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Right as I was attempting to ride up one of root infested goat tracks yesterday I was challenging myself as to what sillyness I could ride up.

Now before we start this is not a treat of how fast strava from bottom to top. More a hunt for the impossible climb. How do you clean that obstactle?

4 main techniques work for me.

Low gear high cadence and spin technique:-

This works best on steep terrain with smaller obstacles. You simply maintain a high cadence as you pick your way up the slope. Constant speed, spinning while seating gets you over most small obstacles.

Higher gear accelerate and use momentum technique:-
When you get to larger obstacles than cannot be cleared by the spin technique then you need to click to a harder gear, 4 to 5 meters from the obstacle crank it hard and use momentum to gun it up and over the obstacle. The accelerate technique gets you over stuff than spinning wont. But you can only boost up so many meters at a time.

Choose the best line:-
Just like racing dh where line choice is king. So to is cleaning that technical section. Look at every section out side of the square and choose the best line for cleaning the section. Often times the best line is not the most used line. Also line choice will change depending on what technique you use.

Rest in between features:-
If I have a big technical climb (mine can be 300-500m vert) I simply cant gun it the whole way up. I loose leg power and then can't use the high gear accelerate technique as i've blown my legs. So..... Cruise in between hard features. if your goal is least amount of dabs. Slow and steady wins the race.

As far as bike set up goes.
Soft suspension, tires as low pressure as you can get away with and the grippiest tread you can lay your hands on will get you the most traction for technical climbing.

I'm really interested to hear from dudes who have both whippet xc bikes and enduro bikes. Which bike can you clean the most sections on? The enduro bike with more traction or the whippet bike with less traction, less weight and faster acceleration.

Discuss.
 

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beater
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We have a stretch of the Continental Divide Trail that is very rocky. It has a dozen or so stretches of granite babyhead climbs that range in difficulty from “not too bad” to “local legend has it one guy cleaned it once”.

My best results usually come when I’m pedaling a slightly harder gear and out of the saddle or hovering just over it. They ALWAYS come when I’m looking at the end of the climb rather than the next two rocks in front of me.
 

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If it's a really technical climb and it's long, there will be sections that you'll need to soft pedal to recover and other parts where you'll need to lunge upward at max power. Some balance at low or even no-speed can help. Next level are nose manuals or lifting and turning the bike on the rear wheel.

Some other skills to master: ratcheting the pedals, lifting the front up, then pulling up the rear (basically a bunny hop in slow motion), track stands.

Last thing to know: as a beginner you'll be tempted to go between the peaks of rocks. As you get more experience, you'll start to see the tops of rocks as the quickest and smoothest method up--find the rungs of the ladder.
 

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1. I have an opposite approach when it comes to cadence. I use a high gear and low cadence approach. I find for big moves (a step up for example) I need to be able to apply a lot of power instantly. That big gear allows me to make the most of bits of the trail where traction exists.

2. I hit the obstacle head on. Rather than weaving around looking for easier way I have the most success going straight at it.

3. Power output has to match traction levels. Pedal hard to accelerate when traction is good, pedal softly to minimize momentum loss when it is isn't.

As for what is easier, XC or Enduro bike it is not even close, XC bike all the way. The slack head angles and long forks on Enduro makes that rear wheel tend to get hung up in holes and ledges. Also XC bikes are so much easier to climb on that you a lot more power in reserve for big moves.

What does surprise me though is when it comes to tight up-hill switch backs the great big Enduro bikes don't have any problems. We have one trail will stupidly tight switch-backs, one that I was sure I wouldn't be able to ride on my Enduro bike. But I have no problems with it.
 

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I like dropping the seat 10-20mm or so for extra range of motion, but still high enough that I don’t feel the need to raise it back up if it’s an extended length of technical sections.

I don’t ride xc bikes anymore and I can clean all the same climbs that I could back then with my enduro bike that weighs 5kg more, some of them more frequently more. Not as fast, but I’m more worried about it I make it then how fast I did it in.

