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When to Squeeze

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So here is a question that I probably should've figured out on my own by now but I still struggle with occasionally. I have trouble deciding when i should really be squeezing the bike with my knees/ankles and when I should relax a bit. This is while standing, of course. When the trail gets rough and bumpy, I squeeze pretty tightly to keep the bike under me. I'll loosen my grip when it comes tome to weave the bike through tight sections. Is this right? I feel like maybe it'd be better in rough sections if i let let the bike dance a bit? And what about sharper turns that don't quite require sitting? I'm weighting the outside peg correctly, but I'd really like to improve cornering skills. Thanks guys.

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I tend to ride loose on everything , and just keep my ankles tight to the frame/cases to keep my feet on the pegs , but i keep my legs loose and only squeeze them for jumping something , it keeps you from getting wore out as fast as you would by holding on tight , as you then absorb everything the bike hits with your body , riding loose lets the bike take all the abuse not you ,staying loose keeps you relaxed which increases your stamina

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had the same question after shanne watts video saying hold the bike with the knees....i ended up holding bike with my knee in the ohh shit situation or heavy braking standing.....probaply lots of room for improvment as you get faster or more capable

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I generally squeeze everywhere, but as a rule of them, the gnarlier the section the tighter I squeeze. Keep the knees and hips loose to absorb everything, but just keep a firm inward pressure grip on the bike to keep it planted where you want it.

When I don't squeeze the bike with my knees, I actually get tired faster. I'll get arm pump much faster as all my upper body weight is being supported and balanced by my arms, instead of by my legs.

That's my opinion, I ride with a guy who is super fast and smooth in the gnarlies, I asked him what his trick is and he says to stay loose, not grip the bike and let it do it's own thing.... What The ???? If I do that I crash:foul:

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The rougher the terrain gets the more important it is to be "actively loose" if that makes sense. However, as things get rough, most of us experience the "Pucker Factor" and revert to survival mode so we get exactly what we were afraid of and that convinces us to hang on tighter next time.

If you ride with your feet out on the pegs so that the tip of the peg is in the middle of your sole on the boot, you will be able to let the bike tip side to side by about 5 degrees without even opening your legs more then they are. With the peg in the middle of your boot, you can tip the bike over and still keep your outside foot flat with the terrain and lift your inside foot a little so that it is not flat on the peg. If you squeeze the frame with your boots, the tipping of the peg will also tip your foot over with the bike and force you to lean into the turn with the bike.

With all of that upper body movement following with the bike, your balance correction is slow. If you can stay balanced over your intended ground track and let the bike adjust as needed, you can tip it side to side very quickly with just your feet and a little bar pressure.

Pretend that there is a ball on the tip of your foot pegs and that is where you want your boots centered when you stand and use a walking motion as you allow the bike to tip without tipping you. And take a break as you approach something that looks really difficult, walk through it and then review how you are going to stay loose but NOT limp. It's amazing what a difference it makes. If you approach something that looks difficult without taking the time to remember how to stay loose with confidence, things will get even more difficult as you tense up preparing for the crash. :busted:

Keep in mind that I'm talking about riding on trails or off-road. If you are riding competition as on a Moto-cross track, then there are other tricks that you should get from the Pros and add to what I have stated here. I understand that there are brief times to clamp the bike with boots or knees, but on the bikes I ride, that is never, but I'm not flying through terrain at 30 to 50 MPH either. If it's Enduro-cross you are riding, then it's more important to ride as explained above.

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I generally squeeze everywhere, but as a rule of them, the gnarlier the section the tighter I squeeze. Keep the knees and hips loose to absorb everything, but just keep a firm inward pressure grip on the bike to keep it planted where you want it.

When I don't squeeze the bike with my knees, I actually get tired faster. I'll get arm pump much faster as all my upper body weight is being supported and balanced by my arms, instead of by my legs.

