Foot angle on flat pedals

After breaking his ankle, our compadre John asked about keeping his feet on the pedals while he jumps. Now he’s asking about the angle of his feet on the pedals.

Another good question.

Hey Lee thanks so much for your answer to Foot came off pedal during jump = not good. I’m busy training in the gym and visualizing a safe and productive recovery from this ankle injury. Can’t wait to get back on the trails! Funny, this injury seems like a good opportunity to stop and take stock of my riding skills. Upon reflection I realized I had developed some bad riding habits that I chose to ignore. Looking forward to slowing down and really ironing out my weak spots.

Another quick question for you. In the post about keeping your feet on the pedals while dropping, the reader mentioned that when dropping, he keeps his front pedal pointed up around 2 o’clock, and the back pedal pointed down. I’ve never heard of this before and I can’t find it in your book. I always ride with my pedals flat. Can you comment? Is pointing the pedals up and down like this the way to go?

Thanks dude!


Hey John,

Many riders come back from injury better than ever. You’re right: This is a good time to re-set. Learn things. Rock new kung fu.

OK, foot angle:

I used to apply and teach what you’re talking about. By pointing the front foot up and the rear foot down, you kind of wedge yourself between the pedals. This theoretically helps you stay on the pedals. The issue: Mountain biking is dynamic. No single position is ideal for more than an instant.

These days I focus on driving the net force — gravity, braking, impact, whatever — directly into the pedal spindle. (Remember, it’s all about heavy feet and light hands.) That’s working way better.

Early this week. I’m extending forward and pushing back on the pedals.

Hard braking in 2008. Because the net force is going forward, I’ve rolled my feet (and body) behind the pedal spindles.

Giant pro BMX freestyle rider poised over this pedals, ready to push into the backside.

Casing a huge jump. Chris Powell extends his entire body, including his ankles, before impact. This gives him max body suspension. He extends both ankles the same amount.

When you’re watching DH videos, pay special attention to riders on flat pedals. Great riding is all about footwork.

— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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