Proper weight placement on the bike. I often refer to proper riding position and proper weight placement as the foundation of riding. These two things have to be done correctly or you’re effectively dead in the water right off the bat. Just like an actual structure, if the foundation is a mess, then anything that gets built off of that will also be a mess. Unfortunately, most riders are in bad position by default, thus, their weight ends up in the wrong place on the bike (going downhill this usually means it ends up on their hands and the handlebars/front wheel; going uphill it usually ends too far back on the bike and over the rear wheel. We mainly address the downhill part in this video). This means that they’re going to end up pretty ineffective in their movements and attempts to try to control the bicycle.
Long story, short…we need to keep our weight over the bottom bracket of the bike (in the clinics I call this keeping our “line of force” going through the BB because often we will be pushing and driving force through the BB with our legs in order to correctly manipulate the bike…but that’s getting a little deeper into things than we can effectively do here). If we do this, we will be working with the bicycle the way it is designed to work: allowing the bike to pivot and move around that BB. We will also be supporting our body mass on the most calm and stable area of the bicycle: the bottom bracket (again, most riders end up with too much weight on their hands/bar/front wheel when descending. The bike will still kind of pivot around the BB in this position, but it will also start to pivot around the front axle–which could mean a painful trip over the bars. Either way, the bars will always have a lot of motion and are not a good platform from which to try to maintain balance of the body–they obviously play a very important role in controlling the bike, but supporting our mass should not be done with the handlebars.)
Another great thing about proper weight placement: if our weight (or, our line of force) is going through the BB, then we’re also supporting our body mass/weight with our legs. This frees up our arms to do their role in riding the bike: adjusting lean angle, steering adjustments, small and precise bike manipulations through the handlebars. This is the way our body works most effectively in an athletic manner: our arms simply can’t do their thing if we’re using them to support our body weight and mass.
There’s a big misconception in riding that we should, at times, weight the front wheel. I won’t say that we should never do this, but we need to keep out weight going through the BB with very rare exception. Sure, I may push down through the bars with my arms to maximize traction with the front wheel, but I need to keep my weight going through that BB. This is crucial.
As always, these videos are by no means intended to substitute for real-time instruction…