That's my opinion, I ride with a guy who is super fast and smooth in the gnarlies, I asked him what his trick is and he says to stay loose, not grip the bike and let it do it's own thing.... What The ???? If I do that I crash:foul:

You must hold on to the handlebars !! , do NOT let go ,, that is one part of the bike you do not let go of !! that will solve your crashing issue:smirk:

Seriously , let your legs move around , and as your friend says , let the bike do what it wants under you , all you are doing is going along for the ride , you just need to point the bike in the direction you want to go , and let the bike do all the work , stay neutral on the bike(centered front to back) unless you are on a incline up or down , or going over a obstacle like a log or something , then lean forward or rearward as necessary , STANDING , is the key here , do NOT sit down , keep your knee's bent and your elbows out , you should look like a Sumo Wrestler while on the bike , you should have that aggressive stance (without the diaper and the weight problem and the stick in your hair) but remain relaxed and with your knees near the bike but not squeezed against it , keep the inside of your ankles tight to the bike to help hold your feet on the pegs

It is OK to dab your foot (to put it down just to balance you) but TRY to keep your feet on the pegs at all times , even when crossing logs and going thru rock gardens , it will keep your balance more and also allow you to use less energy to ride , momentum is your friend , it will keep you upright , as long as you are moving forward , you should be stable , it does not have to be fast , just constant momentum , let the bike dance around , think of it this way , your goal is to be relaxed , take a deep breath and just let it all out , you know how your whole body goes limp and you just feel relaxed , that is how you want to ride the bike in a sense , dont put a lot of thought into anything except focusing on where you want to go , choose your lines with the smoothest way to the next focal point , just focus on where you want to end up (dont look directly in front of you , it will screw you up and you will hit whatever you are staring at)

Once you learn how to relax and just go along for the ride letting the bike take the abuse , you will enjoy the ride more , and be surprised at what you can actually ride over or thru !

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You must hold on to the handlebars !! , do NOT let go ,, that is one part of the bike you do not let go of !! that will solve your crashing issue:smirk:

Seriously , let your legs move around , and as your friend says , let the bike do what it wants under you , all you are doing is going along for the ride , you just need to point the bike in the direction you want to go , and let the bike do all the work , stay neutral on the bike(centered front to back) unless you are on a incline up or down , or going over a obstacle like a log or something , then lean forward or rearward as necessary , STANDING , is the key here , do NOT sit down , keep your knee's bent and your elbows out , you should look like a Sumo Wrestler while on the bike , you should have that aggressive stance (without the diaper and the weight problem and the stick in your hair) but remain relaxed and with your knees near the bike but not squeezed against it , keep the inside of your ankles tight to the bike to help hold your feet on the pegs

It is OK to dab your foot (to put it down just to balance you) but TRY to keep your feet on the pegs at all times , even when crossing logs and going thru rock gardens , it will keep your balance more and also allow you to use less energy to ride , momentum is your friend , it will keep you upright , as long as you are moving forward , you should be stable , it does not have to be fast , just constant momentum , let the bike dance around , think of it this way , your goal is to be relaxed , take a deep breath and just let it all out , you know how your whole body goes limp and you just feel relaxed , that is how you want to ride the bike in a sense , dont put a lot of thought into anything except focusing on where you want to go , choose your lines with the smoothest way to the next focal point , just focus on where you want to end up (dont look directly in front of you , it will screw you up and you will hit whatever you are staring at)

Once you learn how to relax and just go along for the ride letting the bike take the abuse , you will enjoy the ride more , and be surprised at what you can actually ride over or thru !

Well, I typically try to avoid crashing:smirk:

I'm going to try not squeezing the bike on tommorow's ride to see how it works in the rocks in roots. I'm a little leary because in the rocks and roots line choice is important, I'm not sure I want the bike doing it's own thing down there. I want it to go where I tell it to go (but we do get into arguments every now and then)

My riding style right now is: I always stand up (unless it has been a really really long ride). Keep my body weight on the pegs and only put feet down for emergency balancing. I keep the bike loose underneath me, but I squeeze with my knees, so I keep my hips and knees loose so they can absorb bumps and what not, while holding the bike in line.

I will not be trying the technique of setting my feet out on the pegs a little, I religously keep my toes and feet in tight to the bike.... too many hidden stumps and logs to break toes and ankles on.

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I tried riding without squeezing today.... I gotta say, I'm not really a fan.

On the higher speed trails (3rd Gear-ish) I felt very prone to Flying W's and being bucked around. The slow crawling speed trails didn't seem to make much difference, but I normally don't squeeze that much anyways when going so slow.

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You need to take the bumps with your legs then. You can't just stand with your legs straight on rough ground, you need to absorb the shock. I do this when riding in 3rd / 4th pinned over whoops and bumps in the woods around my house. It's sort of like riding a horse.

