Want to ride steep rock rolls? BetterRide shows you how

Mountain biking requires balance, control, and being as smooth as possible

How To Video
Mike Lee Good Form

Mike Lee of the Santa Cruz/Dynaplug team navigates a steep section of trail at the 2018 TDS Enduro. Mike shifts his weight over the rear tire and extends his arms as his front tire drops, but quickly returns to a centered position as the transition levels out. Photo by Justin Wages

Competition between mountain bike instructors can be fierce and finer details on technique are often argued, but one thing they all can agree upon is the need to maintain a balanced position on the bike.

Good Form

Gene Hamilton of BetterRide.net demonstrating proper form when descending a steep roll down. Note that Gene is in this extended position for a second or less before returning to a centered and neutral position. Photo courtesy BetterRide

On steep terrain it is important to maintain a balanced position at all times, explains Gene Hamilton of BetterRide.net. He reveals how to maintain balance on the bike by transitioning between centered and extended body positions as the terrain goes from flat to steep to flat again.


This rider stayed in a rear-biased position the entire way through the steep section and as a result he bounced roughly when he transitioned back to flat. On a steeper and or longer feature he likely would have lost control of the front wheel and washed out or went over the bars. Photo courtesy BetterRide

Many riders are scared to ride steep terrain and as such they approach a steep section of trail with their weight shifted way back over the rear tire before they have even reached the beginning of the steep section. They do this because they are fearful or because they have been incorrectly taught to shift their weight back on steep descents. Rarely does anyone dispensing this trail-side coaching bother to go into the important details of balance and how keeping your weight shifted too far back in an unbalanced way can lead to a loss of control and a crash. Follow along as Gene shows us the proper way to navigate steep terrain.

To learn more about the techniques touched on here, visit betterride.net.

About the author: Justin Wages

As a stage 4 colon cancer survivor, Justin Wages got into the cycling world in an effort to increase his endurance after losing his left lung. As a California native and growing up with a skateboard and snowboard beneath his feet it wasn’t long before the thrill of mountain biking gripped him. Justin’s day job as a Land & Recreation Manager helps him understand the balance between conservation and trail use. He also works with his fiancé, Jeni, to bring more women into the mountain bike world with certified skills clinics and education. “My goal is to get more people on trails for health and enjoyment,” he says. “I want to help them overcome their mental or physical limitations and be the best person they can be, while expanding their appreciation for our natural world.”

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