Which foot down?

Outside down, feet level or inside down? That, my friends, is the question.


I have a question in regards to weighting your inside vs. your outside foot. I’ve always been told that in fast downhill turns to weight your outside foot. And this is what I’ve been doing.

Steve Pete is definitely weighting his outside pedal in this sketchy off-camber corner. he’s also weighting his bars to keep his front end tracking.

I just recently started going to the bmx track. I’m up waiting for my next run and someone offers a word of advice… When going through the berms, my inside foot should be extended with my outside leg bent and knee resting against the bike. That way I don’t have to turn with my handlebars; the bike will turn itself.

Well, which is it? I’m so confused.

— Amy

Hi Amy.

Keep doing what you’re doing.

Weighting your outside foot generates maximum cornering kung fu — bike lean, cornering force and traction. This is very useful in flat and off camber turns, or any time traction is an issue. Check out the above photo of Peaty.

Nice berm + paving stones = plenty of traction and evenly weighted pedals. Curtis Keene and Chris Herndon.

In berms, traction isn’t such an issue. You can weight your pedals evenly or — even better — keep pedaling. I can’t think of any reason to stand on your inside pedal, and I can’t find a photo of a good rider doing that. Whenever traction isn’t an issue you can keep your feet level, which speeds your bike’s side-to-side transitions. Perfect example: A really swoopy, bermed singletrack.

As a matter of fact, when your lean angle exceeds the angle of the berm, you have to treat it like a flat turn, which means outside foot down and bike leaned hard.

From Mastering Mountain Bike Skills. Click for big.

True: If you stand on your inside pedal your bike will tend to lean into the turn. But there are other ways to achieve that lean: 1. Simply pushing your inside bar into the turn. 2. Countersteering.

Fast Jon Watt carries his outside pedal low — but not all the way down.

About weighting your pedals evenly: This doesn’t necessarily mean keeping them level. I’ve seen good riders hold their inside foot higher to allow more bike lean, and I’ve seen some keep their outside feet higher so they can start pedaling sooner. Don’t sweat this. Relax and do what feels right.