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Uphill Obstacles

Just before reaching the obstacle, rise up. You want your own center of gravity high (so you don't have to power your mass as much vertical distance). Some riders like to shove down on the handlebars just before the edge so the front of the bike rebounds up a bit. Lift up on the handlebars. The goal is to pop up the front tire just enough to kiss the top of the obstacle. As soon as the front tire hits, shove your body up as high as you can, then rock forward and put your weight on the handlebars. Keep your body up and forward. (We'll break this down step-by-step towards the bottom of the page.)
Successful ledge attack: As the front tire reaches the top, weight is transferred forward, ideally moving the body slightly in front of the crank. For continued uphill grinding on a ramp-ledge or series of ledges, the body should be centered over the crank. The biker presses down on the handlebars, "dragging" his weight up to the top of the ledge, so the back wheel is "unloaded."

The goal is to unload the back tire just as it reaches the obstacle. (Think about pulling your body up over the obstacle with your arms. You want your weight on top of the obstacle, not sitting on the rear wheel.) If you're clipped in, you can even lift upward a bit with your feet to raise the crank and rear tire to clear a higher obstacle.

You need enough speed to carry you up and over the obstacle. Ideally, keep pedaling through the entire attack. (If that's not possible, sprint before you reach the ledge.) For a short set of uphill obstacles, you'll want to be in a higher gear as you attack.

Didn't quite make it: Note that the body is still back, so the center of gravity is over the rear wheel. Front wheel is popping up, resulting in loss of control. Weight can't be transferred to the front tire, because the arms are "hanging on" due the center of gravity being behind the crank.

Continue to power the pedals as the rear tire rides up and over the obstacle. As the rear wheel clears, let the bike rotate back level underneath you.

A close look at a log attack:

Biker approaches log, gets butt off seat, positioning body for "rock-back." At the log: Biker rocks weight back sharply just before pulling handlebars up. Rider pulls front wheel up towards chest and onto the log. (Note elbow position.)

Body leans over log, weight is on handlebars as rear wheel reaches log. Keeping weight on hands, rear wheel climbs up over log. Body remains in same position as bike rises up under the biker.

What about big, sharp rock ledges?

For rock ledges, the goal is to have all the weight off each wheel as it touches the sharp rock rim. Otherwise, you come to a sudden halt, or pinch flat your tire. The key is a precise timing: Weight back, then forward, while the arms create a pull-push motion of the handlebars. As you approach the ledge, rise up, weight back, then pull the front wheel up onto the ledge. Next, push down on the front wheel, body up and forward. Last, tip your shoulders down to neutralize gravity and "lever" the rear wheel up. Sounds complicated. Let's watch a ledge attack and break down the moves. The following photos represent around one second of riding time.

Approaching a 12" ledge, aggressive riding position, picking up speed. Note body position relative to vertical line through crank.

Rider rises up tall, shifts body back. The rider has moved back in relation to the crank line -- the center of gravity is between crank and rear wheel. The body is now fully back as the rider pulls up firmly on the handlebars. Front wheel in the air. Rider still pedaling. White lines show butt high off seat, eye to stem distance shortened.

Front wheel touches down, and rider is moving forward. Still pedaling. Rider pushes higher while rear wheel still on ground. Note seat to butt clearance. Rider moves further forward, pushing handlebars down. Eye to stem distance widening. Rider's center of gravity at highest point now. Rider's weight moves still further forward onto handlebars, body begins to angle downward. Rear wheel weightless; rebound may make it leave ground.

Body continues forward and down. The rider's downward motion acts as a lever to "fly" the rear wheel up. The seat is rising up under the rider. Rear wheel hitting the edge. The rider's downward motion is complete. Seat under rider, but still no weight on it. Note tire shows no "bulge" on sharp edge. Attack complete. Rider moves back to original riding position, body comes back up. Still pedaling.

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