# Pendulum motion when riding out of the saddle

When riding out of the saddle, you will often have to rock the bike laterally for stability.

My question is: how do most people synchronise this pendulum motion with their pedal stroke?

In which direction and when should the lean be in relation to the moment you push down on one pedal?

Personally, on each stroke I lean the bike on the side of the foot pushing down, but this GCN video seems to demonstrate the opposite: leaning the bike on the side of the foot not pushing down.

EDIT:

More specifically, what I do is I am leaning the away from the 'push down' side just before I push down. At the instant I do push down, the bike inevitably leans towards the push down side, reaching maximum lean when the foot pushing down reaches the bottom of the stroke (which is when the other foot starts the next stroke).

• Are you sure things happen as you describe them? Maybe it is just your feelings of how the bicycle is leaning, while the reality is different. If you had a video recording of you from a side, it would be a faithful way to prove to yourself and everyone else that it was possible to lean the way you describe it. It is very possible for your feelings when on a bike to fool you. E.g., many people felt that on skinnier tires they were "faster", while measurements showed that on wider tires they were at least as fast. Jun 27, 2020 at 21:36
• I'd suggest you watch some people riding and observe what they do. GCN's a good source for that if you don't see a lot of riders out on your local roads.
– Criggie
Jun 27, 2020 at 22:40
• @GrigoryRechistov Indeed, I would say it's probably more of a feeling of how the bicycle is leaning as opposed to how you yourself are trying to keep the bicycle upright – I clarified this in the comments under MaplePanda's answer and I'll edit my question to include this. Jun 27, 2020 at 22:55
• – ojs
Jun 28, 2020 at 12:32

You lean the bike in the direction of the leg pushing down? That's quite unusual.

When you sprint, you're effectively throwing all your weight on one leg, then the other. If you were to just stand on one pedal with the bike vertical, you'd flip over the bike from the one-sided force. To counteract this asymmetry, most people lean the bike opposite to the downwards leg.

This also gives you an effectively longer crank for more leverage, as the leaned-up side will have the pedal higher than normal max, while the leaned-down side will have the pedal bottoming out at lower than normal minimum height.

• I feel as if trying to lean towards the opposite side of the leg pushing down feels less natural, as if you are trying to fight against the tilting of the bike caused by the moment applied the pedal. After having seen more videos of road cyclists sprinting, the phase difference between the pendulum and pedalling motions may not be as simple as one completely 'in sync' or 'out of sync' with the other. I'll have to investigate this the next time I'm on the bike, but I definitely agree with your comment about leverage... Jun 27, 2020 at 18:52
• @ThymeTravel That's precisely what you're trying to achieve. You're cheating yourself out of a lot of sprint power by leaning the bike in the wrong direction. As to the how, I use my arms and body weight to swing the bike side to side. Jun 27, 2020 at 18:55
• Regarding my comments about synchronisation: perhaps, more specifically, what I do is I am leaning the away from the 'push down' side just before I push down. At the instant I do push down, the bike inevitably leans towards the push down side, reaching maximum lean when the foot pushing down reaches the bottom of the stroke (which is when the other foot starts the next stroke). So maybe I haven't been doing it wrong the whole time, it's just a case of me leaning one way and the bike leaning the other way (not necessarily in sync)? Jun 27, 2020 at 19:15
• @ThymeTravel Oh yea, that's more normal-sounding. Jun 27, 2020 at 19:58

The point is not to lean the bike to either direction when riding out of the saddle. It is merely a consequence of pushing on the pedal that's on the down stroke, which causes a torque at the bottom bracket, and not compensating this enough by either pushing on the other pedal and opposite side of the bar (low power) or pulling on the bar on the same side (high power).

Excessive pendulum motion while out of the saddle is usually considered bad form. It may be a danger to other riders and reduces peak transmitted power. It effectively reduces the crank arm length.

• Thanks. I found it confusing that many technique videos/webpages tell you to lean one way, when the more obvious effect is the bike leaning the opposite way they tell you to lean. Likely the best form is to stay neutral and centred above the bike and apply upward/downward pressure on the handlebars as appropriate. Could you clarify the two cases of 'high power' and 'low power' that you mention? Jun 28, 2020 at 8:47
• When you ride at very low power the leg on the upstroke still rests on the opposite pedal and rights the bike. There's a transition from standing on the bike costing, with both feet on pedals to all-out effort where the opposite leg may also pull and you have to right the bike entirely from the bars. Jun 28, 2020 at 10:05
• It sounds like you might mean force, not momentum.
– ojs
Jun 28, 2020 at 14:02
• Thanks ojs, corrected. The torque vector is perpendicular to crank spindle and the vector from the BB centre to rider's CoM. Jun 28, 2020 at 18:09