BP4 Handlebars Asks, Does Better Climbing Matter?
September 12, 2015
You’re damn right climbing matters. Look how many great races have been won on grueling days in the Alps and other rigorous areas. This years Vuelta (2015) was decided on a mountain stage. Fabio Aru was a minute behind going into stage 20 of this years edition and made up that time, and more, on where? You guessed it, a mountain stage. The mountain stages are where the real metal of a rider is pushed to the limits and often it is not WHO is the best rider, but who can stand the most punishment.
There are many factors that go into what kind of day a rider will have on race day. These factors include nutrition, hydration, equipment(the right equipment, but I’ll get to that later), mental state, conditioning, and the list goes on. If all of the factors were even(crazy idea to think so, but go with me on this) what could make such a glaring difference that, with all things being equal, you could win every time. What the hell did I just say? Hold your horses, I’ll get to that.
In the last few decades there have been some amazing changes in bike components and positioning. It seems today that everything is about being “aero”, and that is a good thing right? Well, not always. There is a point when too much emphasis is placed on “cuuting” through the wind better than the next guy. This all well and good until “power starts to get sacrificed in the name of decreased drag. When Greg Lamond adopted the first pair of “aero” bars in the Tour de France, he was able to eat enough time from Laurent Fignon with his superior position to win that year by mere seconds. Now you would have a stabbing chance at winning a time trial with anything other that a full aero bar set up. The question I pose is, is aero enough to win a grand tour, or any multi- stage race? I would have to contend that it is not when there is something out there can do for time trail that the areo bar did that can do the same for climbing.
Just as the aero bar places you in a position to minimize drag, and the decrease in power output, it really comes down to a question of body position, right? What if you could have a position for climbing and take advantage of correct body positioning that would give you the advantage over your rivals on mountain climbs? I’m sure the answer would be yes. Who doesn’t like being the King of the Mountain? Lot’s of bragging rights with that one. No one ever says “I was fastest on the flat section”! You’re still buying the beer. In smarter circles it is know that the first five (out of ten) most important points for faster and better riding are 1)position, 2)position, 3)position 4)position and 5)position. Get the drift? You’re bike is but a small part of your overall drag. The meat suit on the bike is what matters most. That’s why the industry keeps trying to make riders more and more narrow.
What the industry has not made better is putting riders in an equally optimized position for climbing. Historically, you get two areas, the tops and the hoods. I can tell you right now that the hoods are no place to climb and generate the power you need to beat the rider next to you. The tops are even worse. Look at the hands of the rider below. His hands are trying soooo hard to be in an optimized position, but alas, he is grasping at air. The dude on the right isn’t even holding on. Oh the horror! What if you could get the leverage AND power for climbing that you never had before? I bet you’d like that wouldn’t you? I knew you would.
Now take a look at what the right way to climb looks like. That’s our boy Timmy Z at the Belgium Waffle Ride (BWR) in San Diego 2015. Look at how comfy he looks climbing the 20% plus final hill of a 148 mile day. Did you notice he is still seated? We were there on this climb and only noticed a couple of riders who could stay seated. Why is Tim able to climb like this on such a steep climb? Remember I said the first 5 points of efficient riding is position? If you will notice, Tim’s hands are properly and anatomically aligned for him to take advantage of human biomechanics. More weight over his hips to drive to the pedals and his hands are close enough that instead of rocking back and forth, he can ride that thing like Willie Shoemaker on Secretariat. Energy conservation at it’s finest. The need to stand because normal hoods suck is almost a thing of the past. Why continue to ride the past when we are clearly bringing you the future today. You know you want to climb better. Why not now. Go ahead, order a set, we will be there for you.