Riding loose saved me from eating a little dirt just the other day. I was riding along as a medium low speed after it had rained. I saw a root stump thing and went to go pop over it. Well I had forgotten how slippery old wood gets when it is damp and as I went over it my bike leaned over at about a 30-45 degree angle "Oh shiiii" Well, since I wasn't rigid on the bike, my body stayed more or less vertical and on landing, I just rode it out no problem. "Everything went better than expected!..."

I have found that holding the seat with my legs does help a lot with long stand up wheelies though!

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I'm having most of the fun riding technical trails, nasty hills, in 2-4 gear, standing on the pegs, throwing the bike to the sides to lean and turn, and using my body to counter-lean the turns (staying upright and in control) and aid climbs and descends. So here I don't squeeze, the loose but active "body talk" gives a safe, fluid and sensationally fun ride - for me at least, though it does use more energy, so I do sit where there is no need to stand.

I squeeze when I want to keep the bike going straight ahead and there is a risk for the bike wanting to do otherwise - like high speed runs and sand.

See also this thread: http://www.thumpertalk.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-1011614.html

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I have been playing around with this the last several rides after recieving the same advice from 2-PLY. What I have found is that when I am riding at a relaxed pace through tight and technical trails (where I really couldn't go fast whether I wanted to or not, think climbing over downed trees and through rock gardens), the loose technique works well.

When the trails open up and I get into 3rd gear and up, I prefer to snug the bike with my ankles. Some of the faster trails where I ride have difficult hillclimbs with a long, smooth runup and in this case, I'll use my knees as well, same with the 3-4 foot jumps we find on some of the faster trails.

Basically it seems to me that the faster I go, the more I need to connect to the bike and muscle it. Slower and more technical = loose and relaxed.

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I have been playing around with this the last several rides after recieving the same advice from 2-PLY. What I have found is that when I am riding at a relaxed pace through tight and technical trails (where I really couldn't go fast whether I wanted to or not, think climbing over downed trees and through rock gardens), the loose technique works well.

When the trails open up and I get into 3rd gear and up, I prefer to snug the bike with my ankles. Some of the faster trails where I ride have difficult hillclimbs with a long, smooth runup and in this case, I'll use my knees as well, same with the 3-4 foot jumps we find on some of the faster trails.

Basically it seems to me that the faster I go, the more I need to connect to the bike and muscle it. Slower and more technical = loose and relaxed.

Remember what I said about the "Pucker Factor" ?? As things get a little hairy and brings on some concern, we almost instinctively want to hold on tighter.. But that is when we should be even more careful NOT to hang on tight..

By "Actively Loose" I mean focusing on staying over the drive point of your bike so that your upper body doesn't fall behind the bike nor falls into the bars. This also means weighting (jumping on or bearing down on the pegs or seat) for maximum traction when you hit the gas and unweighting when it's time to float over bumps, rocks or slimy roots..

If you are a better than average snow skier or snow boarder, this will make sense. Staying just loose and relaxed helps by itself, but when the going gets rough, you have to "dance" on the pegs.. :):banghead:

"Loose and relaxed" is just a starter exercise to help get you used to staying with the bike but detached from the bike. As you get more accustomed to staying with the bike but over the sweet spot so that the handle bars are not the only things keeping you attached at the slower speeds, you can work on doing it at speed.. Because of "Information Overload", I have to leave out some stuff.

As I've said before, once you get accustomed to NOT depending upon the bars to keep you attached, you can then start using them as tools as in applying bar pressure up and down as needed.. For example, when you need more traction on a hill climb, try pulling UP on the bars as you stay over the sweet spot instead of pulling BACK.. It's the same motion as rowing a boat or a racing shell with your feet pressed into something, in this case, it's the foot pegs. Of course, you can't hold this for long so you pump the bars in perfect timing with your throttle and feet input, off and on rapidly. :lol:

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2PLY, all agreed about how to use the bars.

Most confident building factor for me is staying upright even when the bike is leaned, either by intention or harsh terrain changes (for the latter it becomes second nature) - and this applies at speed also, excluding some situations like deep but level sand when squeezing does help to keep the bike going straight for me.

As I've experienced staying upright helps traction, balance, and keeps you in position for saving the situation. If you squeeze and follow the bike, saving would be much harder.

Any chance you could write in more detail about weighting/unweighting/pumping? I'm aware of the principles, and how it's used on MTBs, but I'm just experiencing with on the trails - many thanks.

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Remember what I said about the "Pucker Factor" ?? As things get a little hairy and brings on some concern, we almost instinctively want to hold on tighter.. But that is when we should be even more careful NOT to hang on tight..

