The mysterious wandering front wheel

Hi Lee,

Hope you’re doing well. I’ve been mountain biking quite a bit and I have a question. When I’m riding slowly up a hill, I have trouble keeping the front wheel from wandering back and forth. The hills aren’t that steep and the wheel doesn’t feel light. Leaning forward to get more weight on the wheel doesn’t seem to help. It just seems that I have trouble holding a straight line at low speed without losing my balance. I’ve been doing standing track stands and have gotten pretty good, but other riders seem to be able to keep their front wheel straight better than me while riding seated and slowly. Of course, having the front wheel wander back and forth wastes energy and also makes it more difficult to hold a good path between the rocks. Any suggestions?

Chuck (a Jedi Knight clinic graduate)

Demonstrating non-violent fore-aft balance in a NorCal high school coach training session.

Hey Chuck!

Thanks for writing. I’m stoked you’re mountain biking a lot. That makes one of us. (I’m getting way too comfortable on the midnight trainer program. Well, my prostate isn’t so comfortable.)

Oops, too much info.

it sounds like you’re too violent with the upper body. Some combination of tension and excessive pulling/pushing.

1) Get comfortable on the saddle.

2) Make sure your hip and spine are aligned. Arching or bending the back creates tension, which leads to violence.

3) Keep your hands — and entire upper body — light and neutral.

4) If it’s steep you’ll have to pull yourself forward to stay somewhat balanced over the pedals. This will create tension in your pulling muscles. Don’t let tension take over. Be active but relaxed, engaged but not stiff. Make sense?

5) If it’s so steep you find yourself pulling very hard to stay on the pedals, go ahead and stand up and align yourself above the bottom bracket. Remember: Light hands, heavy feet.

The new version of Mastering Mountain Bike Skills gets into this stuff, as do my current skills clinics. It’s awesome how some basic technique can improve your climbing.


— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

Join the leelikesbikes mailing list:

7 replies

Comments are closed.