View Full Version : Cycling: Position, aerodynamics and gearing

Hamish Ferguson
10-09-1996, 06:58 AM
Hello everyone

The following is a queation I sent to rec.bicycles.racing. I think it has
some implication for sport biomechanics so I have posted to this

Down in New Zealand we are heading into summer and all the track
bikes are being dug out. After the World Champs and Olympics there
has been a bit of interest in the Superman position and some of the
other refinements to technique that have obviously played a part in
the phenomenal performances we have seen this year.

I wanted to ask three things and wonder if anyone has any thoughts,
has tried or has actually studied these things...

1. The superman position

Rather than Obree who has a very awkward start Boardman uses normal
bars and has the aero position bars set up on top of those. Has
anyone tried this or has a different way to set up this position? Jim
Martin (Uni of Texas) studied this position in the wind tunnel and it
seems the flat back is the way to go. Having the arms out in front
would also reduce the frontal area.

2. Use of a large gear

The standard gear for mens pursuiting was around the 90.0 to 92.8
mark. Now we see a range from this to up to 120.0. There are all
those studies which say that a low cadence is most effiecient. What
are peoples thoughts on the use of gears?

In New Zealand we have seen a few people try this. They seem to be
able to go well in the first round, however by the second or third
can not keep the gear going. The Australians seem to believe that it
will take a rider a few years to be able to handle riding a large
gear in competiton.

3. Saddle height.

A lot of pusuiters seem to be riding a lower saddle. Is this due to
the use of larger gears or is it conform to the theory that a muscle
has its maximum power at 90 degree angle rather than 0 or 180 degree.

Any thoughts out there?


Hamish Ferguson, BA
12 Dunn St, Christchurch 2, New Zealand
ph 64 3 332-5155 fax 64 3 384-4431
email FERGUSOH@psych2.psyc.canterbury.ac.nz