Standing vs Seated climbing (off-road)

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  • Standing vs Seated climbing (off-road)
  • Premier Icon roverpig
    Subscriber

    As a long time roadie and recent MTB convert I tend to climb sitting down wherever possible. I understand that this may not be the best approach off-road, so I’ve been trying to work on climbing standing up, but without much luck. If I try and stand on a steep loose climb I just end up spinning the back wheel. If I attack the same climb sitting down in my granny gear I can spin up it just fine.

    On the one hand I’m happy to say that as long as I got up the climb I won 🙂 but I suspect that I’d be able to get up more stuff if I learnt to climb standing up as well.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    you need to move your weight if you want to stand, sometimes perching on the nose of the saddle does it.

    Seated climbing is fine though and I do it a lot, but when it gets technical it’s generally much harder to move the bike over and around things when seated so standing and keeping the rear loaded but the front down becomes the game.

    Dibbs
    Member

    Practice, it’s just a case of getting a feel for the balance, too far forward and the back wheel spins, too far back and the front wheel lifts.

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    If you can sit down do so, lot less stress on your system, I know as soon as I stand up my HR and breathing start to rocket but you need to stand up on some stuff, either technical or too steep. Depending on how steep it is hovering about an inch over the nose of the saddle (or perching on the nose if you can take it) gives good power vs grip vs keeping front wheel down…

    and will have you blowing out your arse within seconds, proper red line territory. Alternative is lockdown forks and moving you saddle forward and pointing it down but not the best position for flatter trails.

    Ecky-Thump
    Member

    If traction is what’s failing first, then you’ll get up more stuff seated.
    I find that the only scenario requiring standing climbing is to get over technical obstacles.
    But then, I’m a crap climber anyway. Most likely I’ll be off and pushing.

    Duggan
    Member

    I’m the last person qualified to dish out advice on mountain bike technique but I often find when it gets to a certain point of steepness and loseness that it requires a very fine balancing act between seated on the very perch of your saddle (almost to the point of being um, violated) and then maybe raising yourself off the saddle just a couple of millimeters, hovering over it to get some leverage in your legs. You’ll probably find you’ll be constantly making micro-adjustments between the two all the way up though.

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Subscriber

    If traction is what’s failing first, then you’ll get up more stuff seated.
    I find that the only scenario requiring standing climbing is to get over technical obstacles

    Thanks folks. I think that’s my issue. At the moment I’m practicing by trying to stand on stuff that is steep but not too technical and it’s frustrating spinning out and having to walk up stuff that I know i can get up if I stay seated. But if I want to get up stuff that’s steep and technical then I reckon I need to develop the technique for standing climbing.

    Trying to hover just above the nose of the saddle sounds like a great way to kill my legs on no time though 🙂

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Subscriber

    It’s no different to climbing on a road bike of a wet road with leaves on it really, if there’s not much traction you need to shift your weight back to compensate. I generally stay seated a lot more when climbing off-road as it’s easier to maintain traction, the exception being on climbs with obstacles (roots, rocks etc.) where you need to unweight the back from time to time.

    federalski
    Member

    Not seen it mentioned but while standing I also have to be 2 or 3 gears lower than I would whilst sitting, else I feel like I end up flailing away and wasting energy.

    I only every stand for short hills that once I start I have to stand all the way for, else I’ll be fried…

    Same background. Best tips

    Shift weight
    Stay low on the bike
    Pull back on handlebars – nit sure about theory here but it works for me.

    But weight is the most Important IMO

    Premier Icon D0NK
    Subscriber

    Not seen it mentioned but while standing I also have to be 2 or 3 gears lower than I would whilst sitting

    yep you spin quicker seated, so go up a gear to stand up, I normally sit down after the tricky bit in the same gear only drop a gear again if I need to. Getting used to standing/sitting/standing takes a while, but you really need to be able to alternate on long tricky hills. or get super fit and stand up throughout the climb 😯

    mduncombe
    Member

    its not so different to road bikes, on a steep greasy Mendip road climb getting up of the saddle on my road bike will cause the back wheel to spin out.

