Command Post vs. quads

Lee,
I got a Command Post this year and absolutely love how it changes the riding experience. Even here in Minnesota on primarily cross country trails I end up using it all the time.

I have noticed a couple of “issues” using it though. The first is pretty minor, more of an annoyance than anything else. With the post dropped all the way it throws off the angles between your arms, hands and brake levers. I only really notice it on longer downhills, but I would imagine out west that it may be something to take into consideration-maybe “split the difference” in your set up.

The other issue is a bit more of a problem. As a cross country rider with a thoroughly mediocre fitness level I have noticed my quads reacting poorly when pedaling with the seat lowered or if just “hovering” over the saddle when it is dropped. Yesterday while climbing out of the bottom of an extended downhill stretch my quads just locked up with cramps. I had to get off the bike for a few minutes. After that if I dropped the saddle I could feel my quads start to freak out again. Twice more in just a couple of miles I was off the bike trying to get my legs to uncramp so I could get back to the trailhead.

I am wondering if you have heard of, or even felt these effects yourself, and if you can suggest ways to mitigate the issue.

Thanks
Sean


Hey Sean,

What a great question.

Thoughts:

Angles

Adjust your levers so they’re at the perfect angle when you’re braking in your attack position. You should never do significant braking in the saddle.

For general riding, I set brake levers at about 45 degrees. For serious DH where I’m braking harder, lower and farther back, I set the levers closer to 30 degrees from horizontal.

The ability to pedal out of the saddle with fine balance and decent power is useful on all sorts of terrain — and all sorts of seat heights. Photo by Yosei Ikeda.

Quads

DUDE: The low position is not for pedaling. It’s for Riding (capital R).

No wonder your legs are bothering you. Fitness can be part of the issue issue, but here are the real fixes:

1
If you need to pedal, raise the seat to full height. That’s the purpose of a remote seatpost: You don’t have to compromise with your saddle height.

If there’s a lot of up/down, try the -30mm rally height. You can handle the bike pretty well yet pedal halfway decently.

2
Ultimately, you should strive to be balanced, efficient and powerful out of the saddle — no matter where your seat is. This is super helpful when you need a short burt of power. Remote posts are easy to adjust on the fly, but it’s even easier to leave the seat down and make your power out of the saddle.

For more info on standing balance and pedaling technique, check out Mastering Mountain Bike Skills and Teaching Mountain Bike Skills.

ALSO: The brand new Pump Up the Base ebook/training program has drills that will help your out-of-the-saddle form and overall pedaling fitness.

Keep in mind
The purpose of a low seat is to open up your cockpit and help you use greater range of motion. If you sit on the seat when it’s low, you lose most of the handling benefits of a low seat — and you tax your quads. But you know that.

I think the saddle could be mounted in the stem and many XC riders would find a way to sit on it.

Have fun out there. I love my Command Post too.

Lee


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6 replies
  1. Khai says:

    >> I think the saddle could be mounted in the stem and many XC riders would find a way to sit on it.

    That is really funny, and very true. I come primarily from a roadie background with about 10 years of triathlon and some XC thrown in. It’s shocking to me how much I want to stay seated, and am always having to remind myself to stand up and remain active. I can make pretty decent power seated but that certainly doesn’t help negotiating tight switchbacks, drops, and even clearing obstacles while climbing. I’m slowly learning that (R)iding takes a lot of dynamic movement, and you just can’t do that while seated and spinning comfortably (or uncomfortably). A dropper post is definitely next on my hit list…

    Reply
  2. Sean says:

    Just to clarify, I rarely, if ever, pedal with the seat dropped all the way. And if I do my butt isn’t on the saddle. The climb where my legs cramped up was with the seat fully extended, but I had been “crouching” in attack mode for the downhill run immediately prior to that.

    My attack position is different with the seat in different positions because I can get lower when the seat is down. This may have something to do with me being 6′ 4″ and having the seat set pretty high in its default position.

    Reply
  3. Rick says:

    I’m having the same quad cramping issues as Sean. I just got a dropper post this year, and while descending is more enjoyable, my quads often cramp as I start pedaling at the beginning of the climb back up. I’m not seated or pedaling while descending, but in bent attack position.

    I just figured that the dropped attack position is more taxing on the quads, and I need to build leg strength. The cramping is lessened when riding at a slower overall pace and on shorter rides. And I’m careful to stretch the quads while taking breaks, hydrate, and take plenty of electrolytes, all of which also help. But I feel I still need more quad strength to really deal with the problem.

    Plus, I’m old and semi-busted (knee surgery last year), and not the indestructible grom I used to be. Have to remind myself of that when the younger guys I ride with push me out of my comfort zone.

    But the dropper post is the best thing I’ve done to my bike.

    Reply
  4. BoxFitness says:

    Hi,

    It might also be due to low magnesium levels and/or insufficient hydration. The change of position (knee angle, distribution of weight and force, etc, etc) might just act as the final trigger for cramps.

    Regards,

    Toms G.

    Reply

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