By Mark Langton

Weight distribution plays a big part on how your bike handles, especially under braking. When you put your brakes on, your weight naturally gets pitched forward—this is because at speed, you and the bike are carrying momentum. But since the bike is lighter than you, and it has the brakes, it’s naturally going to slow down faster than your body—in other words, your body carries more inertia than the bike, so it takes more force to slow it down. The higher your upper body, the more the weight carries toward the front of the bike. This is what gives you that “pitching over the handlebar” feeling when you hit the brakes, especially on a steep downhill. To compensate, you need to move your upper body down toward the bike under braking. You also need to shift your lower body weight rearward so that your thighs are touching the outsides of the rear portion of the saddle. This not only helps you find the right position, but also puts your upper body’s weight in the middle of the bike, helping to keep it from pitching forward. When you bend your upper body, don’t forget to bend your elbows as well. If you put your brakes on and your arms are straight, you’re not going to be able to get your body low enough to compensate for your weight being pitched forward under braking. To learn more about this and other fundamental mountain bike techniques, come to CORBA’s FREE Introduction to Mountain Bike Skills class, held the first Saturday of every month at Malibu Creek State Park.  
For more information, go to and click on Skills Classes, and for more information on the instructor, Mark Langton, go to