Video: Peaty & Vergier Compare Old School vs New School Cornering

Sep 9, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  

bigquotesThere aint no school like the Old School.

Pappa Peaty takes his petit frere down the infamous Pleney main line to run through a few corner drills and to see how their techniques differ, considering there's almost 23 years between them you'd imagine there would be!

Loris may be faster these days, but can he Schralp? All this and more pressing questions are answered in this latest little film from The Syndicate crew!
The Syndicate



129 Comments

  • 111 1
 Steve touches on an important point that is not mentioned enough. That trails have become overbuilt, and for the younger riders that's what a trail is - berms. Older riders lived through a time in which downhill was much more of a battle with traction. For two reasons: trails were not as overbuilt, there weren't as many berms, and very importantly too, because tires were total shit compared to current offerings. I have recently joined both worlds by building a trail that's pretty much faster and slower off-cambers from bottom to top, and it's really cool riding it with really grippy tires, it's amazing how they deal with that. Now, my notion of what a trail should be seems to be at odds with what I see in many places. The shovel has become an instrument of riding. I think this should be discussed more, and it's nice to see that comment from Steve.
  • 21 2
 I had an interesting conversation with a trail builder about this recently. He basically said that they have to build berms, otherwise the trail has very little chance of withstanding the increased traffic these days. Raw single track just can't withstand the same amount of riders as more modern trails.
  • 50 4
 @tgrummon: nah. If you dont build berms, people dont ride it.
Old school raw singletrack has been around for many decades and seen hundreds of thousands of riders pass by with no issue.

Everyone wants speed, berms and backcountry. I mean flow trails these days.

Berms bring volume of traffic as that's what a paid trail builder is paid to deliver.

There is a builder who said their dream is to build a trail without berms or jumps, but they get paid to build berms and jumps.
  • 8 0
 Exactly. I want to see them both do this on a rutted out section with no support. That’s where Steve’s technique would have an advantage I think.
  • 12 0
 Agree @DavidGuerra Peaty and I are the same age (actually raced him twice BMX way back) and live thru the no traction era. What I find ironic is the suspension and tire technology has finally caught up to old school tracks with their lack of traction and not most (not all) have some many berms and less off camber. I recently rode DH at Silver Mountain in Idaho. They are a few REALLY off camber areas with one call "Mom Jeans". It was really cool to see how well I did there with a modern DH bike. My bikes and tires from the late 1990's wouldn't have fared so well.
  • 4 3
 @tgrummon: This is a good point. A lot of the older "raw" trails suffer from corners that are nearly un-rideable in the high summer because the dirt just can't hold onto the tires. After about a few dozen or so riders blow off the corner, the bench gets destroyed. Trail builders can either "overbuild" the corner by adding camber, or compromise by armoring the corner with log cribbing, or rock so that the edge doesn't get rounded off.

It all comes down to trail speed...how fast do you want riders to be going? In general, trails are getting faster...so we are seeing more berms. If everyone decides they want to go slow, then flat corners will be all the rage.
  • 7 0
 @betsie: You're probably right about flow trails bringing a higher demand and I'm sure that impacts a lot of what gets built.

But I do want to respond your characterization of old school single track having "no issue." It takes a lot of work to maintain trails. These trails have "no issue" only if there are builders out there doing a lot of work to keep them riding well. This builder's point was that modern trails take less work to maintain and last longer before they need repair.
  • 8 0
 @betsie: spot on. Flow trails bring the crowd. Most riders are to lazy to bother with single traiil.
  • 5 7
 If you need anything other than a rake to build a trail, then you're doing it wrong.
  • 3 4
 @Linc: Not really, but ok. How much trail center and/or or bike park maintenance experience do you have?
  • 16 1
 overbuilt dirt sidewalks is not mountain biking
  • 3 0
 You're 100% right and nowhere is this more prevalent than in my country. No berms and people think the trail is faulty.
  • 3 1
 @tgrummon: gonna have to disagree with your builder buddy. Built plenty of trails and never had to rebuild a flat corner, yet I have to reshape almost every berm almost every year. To the other points here, I like a mixed bag of turns. By the time I'm halfway down the Santa Cruz flow trail- which is one of the best if you're into it- I'm sick of berms and am wishing I hit braille one more time instead.
  • 49 0
 Peaty -- "I don't understand schralping". Then schralps hard...
  • 48 1
 dynamic duo. This was a joyous waste of time, the exact thing I was in search of.
  • 10 0
 It's never a waste of time as long as you're enjoying it Wink
  • 8 0
 "I like to think I corner by braking quite a bit, getting set up a little bit, then letting off the brakes around the turn... and hopefully carrying more speed out" - the guy who's been world champion and won 17 world cups.