One technique I’ve grown to love is popping the front wheel off a obstacle to purposely wheelie and pivot the bike around something. It’s not usually needed, it just feels cool and gives me something to concentrate on that distracts me from my body screaming for a rest.
 

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The get off and walk method works really well. 🤪

It depends on the hill, but I usually do a mix of all of the above. I have pretty much one bike, a 130/140 trail bike. But I do miss the lighter weight of my entry level hardtail on longer climbs.
 

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Magically Delicious
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Good thread and outline to your techniques plummet.

Each technical section can incorporate all of none of these many situationally suggested techniques. There are so many variables to consider along with the individuals experience and skill set for problem solving a line up a technically challenging climb. Another factor is an emotional one that can be affected by exposure or how unforgiving the section can be if you fail to successfully complete the moves.

I have one relatively short, punchy climb that utilizes both an initial taller gear to gain momentum for the lower section, but near the top of the climb, the line transitions to several vertically stepped tiers that demand a lower gear to pop over the top. In addition to focusing on my rapidly deteriorating speed in the initial climb, finding the line, timing of the next shift and the smooth transition of your body to pop over the top all need to happen almost intuitively.
 

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The high gear and low cadence technique is the one single speeders use to get up essentially everything. I really like that technique on my geared bike also as I usually get hung up in low gear high cadence. My issue is I will think the low gear high cadence method will work for a quick burst of power but I feel like I am pedaling into nothing and get caught, when I really should have been in a higher gear to have that feeling of a firm pedaling platform.
 

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Oh, So Interesting!
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I like tech climbing. My newest bike is also my heaviest and longest bike ever... and it climbs incredibly well. '20 Specialized Enduro S4, 37 lbs. It's really amazing how well it climbs!

I've managed to clean every feature on the Hall Ranch rock garden (Bitterbrush Trail) on my Enduro, and have managed to do it on the 1st try in one ride... with the exception of the keyhole switchback, which I can only clean half the time or so... it's really tricky! Lots of vids on climbing Bitterbrush out there from Jeff Lenosky and others.

I can't really add much to what plummet said, but do think that a bike with a lot of rear end grip can be best for some types of tech climbing, and new Enduro bikes are made to pedal well, so some of these bikes are exceptionally good. Also, rear tire is key and often XC type tires just don't have the grip, and XC suspension doesn't work as well to keep the rear tire firmly planted on the rock, it bounces around too much. So many times the best grip is had with sticky tires and softer sus w/ more travel, which means often times the lighter weight of an XC bike simply doesn't matter because it doesn't have the grip. It just depends on the situation. Off road Jeeps have various wheelbases ranging from very short to fairly long, and where they work best just depends on the obstacle you're trying to get through. Same with bikes. On some climbs Enduro bikes are gonna be better, on others an XC bike is going to crush the Enduro bike.

I also have to mention how horrible the Maxxis Aggressor and other DC compound Maxxis tires are for this on certain types of surfaces, and especially combined with moisture. They are HORRIBLE. The difference between an Aggressor and a Michelin Wild Enduro Rear or Der Kaiser at Bitterbrush is night and day. I can't climb Bitterbrush with an Aggressor without a dozen spin-outs if there's even a little bit of moisture.
 