    The more weight directly over the back wheel the better the traction.

    Its all about getting a feel for when the back wheel is about to break traction and subtly shifting your weight a fraction of a second before it happens. On a mountain bike you are shifting your weight back and forth, side to side all the time, its very dynamic.

    Climbing is best done seated but even better is to shift your weight dynamically, using bursts of power to get momentum to carry you over an obstacle before you back wheel hits hit, reducing the need to pedal when traction is limited. Shifting your weight back subtly unweights the front wheel, helping lift it over the obstacle while pushing your weight forward can unweight the back wheel letting it roll over an obstacle more easily.

    Standing on a climb moves your weight forward, reducing traction at the back, but the act of doing so can help pull the back wheel up behind you once your front wheel has crossed the obstacle.

    PJM1974
    Member

    +1 for seated climbing. If I absolutely have to get off the saddle I’ll balance on the nose and will keep my body loose over anything technical.

    I’m a recent convert, I used to stand and stomp everywhere.

    wrecker
    Member

    Practice, it’s just a case of getting a feel for the balance, too far forward and the back wheel spins, too far back and the front wheel lifts.

    +1
    It’s something which is learnt through experience. For steps and stuff, a good push on the bars whilst getting off the saddle (once the front wheel is up) helps loads (IMHO).

    stumpy01
    Member

    I tend to stay seated for as long as possible with a shift out of the saddle for the odd bit where I need to get the bike over an obstacle.

    If it’s a really steep climb I get my butt right on the nose of the saddle (erm, almost uncomfortably far forward) and it helps keep the front wheel down if you drop your elbows so you are almost pulling downwards (and backwards) on the bars

    Standing is normally just when you need to shift your weight to hoik the bike over something, or you want a sudden burst of power to drive up and over an obstacle.

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Subscriber

    Standing on a climb moves your weight forward, reducing traction at the back

    I think this could be part of the problem for me at the moment. I’m staying seated until I get to the really steep bit then standing up and promptly spinning out. Maybe I need to stand a bit earlier (and try not to die before I hit the climb).

    Lots of good advice though. Thanks.

    Premier Icon adsh
    Subscriber

    For ultimate grip it’s nose of the saddle in your butt and a low enough gear. You’d be amazed what you can get up. In fact you should get enough grip on a fs bike with good tyres that the issue can be having enough seated leg power to keep the cranks turning.

    MarkLG
    Member

    I’ll get out of the saddle on smooth sections to have a bit of a stretch and vary my rhythm, but most of the time I’ll stay in the saddle. For technical bits I’ll hover a bit off the saddle so that I can move my weight back and forth. It helps to unweight the front or back wheel to clear obstacles. Spinning the pedals smoothly in a comfortable gear also allows the rear suspension to track the ground better.

    TimCotic
    Member

    Got-to Got-to Got-to keep that rear traction so don’t stand onthe steep loose bits – even if like to stand when climbing. Get yer bum on the front of the saddle, get ur chin low and forward get ur wrists and elbows down. Feel that rear wheel grip the ground as you spin those pedals smooth as you can. Maybe even lower your tyre pressure if you’re still loosing traction.

    Junkyard
    Member

    I believe the standard mountain biker gains 3 – 4 stones of inertia around the mid rift to aid traction

    What they say – generally if you need to stand up it best only be a for a very short period or there is little point anyway as you will be walking pretty soon anyway

    dantsw13
    Member

    Roverpig – the tendency when transitioning from seated to standing is to lean forward on the bars. Practise standing up but keeping your weight rearwards – hence maintaining traction. Only weight the front enough to keep the front wheel on the ground. This also makes it easier to pop the front wheel over any obstacles.

    wrecker
    Member

    thumbs on top helps if you find the front end coming up.

    It just takes practise to get the hang of standing climbing – when you ride 1×9/10 or singlespeed you don’t have a choice much of the time!

    where’s #richmtbguru when we need him??

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