Meanwhile, local kid at bike park - "I SHREDDED THAT CORNER SOOOO HARD BRO"
  • 39 11
 Ever notice how so many current top riders are 5’7” to 5’11” — that’s because their center of mass and polar moment of inertia is well-centered on current DH bikes. They don’t have to move much front-to-rear to achieve ideal dynamic wheel weighting because with 42”-43” bar height and the reach and wheelbase of their bikes, they stand fairly straight-up and their front-to-rear weight bias stays well centered at those 5’7” to 5’11” heights. Just look at motocross / supercross...nearly all of the top pros for 15-20 years have likewise been 5’7” to 5’11”.

I’m 6’3” and a former pro downhiller and it’s virtually impossible to ride with the same position and weighting technique as much shorter riders — my arm / torso / leg length are not the same proportion to bike dimensions as it is for someone 5’10” on a large frame. Tall riders like Peaty and Minnaar have different technique not just due to their old habits, but also due to physics.
  • 49 3
 Correlation isn't causation. You're more likely to find more males in that height range just because of curve of height distribution.

And a certain riding style certainly doesn't = someone being faster. You see tons of different techniques winning from mtb to f1.
  • 30 1
 Greg Minarr is 6’3”
  • 22 0
 Thank you. Like I’ve been saying, I suck ‘cause I’m 6’5”.
  • 2 0
 I'm sure that's true as to technique being different, but modern bikes are WAY better suited to tall riders than bikes in the past, right? Minaar sure seems to think so.
  • 7 1
 I think they don't get the message. Average height riders gained much more effectiveness with modern geometry than tall riders like you. Modern geometry made tall riders stay with the sport but it's averag e height riders who could gain more advantages of modern geo. That's why they dominate the sport.
  • 18 0
 @NorCalNomad: Naw, a top current bike designer / engineer and I have been evaluating the physics for years. Just look at the angles of their backs (5’8” vs 6’3” on say M and XL) — we’ve been digitizing height / posture as a sort of biomechanical model to understand wheel weighting and bike sizing for DH-oriented riding and also trail riding. Different heights require completely different body positions and thus very different technique. Same can be seen with the relative position of women in the 5’2” to 5’5” range (whose bars are frequently in a similar 41” to 42” height range). Physics is physics. Statistics is statistics. Where are the 6’+ motocross champions then?
  • 2 0
 @Hogfly: Yes, they’re better suited (for racing on current style tracks) because they allow for easier and more precise wheel weighting for very tall guys.
  • 3 1
 Amen! A fellow brethren! 6'3" as well.
  • 12 0
 @NorCalNomad: F1 isn’t a good comparison — they’re nearly all short to fit in a 1-size cockpit and their height doesn’t affect weight distribution more than 0.2%. Now someone with 36.5” arms like me vs someone with 30” arms will make a big difference in terms of body position on frames that only vary 1.5” longitudinally and 1.25” vertically.

From what we’ve analyzed, there’s an advantage relative to energy expenditure (neutral body position and dynamic movement) to achieve ideal wheel weighting in short vs very tall riders. And when energy isn’t expended achieving optimal weighting, it can be used for other purposes. Technique overcomes most of it, but there’s a very slight advantage (essentially in terms of caloric output) to being say 5’8” and sitting “in” the bike and having a very centered, upright position that can be precisely moved fore/aft with very little energy expenditure.
  • 2 0
 This is indisputable across the board in my experience. No way I’m looking at heavy hitters on bikes or boards for technique if they are under 6’.
  • 3 0
 @dwebb4554: Exactly regarding Minnar — case in point. Check out his body position and technique vs a short rider’s...
  • 1 0
 @fluider: Yup!
  • 3 1
 If you exclude Gwin from the results, I think the stats will show that the majority of race winners in the past ten years have been 6'0" and over.

