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*I have a problem taking corners because I lean back too much (multiple ppl have told me I lean back too much - my arms are pretty straight when i lean back).
*I just feel safer/more secure leaned back when going downhill (otherwise I feel I may go OTB).
*When going down straight my leaned back position doesn't present a problem, but when taking comers it does, as I need to put more weight on the front wheel to properly take a corner (which I cant do leaned back).
*the main reason i want to improve my position/move forward more on the bike is so I can take corners better

*I've been told the proper position is chin over top tube cap, elbows bent - is this the right position? (this far forward feels unsafe to me, which is why i lean back)

*How do you get more forward on the bike whiteout feeling you're going to go OTB (maybe i'm not low enough...)?

*Riding a santa cruz bronson v3 and my mobility/flexibility are at tin man levels.

Thanks.
 

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Is your suspension firm enough to support you in the more aggressive forward body position?
If your fork is too soft, it will feel like you're going OTB all the time.

Outside of that, practice being centered on the bike, then adjusting your body position fore/aft as needed for braking, climbing, descending, etc. Your C.O.G. needs to stay between your wheels. :)

-F
 

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Assuming you are dropped, I wouldn't be too worried about actually having your chin over the top cap but yes, bend your elbows and move your head lower and forward.
 

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The issue as Cathro points out is you probably won't be able to 'see' if your body position is good while riding.

Two indicators that I use for proper body position are slight positive pressure on the grips and driving the knees forward when charging or accelerating (jumps, corners, etc).
 

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First off you don't stay in the "attack" position when going downhill. The attack position gives you space to move the bike under you. Lets back up a moment.

What causes you to go OTB? It's not too much weight on the front wheel it's normally momentum. Arms locked while rolling an obstacle is how you generate that momentum that will send you OTB. Think about when your front wheel rolls off an obstacle. If your arms are locked your body is essentially pulled down at the same speed your front wheel drops. You and the bike gain a lot of rotational momentum that needs to be absorbed else you go OTB.

Think about the scenario in the attack position with your arms bent and chin over the bar. As your front wheel drops you push the front wheel down the drop and keep your weight over the bottom bracket and your body stays level. Your body never gains that momentum that can send you OTB.

 

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When I was a newbie scared of stuff, I would lean back as far as I could even for gentle downhills. Now I’m fairly dynamic. Moving back and forth depending on the features on the trail. Using my arms and legs to act as suspension. I know it’s scary at first to lean forward on some features, but trust me. Once you get it down, it’s faster and much better than chillin behind the seat letting the bike handle you. Proper body position is dictated by the trail and features. Which are dynamic. And you should be just as dynamic.

Much like Ben Cartho in his Absorbing Trail Features video. But nowhere near as good. Everyone should watch his videos. Y’all might learn a thing or two. Or improve the skills you already have.

When I’m tired or want to rest, I definitely lean back to conserve energy.
 

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Get the longest bike you can ride. Move towards the front of the bike. Moving back is relic from old bike with short front centers stems that were too long and head angles that were too steep.

You Santa Cruz is ok assuming you bought it in the right size. I can not tell you though how many people are riding a bike to small for them and getting owned by the bike being too short.

 

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since 4/10/2009
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honestly, the only leaning back I ever do is when I'm trying something very specific. initiating a wheelie is one.

"leaning back" is when you straighten your arms and sit up to shift your body weight back on the bike. it's an upper body movement. It absolutely lightens the front wheel and gives less steering control.

SHIFTING your weight back (without sitting up) is different. This video is a really good one.


The issue as Cathro points out is you probably won't be able to 'see' if your body position is good while riding.

Two indicators that I use for proper body position are slight positive pressure on the grips and driving the knees forward when charging or accelerating (jumps, corners, etc).
Hinge at the hips. Don't arch your back when you need to get your upper torso down. You probably will need to consciously come back to center and put pressure on the front wheel when you need it. I rode a fairly chunky trail last night that required a lot of movement. There were lots of rocks in the straights with tall, square edges on them, so I needed to shift back to get my front wheel up over those edges. There were oftentimes turns after the rocks, too, so I'd have to come back to center to give my front end traction in the corners. Sometimes I'd find myself backseat driving or in "passenger mode" and would have to make an extra effort to recenter.

For the first couple miles, there weren't many opportunities to take breaks in the "boss position" as described in the video (or what I usually call a neutral position) because the chunk and the turns kept coming in rapid succession. But the relief when I did get to a stretch of trail where I could use that position - aaaahhhh.

I probably still have my weight shifted back a bit more than I should. I did go OTB often enough on older geometry bikes, so there's an element of lingering memories. That's super rare nowadays, though. The last time I went OTB was years ago, and it was actually because my weight was too far back. How's that for counterintuitive?
 

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I concur with this, I had some initial misgivings about my Large Heckler MX being 5' 8" and had even considered trading it in at a loss on a medium which seemed to fit me better at first.

Now after getting used to the Large I find I have more space to keep my body centered in the bike and either shifting forward or back without feeling my position is too extreme: either over the bars or behind the seat.

