Technical uphill-switching from seated to standing-
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  1. #1
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    Technical uphill-switching from seated to standing

    I've been trying to spin seated on a 29 hardtail up a ~mile long technical uphill. I prob should be getting up off the seat more to negotiate ruts and corners better. Problem is that in the gear I'm spinning in, it is way too easy to move cranks while standing, get no power, so I fail. Is the solution to just strengthen legs so I can go up in a harder gear to begin with? Looking for tips to go on and off the seat fluidly.

  2. #2
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    Reputation: targnik's Avatar
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    'You'll get up more in a higher gear' (quote from my wife's uncle, owns a bike shop and has been riding for years), only reason I can see to get off seat is to un-weight the rear once the front is clear. Having enough momentum is also key. For a really techy pinch climb, I'll drop seat to 3/4 or 1/2 of full extension.

    Otherwise power up/hammer down and get up there!

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  3. #3
    Downcountry AF
    Reputation: *OneSpeed*'s Avatar
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    Oct 2013
    you want to be in a higher gear for standing climbs. usually 2-3 gears for me. so if your seated, punch the pedals and click off a quick shift or two then transition to standing. you should also be able to maintain a comfortable tempo and click off shifts while standing and not interrupting your rhythm either up or down a gear. try practicing that, it just requires good timing and practice so your not beating up your shifty bits. when done properly it's seamless and just as smooth as shifting on flat ground.

    pushing a bigger gear is always better for increasing fitness which makes climbing easier in general. standing and hammering through a tough section usually helps, every little bit of momentum helps. it never ceases to amaze me when i have trouble clearing a section seated, then do it standing (often on the SS) and clear it easily.
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  4. #4
    since 4/10/2009
    Reputation: Harold's Avatar
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    It's also worth noting that when you stand, you're not just outright standing up. Doing that too suddenly or too much throws off your center of gravity. Depending on the bike's geometry and other tiny details, it may cause your front wheel to lift on a steep spot or your rear wheel to lose traction. On my bike, I'm more apt to break the rear loose than to lift the front so when I get off the saddle, I have to keep the angle of the bike in mind so ensure that I'm adequately weighting the rear.

    On a techy climb, that usually means that I'm sliding forward on the saddle some and hovering just over the nose. If I just stand up, my body weight usually gets too far forward.

    The only times I ever drop my saddle on a climb are when the tech moves are pretty big and require a pretty big manual or front wheel lift like going up ledges or over larger boulders. If the tech moves are smaller, I usually don't find any advantage to dropping the saddle.

    I do agree that if you're going to power up a climb by standing, you want to be in a bigger gear than your "sit and spin" gear. What kind of elevation does this 1mi climb gain you? IME, if I'm working on a longer singletrack climb, I do a bit of shifting as I transition between techier sections and smoother sections. And if there's one spot that gives me trouble, I'll try it again, and depending on why it was tough, I'll often try it in a different gear. It's not really consistent whether an easier gear works better, or whether a bigger gear works better. It depends on the specific spot.

  5. #5
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    Reputation: l'oiseau's Avatar
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    May 2015
    I can switch from seated to standing and stay in low gear. My low may not be your low. But it's possible. A shift up is nice, but not always possible, and the downshift when you want to sit again may be tough.

    Trick is to not mash the pedals.

    My thought would be to practice just going really slow, standing up in low gear and use your brakes to load the bike on a flat. See what gear you need to be in to stay up. If you can go to your lowest, that's good... you ought to be able to stand up and climb with it.

    Next thing is getting your weight balance right. Best to try this on short steeps. The natural tendency when standing is to lean way forward and mash the pedals. Not always the best unless you are in a higher gear and have some momentum. Try to keep your ass back and lower your shoulders toward the bars. This will keep weight on the front and the rear instead of shifting it all forward (that abrupt shift of weight while standing plus extra pedal torque will encourage the rear tire spin).

    Another thing to work on is short ups. Just popping your ass off the seat for a rev or two. This can help you get up obstacles or give you a burst of power. It's almost the same and standing up for a longer push in that you have to be smooth. I typically don't shift to do this.

    If I can shift and I want to really crank up something, I typically spin hard for a few revs, then let up a little, shift (the boost in speed then release in torque will aid the shift), then transition right into standing as soon as I hear the chain shift over. I'll do the same downshifting. After I've stood up and want to go back to sitting, I'll spin hard, build up a little momentum, then ease up my pedaling torque and make the shift. If you have areas where it's tough to shift and you want to stand, this is where being able to stand and climb in whatever gear helps a lot. It's just controlling balance, pedal force/torque and weight distribution (not too far back as to wheelie and not too far forward as to lose rear traction).
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  6. #6
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    plan out the shift well in advance. downshift, get over the tech, then shift back to spinning.

    I don't normally have that long of extended climbing, so I usually try to avoid too much spinning, but when I do, I do the body shift forward thing and hover my butt over the seat on the tech. I really have to focus on not mashing the forward pedal. It's weird to do controlled spinning when standing where you're still applying pressure to the back pedal. It does work though, and it keeps me from spinning out.
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  7. #7
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    Mar 2016
    Thanks for the tips. For reference:
    My Granny=24/36
    Going up steepish SoCal switchbacks like Meadows, Cholla. Maybe 600 feet in 0.75 miles? Something like 14% with steeper turns? Guessing, but they are pretty tough. Also hard ruts which bounce the hardtail around and mess up spinning. I've tried quick switches before but didn't have luck. I'll practice the technique above next time, though that might be stage 2 of what I have to work in. I will need to focus on standing balance in the easier gears. The mini hover and keeping butt back is probably a good start. I'm also thinking I need to get stronger and use harder gears in general to get more momentum.

  8. #8
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    Stick the nose of your saddle right in your taint.

    You make a hell of a caucasian, Jackie.

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  9. #9
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    From my experience standing on a technical climb gives me extra power and control. It makes the bike more nimble,and gives me greater front-back weight balance. Keep that rear tire planted and front wheel down. Getting the feel for that really helped me out. I'm not sure what I just wrote makes any sense though.

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  10. #10
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    Mar 2016
    Thanks for the tips everyone. To update:
    My main problem was my seat was 1+" too low. Now I realize the advantage of maxxing your seat height uphill.

    I been working on strength. practicing on a road climb loop and doing deadlifts. I just cleared the loop in my front big ring after struggling in granny early in year.

    The idea of moving weight around and barely rising from the seat really helps. I think of moving more and more forward while seated. Then if I need to stand for a bit I think about stretching back to prevent rear tire spinning. The "seat stomp" for obstacles (raising butt off seat same height as obstacle etc) is great.

  11. #11
    I like turtles
    Reputation: TiGeo's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    The shift from seated to standing should be made by slowly rising up/moving forward/staying low over the top tube and best done on your downstroke so you can maintain power to the wheels. Often, you can shift up a few gears (click click) while seated and just before you rise...smooth is key. This is for technical type climbing and not just sit/spin climbing.
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