Riding position articles?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Riding position articles?

    I have found numerous articles on how to set up your bike for best riding position ... But I'm looking for an article that best explains how to hold your upper body.

    For example : bent elbows I know, but bent in or out?

    Straight back or hunched over?

    I also notice that as the terrain gets trickier I tend to shrug my shoulders up. Feels more aggressive, but I would guess it saps energy since its tensing up.

    I tend to ride technical single track up to 4 hour rides, so I'd like to be able to conserve energy where I need to and not expend it in tensing up where I shouldn't.

    Thanks!
    Trek Fuel EX 8 29er.

  2. #2
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    If you can, get your hands on this book Lee Likes Bikes

    Lots of great information in it about riding position and much more. Worth the price IMO, but I'm sure you could find it cheaper somewhere else.
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  3. #3
    Don't worry, be happy!
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    Don't let the "Freeride" in the video title freak you out. The principles of body position are exactly the same no matter what kind of trails you ride.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9vakhSvgt8


  4. #4
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    I recently attended one of Lee's clinics. Nothing beats having a professional COACH help with body position. Mine improved immensely, but due to age and habit still needs work. (I also learned my stem was way too long.)

  5. #5
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    Riding position articles?

    I've debated getting a bike fitting for a couple years now. The freeride videos look good, but the one thing I notice is that they spend most of their time standing. Even standing and pedaling. Where as I tend to do most of my riding sitting, spinning and climbing.

    Maybe I'm looking for more of a XC reference?
    Trek Fuel EX 8 29er.

  6. #6
    Don't worry, be happy!
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    It all depends if you want to be a roadie on a mountain bike, or a skilled mountain biker. Sitting and spinning is great for climbs and just tooling along a trail. Many riders reserve standing pedaling for momentum and short bursts of power, not for prolonged climbs. If you can learn to ride balanced on your feet (neutral and attack positions), not relying on sitting all the time, you will be come a much more dynamic rider. Being out of the saddle gives you the chance to use your body as suspension, and to move around a lot, fore/aft/laterally for better balance and handing of trail obstacles.

  7. #7
    My little friends
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    I have been riding for nearly 25 years, and still learn subtle new techniques from watching that video.

    You need to ride more relaxed, and think "light hands and heavy feet". Also, as mentioned, get out of that saddle! I ride sitting on only flat level portions of my trails, or long climbs, and am out of it for everything else. You need to be all over your bike; front to rear, side to side, always dynamic.

  8. #8
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    Seated is for when the trail surface us mostly smooth and not a steep descent. Downhill or on a rugged surface, you need to be off the saddle.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by formica View Post
    It all depends if you want to be a roadie on a mountain bike, or a skilled mountain biker.

    How about both?

  10. #10
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    aha, semantics. Let me restate that. Any roadie can be a mountain biker, but do you want to ride your mountain bike like a (skilled?) road rider, or do you want to become a skilled mountain biker. It is not the same skill set.

  11. #11
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    Stand up (crouch I would say)... heavy feet (most of weight on pedals), and light hands ^^ always have to work on light hands... especially when I'm hurtling down a narrow trail and yanking on the anchors!! Usually realize when that painful fatigue starts hitting the forearms. Standing (the crouch) actually conserves energy, b/c you're not fighting the bike.

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  12. #12
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    Because of the terrain and the type of bike I ride, I just learned how to ride mostly standing up. I'll sit and spin whenever I can, but i'm mostly standing out of the saddle when its ascending/descending.

    Two things that really "clicked" for me was practicing the technique by Fabian.
    http://youtu.be/gF5K9V2w6W8

    Second, getting a dropper seat. Its amazing how hard you can rail a berm or corner just by being able to drop your body a few inches, leaning the bike, and shifting your hips. Learning the proper technique makes riding so much safer, especially when bombing loose sections. Its the best feeling when your carving through loose stuff! puts a grin on my face everytime.

  13. #13
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    another great skill builder too is learning to ride a pump track. I'm always amazed how much I learn each time I play around on a pump track.

  14. #14
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Quote Originally Posted by burbskate View Post
    I have found numerous articles on how to set up your bike for best riding position ... But I'm looking for an article that best explains how to hold your upper body.

    For example : bent elbows I know, but bent in or out?

    Straight back or hunched over?

    I also notice that as the terrain gets trickier I tend to shrug my shoulders up. Feels more aggressive, but I would guess it saps energy since its tensing up.

    I tend to ride technical single track up to 4 hour rides, so I'd like to be able to conserve energy where I need to and not expend it in tensing up where I shouldn't.

    Thanks!
    Doesn't really matter where your elbows point. So long as it's what makes sense for your body. Some guys ride elbows down. Some guys ride elbows out. I think it's about the anatomy of their wrists and shoulders, and doesn't matter much.

    The back position thing is a little harder. You want your CG to be over your feet. I don't have the range of motion to get my CG over my feet just by breaking at the hips. I have to bend my back forward a bit too. And it's a better position for absorbing shock than if my back is arched, which can be really painful. At the same time, though, I seem to be able to develop more power with a little more tone in my core and a little straighter back. Here again, I'm going to give you the same non-answer - do what feels more natural. Doing ab work in the morning or before your ride or something wouldn't hurt. Cycling benefits from a strong core, but I don't think it does as much to develop it as might be desirable, especially less interesting rides.

    Shrugging your shoulders sounds wrong to me. Especially since you mention it goes with tension.