Get the longest bike you can ride. Move towards the front of the bike. Moving back is relic from old bike with short front centers stems that were too long and head angles that were too steep.

You Santa Cruz is ok assuming you bought it in the right size. I can not tell you though how many people are riding a bike to small for them and getting owned by the bike being too short.

 

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Several good points already made here. You're absolutely correct in keeping your chin over the stem/bars and elbows bent, although as already mentioned, this is a default position that will vary based on both gradient and obstacles. For sure though, I can't think of any scenario where my both of my elbows would be locked out in the middle of a turn. I also got this tip from Ben Cathro a while back, and it made a huge difference for me. I feel like it's nearly impossible to turn at speed if my elbows are too straight, and I'm not properly over the front.

Even though you are over the front, as much of your weight as possible should be supported by your feet. Hands/bars are just for controlling the bike, not supporting your weight (although there will of course be times where you run into stuff or take hard landings and need a strong upper body to support yourself). Overall though, think heavy feet, light hands. You definitely need good core strength for this. I've turned a couple of my roadie friends onto mtb, and when they first started, they told me their core muscles were on fire.

Also already mentioned - bike setup should be dialed. Any rider will adjust to the bike, even if the setup is off, but you'll never ride your best if the bike isn't dialed. Knowing how to properly set up your suspension for your riding style is crucial - at the very least, having both ends balanced. A $10k bike is as good as a Walmart bike if the front end rides like dead wood and the rear rides like a bucking bronco, or vice versa. I highly recommend watching all of the Vorsprung Tuesday Tune videos as well as the Fox Dialed videos where Jordi covers basic suspension setup and tuning/bracketing.

One of the other biggest things with body position that hasn't been mentioned - focus on keeping your heels down, particularly your front foot.

This helps get your weight lower and gives you a better platform to push against and support yourself when running into stuff. Imagine when the bike is pointing downhill - keeping your heels down actually gives you a level platform to stand on, rather than your feet and body wanting to get pitched over the front. It should make a pretty big difference in preventing you from feeling like you'll go OTB.

Another great tip I got from Bret Tippie - when the going gets really steep, it's not about getting back, but getting low. I used to struggle on the really steep stuff (I'm talking steep enough to use your hands when hiking up or down), not necessarily with the fear of going OTB, but more with my ability to turn on such steep terrain. Tippie's tip also made a huge difference for me. I still keep my chin over/towards the front and elbows bent, but I really focus on keeping my torso and butt low.

I could write a wall of text and chat with other riders all day dissecting all the aspects of body position, or at least what I've found works well for me (I like to think of it it terms of what each body part should be doing from the bottom to top - feet, knees, hips, torso, arms/elbows, head/eyes), but it sounds like for now, your main obstacle to overcome is the fear of going OTB. Hopefully, focusing on my bold points above should help you with that. Probably take everyone's pointers, including mine, with a grain of salt, as even many pros will have different tips. The key is to find what works for you and hone in on making that second nature.

Not sure if you ski, but I will say, I find that a properly executed turn on a bike feels very similar to railing groomer turns on skis. Everything should feel locked in, weight stacked through your body, and not feeling like you're twisted up in any way. I personally think that properly railing a corner is the best feeling you can have on a bike, and also what's really cool is it's something you'll always work on improving, no matter how good you get.
 

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If you put your heels down, you are essentially moving back on the bike. Literally one of the worst pieces of advice ever given by that Fabian Barel video that circulates here (huge fan of his, but that video is very misinterpreted. Even in the video his back heel is always up.)

Edit - Not to leave the thread without giving good information, but the Simon Lawton video above is a really great way to descend. His philosophy in general on any obstacle is to relax and move forward on the bike. Hes always doing classes at Duthie, so he would be a great person to learn from.
 

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Heels down is for flats.
it's a useful technique regardless of which pedals you are using.

in the context of the statement below, it's not something you do with both feet, all the time. there's a lot more nuance to it.

If you put your heels down, you are essentially moving back on the bike. Literally one of the worst pieces of advice ever given by that Fabian Barel video that circulates here (huge fan of his, but that video is very misinterpreted. Even in the video his back heel is always up.)

Edit - Not to leave the thread without giving good information, but the Simon Lawton video above is a really great way to descend. His philosophy in general on any obstacle is to relax and move forward on the bike. Hes always doing classes at Duthie, so he would be a great person to learn from.
I agree that the video gets trotted out too much (by one person in particular) and the takeaway lesson lacks important nuance.
 

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Your bike is modern with capable geometry and components so equipment is not the problem.

The issue with leaning back, esp. during cornering is that you unweigh the front wheel, reducing traction which can lead to a front wheel wash out. You don't want that, it's at least as bad as an OTB.

Try to stay centered on the bike, out of the saddle, with your arms and knees slightly bent and loose. The general idea it to let the bike under you folllow the terrain while you stay calm over it "suspended" by your arms, legs and suspension. On steep downhills you stay keep your centre of weight over the bottom bracket.

