Most mountain bikers don’t realize how important their bike set up is for standing climbing. In fact, a lot of what most riders feel as standing climbing being “hard” is really your bike set up making it that way.
The irony is that these bike fit tips will also help your skills as well – you’ll descend with more confidence, corner faster and feel more stable when/if you jump.
What’s worse, some very common bike fit advice falls into this category. Here are 3 common bike set up tips that make it harder to stand up and pedal and how you should have your bike set up instead:
1) Having a long stem to help with climbing. This advice comes from the theory that you need to spread your weight out over the bike in order to keep your front end weighted while climbing. The problem is that this only applies to seated climbing and when you stand up with a long stem your weight gets pulled too far forward, making it tough to get your hips back to weight the rear end. Using a 50-60 mm stem will not only make it easier to get your weight in the right spot for standing pedaling but give you much better control of the bike on descents as well.
2) Using narrow bars for… I don’t really know why you’d want them. This is as common anymore but you still see some XC riders with narrow bars cruising around bars less than 27 inches wide for some odd reason. While I also think that you can go too wide as well, getting some bars that are slightly wider than shoulder width apart will help you get your shoulders into a better position, giving you better stability. It also helps you get your upper body into the pedal stroke more by pulling up as you push down on the the pedal, which is tough to do if your bars are too narrow.
3) Putting the axle of the pedal under the ball of your foot. This is a huge problem for one simple reason – you can’t get balanced or use your hips as effectively when you are balanced on the ball of your foot. Once you place the axle in a more mid-foot position you’ll instantly feel more balanced and increase your leg power. You’ll also feel more stable on technical descents and improve your cornering stability as well. BTW, that is the same foot position you naturally go to when riding flats so this applies more clipless riders who have their cleats set way to far forward.
If you are struggling with your standing pedaling, especially when climbing, then make sure you aren’t making one of these 3 bike set up mistakes and unknowingly sabotaging your efforts. The irony is that these bike fit tips will also help your skills as well – you’ll descend with more confidence, corner faster and feel more stable when/if you jump.
In other words, the only area of riding that this common advice is good for is seated pedaling. Riding gets really fun when you stand up but if your bike set up leans towards seated pedaling – not skills and standing pedaling – then you’ll always feel like something is off when you get out of your safety zone, a.k.a. having your butt planed on the seat.
Hope this advice helps some of your out there, if you liked this tip please hit one of the Share buttons below to help spread the word. Also, if you have any tips or stories about things that have helped your standing pedaling please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear them.
BTW, the Bear Crawl and Beast Crawl from my No gym, No Problem Workout Program are a great way to re-set the “primitive pattern” behind standing pedaling, which is why they are such a great core training exercise for mountain bikers. In fact, if you aren’t doing these two Bodyweight Flows then you’re missing out big time…both in the fun and results category.
Until next time…