Riding up and down

A mountain bike can climb slopes with up to a 30% incline and go down a 45% incline and more. The limitations are lie in tire traction and grip

Long Climb

A long climb can be made easier with a few posture adjustments:
Graphic: Correct seated climbing posture
climbing seated

Slope start and ride up

It’s extremely common to have to jump on the bike in the middle of a steep trail section. You must know how to start riding in such a situation:

Gears must be set to easy (small chain ring – large sprocket, 3X9/8/6).

You can either stand above your saddle or sit, but the bike’s angle must be as straight as possible

Very steep climbs

Climbing very steep slopes put you on a thin line between balance and traction: Lean too far forward and you'll lose traction, spin your rear wheel and stall - Lean too far back and the front wheel lifts.

CAUTION: It is common to lose balance on extremely steep climbs. The front lifts and you may flip back and land on your back. To avoid this, cling to your front brake only. DO NOT use your back brake or you’ll flip back.

For very steep slopes do not try to use momentum to tackle it: you will burn out within meters. Instead start slowly and pace yourself.

Graphic: Steep up and downs. The closer your center of gravity gets to the wheel, the less traction or grip your tires will have. For steep uphill the chest gets close to the handle bar, for steep downhill the stomach comes close to the saddle


steep up and downs

Graphic: when it goes wrong. [left] standing too up straight on a downhill brings the center of gravity too close to the front, there is no room to absorb an impact. [right] Standing too far back while going up and the front wheel lifts.


slopes wrong


Downhil slopes: downhill slope start

Starting down a steep slope can be difficult on a narrow or a rutted trail. Train on a clear path first, try to get as quick as you can in a stable posture and to ride down on the straightest like possible.

riding downhill -

Photo: Going down a steep trail section. Neutral and balanced posture, almost no pressure on the handlebars.

slopes down

Photo: HANGING from the bar. Leaning too far back with arms completely extended. Impossible to steer.

steep slope wrong

Fire in your forearms?

Have a tight grip on your handle bar but very relaxed arms. If you feel your forearms and shoulders burning on a long downhill, it means you are not low enough and not in balance on your feet.
Your arms must be used to push you back just before the impact, you must use your balance and weight to absorb the impacts, not just your arms.

Graphic: Lean back right before the impact. If you didn't lean back enough your arms are absorbing the impact.

downhill slope obstacle


NEXT: Steps