By "Actively Loose" I mean focusing on staying over the drive point of your bike so that your upper body doesn't fall behind the bike nor falls into the bars. This also means weighting (jumping on or bearing down on the pegs or seat) for maximum traction when you hit the gas and unweighting when it's time to float over bumps, rocks or slimy roots..

If you are a better than average snow skier or snow boarder, this will make sense. Staying just loose and relaxed helps by itself, but when the going gets rough, you have to "dance" on the pegs.. :smirk::foul:

"Loose and relaxed" is just a starter exercise to help get you used to staying with the bike but detached from the bike. As you get more accustomed to staying with the bike but over the sweet spot so that the handle bars are not the only things keeping you attached at the slower speeds, you can work on doing it at speed.. Because of "Information Overload", I have to leave out some stuff.

As I've said before, once you get accustomed to NOT depending upon the bars to keep you attached, you can then start using them as tools as in applying bar pressure up and down as needed.. For example, when you need more traction on a hill climb, try pulling UP on the bars as you stay over the sweet spot instead of pulling BACK.. It's the same motion as rowing a boat or a racing shell with your feet pressed into something, in this case, it's the foot pegs. Of course, you can't hold this for long so you pump the bars in perfect timing with your throttle and feet input, off and on rapidly. :lol:

+1 :):thumbsup:Agreed. As you state (regarding skiing & boarding) these techniques can apply to many other activities as well. "dance" on the pegs captures perfectly the importance of rhythm.:banghead::worthy::cheers:

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....

Any chance you could write in more detail about weighting/unweighting/pumping? I'm aware of the principles, and how it's used on MTBs, but I'm just experiencing with on the trails - many thanks.

As the subject gets more advanced, writing about it becomes more difficult without some sort of visual example. The written word makes more sense after a little experience. For example, if you tell a child that a hot exhaust pipe will "Burn" him and he has never been "burned", how do you explain without at least a little example of that experience?

I'll come back later and see what I can do to explain.

As we get into more advanced concepts, the blur between the Trials Bike I ride and the Enduro / MX bike you might ride becomes more specific in different ways. To explain the traction tricks I use might not work exactly the same since I'm working with a 2Ply Radial Trials Tire at 4 PSI and speeds below 20 MPH where maybe you ride on a knobby at 12 PSI at speeds exceeding 20 MPH and use it for a different type of action

Though some of the principles still apply, once we leave the pure basics or discuss "Racing Techniques", there are differences per the bike you ride and where you ride it.

If it's about "Trials Competition" on Trials Bikes, I keep that pretty much in the Trials Forum.. I just sneak over here once in a while to help the pure beginner get a fair start in basic dirt riding with emphasis on non-spinning rear wheel traction. In other sports, particularly "Racing", the spinning rear wheel plays an important part, especially in MX racing. :)

However, I'm exceedingly happy that many of the readers here have benefited from these basics.. :lol:

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2PLY where is this sweet spot of which you speak??

I've been riding for 40 years and have always been a seat rider but have recently been trying to stand more, one major problem I have with standing is my right knee, I've had 2 surgeries on it and need to have it re-constructed so I don't have a lot of strenght or confidence in it when I stand but maybe I'm not standing correctly. :lol:

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You might have a problem then, depending on how you ride and what works with your knee.

I ride a lot on my trials bike and my YZ250F, so on the big bike I'm usually standing. When I go over fast rough stuff, especially uphill I'm crouched down pretty good. I try to use my legs as much as possible to take the bumps and keep my body and head stable. I usually have a pretty firm grip on the bars, but I try to keep my weight shifted as much as possible against any strong accelerations in any direction so I'm not clinging on for dear life with just my arms.

After a hard session of riding, my thighs and forearms will be burnt! I can imagine riding like this might be pretty hard on a bad knee, but as I always say I could be completely wrong with my riding style. I'm basically self taught with my only outside influence being from this site from guys like 2PLY. I've only been riding since the beginning of the year and they have taught me so much!

Over slower or smoother stuff, I'm usually more upright with my legs slightly bent, but the higher your body mass is the harder it will be to keep the bike from moving out from under it. That's where working the pegs comes in so your bike is pushing you through your feet, not pulling you through your arms!

Have you ever tried riding a trials bike? Even without the seat they are remarkably comfortable. The pegs are farther back that they would be on a regular size bike so in a way it almost feels bigger than my YZ when I'm standing up. they're a little slower than a MX bike although not as much as you might think once you get into 4th or 5th but they are so light and agile it feels just as fast when you're flying through the woods.

