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One of the first lessons any serious cyclist learns is where to put their hands and when. This isn't your childhood bike and the consequences of falling are far more grave, so use this quick guide to familiarize yourself with the basics and get to practicing.

1. Safety First
If this is your first bike, make sure to have your bike fitted by a professional. Handlebar adjustments are extremely important in order to personalize your bike. Everybody has a different reach, body type etc. Practice changing between hand positions, first using an indoor trainer stand and eventually on a safe, flat road. Remember: two of the biggest rookie mistakes are gripping the handlebars too tightly and forgetting to keep your elbows tucked.


2. Drops
Using the drops is best for control and brake access, which is why many consider it the safest hand position. It's worth noting, however, that it is also the most aggressive position, forcing you into forward-most leaning position on a bike. This is not a natural posture and takes quite a bit of practice to get used to.

Drops are best for sprinting and riding out of the saddle at higher speeds. It maximizes your leverage, control and power. You want to use the drops whenever you're on a descent or taking fast corners.


3. Hoods
This is where you'll spend most of your rides. Hoods keep your torso a bit more upright, which is more comfortable, but also makes you less aerodynamic. Expect a slight slow-down when riding the hoods, even when exerting the same physical output. You can access your gear change and brakes from this position as well. The only time you should be out of the saddle while using hoods is during a climb.


4. Tops
Using the tops puts your body in the most upright position - which makes it most comfortable, but also the least aerodynamic position. It is best for long, steady climbs, as it opens up the hips and allows for easier access to glute power.

In this position, you find your hands furthest away from the brakes. It is important to remember, because of this, to only use the tops when riding slowly. Additionally, you should always be in the saddle when using the tops. So if you find yourself out of the saddle, sit down or change hand positions safely.


Follow this guide, practice changing between hand positions regularly and soon enough this will all be second-natured.