I'm pretty new to biking, and lately I've been really enjoying riding down a relatively steep hill with a few bumps so you can get pretty fast. But I never got around to riding down the steeper bits because it felt like I was going to tip forward.

Is this normal or should I make some adjustments? I have my saddle height to standard so my knee is straight at 6 O'clock, the suspension at its most "open" state and high gears. It is a mountain bike.

2 Answers 2


The adjustment needed is to lower your seat. Your seat is currently set for road riding where pedaling efficiency is important.

The idea when Mountain biking is to maintain the center of gravity over the Bottom bracket. As the down hill gets steeper, you need to shift weight back to achieve this, as the uphill gets steeper, move weight forward. The seat post in a normal climb position prevents the required weight shift.

The weight shift has to be done by moving the whole torso. Assume the 'Attack position' (google is your friend) - This correct riding position is arms are bent, elbows out (ideally forming a C when looking head on to the rider) and torso is relatively level, legs straight but knees not locked (i.e. very slightly bent - knees bent is common advice but gets miss interpreted).

stolen from  www.bikeattack.com

(IMHO his knees are bent too much. This amount of bend requires a lot more effort in the quads than needed.)

  • If the legs are too straight then all your "suspension" comes from the ankles. I had my right foot slightly too far back on the pedal with a straight leg, and a sudden bump/hole flipped my foot off the back of the pedal. This pedal was forward, so loss of weight meant it rose and hit my knee as the right foot hit the ground. So enought "suspension movement" is a good thing.
    – Criggie
    Apr 6, 2017 at 3:39
  • 1
    Yes - its a trade off. Stand with your legs bent as shown in the photo for 10 minutes. Think how the knee bent position must affect your endurance when riding. Choose becomes crash because legs are too straight, or crash because your worn out. I switched from hard tail to squashy because although hard-tails are (arguably more) fun, I drive a desk for 40hours a week so need every advantage I can get when it comes to endurance :)
    – mattnz
    Apr 6, 2017 at 4:44
  • 2
    Suppose I should also have mentioned dropper posts. With the flick of a lever you can change the seat height.
    – mattnz
    Apr 6, 2017 at 9:21

Yes going out over the top is a real problem.

You need to get your ass (weight) back as far as possible.

A lower seat allows you to get you ass back further.

Hitting the brakes will help to send you over the top. So on a steep down hill you have two choices. Both ass back as far as possible. Bomb it with no brakes or on the brakes all the way and do not let yourself build up any speed.

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