Random geometry questions

Hey Lee.
Do longer chainstays give more traction and shorter ones slide easier, or is it the other way around? What other things affect the rear wheel’s traction and sliding abilities? Also, does a steeper head angle give the front wheel more traction just because it puts the rider’s weight more over the front wheel, or would a slacker head angle sometimes give better traction?

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Hey Alex,

There are lots of other variables, not the least of which is skill, but here are the basics:

Stays. Shorter stays tend to give more rear traction. Your weight (if you’re standing, the bottom bracket; if you’re sitting the seat tube) is closer to the rear wheel. I am a huge fan of short stays; Brian Lopes likes ’em a bit longer. But I’m a better writer than Lopes, so …

Sliding. The main factor is your fore-aft weight bias. Put simply, lean back and your rear wheel will track, lean forward and your rear wheel will drift. Remember: The more weight’s on the back, the less is on the front.

Head angle. Typically a slacker bike sits your weight back, and that lightens the front end, so the front is more likely to drift. That’s easily manipulated with a little forward weight shift.

Summary. Get the bike you want. Practice a neutral, centered attack position. Learn to shift forward and backward to get the effect you want. Say BRAAAP!