Need help understanding "float" and "clearance"
I've seen the phrase "float over things" - does this just mean rolling over terrain/obstacles without pedaling?
Also, in post below someone mentions lowering saddle for better clearance. How does that work? I would think clearance would refer to down stroke of pedals. How does saddle height affect that?
lowering the saddle gives more clearance between your groin and the seat when you are standing and floating over the obstacles.
I would take it that floating means don't press down and to glide with out peddling but not sure.
I've always used "floating" to talk about actively unweighting your bike to lessen the impact of rough spots. Like on a downhill I was on yesterday, I'd basically give a little hop while going over a short rocky section (handy on a rigid bike). I didn't actually catch any air, just got some weight off the wheels.
In more extreme situations, I might hop up over a taller obstacle and pull the bike up underneath me to get the back wheel to float over it, rather than slamming into it. That's a whole lot easier with your seat lower.
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(Skills thread) is a good place to start.... I'd link it but i need 10 posts to add links...
Floating would involve keeping your balance over the bike centered (not too far over the handlebars nor the rear wheel) and keeping your knees and elbows bent, allowing your bike to move and shift while your body isn't dead weight. Sitting stiffly on your seat or having your arms / legs fully extended will amplify the severity of the terrain and lead to excessive jarring of your spine, shoulders, or even throw you from your bike.
Regardless of any suspension your bike may have, your arms and legs are a much more dynamic and formidable suspension. An 80mm fork vs. 130mm travel fork are nothing compared to the effective travel of your arms, which are able to affect at least a foot (+300mm) of front wheel movement. Watch a few of those videos in the skills thread, practice going up and down a curb, corner properly in some grassy area, then put it to use on the trail. You'll be glad you took the time to watch the videos!
Clearance is part of the bike, floating is the technique of riding a bike.
The default of riding is heavy feet light hand. Riders should put the weight on the pedal which is the lowest contact point to lower the CG(if you sit your weight is up on the saddle). As well as pumping (front side and back side), it promotes more traction and requires the rider to rides heavy. You want to force the tires into the ground for maximum traction.
There are some situation like rock garden or litters of bumps that you want keep it light and skip over series of bumps with the help of speed and momentum. It's a much faster and more efficient way to clean the section than picking your way thru the section slowly.
Unless you are talking about standover clearance which is a non-issue, the clearance you meant is probably about the BB clearance. There are ways to increase that like going with double ring setup or like I did with Hammerschmidt it's essentially a granny ring size so there's a lot of clearance.
I picture riding over a log when you are talking about clearance.
Since the first question has been answered well enough I'll address the second.
Originally Posted by smac75
When someone talks about lowering the saddle for clearance, they are talking about being able to shift your weigh back behind the saddle easily.
For example, there have been times I've had to get my ass so far back that I've felt the tire hitting me. That's a lot easier to do when the saddle is lower.
This is one reason dropper posts are so popular. Before droppers a lot of people rode with their saddle in a compromise position. Little lower than optimal for pedaling, not as low as they'd like for clearance.
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Thanks for the great replies. I'm guessing moving the seat down is more for long climbs with long descents not short ups and downs right? That would be a pain! I'm guessing for the flowy singletrack I am doing it's best to keep the saddle higher to help with my climbing.