The number 1 secret to riding

Make all your rides better by doing this

I'm not even going to make you scroll down the page before revealing this life-changing tip. You ready? I bet you are. Here it is: bend your elbows.

The secret works with all types of riding: on the road, the trails, and even in town
The secret works with all types of riding: on the road, the trails, and even in town

No matter what type of riding you do, bending your elbows while riding will always benefit your body, your endurance, and your bike handling. 

It's astonishing how many riders, road, mountain, and commuters, lock their elbows out while riding. I've been observing the locked arms phenomenon for years in every discipline of cycling. 

Riding this way transfers all the bumps and shocks directly from the handlebars up through your hands, wrists, arms and inevitably into your shoulders and neck. Imagine falling forward and trying to catch yourself with locked out arms. Owww. Now picture it with your elbows bent. Ahhh, much better.

Take a deep breath, uncoil your fingers and stop trying to crush the handlebar with your grip

Bending your elbows gives every bike wonderfully adaptable suspension. Even while at your computer, place your hands in front of you as if holding a handlebar, now bend your elbows and bring your hands toward your chest, see how much movement there is? Using just a fraction of that travel makes every ride smoother.

Ride properly and hopefully your friends will, too
Ride properly and hopefully your friends will, too

There are loads of tricks to join the comfortable legion of bent-arm riders. Every 10-15 minutes or so, shrugging your shoulders to get them to drop and relax. Shake your arms to break the pain-inducing locked form. Take a deep breath, uncoil your fingers and stop trying to crush the handlebar with your grip. Whatever trick or reminder works for you, the aim is to rid tension from your neck, shoulders and arms and make riding easier and better.

If you feel like you can't reach the bars without straight arming it, there are a few things to try. A shorter stem, riser handlebars (if on a flat bar bike), or sliding the seat forward might help. A professional fit could also bring the bars within reach. Of course, having the correct bike frame size is the most important piece of the puzzle.

The bottom line is this: Neck hurts? Bend your elbows. Wrists hurt? Bend your elbows. Shoulder pain? Bend your elbows. Hands hurt? Bend your elbows. And release the death grip.

Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

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