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aka Taprider
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Try to keep keep a neutral to forward weight bias, even when front wheel lifting/unweighting, to enable quick transfers of body weight from back to front, or front to back. As many riders have trouble after lifting the front wheel up onto a ledge, but then stalling, by relying too much on rear wheel thrust and traction, and being stuck back on the rear wheel.
As soon as the front wheel touches the top of the ledge, you should be leaping your butt up and forward and have all to most of your weight on the front wheel, while thrusting the bars forward and not have weight on the rear tire until after it clears the top of the ledge. Use a more of a snatch the bars into your chest, than traditional front wheel manual and wheelie lift techniques.
A good way to practice is to find a small A-Frame or mound that does not require lifting the front wheel off the ground to clear it. Starting in a standing neutral position, challenge yourself to do it slower and slower, to the point that your momentum alone will not allow you to clear the top, then instead of pedaling, thrust your front wheel down/forward.
Next, get your body weight equal to the top of the A-Frame, with no to almost no forward speed, so you have to thrust your bike to catch up to your body. Your bike should feel like it has no weight on it, but really you are just transferring your body weight onto the front wheel as you thrust down/forward.
Next, go even slower, or find a longer A-Frame or mound, so you may need to pedal over the top. But, as you lose momentum you must reduce power to the rear wheel. Think about how a car's computer traction controls (brakes/reduces power) to the wheels, to get up snow covered hills. Or think that you must soft pedal and not power over the top. Works great for slippery conditions, and any tire or hard tail/rear suspension type too.

Next find a more natural trail with lots of texture, and think about pushing your front wheel down into every hole and concave, and not lifting your front wheel off the ground for the ups, but just absorbing the raises (you will likely find your arms retracting towards your chest putting you in position to thrust into the next down). This is similar to, but sort of the reverse of, pump track techniques, but you are doing it with your upper body over the tops of the raises/obstacles. It is fun to see how far you can get without pedaling on flat rooty/rocky trails.
 

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I like tech climbing. My newest bike is also my heaviest and longest bike ever... and it climbs incredibly well. '20 Specialized Enduro S4, 37 lbs. It's really amazing how well it climbs!

I've managed to clean every feature on the Hall Ranch rock garden (Bitterbrush Trail) on my Enduro, and have managed to do it on the 1st try in one ride... with the exception of the keyhole switchback, which I can only clean half the time or so... it's really tricky! Lots of vids on climbing Bitterbrush out there from Jeff Lenosky and others.

I can't really add much to what plummet said, but do think that a bike with a lot of rear end grip can be best for some types of tech climbing, and new Enduro bikes are made to pedal well, so some of these bikes are exceptionally good. Also, rear tire is key and often XC type tires just don't have the grip, and XC suspension doesn't work as well to keep the rear tire firmly planted on the rock, it bounces around too much. So many times the best grip is had with sticky tires and softer sus w/ more travel, which means often times the lighter weight of an XC bike simply doesn't matter because it doesn't have the grip. It just depends on the situation. Off road Jeeps have various wheelbases ranging from very short to fairly long, and where they work best just depends on the obstacle you're trying to get through. Same with bikes. On some climbs Enduro bikes are gonna be better, on others an XC bike is going to crush the Enduro bike.

I also have to mention how horrible the Maxxis Aggressor and other DC compound Maxxis tires are for this on certain types of surfaces, and especially combined with moisture. They are HORRIBLE. The difference between an Aggressor and a Michelin Wild Enduro Rear or Der Kaiser at Bitterbrush is night and day. I can't climb Bitterbrush with an Aggressor without a dozen spin-outs if there's even a little bit of moisture.
Cleaning bitterbrush rock garden for the win!!
 

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No known cure
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I like to ratchet/backpedal my cranks and clock the crank to the one/two o'clock position for crux moves. It's somewhat critical on techy terrain on a single speed.
 

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Professional Crastinator
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Assuming a rider has all other techniques at their disposal, I think it is better to be clipped in on technical climbs.

I have a good amount of experience at Blue Knob SP ("Tree-Odge"), the old "Grave Ridge" and "3-mile" in Michaux, and Moraine SP (the "Stone Escalator") in PA getting up and over some tricky stuff. Traction and momentum are key, but when you are also weighting and unweighting, being clipped in can make a big difference in that your trailing foot can pull up, lightening the rear wheel while still applying torque.
If all you can do is apply torque when you are on the downstroke, I think you are limited.


-F
 

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Magically Delicious
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^^^^ An interesting note in mentioning clipless. For techy stuff, and particularly unforgiving stuff that come with a consequence for failure, I much prefer to be clipped in.
 
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