Bicycle Hood Positioning

by Jesse Jarjour

Hood Position:
Same Position, Different Hoods

While often overlooked, hood position on drop bar bikes (e.g.road, gravel, touring, etc) bike is one of the most important aspects of bike fit. Many riders will spend hours perfecting their cleat position, saddle height, and stem length but not give hood position a second thought. Very ofen stock hood position on a new bike is essentially an afterthought. Keeping all else constant, just changing hood position can change the overall reach to where the hands contact the hoods of the shifters by almost 20mm (which is a similar effect to switch from a 100mm to an 80mm stem). In addition to overall reach, hood position has a huge effect on your posture through your shoulders and neck. If poorly positioned can also lead to hand and wrist issues, such as cyclist's palsy which is a numbness in the fingers that can persist long after you’ve finished riding your bike. Left unchecked this can lead to permanent damage. 

So how do you determine the correct hood position for you? Read on to find out. 

The first thing to consider is that hood position is largely based on the reach and drop from your saddle to the hoods. The challenge this presents is that adjustments to your hood position impacts the drop and reach to the hoods, so this becomes a recursive problem. We recommend first getting your overall position (saddle height, bar height, and reach) into roughly the range that you’re after (you can do this easily with the MyVeloFit AI system and a few videos of you on the bike). Once you have your general position figured out it’s time to look at your wrists and hands. Of course after you’ve adjusted your hood position it’s important to recheck your overall fit. 

When considering hood position there are three things to consider - 

Vertical hood position: 

Examples of hood rotation without changing the bar angle

Hood position relative to handlebar rotation - hoods can be angled by rotating the bar or by changing their position on the bar:
Bar angle changes hood angle

Internal/Neutral/External rotation of the hoods:
Internal/Neutral/External Rotation of the Hoods

So to set your hoods properly you’ll want to first set the handlebar angle, then set your vertical hood position, then set your the hood lateral position (rotation inwards/outwards)
Personally I like to set the handlebar so the bottom of the drops are horizontal to the ground and then rotate the hoods to my desired position. However, this will be driven by the type of handlebars you are using, if you actually spend any time in the drops, and personal preference/comfort.  

Once you’ve got the bar where you want, take a look at the angle of the wrist. Is your wrist rotated down towards the ground, pulling your shoulders forward? This can often lead to a tight neck/shoulders and/or numbness in your ring and little fingers:
Too Low

Or is your wrist angled up too far towards you causing an excessive bend to your elbows? This can cause excessive triceps fatigue and/or numbness in the thumb, or index finger. 
Too High

We are looking for a neutral position with your wrists relaxed and straight - Not bent towards your thumb or little finger. However there will be a little bit of play on either side. If you want to reduce your overall  reach to take some pressure off your shoulders or arms, you can angle your hoods slightly upward. Conversely, if you are looking to shift weight a little further forward, for alonger and lower position, you can angle your hoods a bit downward. 
Just Right

Lastly you’ll want to adjust for internal or external rotation of your hoods - generally if you have the correct width handlebars (handlebar width roughly equal to shoulder width) you should be okay with a neutral hood position, the exception being if you have very rounded shoulders you can roll the hoods in slightly. If on the other hand you have handlebars that are too wide for you - very common on women’s bikes or people with narrow shoulders - you can cheat a bit by angling your hoods in a few degrees. We never recommend having the hoods rotated outward. 

Athletes from around the world use MyVeloFit to improve their cycling position. Whether you are a veteran or new to the sport, MyVeloFit can help you improve your position.

Get started