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Technique Help: Do you "Toe Down & Claw Pedals" with Drops?

3943 Views 26 Replies 24 Participants Last post by  simcik
I was watching an instructional video yesterday, and in the chapter where they talk about drops, the instructors talk about what to do with your feet. What they recommend is to drop the toes down, push down and up a little your feet, which they call "clawing." They say that it gives you "control" over your rear wheel in the air. Not sure what kind of control this gives you in a drop.

This picture of Brian Lopes doing a drop from his book shows his feet doing just that. Some of the other videos/pictures of other riders that I researched, they seem to be neutral with their feet in the air.

What are your thoughts on this? Is this what you are supposed to do? Only in certain situations?

Also, how do you guys get the bike to match the landing angle? I usually stay neutral and end up with the front wheel touching down on the landing first slightly. But when I don't take off correctly, I land heavy front or back because I don't make lot of adjustments in the air. Do you guys push down on the bar and/or touch the rear brake? Thanks as usual.


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I just read that book earlier this year! And to answer your question, depending on the size of the drop, if its a big one I tend to put the pedals father back on my foot and hold them neutral, not as much stress on my ankles that way.
it's like a bunny hop. If you point your toes down, you can push backwards on the pedals while your hands are holding the bike in place. doing this allows the bike to stick to your feet and maneuver in any way you need it to.
I can't say I have ever made a concious effort to do it, but I do. I only know that from seeing it in pics...


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I don't know...I just do it
Level works just fine unless you are trying to pull up with flat pedals.

i never think about "clawing" the pedals. Not sure my 5.10's will flex enough to feel a difference anyway.
I do crouch a little before takeoff...then I kind of just "push" the bike forward a tiny bit at takeoff which is similar to the Lope's #2 I guess.

Don't overthink...too much thinking takes away from the "natural feel" that you are trying to achieve.

Practice on small drops with trannies...and it is easier when you have some speed.

good luck.
I don't think I have EVER thought about the placement of my feet when I have done a drop. Do whatever feels natural woul dbe my advice.
I like to launch off the drop with a quick crank and kinda hop getting the front end up a bit, then match the angle of the bike to the lander right at the last sec. My feet will do whatever they have to to make it happen
Here's Chris Canfield doing a big drop. Notice how level his feet are, unlike some of the others above.


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generally, you want to point your toes down if you want to lift your front end up; which is generally true for some drop offs to ensure that you don't dive nose first.
^^^ is there a transition that we cant see? It seems as though there is one but not totally sure.

You can point your feet, usually when I do that I tend to move back in the "cockpit" a bit as well, to either "scrub" or "tuck" into the desired angle of the landing. you can also roll your wrists and/or grab a finger full of back brake to manipulate your angle.
I always thought when the toes are pointed down the rider isn't relaxed and carrying a bit too much tension. I do that technique sometimes when trying to nose dive into the landing of a dirt jump on my hardtail. I think a bunnyhop is a better technique to work on for drops.
Yeah, I do that a bit, but generally more so on jumps or anything that requires a bit of "pop" and lifting the bike. For drops, it depends. On a slow drop, I huck it (in which case I do want to pull the bike up a bit in the air to level it out), on faster drops I use more of the "DH" technique, in which case my feet will probably be a bit more neutral.

As for the landing, nose first or neutral is really almost always the best option. Gives softer landings and puts you back in control of the bike much sooner. I don't really think much about HOW I get the bike int he right position for landing, but generally it involves pushing forwards on the bars a bit (and yes, maybe "scooping up" the rear with those "clawed" feet every now and then... :) ). I find that practicing jumping (as opposed to dropping) is the best way to get confortable moving the bike around in the air, and getting used to setting up properly for the landing tranny. That then helps when you hit drops as well.
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with big drops watch out that you smash your "claws" into the ground. I've had a few times where my toes almost got wrapped under the pedals in situations like this.
[pulls pin, lobs, and runs]
Or you could just make the switch to clipless. :thumbsup:
k1creeker said:
[pulls pin, lobs, and runs]
I love that:D
I've never really thought about how I move my feet in the air. However recently I was forced into realising I do 'claw' my pedals when the front end needs to be dipped down for a level landing. This was because upon landing in a rockgarden I jammed my toes into one of the rocks...

Anyway, as shown in the photo of Mr. Canfield up the page, you don't always 'claw' the pedals. It is only when you are trying to drop the front end of the bike that you do so. The rest of the time your feet can be free to do whatever feels natural.

Never clip in, never wear disco slippers. :)
Maybe if you're a rookie.

If you're truly gnar your feet aren't even ON the pedals.
Im not sure what I do but, Rando said to push your front down first then extend your legs to push the rear down to level out. Instead of just leaning back over the rear.He never really talked about feet though
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