    I have a little test I think can be really informative. If I have the riding position on a bike set up well for me, I can lift my butt just off the saddle and take my hands just off the bars without changing anything much. If that's impossible, something's wrong.

    FWIW, I tend to be more of a spinner than a masher. But I think if my bike is set up for a well-balanced riding position, it facilitates moves out of the saddle and bursts of higher power when that's what I want to do, without radically changing how I sit my bike. I think that being able to ride for long periods of time is all about having a fluid relationship between sitting on my bike and cranking out watts like I'm on the road and riding more complicated stuff. The more I can make the bike disappear, the better.

    Bear in mind that your legs are much stronger and much better at balancing than your arms. You should be able to motivate everything but countersteering from your legs and hips. Your hands help balance, do some stuff to do with front wheel tracking, and operate your brakes and shifters, but you really shouldn't be transferring much force through them.

    I paid to for a fit on one of my road bikes several years ago. I found it useful and informative. I'd recommend it. If you have a road bike, it probably makes more sense to take that. Otherwise, wtf, get your mountain bike fit. Don't treat it like the fitter is getting messages from God, though - give it two weeks or so without messing around with it, record it, and then mess around with it. Since mountain biking is so much more dynamic than sitting on a trainer, I think the fit's different.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  15. #15
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    Off the wall tips,

    Basic climbing,
    Move up to the front of the saddle and drop your neck/chest down towards your stem, say 12-15 Inches from it...

    Basic descending,
    Keep your weight going down through the crank, through your feet,
    Getting behind the saddle is so much better when you lower your torso,,,Think Dropper post,,,,,Yeah I got one and I feel alot safer going over drop offs

    Entering a fast turn and want more traction ?
    Drop your torso, bend your elbows, Press that front tire Into the ground, NOTE !
    The bike will turn in tighter real fast If you do this suddenly...
    Drop your outside heel and press on the outside pedal to help steer.

    Going down a drop and getting to much speed ?
    If you can wait until you get Into the G-out your suspension will compress pushing the tires into the ground and here you got tons of brakes....
    Using the rear brake only will damage the trail...

    IMO the best position on the bike is a fluid one :P
    “I seek only the Flow”,
    Climbing Is Supposed To Be Hard,
    Shut Up Legs :P

  16. #16
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    Cool maybe my problem is im too rigid with my position.. thanks for the tips guys

  17. #17
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    Riding position articles?

    Thanks for all the replies.

    I do get out of the seat on all technical and downhills. But it seems I do more climbing and spinning. I don't ride road, just doesn't interest me.

    I'm definitely trying to strengthen my core this year. I do feel that I'm putting no a fair amount of weight on my hands when sitting. I think I need to figure out what the cause of that is.
    Trek Fuel EX 8 29er.

  18. #18
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    People can put too much weight on their hands for a few reasons. The most frequent is that they have their bikes set up with too much reach or too much drop. Basically, your handlebars are too far away from you, so by the time you can reach them, you're not balanced over your pedals anymore.

    Occasionally, people push against their bars because they feel cramped. I think that's a lot less common, though.

    I'd be lying if I said I never put weight on my hands. My torso's flexible. If I get tired, I tend to stop supporting it as well, and it flops over. My instinct is to support the upper part of it with my hands. I don't think that points to a fundamental problem in technique or position because I feel like I have the best balanced riding position I can create. I think people just do things wrong when they get tired.

    At the same time, a lot of us could manage some pretty bizarre positions for a while.

    The idea here is to find the most efficient, most comfortable riding position you can. That should give you the longest before you start putting a lot of weight on your hands. Beyond that, you'll just have to improve your fitness.

    The point of the test I described is that without the contact points on the bike guiding you, you'll tend to go to a fairly natural position. The idea is to match the bike to your body, not the other way around.

    If you can't take your hands off the bars to even do my test, it shows that things are really off. I'm not suggesting you take your hands away from your bars - I don't want you to get hurt. But you should be able to organize your body so you're nicely centered over your pedals and don't need anything else. I bet if you try it, you learn something about how you've set up your bike, and it gives you some ideas about things to try to make it better.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  19. #19
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    Riding position articles?

    You bring up very interesting points.

    So would I be correct in stating that I should start with setting up my lower body, and adjust my stem/bars to where my upper body ends up?

    It seems that is the way to go since the pedals are a fixed point in the equation.

    Am I understanding that too much weight on your hands mean the bars are too far away or too low?
    Trek Fuel EX 8 29er.

  20. #20
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    Here is my take in what I learned from pro coaches:


    Stand right where you are. Crouch into a ready position with one foot forward and one back, as if you were on your bike. At this point you are balanced. Memorize it.

    Get on your bike. Assume the position you memorized. You are balanced.

    It should not matter if the bike is climbing or descending. Let it rotate under you while you are balanced in the position you memorized. You should only have to adjust your arms to enable you to lightless hold the bars.

    If you have to adjust your balance so you can hold the bars, resist. Instead adjust the bars.

    Disclaimer. The coaches didn't say this. It is only my understanding and recitation of it.

    Btw:all but one person at our clinic needed to shorten their stem; me by 50 mm.

  21. #21
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    I read Lee's book a few years ago and check his blog once in a while. Lots of good info. His latest XC 29er HT with a dropper, stubby stem, and wide bars looks different but makes sense, especially for a beginner. He is extremely skilled and really works the bike but for someone just starting out a dropper, short stem, and wider bar make for a much safer introduction to mountain biking. It is usually the more AM "Pinkbike" type bikes that are specced that way but beginner bikes should be.
    Formerly Travis Bickle

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