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  1. #1
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    How to take a drop on flats

    Hey mtbrforum,

    I'm a roadie-turned-xc-turned-AM rider living in Seattle.

    I went up to whistler last fall before they closed down on my '06 Nomad (Bomber 66 fork) and had a blast....clipped in. I've only ever ridden a mtb bike clipped in (roadie background).

    I'm finding that for our PNW bridges, ladders and skinnies that I'd like to learn to ride on flats but I think that I have probably developed a bunch of bad habits. The biggest one is coming off of drops/transitions. On a big bike clipped in I'd just gather speed, do a little "hop" off the edge and land a few feet below. Doesn't work on flats.

    I tried to "push the bike forward" on some smaller guys and came off the pedals mid-air (small drops, so I landed back on them, but it's a pretty scary feeling when you're used to being connected).

    I'm ok across tabletops by pulling the bike up from the bars when I take off, but no clue on bigger drops.

    We've got a great park up here for practicing technical skills (Duthie), I just need some direction at what to try/play around with

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Just takes practice Sir. Get some sticky soled shoes and good pedals and the shoes will will stick like velcro. Subconsciously your body will adapt to what it needs to do. Much like learning how to clip out of the clipless pedals. Do it long enough it becomes second nature... Practice practice practice!
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  3. #3
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    How to take a drop on flats

    I transferred to flats after 18 years clipped in october last year. I switched on all my bikes to give it a good solid try... Xc, enduro and dh. Took me 3 month of riding at least 2 times a week to feel kind of ok. After 6 month i could really be happy. Now i really love it. Jumps, drops, gaps, rockgardens but also xc and climbing in enduro races are all really good. Tried xc clipped in for the first time again last week, also good. Soooo, it takes time ( well it least it took me a very long time) to change over, but i love it.

    Good flats, sticky shoes and time.

  4. #4
    LCW
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    I just recently switched to flats. Got some fiveten shoes as many recommend. STICKY!! My pedals have good long pins on them for good traction (running Saint M80 pedals).

    I think the trick is to not pull up with your legs at all. I was clipped in for 5 years and it was hard to not do at first. I practiced just on the street trying to bunny hop and not have my feet come up. What I find helps is angling my feet a lot. Front foot angle my heel down, back foot angle my toes down. Kind of "locks" you in. Was practicing on a small 2 ft drop yesterday, and was consciously just keeping my speed up, and sailing off the lip. Pushing my feet sorta down and pushing my bars sorta forward - kinda hard for me to explain as I'm still figuring it out myself. Oh and shiting my weight back as far as possible. I actually downsized my stem from 60 to 50mm to make this easier.

    I'm practicing on smaller drops so I can make this 5 ft drop (to nice sloped transition) at my nearby dh hill.
    2011 Yeti 575 - 2015 Fox Float 36 RC2 160 / Fox Float X - 30.6 lbs

  5. #5
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    I find it's best to practice manualing since there's no need to hop off. Just need to manual off the drop, sometimes with a pedal kick if you're going super slow. This means pulling/leaning back, no pulling straight up. A bunny hop on flats starts with a small manual anyway.

  6. #6
    FM
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    Similar background, also live in Seattle. Rode clipped in for 10+yrs, then a few yrs of alternating before switching to flats full time 4yrs ago? (still clipped in on my road bike only)

    Best advice I can give:
    Get some 5/10's and a good pair of flats
    Take the SPD's off and leave them off for at least a full season. Don't drag this out. You won't regret it and you'll master flats much quicker!

    The trick ends up being learning when to preload the bike & pump the terrain. You want the bike pushing up on your feet (tires and suspension rebounding)... so focus on when to push down, rather than when to pull up. I don't think this can really be explained, it's learned behavior/instinct but it will come quickly if you go to flats full-time.
    I had knee problems that magically disapeared after switching to flats full time. I'm able to ride with a lower saddle height and climbing gets easier once you're used to flats.

  7. #7
    dog
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    you can also try "wedging"... the concept is to wedge yourself between the bars and the pedals. you have to be centered on the bike and point your toes...
    i need to develop my crashing skills...

