Steep or slack head angle for Head angle for turning on tight switchbacks?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Steep or slack head angle for Head angle for turning on tight switchbacks?

    On super tight switchbacks I have a hard time maintaining balance at speed when turning into them (I have a ~71 head angle). Does head angle come into play in this scenario? If so, would a slacker or steeper head angle be better?

  2. #2
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I think it's about front-center length. Also bottom bracket height.

    Are you riding up or down?

    I think head angle matters, but not as much as weight distribution and how high your center of mass is.

    At speed, often I look for help from roots and tree trunks and things. Sometimes modifying my turn shape gives me better timing on those.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Are you riding up or down?
    Either way at low speeds is where I have problems.

  4. #4
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    How long is your stem?

  5. #5
    Rollin' a fatty
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    I would say is more technique than angles.

  6. #6
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Oops - from your OP, I thought high speed.

    I think slack head angles are kinda weird at low speed. But 71 degrees is as steep as my road bikes, so you don't get to use that as an excuse.

    Tight switchbacks are tough. I feel like I have to lean in really far. That can feel sketchy on the way up. And really sketchy on the way down.

    Experiment with getting out of the saddle and forward, out and back, staying in the saddle and getting super-low over your bars, etc. Some of this is for climbing and some is for descending.

    Pay attention to counter steering.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Tight switchbacks are tough. I feel like I have to lean in really far. That can feel sketchy on the way up. And really sketchy on the way down.

    Experiment with getting out of the saddle and forward, out and back, staying in the saddle and getting super-low over your bars, etc. Some of this is for climbing and some is for descending.

    Pay attention to counter steering.
    Thanks! I figured it was probably technique, just wanted to confirm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    How long is your stem?
    100mm with a 720mm flat bar

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by fueledbymetal View Post
    100mm with a 720mm flat bar
    Stem's too long. Try a 40 or 50mm stem. If it doesn't fix your problems instantly I'll buy you a Ferrari! ;0)

  9. #9
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    Most XC bikes will have a ~71 deg HTA. IME...the more slack (mid 60's) the HTA...the more difficult to make sharp turns. Steepest I've seen is the Open 1.0...it got a 72 HTA...most road bikes have a 73.

    The current batch of enduro bikes are around 68-69 HTA.

  10. #10
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    +1 ^^

    A 100mm stem is way too long for tight switchbacks. 40mm or 50mm is much better.

    Technique will also help you immensely.
    1. Look far enough ahead to read the desired path properly, and you can position yourself before getting to the switch back, on the correct gear, with the correct approach speed. Otherwise; you end up reacting at the last second (not good).
    2. Widen out the turn by setting up on the outside edge, then cutting in near the apex, and then end out wide on the outer edge coming out of the turn.
    3. Lean the bike, not the rider.
    4. Maintain enough momentum to keep moving through the turn smoothly.

  11. #11
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    Once in awhile I'll ride one of my old bikes with a 130 stem ,I don't have any problems making any switchbacks that I make with my 90 stem.

  12. #12
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    Super tight switchbacks at speed? Nothing but practice and good technique will help much IMO, they can just be really awkward and often require a bit of trials skill (which I don't have). Tight downhill ones can sometimes be tackled with a nose wheelie and swinging the rear wheel around, you see pro xc guys utilizing that technique and even an amateur like myself can hack it somewhat. Kind of fun!

  13. #13
    beater
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    I haven't had a stem longer than 50mm in four years, but I disagree with the "your stem is way too long" posts. If we were talking about something like a Yelli Screamy, then sure. I started with a 70 mm stem on mine, and swapped that for a 50 mm after two rides. But the OP is on a classic XC geometry bike.

    I used to have a Niner EMD9, which I built with a 110mm stem. I thought that handled pretty well, but I got curious about shortening it after I built up an AM bike with a shorter stem and wider bar. I swapped the 110 mm with a 90 mm. For a bike with that kind of geometry, I wouldn't go shorter. For a stretched-out XC geometry, dropping that much stem length will screw up the fit.

    Here's a photo of my EMD9 with a 110 mm stem. It made it around (up and down) all the same switchbacks I currently ride with my Prime. IMO, keep working on technique.

    Steep or slack head angle for Head angle for turning on tight switchbacks?-img_1182.jpg

  14. #14
    Lone Wolf
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    Cool-blue Rhythm Good starting point

    In ride position if you look down and see your front axle behind the handle bar your stem Is too long.

    If the axle Is seen In front of your bars It's too short.

    I got a 68 ish degree head tube angle, my bars line up hiding my front axle and
    I can do tight switch backs at a crawl in or out of the saddle or with a faster flick and a dip, matters not anymore.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Super tight switchbacks at speed? Nothing but practice and good technique will help much IMO, they can just be really awkward and often require a bit of trials skill (which I don't have). Tight downhill ones can sometimes be tackled with a nose wheelie and swinging the rear wheel around, you see pro xc guys utilizing that technique and even an amateur like myself can hack it somewhat. Kind of fun!
    for climbing, learning to trackstand definitely can help

  16. #16
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    Given that the OP has trouble with switchbacks both climbing and descending, I don't like a shorter stem as a blanket recommendation. I think it could make uphill switchbacks more difficult.

    It's always worth dialing in fit, however. OP, if you feel like your bike pulls you into an unnatural position, you might play around with the setup. I try for a neutral feel.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  17. #17
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    Re: Steep or slack head angle for Head angle for turning on tight switchbacks?

    Quote Originally Posted by fueledbymetal View Post
    On super tight switchbacks I have a hard time maintaining balance at speed when turning into them (I have a ~71 head angle). Does head angle come into play in this scenario? If so, would a slacker or steeper head angle be better?
    Technique, and a bike you are comfortable on.
    I have had good SB bikes with slack and steep HTAs, long and short chainstays, high and low BBs.
    The bad bikes basically just did not fit me well.

    Short stems are not the answer either. I use 100-120mm stems AND dropbars (even more reach).
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  19. #19
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    try moving your grips/controls inward, a shorter bar might help. bb height might be part of it too, just practice with what u got

  20. #20
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    Assuming you have a bike that fits you well and feels good to ride it is mainly down to technique and your riding style. I ride more XC type trails and have a 29er hardtail. If I was into tighter single track and jumping / skills I would have a smaller wheeled fast handling bike.

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