I would love to see the numbers. Not enough to get them for myself from roots and rain, and type them in here, but if someone else were to do that I would definitely read it with interest.
  • 1 0
 @WRCDH: motocross is power to weight ratio, shorter riders have taller ones beat for the most part when it comes to that. Pastrana is an exception, he was great, but thin and certainly not as durable as the more compact guys...
  • 2 0
 @jaame: The discussion is really only about current generation bikes and the relative advantage shorter riders get from modern “fit.”
  • 3 1
 @dwebb4554: That makes him an exception. It doesn't disprove @WRCDH any more than Muggsy Bogues' career disproves the fact that basketball favors height.

I will now blame my suckiness entirely on my height, and not on my fear and lack of skill Wink
  • 2 1
 @Hogfly: Yeah,

Bikes have gotten longer, more room in between the wheels and lower. Bars are wider, stems are shorter.

5'8" with a wingspan of 6'2" and inseam of 3'6"

I'm all member, no torso.
  • 1 0
 @WRCDH: Hit submit to quick...Windham was over 6, multi time champ...certainly can be done, but strength to weight and power to weight favors short and compact....much like gymnastics
  • 5 0
 @RadBartTaylor: Yeah, Pastrana and I rode on the Fox team together (and I beat him in the Sea Otter dual slalom, haha). He’s a freak (technique, skill, fitness, and confidence), a true exception. The local motorcycle dealer manager laughed out loud when he saw me sitting on their 450-or-something motocross bike, as well as a Ducati 1299 Pignale R...the whole staff agreed I just didn’t fit. It’s a relative disadvantage that can be overcome with skill and technique, for the most part — it just takes exceptional skill and fitness.
  • 4 1
 Isn't there a chance that more average size males tend towards riding? If you're a male and interested in playing sports and over 6 foot there is a lot of demand for you in other traditional sports. If you are coordinated and committed enough and strong and over 6 foot tall you can probably play any sport on the planet. Guys who are 5'7" have a lot to work on when competing in those sports to compensate for reach etc... So I am posing that maybe it's just the average competitive mountain biker is smaller because the other kids are in to other competitive sports.

Just a thought.
  • 3 0
 @WRCDH: To get Minnaar in the same body position as say Bruni what would the geometry of the bike have to be like do you think?
At 6ft 2 and a long inside leg measurement I’ve always struggled with the feeling of being lent too far forward, with my hips being too high relative to my hands.
I’ve just got a 29er hardtail for trail riding and this is an improvement as the stack is taller without having to resort to high rise bars and lots of stem spacers.
  • 1 0
 @RadBartTaylor: Motocross bikes also generally favor smaller riders as the frames usually come in one average/smallish size — not as much variation as mountain bikes.
  • 2 0
 @WRCDH: I dont feel awkward on a enduro moto @ 6-4, just gotta run low bars and get them forward just a touch.
With any power sport it's all about acceleration, lighter guys just can do it better...
  • 1 0
 Would of thought being taller would help in terms of having more body suspension, but the draw back would be drag.
  • 3 0
 @DH1977: Oh man, it ends up being a 46” bar height or something once you account for center-of-mass : bar height relative position, and Bruni’s straighter legs and upright position (and Minnarr’s often hunkered position to get his center of mass lower relative to the bar height). I’d have to “scale” everything else, but unfortunately the trails don’t scale with the bike size — creating different bike/trail interactions and physics.
  • 1 0
 @bigburd: Yes, that did help more for many years (including due to more natural trails, like Steve mentioned), IMO, when bikes were “undersized” for almost all riders. It’s less of an advantage now.
  • 1 0
 I disagree with this assertion, but I am willing to have my mind changed. I was under the impression there are different sizes of bikes to get people of different heights to have the same riding experience. I always thought the best riders were the ones who combine natural talent and great genetics with a world class work ethic and amazing mental toughness. For me, I never considered height to be a thing. It could be, but I'm not convinced.
  • 1 0
 @RadBartTaylor: Yeah, same with karting. I would guess that like Minnaar and Pastrana, you’d want a taller and more-foreword bar to achieve better relative positioning between the height of handlebar and your body’s center of mass and the bike’s gemoetrical center and center of mass. At least that’s how tall pro MTBers (and some moto racers) generally do it.
  • 1 0
 @WRCDH: not entirely true, offset pegs, taller seats and offset bar clamps can get most reasonable guys 6-4 and below comfortable. They aim the bikes, particularly the euro ones, at average guys, 5-10ish, I'd say comparable to a Medium frame...easy to adjust from there to get it close to a XL mtb frame. My KTM and my XL mtb are close with both Reach and Stack...
  • 1 0
 @WRCDH: many taller mx guys run stock or lower bars, provides more reach, Pastrana mx bend bars are quite low...
  • 1 0
 @RadBartTaylor: It’s all about the relative positioning of bar / pegs / saddle and the resultant center of masses of the bike and rider — for a given use case (motocross racing sometimes requires more forward weight bias for acceleration traction). Still, taller riders prefer more space between pegs / saddle / bar, and compensate for the rest with body position. Pastrana (6’2”) and Tomac (5’9”) have the most unique positions in the game — Pastrana looks aggressive due to his hunkering and Tomac has a flat back when standing just like his dad, John, in MTB (with whom he learned to ride). Carmichael (5’6”) and Stewart (5’7”) sure sit “in” the bike — a lot like Laurie Greenland and Troy Brosnan in DH who are similar heights.
  • 2 0
 Yep - I'm mid-pack Sport/Cat 2 because I'm 6' 2"

