How to Effectively Ride Uphill on a Mountain Bike
By Wang PangRiding a mountain bike up an uneven, dirt or gravel path presents a number or challenges you wouldn't find riding on the road, or riding a road bike. The loose terrain means there is less grip for your back tire to move you forward - and less grip means slip. In addition to less grip, the front of a mountain bike can be quite tall (if you have a long travel mountain bike with more than 150mm of front fork travel) which can sometimes lead to the front of the bike lifting off the ground on steep climbs.
Some new forks have u-turn (rockshox) or talas (fox) which lets you change the travel length to help reduce this problem. Another problem the front fork has is the up and down bobbing - while great for going downhills, that bobbing makes climbing less efficient. Again, some new forks have lock-outs which lock the front fork to help improve climbing efficiency.
Clearly, having the right equipment for the right job is important. But, equipment aside, there are some basic techniques you can use to improve your climbing abilities - no matter what bike you're riding.
To reduce slip you will want to have a smooth pedal cadence/rhythm, and stay in your seat. A smooth rhythm will help the wheels maintain grip throughout your stroke and staying in your seat will give the rear wheel the weight it needs to dig in. Getting out of your saddle will shift weight off the rear tires, making them slip more easily. Pick a low gear you can power through with, and keep your bottom in the saddle.
2. Front End Lift
While it's important to stay in your seat, on step climbs the front of you bike may lift off, making it hard/impossible to steer. At this point, you might be temped to stand up and shift weight towards the front - but that will cause slip. so what do you do?
To keep the front down, you will want to lower your body so it's stretched across the whole frame (from saddle to handlebar). This means keeping your body low and head closer to the front of the bike. This position will give your rear tire the grip it needs, while giving enough weight to your front tire to keep it planted on the ground.
These basic two techniques will help you stay happy and safe on the trails.
Wang Pang is a casual writer who enjoys writing on topics including travel, mountain biking and green living. You can find more of his articles on mountain biking here: http://www.mtbspeak.com which talks about mountain bike reviews.
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