  8. #8
    LCW
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    Some good tips from Barel (first part drop to flat, second part is drop to slope)

    how to drop-off with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    2011 Yeti 575 - 2015 Fox Float 36 RC2 160 / Fox Float X - 30.6 lbs

  9. #9
    usually cranky
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    up with the arms, down with the feet. similar to a tabletop.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by LCW View Post
    Some good tips from Barel (first part drop to flat, second part is drop to slope)

    how to drop-off with Fabien Barel - YouTube
    Awesome link, thanks

    To the OP: I converted full time to flats after ACL reconstruction (doc doesn't even want me to risk getting stuck in the pedals). Prior to that, I kept alternating. You won't be able to "cheat" in flats like you can in clips. Took me a while, but I really love it and I'm learning better technique.

    Don't pull up on the bars. Most of the techniques you want involves the legs like weight shifts in the hips (manuals) and require practice, especially if you're not attached to the bike when you're used to being attached.

    And if your feet are coming off your pedals, you're not weighted right on your bike. You want your feet to hold your weight, not your hands. That's where the control comes from.

  11. #11
    usually cranky
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    ^dont pull to loft the wheel, but a pulling motion helps shift the hips back.

  12. #12
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    Just like a curb, only bigger. Practice going off those without the " I'm clipped in prejump" then larger drops will feel the same as a curb you feet will just learn where to be.

  13. #13
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    can you bunny hop? you pull the bike up into and and visualize your trajectory and go with it. practice jumping off curbs. for a drop I would say pull the front up a tad so you don't nose dive as the rear wheel leaves the ground go into a tuck. you will get a feel for the pedal. just don't pull your feet up. your floating with the bike not away from it. compress you body into the bike after trajectory.

    I know this guy is clipped in the pic but your for the same position I would go for. its about learnin to fly as one with the bike.
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  14. #14
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    wow, thanks for the advice everyone.

    I've got a lot of practice ahead, but now have some idea what to think about

  15. #15
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    Alot of good advice here. I've always rode flats but I think the hardest thing for someone who is trying to pick up flats is learning to make the suspension work for you.

    What I mean by that is pumping and preloading the suspension while you're riding. Preloading before a jump will give it that extra pop that will bring the bike up with your feet. It can be tricky to learn but once you get the feel for it once it will seem so much easier. Is all in the legs as well, same way you would jump a dirt bike by preloading the suspension.

    Once you get good at that you will get to the point while in the air that your feet are hovering over the pedals, not actually making contact ( maybe an inch or two), and you will get comfortable landing on your pedals at that point.

    Start small, don't over think it, and let the suspension do the work for you!

  16. #16
    Justin Vander Pol
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    kudude, good advice here! FM and I ride together and kind of went through the same progression, except that I've never owned a road bike. I now ride mostly flats, but I put on clips a few times so far this year. Didn't switch out my pedals even once last year, so was 100% flats even on 5+ hour xc rides.

    Go practice. Do the progressive drops at Duthie, start with the easy jump lines and move up as you're comfortable, and just get time in on various terrain. Also ride a lot of xc in flats, learn to pedal through bumpy tech sections, you'll learn the weighting and foot positions.

    I think learning to ride smooth in flats will make you a better all-round rider, even when clipped in.

    Edit: I originally said I point my toes down a tiny bit, but this is kinda crap when I look at pictures of me in the air. One toe is usually slightly down, but it's pretty variable. I think keeping your feet loose is what I'm really getting at.
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  17. #17
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    i to transitioned from 20 years riding clips... i was proficient with the clips on features, but wanted to mix it up on dirt jumps etc. once i got the hang of platforms i have no desire to go back to clipless. while eveyones interpretation is slightly different we are all kinda doing the same thing. as was mentioned get good shoes/pedals (i like my spanks and 5-10's)
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    when i do a drop, boost a jump, j-hop, etc i compress myself/suspension/tires, release upwards, pedals pointed slightly down. depending where i'm landing i either push forward on the bars or put my weight back. I suggest getting this book
    Lee Likes Bikes

    some great info in there to help you. one added benefit i've found using platforms is that i pump the terrain more rather then mash the crank through sections. for me it makes the ride more fun and adds a new interpretation to old boring trails.
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  18. #18
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    Bike Skills - bike bizzomb here's the book singlesprocket suggests fo free

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