At the highest level, obtaining the perfect position on the bike becomes a matter of millimetres – and it’s often a trade-off too, between aerodynamics, power and comfort.
Speak to any experienced pro team mechanic and they’ll say pro riders can detect the tiniest change to their setup. Yet elite riders often tinker with their position to maximise their efficiency, and it’s not just from one year to the next – early in the season for example, some riders adopt a slightly more upright position and, as they gain fitness and flexibility, they lower their handlebars to become more aerodynamic without sacrificing any pedalling efficiency.
If maximising efficiency is the ultimate goal of every keen cyclist, here are three tips to more efficient cycling:
Get the saddle height right
If the saddle’s too low the time to reach exhaustion is much shorter – not good. Too high and the rider’s hips rock, which is not only uncomfortable and wastes energy, it can lead to injuries. The perfect saddle height will usually give the rider a slightly bent 25-degree knee angle when the pedal is at the bottom of the stroke. There are a number of methods to reach the ball park – outlined in this article on the perfect saddle height – but to go one step beyond, speak to a bike fit specialist who will dial it right in.
Practice pedalling efficiency
The French have a word for beautiful pedalling: souplesse. And it’s not just elegant, it’s usually more efficient too. However, it’s not the only consideration and pedalling efficiency is often guided by personal and physiological preference – what feels right is probably the most efficient.
Yet higher cadences often yield better efficiency – look at Chris Froome’s unnaturally high looking cadence and it does no harm to practice riding at a higher RPM.
So a top tip is to choose a lower gear and increase cadence – check out our story on how to pedal like a pro here. Great places to practice are during group riding sessions where a rider can draft behind the leaders and maintain their speed and on indoor rollers.
The rider’s body accounts for 70 to 80 percent of drag while cycling; the bike, clothing and helmet the remainder. So getting aero on the bike will dramatically improve efficiency. Generally speaker the flatter the torso the more aerodynamic the position, so lowering the handlebars and choosing a longer stem are worth considering. However, this is where compromise kicks in and crucially, a rider should safeguard comfort too: a position which feels uncomfortable and makes the back, shoulder or neck ache is unsustainable and could be dangerous. The best option is to speak to a bike fit expert.
Finding the perfect balance between efficiency and comfort has already been achieved in the all-new Mazda3. Its stylish exterior is also extremely aerodynamic, which translates to better driving performance and increased fuel efficiency. The suite of SKYACTIV Technologies – including a lighter chassis and sophisticated engine technology that increases power output and reduces fuel consumption – means drivers know that beneath the sporty bodywork they’re in a car that is the pinnacle of everyday motoring efficiency.
And while efficiency ranks top priority for the all-new Mazda3, it’s also won plaudits for its striking, low-slung presence, which was inspired by Kodo – Soul of Motion, the design language previously seen on Mazda CX5 and Mazda6 models. But with some class-leading drag coefficient figures (0.26 for the Fastback and 0.275 for the Hatchback) the all-new Mazda3 heads the pack for an efficient drive that’s ideal for any adventurer travelling on urban or rural terrains.
For more information visit the all-new Mazda3 website.