Nothing I can do about it.
  • 3 0
 @jaame: Peaty and Minnaar Obviously over 6'. But look at the rest. Theres pretty strong evidence opposing what you're saying. Also, you cant just exclude Gwin because you want to. Data is data and it must be accounted for accordingly. You have Gee and Rat at over 6' but literally everyone else is under. These are only the riders I could come up with from memory mind you.

Also, worth mentioning, since Peaty and Rat retired Minnaar is the only rider over 6' to have won a WC or Worlds.

Gwin: 5'9"
Bruni: 5'11"
Vergier: 5'8"
Pierron: 5'10"
Hart: 5'8"
Brosnan: 5'6"
Atherton: 6'1"
Maes: 5'11" (included because hes clearly one of the best riders in a generation and a WC winner).
Hill: 5'9"
Stevie : 5'9"
Rat: 6'1"
Thirion: 5'9"
Bulldog: 5'7"
Brannagan: 5'10"
  • 2 0
 @Trudeez: Don’t forget Greenland at 5’7”. That and Atherton / Rat haven’t been up there that frequently since the “current” generation.
  • 1 0
 @Trudeez: Was trying to remember about Atherton’s silver at the world champs in 218 — yeah, he’s still up there when heathy!
  • 3 0
 @NorCalNomad: A much greater percentage of current top riders, on current gen bikes, are in the one standard deviation below average male height than in the one standard deviation above average male height. Likewise, the length of those shorter riders’ legs / arms / torsos relative to bike dimensions yields more favorable fore/after weight distribution and polar moment of intertia (more centered / more upright / lower-energy-expenditure body position)...resulting in more precise and refined dynamic weight distribution changes due to changes in body position...all at lower caloric output. Taller means your mass is distributed over a greater proportion of the bike’s length — thus increasing the polar moment of inertia, and requiring more overall body movement and movement control (and compensation) due to a flatter back, more-bent legs, hunkering to get the rider’s center of mass lower to the ground / closer to the bike’s center of mass and where the ground reaction forces are acting on the tires, and so forth. Just ping Minnaar, Peaty, or any other top tall rider and they’ll confirm everything I’ve said, throughout =P
  • 11 2
 @jaame: I’ll talk with some Pinkbike editors at some point — it would make a fascinating analytical article regarding height, bike geometry, riding position, weight distribution, physics, etc. We have some “trade secret” knowledge about these things that definitely wasn’t free or easy to obtain, and which is beneficial from an engineering / product / service economic perspective, so we’ll have to think about it...and likewise that could affect any trade secret / proprietary services we might offer like analysis, design, and setup. Maybe we could do a peer-reviewed article for a science journal that could be shared in a more accessible format on Pinkbike, with pictures and videos and graphics of examples. Since we have CAD, scales for car corner weighting (and bike front/rear wheel weighting at different inclines and positions), current bikes, and we ride with some current pros and a few past top-10-world riders, we’ve learned some fascinating stuff. I’m pretty sure that Greg Minnaar and my buddy and I would have some DEEPLY intriguing discussions...would love to work with Minnaar someday, in some capacity! Maybe I’ll ping Greg through some colleagues to further discuss things and maybe write a very interesting article (which if it isn’t validated and verified in terms of real-world experience by a pro, it’s generally not appreciated by the masses).

