MTB Techniques - The Attack Position

The Attack Position

Be prepared.


The Attack Position is the basic standing riding position upon which all other standing riding positions are derived and is the first riding technique an off road cyclist needs to learn. The attack position (below) is achieved by standing on the pedals whilst they are in a level position.



Riding in the seated position gives quite a stable riding position as the bike can’t move very much under you. This stability comes at the expense of manouverability, fine on smooth, wide and straight paths but not so good when the trail gets tight and twisty. Standing up lets you easily move about the bike for cornering and negotiating tough obsticles.


Use your arms.


Once stood up the stability produced by the saddle is reduced. Use your arms and hands on the handlebar to make up the diffference and to control the lean angle of the bike cornering. Move your hands left and right to lean the bike over.


Stay Loose.

Keep your knees and elbows bent but relaxed.  This allows them to absorb rougher parts of the trail for your body rather than transmitting all the shock to your body which will keep the tyres stuck to the ground and maintain traction.


Bring your elbows up and forward rather than allowing them to drop by your side as gives you a more manouverable riding position and greater stability over the handlebars.


Move forward and back.

By moving forward and backwards you are able to put different amounts of weight on the front and rear wheels.

Aim to support all your weight on the pedals just using the bars for stability. This will give a solid 60/40% rear/front weight distribution giving plenty of traction to both wheels whilst keeping your weight low on the bike. As the trail rises and falls, move your body forward and back to maintain this ratio keeping your weight safely between the front and rear wheels points of contact with the ground. Let your bodyweight get over either contact point and your going to loop off the back or go over the bars pretty quick..



Get used to riding in this new position on descents or any section of trail you feel you need more control of the bike. Keep using the seated position on climbs and longer flat sections. Use smoother sections to practice moving your weight slightly forward and back to see how it feels. Move your whole upper body together not just your hips or shoulders on their own.


When riding with your weight slightly towards the rear, the front wheel may feel a touch lighter and the suspension will extend a little. Whilst leaning forward slightly it will feel a little heavier and the fork will compress a bit more.


Knees Apart.


Adopt the cowboy stance (left) by keeping your knees apart.  This will allow you greater side to side movement on the bike which will allow better cornering and slow speed control of the bike.


Now try leaning them bike over a little between your legs whilst still riding in a straight line, notice how the bike wants to turn in the direction you lean it.



Practice these movements on a smooth, undemanding surface at first as we are just getting a feel of the position and it's effects on the bike at the moment.


Once you are comfortable with riding in the standing position and moving the bike around underneath you move on to adapting this riding position for use in differing situations in the rest of the Fundamentals section.





  • Get your pedals level.
  • Use your arms to keep the bike upright.
  • Stay relaxed, use your arms and legs as extra suspension.
  • Keep your knes apart to help with balance and cornering.
  • Lower your upper body towards the bars with your elbows out for better steering control.