I stumbled upon this gem recently. They explain that the most basic skill is the attack position. Here is my understanding of their teaching:

  • Standing and not on the saddle.
  • Center of gravity of the rider directly above BB.
  • Center of gravity can be judged by handlebar interaction - if one is pulling or pushing the handlebars, CoG is not above BB.
  • Arms half stretched, bum half way between saddle and highest possible position.
  • Torso horizontal (parallel to ground).

Now, I have to wonder how can all those be possibly achieved simultaneously. Different seat heights and frame geometries are bound to result in different torso angle, relative to ground (if maintaining half-stretched arms and middle of distance from seat to top). For example, if the handlebars are high and the seat is low, the shoulders will be higher than the butt.

Furthermore, I wander if the heavy feet, light arms applies to seated riding. Should I not be pulling or pushing the handlebars, while riding seated, aiming to pedal efficiently and fast?

Lastly, do the above apply to road bikes?

1 Answer 1


This "attack position" is not what you would call attack in road cycling. What they mean here is the base from which you start the technical section on a mountain bike trail ( MTB technique is generally what the entire book is about). The terminology in this book is sometimes quite bizarre and many of the terms are not usually used in MTB jargon.

This position is largely inependeny on bike geometry - you're meant to stand on the pedals so seat height is irrelevant.... as long as the saddle is low enough to let you move forwards and bbackwards freely Also, since the book is about mountain biking they assume you don't use a commuter bike where bars would be way higher than saddle (and way anrrower than in MTB).

The "heavy feet, light arms" refers to the above position, so it's about standing on the pedals. Further in this book it's said that weight distribution when seated should be more or less equal between pedals, saddle and handlebars.

I think I've partly answered the last question already, but to make it clear: no there is no point in such a position on a road bike (unless you're filming one of the Road Bike Party videos). In road cycling the attack (proper attack!) position is also out of saddle, but this is the only similarity.

  • See, for example, here the bars are higher than the saddle. On the other hand, here the seat is higher than the bars.
    – Vorac
    Mar 21, 2015 at 12:27
  • But the difference in distance between the BB and handlebars is not that big, and that's the only thing which could affect your ability to obtain this "attack position". If you're out of the saddle then how can its height be a problem? You just have to raise your bum relatively higher to achieve desired torso position. Again, it's slightly easier to have this position with lower saddle because there's no obstacle between your thighs. That's why on an XC bike it requires a bit more practice.
    – Slovakov
    Mar 21, 2015 at 12:40
  • I think I'm beginning to understand. So the rule your butt should be in the middle between the saddle and fully extended position is rather a guideline, and the hard rule is your back must be parallel to the ground. Correct?
    – Vorac
    Mar 21, 2015 at 13:15
  • None of these rules is absolutely hard (the book would be much shorter if it was this simple :D ) but yes, the end position is more important than than how far you are from the saddle.
    – Slovakov
    Mar 21, 2015 at 13:35
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    @Vorac - My 2 cents.. Have a look at what happens at 1:55 - he goes off line and immediately drops his shoulders to what you are expecting to see. My guess is he is comfortable riding the track and well in control with lots of room for error. His bike has long, plush suspension, more travel than the height of bumps on the track, so hes able to maintain a sit position and still ride lightly. Attack position is a stance so you can instantly move your weight in relation to the bike in response to the track, he achieving that sitting - great skills well beyond my ability:) .....
    – mattnz
    Mar 22, 2015 at 8:50

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