Likewise, I grew up going to high school and riding with CushCore founder / owner Adam Krefting. We’ve recently had the most interesting discussions about new tire-suspension type technologies, some of which could revolutionize traction and tire performance (creating maybe the 5th new generation of DH-MTB tire technology). Some of it relates to how forces from heavier and taller riders affect certain types of tires. I expect that within 5 years we’ll have weight-specific (and sometimes height-specific, due to the forces related to height, which Greg Minnaar discusses in the link above) rear ends / lateral flex characteristics, 27.5 & 29 rims and wheel builds, handlebars, and tires.
  • 1 0
 @NorCalNomad: Good point. Someone needs to do a z-score on rider's height versus the distribution for pro riders. That would test your null hypothesis: there is no difference between the height of pro riders and the respective population ( be it male, female, adult, age demographic, etc).
  • 1 0
 Idk i feel like what tall riders lose in low cog they gain in ability to leverage the bike in a corner, and naturally more limb suspension which a 5'10" rider just sent have
  • 1 0
 On point!!!
  • 3 0
 @gl1: Already analyzed it for 2019 myself — about 80% of top 5 in World Cups were within in the one standard deviation below the average North American and European male height (about 5’ 10-1/2”). Numerous are significantly shorter, in the 5’7” to 5’8” range (2.5” to 3.5” below average). Very very few were 2.5” to 3.5” taller than the average male height, and only about 20% were in the one standard deviation above average. Closer to 2/3 are below average height looking at top 10. Again, very very few are more than 3” taller than average, and many are 3” shorter than average.
  • 1 0
 @NorCalNomad: Already analyzed heights for 2019 myself (about a year ago) — about 80% of top 5 in World Cups were within in the one standard deviation below the average North American and European male height (about 5’ 10-1/2”). Numerous are significantly shorter, in the 5’7” to 5’8” range (2.5” to 3.5” below average). Very very few were 2.5” to 3.5” taller than the average male height, and only about 20% were in the one standard deviation above average. Closer to 2/3 are below average height looking at top 10. Again, very very few are more than 3” taller than average, and many are 3” shorter than average.
  • 4 0
 @WRCDH: this is some interesting-ass stuff right here. As someone who is 6'1" with a 36" inseam I got these long kermit-the-frog legs and I definitely struggle to understand where my body should be. Various coaches have told me to keep my legs long in corners but damn it looks weird to have my butt up in the air higher than my shoulders. I even ride an XL frame,since the headtube is longer than the L, even though the L is probably closer to my size. Keep on looking into this stuff, all us lanky MFers are interested AF
  • 3 0
 @gl1: That’s the weird thing about Pinkbike (and social media and general biases/assumptions online in general) — someone throws out a random assumption and it gets more attention and affirmation than the opposite...the truth...which is supported by widely available data. UCI’s website has all the results. I did calculations when traveling and those were my rough/rounded results I recall. I just looked at the results a few minutes ago and the numbers I mentioned are pretty much totally accurate. (It’ll take under 30 min to do it yourself online and in a spreadsheet). I included riders listed at 5’11” as average and included them in the standard deviation below average (average being about 5’ 10.5” for Canada / US / UK / Western & Central Europe where most top racers come from) — I included 5’11” riders considering that most people round up their height, especially “roster heights” which are usually +1” for most sports. I’m 6’3” but I’m taller than most people who claim they’re 6’4” (as I measure very accurately at home...my doctor usually measures me at 6’4”, but I’m not when measured properly).
  • 2 0
 @swenzowski: Haha, I hear ya! Many tall riders with very long arms can benefit from slightly longer stems, believe it or not — it results in better wheel weighting and front-to-rear weight bias (if the frame isn’t super long to match the tall height / long arms), a more similar F-to-R weight distribution to what much shorter riders achieve on this new generation of relatively long & roomy DH bikes. Greg Minnaar could probably go 15-20mm longer in the stem (and no, it doesn’t adversely affect “feel” and feedback like some people expect...that’s just a concern with fork trail). Front wheel weighting is super important, especially on long / slack DH bikes — just ask Greg Minnaar.

