One of the hidden advantages to Standing Pedaling is that you actually have better balance when you are on the trail. When you are sitting down your center of gravity – a.k.a. your hips – are stuck in on place, making it very tough to respond to sudden changes in your bikes position or to let the bike move under you to navigate up and over obstacles.

Wow I tried what you suggested on our ride tonight and I didn’t fall once!

I was reminded of this by an exchange I had with a rider recently who was looking to improve their balance on the trail…

Q: “Hi James…I’ve been with a personal training for 6 months or so building my strength to ride. I am new to mountain biking. I fall a lot on the trails. Is this normal for a beginner? We focus a lot on strength and mobility in the gym but I wonder if I fall because my technique is bad or I’m just not strong enough yet? Any helpful hints?”

A: “Falling a lot at first is pretty normal, however some things that can help are 1) ride flat pedals, 2) get a dropper post or at least lower your seat for downhills and 3) stand up more as you have better balance when your butt isn’t planted to your seat. Hope this helps, good luck and have fun…”

Here was here reply the next day…

“Thank you! My local bike shop also told me my breaks are off. The rear brake isn’t engaging and my front brakes are so when I was squeezing them both only the front was working!

I also didn’t realize that you have better balance standing on the bike? I was trying to stay seated thinking it would give me more balance. I have so much to learn.

I share your wisdom with the team (5 older ladies training for an xterra triathlon) None of us knew how to ride bikes when we started training so you stuff has really helped. I also share your stuff with our trainer. Thanks again.”

And here was an email she sent out of the blue a couple days later…

Wow I tried what you suggested on our ride tonight and I didn’t fall once! I felt more comfortable standing peddling. I also dropped my seat all the way down too. Thank you.

I watched the rotating deadlift video and will try that in my work out, cornering is usually when I fall so that should help.”

The take home message is that you shouldn’t be shackled to your seat. Use Standing Pedaling more and you’ll have better balance, posture and power…all of which add up to the most important thing – more fun!

That’s it for now, if you have any questions about this article or any tips you’ve found helpful in improving your balance on the trail please post a comment below.

And if you liked this tip please click one of the Share of Like button below to help me spread the word.

Until next time…

Ride Strong,

James Wilson

MTB Strength Training Systems

4 thoughts on “Rider Q&A: How do I stop falling so much on the trail?

  1. Fisher Hutchens says:

    James,
    I am a NICA coach and we teach fundamental skill to new riders . I like your comments about standing and pedaling. I happen to ride your catalyst pedals and they have improved my riding and greatly decreased foot pain. I have worked with young people who “fall a lot” and the problem is usually a) body position on the bike(which sometimes is due to improperly sized bike) or b) bike-body separation, which requires the rider to “get his butt off the saddle”. A dropper post is great(I ride one), but some riders cant afford one, and I have found that a dropper post complicates the riding experience for some riders and is “too much going on”.

  2. Robert A. Rose says:

    Hello James, As soon as I started reading the question, I said “flat pedals”. I rode clipped in for years and had many crashes that I wouldn’t have had if flat pedals had been available…..RR

  3. gato says:

    I used to fall a lot, too. After I made the following changes, I rarely fall:
    1) switched to flat pedals and mid-foot placement, 2) use a dropper post, 3) stand up more, 4) reduced air pressure in tires, 5) improving my riding skills (I enrolled in an online MTB skills coaching membership program – and I practice).

  4. David Frame says:

    I have several comments… First, she didn’t learn to do an ABC check before riding:A=what is the status of the Air…tires, tread, pressure;B=brakes do they both work smoothly and will lock up a tire;C=Chain and the rest of the power train chainring(s),chain, cassette, clean and lubed. If she had done a pre-ride ABC check she would have noticed that the back brake wasn’t working. I too am a new rider, 4th year on a mtn bike after growing up in the 50s and 60s on a three speed hub shift then 35 years of no biking. This year I’m noticing that my solid seat post and seat are limiting my hip movement. I didn’t get the drop post when I got the bike because it was one more new thing to learn. I’ve noticed that as I have gained experience and skill I move around more on the bike. Another indicator that I’m moving more is that I have two pair of riding shorts and one of them is bagger in the crotch. I now notice it catching on the seat when I’m moving forward after a strong hip hinge to get my center of gravity back. I enjoy reading your posts, podcasts, emails, and etc. I still can’t turn everything into a better ride but I am a work in progress…

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