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When I try to ride out off the saddle on my MTB I can't ride more that few pedal strokes. It feels like my body weight is not centered (more on the front side). Does it mean that my bike is small for my size?

I am 174 cm tall. Bike has 45 cm seat stay tube.

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  • What do you mean "more than a few pedal strokes"? A n unlocked (front) suspension is quite tiring when going out off saddle on a MTB (a big part of your energy goes into moving the suspension). Is your suspension lockable and locked?
    – Rеnаud
    May 1, 2023 at 19:15
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    Think we need a little more info. It's completely normal that your weight goes forward to some degree when you're peddling out of the seat. How far forward are we talking, when/why are you getting up off the seat? And what is the problem caused by having your weight forward. Also need to look at bike geo as a whole, picking one measure without knowing the rest doesn't tell much, maybe at least make/model/year & size of your bike
    – Hursey
    May 1, 2023 at 21:06
  • As Hursey pointed out, more info is needed regarding your bike size. A seat stay tube is not enough info. Make/model/year & size are important, as well as stem length and bar length (if modified from stock). One brand's XL might fit like another's L. Luckily most bike brands post their geometry numbers.
    – shox
    May 2, 2023 at 20:25
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    What's even more use is a photo of you on the bike, taken from the side and showing your position seated, and another while out of saddle. This is easiest with an assistant to do the camera side.
    – Criggie
    May 2, 2023 at 23:35
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    You said it feels like your weight is too far forward, but what's the actual limitation to how long you can ride out of the saddle? Are you saying your weight feels so far forward that you're worried you're going to overbalance and go over the handlebars so you have to sit down quickly before that happens? Or are you saying you get tired very quickly riding out of the saddle, and you think a contributing factor is your weight being too far forward? If it's the tired option, what muscles exactly are getting tired? Quads? Back? Triceps? Something else?
    – SSilk
    May 3, 2023 at 10:14

3 Answers 3

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It's difficult to tell what you're asking about here, and what actually is the problem you're experiencing. But I'm going to go on a limb and say it's definitely not that the bike is too small. You know what bikes are really small? BMX bikes. You know what discipline pedals exclusively out of the saddle, with astonishing power, and certainly more than just a few pedal strokes?
Exactly.

Larger bikes do have advantages, in particular in giving a more stable platform. This pays off most on descends, but can also make climbs somewhat easier to control. On the flip side you have reduced agility. I personally prefer bikes that are, on paper, a bit “too small” for me, because they're just more interactive, fun to ride.

One thing that's quite easy to experiment with and can have a substantial influence is the stem. Modern MTBs tend to have very short stems, often combined with riser bars. That's good for downhill, but not so good for climbing. A long stem will at first actually move your body weight even more to the front, but in practice the effect is rather that it allows you to keep your arms in a nice, relatively extended position without risking to topple over in a wheelie. This in turn gives better control and firmer grip which enables putting more power down on the pedals.

Apropos pedals, clipping in is of course another simple thing that helps with pedalling, especially out of the saddle. Though flat pedals are definitely ok as well.
Also handy but certainly not needed: a dropper post to get the saddle out of the way when dancing the bike up a technical climb.

As is often the case, a bigger change could probably be made on the side of the rider, rather than the bike.

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I have this problem with two different bikes actually. One of them is 26" MTB and the other is 27.5" MTB XC bike. They have both medium sized frames and should be fit for my size. Actually I figured out the problem myself. The problem is most probably due to my right foot which can't move in full range after a motorbike accident I had in the past. I hadn't been riding too much after the accident so I didn't realize the problem until now. I lost maybe 5 degrees on both flexion and extension on my right ankle. That's why I can't pedal off the saddle. Thanks for your help.

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  • If you feel this is a complete answer to your specific question, you can accept it as such. But your answer contains additional info that should ideally be in your original question. To make your question and answer potentially more useful to others with the same issue, moving this detail about your previous injury, how it affected ankle mobility, and how that manifests as problematic when riding out of the saddle (right ankle gets sore? right calf gets tired or burns out quickly? something else?) would be helpful. Thanks.
    – SSilk
    May 3, 2023 at 10:19
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My wife cannot pedal out of saddle as well, describes the same thing as you, "going too much forward", she is afraid of losing control of the bike.

She has no injury history, but her core and upper body strength is very low. She cannot hold a side plank for more than 5 seconds, cannot do a single pull up, and can only do 10 pushups but a modified version with her knees on the ground and hands up on a chair.

I am afraid that even if she built up the strength off the bike, she would not have the coordination on the bike to put it all together.

Do you know how to skate? Skating may help build more core strength, coordination, and confidence with shifting your weight left and right. While doing push ups and pull ups can help to gain the strength required to push and pull on the handlebars in order to counteract your body weight shifting from one side to the other on the bike.

Also don't be afraid to let the bike lean from side to side. My wife keeps it perfectly straight, afraid of losing control, but if you've seen somebody sprint out of saddle you notice the bike leans to almost 45 degrees from side to side. That's how you keep the entire system balanced. It requires coordination.

I see 4 year old kids doing it without even trying, while some people, like my wife, simply cannot.

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    +1, cuz you're wife is gonna DV you to oblivion with about 10 sockpuppets if she sees that. :-D Jun 17, 2023 at 15:55

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