Power relative to position on the bike (XC MTB specific)


Last winter I picked up a new mountain bike and spent four months training indoors with TR. I wasn’t able to ride the bike on our trails before mounting it on the trainer because of snow but set it up like past bikes. What I determined within the last month or so of riding outdoors is my position on the bike was too low and too far back to corner with any speed/confidence. As a result I raised my seat and positioned it further ahead to balance the bike out. By doing this my ability to hold power has dropped quite noticeably.

My question is this, relative to xc racing? Do you sacrifice power in an attempt to have better handling? If so how approximately how much? Do you determine proper position for best handling first, and then train to maximize power in that position? Getting ready to spend the winter indoors and want to make sure I’m not repeating past mistakes.

Do you corner sitting down? If so…you shouldnt be. I ride MTB a lot and for a long time and the only time I’m in the saddle is going up hills or long flats. Anytime you’re going fast enough to worry about corner speed/grip you should be out of the saddle. :thinking:

Hi Crownan,

I’d say most of the time I’m in a seated position when cornering because the trails in our area are fairly flat and allow you to pedal through most corners.

Fair enough, that is quite alien to me! Do you not have to worry about peddle strikes?

How far did you have to move your seat? Are you sure the bike is the correct size and the fit was correct in the first place?

Hello there, a few observations from my experience training specifically for and racing XCO stuff throughout 2018. The below won’t necessarily apply to you as well but generally I think you’ll find similarities as many of the people I ride/race with have commented similarly…

(1.) my saddle position is as far ‘pushed forward’ on the saddle rails as possible. The nose is as close to the stem as I can get it.

(2.) My saddle height is as high as I can get it while still allowing me to drop my heals and ‘ankle over’ during pedal stroke.

(3.) This ‘generally forward’ position on the MTB allows for more control on trails, during cornering. Descents are all out of the saddle with crank arms either parallel to the ground (if going straight) or with outside pedal weight (if turning)

(4.) When just pedaling normally in the saddle most of the ‘push’ comes from the back of my legs (glutes, hamstrings, calves). When out of the saddle, the emphasis switches to the fronf my legs (quads).

(5.) This forward position on the bike also allows you to put a good percentage of your weight over the front end while climbing (to keep front end on the ground on steep inclines) and while cornering aggressively, pushing the tire into the ground to maintain traction. This effect can be increased by bringing your chest down, closer to bars.

Just a few tips that I’ve found helpful when considering how to setup your MTB for XCO racing.


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