty confident Brian is testing at 30mph in A2 and still reporting that 85% of people test slower. Is this at 0Âș or 10Âș or something else is unknown, but wind speeds should be 30mph.

ETA: I changed the title to reflect that the design of this thread is to arrive at a conclusion on the topic


I agree with this. The Frodo/Lange/Sanders thing is a "tri" thing. They're averaging in the 20's, not 30+. They do go 30+ for spurts, but not going 28+ mph for the majority of the "event". Fast TT guys do spend the majority of time at that speed.

Hence, the British TT thing mentioned above.

I'm in an odd spot, right around 27ish mph for a target flat TT speed. I don't think I'm "fast enough" for something like this yet. Often on out/back with a tiny bit of elevation loss/gain I'll see 29 to 30 mph outbound and low 20's inbound. Or reversed depending on where I rode that day.


I have an idea. If you steal it, I want a free prototype, some copious amount of beer/wine and lots of free swag from your company:
I may buy some spare cheap extensions and try this out. Totally not UCI legal........but check this........split the extensions in half and install something like this...................




Then you can swap mid-ride based on speed. Downhill, bring hands up. Uphill or slower section, bring em down.
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Re: Hands high?? [burnthesheep] [ In reply to ]
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Hello

have a look to the photos in this article :

https://www.velouk.net/...-targets-to-aim-for/

The 5 or 6 guys in Huub Wattbike are aero geek, spending a lot of time in wind tunnel. Testing a lot. And the result is : all of them do have high hands, because these are the better CdA obtained. Individually.
This is not quite 15%, more 100%.

UCI make high hands difficult. Because of the +/-10cm rule, between pads and top of aerobar. Still, they found way to get around the rule : move forward the pads (elbow below pads), grip with lower fingers only (top finger above top of aerobar)

Dan Bigham, 183cm, is 0.168 in the 5th picture shown. Clearly it works well, and looks like it work as a system.

Speed : never see any evidence (or missed it ?), for position related matter, of a significant impact of speed, in the range considered (30 - 65km/h). Apparently, for textured textile ("vortex" and "striped" speed suit), there is delta from speed around CdA .0015 maximum.
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Re: Hands high?? [Pyrenean Wolf] [ In reply to ]
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Pyrenean Wolf wrote:
UCI make high hands difficult.

No need to adhere to UCI regulations when doing a triathlon fit thankfully.

Eric Reid
AeroFit | Instagram Portfolio
Chapel Hill, NC
Aerodynamic Optimized Bike Fitting, Retul Pre-Purchase Bike Fitting, USAT Level 1 Triathlon Coaching, Nutrition
Ask me: Scody Optimized Speed Suits | CeramicSpeed Oversized Pulley Systems | HUUB Skinsuits and Wetsuits | Ventum Bicycles and Frames
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Re: Hands high?? [LAI] [ In reply to ]
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[quote LAI

.....That being said, I am pretty confident Brian is testing at 30mph in A2 and still reporting that 85% of people test slower. Is this at 0Âș or 10Âș or something else is unknown, but wind speeds should be 30mph......[/quote]

To try to answer several points in between athlete phone calls. Yes we test at 30mph since it's easier to see differences. At slower speeds things look more alike & it's harder to separate fact from fiction. That being said I did have an interesting convo with Dan of PremierBike over breakfast this morning about drag curves at slower speeds.

Now matter what we do in the tunnel, just hands high or repositioning them to achieve a lower head position with higher hands etc it really doesn't seem to matter to much. When things start to go to yaw the drag numbers tend to increase for the overwhelming majority of people who position themselves with hands held high. Now I will say going from S bends to ski tips is a nearly universal improvement except for M45-49

Now for some folks it works and works extremely well. For some it's only a 2-3w slower. If the position is more comfy and 2-3w slower is that the winning position? Probably and more likely if you're racing IMs. If it's in that 4-5-8-9w range slower what do you do? I mean 4w isn't a ton but it's not insignificant either. part of that depends on what the rest of the testing shows. If it's 8-9-10+ watts what do you do? If you save 15w on helmet and clothing but lose 10 on positioning is that a win? What if you could have been 10,15 or 20w faster? What if the positional changes negate everything the rest of testing shows? If you're lucky all the pieces fall together and everything works. Unfortunately these are questions/answers that will differ for each rider.

IDK if you're going to get a definitive answer since nothing seems to be universal. I do know getting an email out to everyone that has contacted about doing some windtunnel testing later this week is written on the board under my To Do This Week list.

I'll say this though: The more I test, the more I read and study up on aerodynamics & then go back and look through all the testing data from the very first aerocamp until the last person I tested the more I realize how many questions I have and the possibilities to test things if time was less limited. I feel for many of those riders even another 30-60 min could have answered some questions that are extremely critical, maybe more critical than which suit to wear or where to put bottles/nutrition etc.

FWIW my personal testing story is I've tested in the velodrome 2x and then for about 3h in the wind tunnel. I went from 12degrees up on the hands to 0 after tunnel testing and that is my current position. That reduced drag by 10w at yaw angles which was 1 of the 2 biggest gains. In the velodrome 5 up was faster than flat, 10w even faster than 5 and 12degrees even faster still. Those positions were also more comfy for me bc it felt like my elbows were locked into the pads, the bars were an extension of my hands/shoulders and I could keep a low head position easier/more comfortable. Yet at yaw angles more comfort = a fair bit slower which was a trade off I wasn't willing to make. YMMV

As I alluded to I've got a ton of things I've been pondering both for testing myself and for testing others

Brian Stover
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Re: Hands high?? [ericMPro] [ In reply to ]
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ericMPro wrote:
Pyrenean Wolf wrote:
UCI make high hands difficult.


No need to adhere to UCI regulations when doing a triathlon fit thankfully.

Yep, my life is simpler now. I just pushed my aerobars 9 more centimeter forward (6 from the bar, 3 from the stem) and angled them up to get 6cm upper. I'much less constrained, and I look like Casper Stornes or Tim Don... but with less cylinders :-)
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Re: Hands high?? [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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I've been meaning to chime in about this.

High hands is not the point. It's not an input. For me it's an output of a deliberate, targeted, and iterative fit process and philosophy. It's descriptive not prescriptive.

Everyone here is asking "are we're doing things right", but nobody is asking "are we doing the right things". Take a step back and *think* about it for a minute.

The purpose of high hands is not to save a few watts. It's something else.



(And yes, even if it's 2-3w slower in the tunnel it will probably be 2-3w faster in the real world because of a more comfortable, sustainable position.)

Eric Reid
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Chapel Hill, NC
Aerodynamic Optimized Bike Fitting, Retul Pre-Purchase Bike Fitting, USAT Level 1 Triathlon Coaching, Nutrition
Ask me: Scody Optimized Speed Suits | CeramicSpeed Oversized Pulley Systems | HUUB Skinsuits and Wetsuits | Ventum Bicycles and Frames
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Re: Hands high?? [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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desert dude wrote:
As I alluded to I've got a ton of things I've been pondering both for testing myself and for testing others

Well, hopefully you're pondering about what I should test. ;)

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