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2PLY where is this sweet spot of which you speak??

I've been riding for 40 years and have always been a seat rider but have recently been trying to stand more, one major problem I have with standing is my right knee, I've had 2 surgeries on it and need to have it re-constructed so I don't have a lot of strenght or confidence in it when I stand but maybe I'm not standing correctly. :lol:

I have also had 3 knee operations including a reconstruction for a completely torn ACL. My Doctor has instructed me to KEEP riding my Trials Bike because I have no seat and the bike's suspension cushions my joint impact while getting maximum muscle work-out without the extreme range of motion you get in things like deep-knee-bends and other full range exercises. My last operation was almost 30 years ago.

The "Sweet Spot" I'm referring to is the point where the foot pegs are exactly between you and the center of the Earth when the bike is still or when moving at a constant speed. As you change your speed and only during the time that it's increasing or decreasing, that "Center of the Earth" is modified so you'll need to adjust your stance slightly to the front edge of the pegs or the rear edge in exact relation to your changing speed.

This adjustment is done with the knees and ankles, NOT by leaning forward or rearward at the waist. And if you look at it carefully, sinking "forward" or stretching "rearward" with the knees really only happens as you change speeds. When changing directions as in going up and then down slopes, the knees should change position relative to the bike, but really, it's the bike that's changing attitude while you remain aligned with the trees in the background.

It's almost impossible to maintain this perfect position for long, but the more adept you are at staying over that point, the better your ride will be.

When watching people's videos, notice if their knees move forward or rearward relative to the bike's frame. People who have not learned this or are clamped to the bike will have their knees always at the same point on the bike and will try to adjust for changes in speed by leaning over at the waist. These people are using the handle bars to stay with the bike and / or are clamping their boots and knees to the bike frame with the loss of their lower body suspension.

Other things to look for in their videos are the elbows and knees in turns. Again, if the knees and elbows remain the same distance from the grips and foot pegs in a turn, then their head and upper body will be leaning in WITH the bike, you will notice that their head is close to being centered between the grips. Any slip of the bike to the outside of the turn will have the bike sliding away from them with no chance to recover without a healthy stab to the ground with a foot. In a steep slow turn, your head could be directly above the outside handle bar grip... Not centered between them.

If you allow the inside knee and elbow to extend while the outside elbow and knee bends to allow the bar and peg to rise, you can lean the bike into the turn while your upper body remains over the ground track. If the bike slips, it slips into you and a quick stab to the outside foot peg and the outside grip can catch or stop the slip with no need to stab the ground. You can make the correction and quickly get the bike back over to continue the turn without losing your upper body position or changing your speed.

Any time you have to stab the ground to catch your balance, you are likely to end up behind the bike playing catch up.

The more you can remain over that magic spot on the pegs, the more chance you'll have to use bar pressure and peg pressure to control your intended line. Plus, you'll be in the perfect position to jam the foot pegs for preload and rebound of the suspension similar to jumping on a pogo stick. And just like a pogo stick, if you are falling back as you try to jump, you'll find you can't do the jump and can't help the bike.. your hands will be too busy helping you catch up with the bike to be used for anything else.

BTW, I and several people I know USE a pogo stick for balance and jumping practice when not able to ride... My stick is made by Vurtego

http://www.vurtegopogo.com/

I bought it to help stay in shape for riding the bike, but quickly found I need to ride the bike to get in shape to use the pogo stick... it really kicks butt :banghead:

WHEW!! It's really a simple thing to demonstrate but trying to write a clear description can take pages and pages... And I haven't even started to explain how weighting and unweighting is used.. :)

Edited by 2PLY

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Ha, no kidding I've got one of those! Yeah, they really are a workout!

Actually, now that I think about it, a pogo stick is a really good analog for what you should be doing to keep your body moving with the bike. If you want to move forward, you need to lean forward and have the pogo push you through the pegs and your feet, if you want to stop from moving forward you need to lean back and "land" on the pegs with your feet. EXACTLY like on a bike. On the other hand if the foot of the pogo stick were to suddenly move forward without your body leaning to compensate, you would quickly find yourself on your butt! Same as gunning it on your bike, you'll probably fall back a little, pull on the bars to try and hold on, add more juice, and loop the bike...

It's all simple physics, you just need to know how to apply it and then have the coordination to actually do it. I need to work on the latter...

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