mountain biker in woods

The “attack position.” This is the most important concept in mountain biking. It forms the basis of all the complex maneuvers and techniques that you’ll use to conquer technical trails.

Navigating tricky rock gardens, crossing streams and mud puddles, negotiating steep downhills, and hopping logs all begin the same way – in the attack position.

It’s the stance you’ll assume when you come upon any obstacle, and you’ll employ the body position for virtually any rough trail.

Here’s a mountain biker using the attack position:

the attack position

Fundamentals of The Attack Position

Want to use it? Here’s what it entails:

Head up

Keep your head up.

Eyes looking forward

Eyes are looking forward (ahead.) Remember, look where you want to go!

Elbows out wide

Elbows are bent and out wide. We’re not worried about aerodynamics here!

Torso is level

Torso is level. It should be nearly parallel to the ground, and it will adjust to match the angle of the terrain.

Hands securely gripping bar

Hands have a light but secure grip on bar. Definitely no white knuckle death grips!

Butt hovering above saddle

Your butt should hover above and just behind the saddle. It will not be on the saddle.

Knees bent

Knees are bent to absorb shock.

Pedals level

Pedals level, with your dominant foot forward.

Weight centered over bottom bracket

Your body should be centered over the bottom bracket, with your weight on the pedals.

How to use the attack position to your advantage

From the basic position, you can adjust slightly as required by the terrain.

Shift your weight forward or back as you go over obstacles or up/down hills.

Move your hips back even further if you need more stability. This helps get your torso down and weight pressed into the pedals.

Shift your weight left or right to follow twists and turns.

Use knees and elbows to absorb shock (like suspension.)

Common mistakes

There are two mistakes I see with beginners.

You’re too stiff.

Loosen up! This is fun, you should be relaxed!

If you stiffen up, it’s going to be less comfortable, and you’ll have less control of the bike. This makes things more dangerous!

You’re standing too tall.

Get those hips back and get your chest down! You’re attacking the terrain. You should look more like a football player ready to tackle someone than a runner trotting down the trail.

Watch this:


Any questions?


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