02-27-08 - 3

Some notes on bike balancing :

I wrote before about how the crucial thing is to hold the brakes and keep tension in the pedals so that you can transfer power through your legs to balance the bike. (search the archive for this). Some other little notes :

You don't want to come in too hot. Do most of your stopping before you try to go into a balance and get yourself really slow, then prep for the balance, then do it. Coming in hot to a full stop balance is a very advanced skill.

The balance is much easier if your two feet are level with each other. Once you're slowed down and getting ready to balance, get your feet in this ready position. There will be some slack in your freewheel when you come to a stop, so to compensate prepare your front foot slightly higher, then as you pull the brakes to go into the balance push forward with your front foot to take up the slack and get your feet into the level position.

It's important that your whole body is tensed but not stiff. You need to be supple, sprung, coiled with muscle but still loose. You are connected to the bike at your hands and your feet, so the energy is transfering through your entire chain, so you want elbows bent, knees bent, abs and back tight, shoulders slightly forward.

You obviously should be standing up to balance (standing and getting your body loose and flexed is part of the "ready position"), but you don't want to go too far forward. You don't want all your weight to go over the front wheel. For one thing you need weight in your legs because that's where your power is to control the balance, but also you need the front wheel to still be easy to maneuver. You may want to do some slight twitching of the front wheel, and that only works if your weight is centered back a bit.

Don't steer too much. You want to stay active and loose with the steerer, don't try to keep the front wheel perfectly straight, but at the same time, don't try to steer to balance. The balance is best acheived through lots of little movement, shifting your hips slightly, leaning your head, and steering ever so slightly. A good correction involves all these things, and not one big movement with any one of them.

Addendum : it helps a lot to look down when you balance. I like to focus on the spot where the front wheel touches the pavement.

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