After demo’ing a number of bikes over the past year or so it’s clear that you get a different feel on different bikes. On some bikes I get a sense of riding “on” the bike and for others it’s more like riding “in” the bike. I realize that things like bike size, geometry, and seatpost height have significant influence here but I’m curious how other riders perceive their position relative to the bike, i.e. “on” or “in” for AM, trail and XC. I’ve asked several people and the answers have been mixed.
Ideally I prefer to ride “in” a bike. With a dropper post, I’d say you should be able to do/feel both. With the post up, it’s like riding on the bike; with the post down, it feels more like riding in the bike. For climbing I want to feel like I’m on the bike, and for descending I want to be in it.
What Jeff is saying makes a lot of sense. Every once in a while I will do some thing and get a very uneasy feeling that I am very much “on” my bike. Usually when I make a mistake.
For example, first time coming down a chute-y fall line and I knew there was a little drop at the bottom. I decide that I can go straight over it and not to the left. But what I don’t realize is it is more like wheel height. I was thinking 8 inches. When my front wheel touches down, the seat comes right back up and starts bucking me. Fortunately, I didn’t pull the front brake and was able to ride it out but I was just at the edge. I had no intention of being “on” my bike at that moment. I had been standing but I didn’t get far enough back so when my seat came up I was sitting again. I felt like I was 10 feet in the air.
With my current bike, I feel more “in” it than “on” it. It’s newer trail geometry… longer cockpit, lower center… certainly promotes that “in ” feel. I do prefer it over an “on”, or more XC position. More stable, more confidence.
Ditto on the dropper post comment. I rode a long trail tonight and when I hit the more technical climbs, I dropped the post and was “in” the bike, rather than “on”. I made that mistake once (being on going up) and about fell backwards. Um, duh on my part.
Once I hit the flats areas I hit the pedals hard, raised the post and blasted down the trail on the bike. So, it depends on the terrain and comfort level, but I do both. I’m probably in the bike 65% versus on at 35%. That’s a rough guess.
Bought my bike 11 months ago, moved from a rigid 26″ that didn’t fit right to a hard tail 29″ that fits quite nicely.
So far, for the majority of my riding, I feel like I’m ‘in’ the bike. But when I need to make a tight turn, I definitely feel like I’m ‘on’ the bike. I feel wobbly. I can balance at a complete stand still on a steep downhill with brakes locked and feel completely comfortable, but the tight turns still get me.
Appreciate the insights and opinion of others. Like most of you, I have a dropper post and ride “on” the bike for climbs and “in” for descents. But what’s your feel for general trail riding? What if you didn’t have a dropper post? Recently I busted my remote during an XC race and had to quickly set the saddle height to a fixed position. The inability to raise and lower the saddle was dramatic and I felt like I just couldn’t – nor did I have the time to – find a sweet spot.
For me, it depends on the bike for sure. The more XC the bike is, the more I feel I’m “on” the bike while on Enduro type bikes, I feel I’m “in” the bike which is what I prefer because it’s more similar to riding a dirt bike. I have (3) bikes that I bounce around from and I can absolutely tell a difference as soon as I get on. It actually feels a little weird at first if I’ve been riding my Tracer for a month and then hop on my Primer or vice versa. It goes away after 5-10 minutes max.
That’s a big difference, having your remote break and then having to set you saddle at one height for the entire race. You’re going to have to experiment and find what feels best for you, just in case this happens again. Bike, trail and so forth all would have to be taken into account. .
For me, I would set the height just below my middle range, that way I would have a larger range of motion for a trail ride. I could still drop back behind the saddle and get low for descents or then easily stand and crank for hard sections. If the saddle is too high, there would be sections of the trail that I wouldn’t be comfortable with. I have better control and balance, both sideways and forward/rearward by being in the bike so I would go that way.
I think a balance is where you want to be. “On” is like a bmx or dirt jumper for me, “In” means the bike is too big. I like being able to have that low COG feeling but also be able to ditch the bike easily when in the air or tumbling down a cliff.