When cornering you remain centered fore/aft and lean the bike, not your body into the turn. The idea is to get the tyre sideknobs dig into the dirt and thus maximise traction. The resulting stance is a fairly extended inside arm and bent outside elbow. Inside pedal should be up, to avoid contact with the ground. If there's a berm (natural or man made) on the outside of the turn you can keep your pedals/feet flat parallel to the ground.

Stay loose, and practice by sessioning parts of the trail that you feel are within your abilities. Start small, don't scare yourself. Observe better riders.
 

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Heels down is for flats.
If you put your heels down, you are essentially moving back on the bike. Literally one of the worst pieces of advice ever given by that Fabian Barel video that circulates here (huge fan of his, but that video is very misinterpreted. Even in the video his back heel is always up.)
Not sure what you guys are talking about. I stated it's specifically about the front heel being dropped, without even knowing about that video. I agree that dropping your rear heel moves your weight back, but you should be able to drop the front and still stay over the front. If you pay attention here, every single one of these EWS riders also has their front heel dropped, so maybe they all have a thing or two to learn from you guys -
 

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Not sure what you guys are talking about.
The problem is the wholesale lack of nuance from the vast majority who bring up "heels down" technique. Including that Fabian Barel video. They say "heels down" as though that's the only thing that you're doing. Far from it. It does bear emphasizing for new riders to make sure they're not trying to drop BOTH heels all the time because by default, that's going to shift your weight back, whether you want that weight shift or not.

And yeah, that vid you cite does show the exact kind of nuance that's critical. Lots of riders with clipless pedals dropping their leading heel. None of them are demonstrating a static "heel(s) dropped" position, rather there's lots of movement and adjustment going on the whole time. The slow mo really captures that well. Still, for beginners who may not be doing it at all, it's useful to do some range-of-motion drills to practice dropping heels and to notice the difference between what your leading foot can do vs. your trailing foot.

I've seen some coaches word things a little differently. Rather than focusing on the result of what it looks like (heels "dropped") they focus on an action, such as pressing downward with the heels. Just because your back foot is level doesn't mean that you're not pressing down into the pedal. It's the pressing into the pedal that's important. Differences in individual flexibility will mean that it looks a little different to outside observers. I've seen some folks with rubber achilles/calves that CAN drop their rear foot while staying fairly centered. The ligaments and/or muscles in my trailing leg would be shredded if I could make my trailing foot drop that way. The end result you're actually seeking is a bit of lateral pressure on the pedal pins with the sole of your shoe. That will help keep your feet attached to platform pedals. With clipless, the lateral pressure is on the cleat and the pedal mechanism and helps you feel more planted, rather than dancing/floating above the pedals. With clipless, the worry of pulling a foot off the pedal is greatly reduced, so the same technique is more about stability and control (which is also important for platform pedals).

One thing you can do with flats (at least, it's possible with the more flexible shoes) that you can't with clipless shoes is to curl your toes around the pedal. This also helps with control, though I've noticed there's a catch-22 with shoes like this. even though the sole flexibility gives you more control, it can also lead to foot fatigue on fast, rough sections of trail where you're absorbing lots of impacts.
 

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The problem is the wholesale lack of nuance from the vast majority who bring up "heels down" technique. Including that Fabian Barel video. They say "heels down" as though that's the only thing that you're doing. Far from it. It does bear emphasizing for new riders to make sure they're not trying to drop BOTH heels all the time because by default, that's going to shift your weight back, whether you want that weight shift or not.

And yeah, that vid you cite does show the exact kind of nuance that's critical. Lots of riders with clipless pedals dropping their leading heel. None of them are demonstrating a static "heel(s) dropped" position, rather there's lots of movement and adjustment going on the whole time. The slow mo really captures that well. Still, for beginners who may not be doing it at all, it's useful to do some range-of-motion drills to practice dropping heels and to notice the difference between what your leading foot can do vs. your trailing foot.

I've seen some coaches word things a little differently. Rather than focusing on the result of what it looks like (heels "dropped") they focus on an action, such as pressing downward with the heels. Just because your back foot is level doesn't mean that you're not pressing down into the pedal. It's the pressing into the pedal that's important. Differences in individual flexibility will mean that it looks a little different to outside observers. I've seen some folks with rubber achilles/calves that CAN drop their rear foot while staying fairly centered. The ligaments and/or muscles in my trailing leg would be shredded if I could make my trailing foot drop that way. The end result you're actually seeking is a bit of lateral pressure on the pedal pins with the sole of your shoe. That will help keep your feet attached to platform pedals. With clipless, the lateral pressure is on the cleat and the pedal mechanism and helps you feel more planted, rather than dancing/floating above the pedals. With clipless, the worry of pulling a foot off the pedal is greatly reduced, so the same technique is more about stability and control (which is also important for platform pedals).

One thing you can do with flats (at least, it's possible with the more flexible shoes) that you can't with clipless shoes is to curl your toes around the pedal. This also helps with control, though I've noticed there's a catch-22 with shoes like this. even though the sole flexibility gives you more control, it can also lead to foot fatigue on fast, rough sections of trail where you're absorbing lots of impacts.
All of this is well said - I like your wording of the feeling of pressing your weight down through the pedals, rather than just dropping the heels.
 
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