Tall guys have to squat lower to keep their center of mass lower relative to the handlebar (and dynamic “tip points”), also squatting lower to maintain a lower general bike/rider center of gravity while riding...which is often beneficial in terms of physics and how those forces act on the tires and interact with terrain, berms, etc. That squatting / hunkering uses a lot of energy relative to slightly less squaring / hunkering (often done by shorter riders or when taller riders utilize a less aggressive riding position). Especially if it’s someone tall and skinny with either lower fitness levels, or just less muscle mass / power / strength in the upper legs / glutes. There’s a fine balance between utilizing height to your advantage (using longer arms and legs as “suspension” and for dynamic movement), and using more energy to hunker down. Older natural DH tracks and “undersized” bikes might have given slightly more benefit to taller riders — as both short and tall riders had to move their body a lot to maintain proper wheel weighting / weight distribution on a short-reach 45” wheelbase bike. Likewise, older off-camber and rooty more natural tracks (like Peaty mentioned) might allow taller riders to use their height and arm/leg “suspension” to better maintain traction, whereas newer smoother and bermed “bike park” race tracks can benefit shorter riders — particuarly in high-G bermed corners where maintaining a low center of mass (of the rider’s body and the bike/rider’s combined forces on the tires) can really help when blasting corners/berms at high speed.
  • 1 0
 @WRCDH: With guys like Mike Day, Cianciarullo, Plessinger, Jordy Smith (surfing) and many others performing at elite levels, it seems strange to call their height a hindrance.
  • 4 0
 @swenzowski: Also, yeah, not sure about keeping legs long in corners! I’d HIGHLY recommend alternating feet in corners — right foot forward in right corners at about 1:30 position (looking from right side). Likewise left corners left foot forward (in 10:30 position looking from left side). All kinds of physics benefits, center-exit cranking & weight transfer benefits, and L/R symmetry in cornering forces (especially how you can apply a little force to the front/inside pedal to break the rear tire loose at will). The truth is, you want to be able to steer the rear end of the bike at any point in a corner...and this technique is the best way to do that. Very very few people have learned how to corner with either foot forward, particularly in a non-parallel / non-flat crank position...but having raced at the pro level and then learning this technique over 2-3 years (took 3 to be “faster” with it, but only 2 years to ride “better”), I’m convinced it’s by FAR the best method. No one can argue that the physics of always having one foot forward on both L & R corners (and with pedals flat) is better than alternating feet, and likewise being able to apply pressure/weight to the forward pedal — which acts on the rear wheel to adjust weight distribution and traction bias...and thus being able to rear-steer the bike easily both directions (just like in car racing with sway bars, traction bias tuning, and weight transfer). That one-foot-always-forward technique is only better if you’re faster with it — but people will be faster when foot-ambidextrous. Just takes 2-3+ years to master, but it makes riding more fun, faster, safer, and looks waaay better on video when getting loose and powering out of the corner (which creates desirable traction and physical responses when your first crank is from a forward / inside pedal).
  • 1 0
 @Eatsdirt: Wait, we’re talking downhill mountain biking (not other sports), and bikes in the 51-52” wheelbase size for riders in the 5’6” to 6’4” range. And fractions of a second at the very top end of the sport.
  • 1 0
 @Eatsdirt: Likely the same 80/20 ratio of below/above average height distribution in motocross top-5 as in DH top 5, as I discussed just above. There are exceptions, but 6’1” to 6’2” is about the tallest in motocross (those guys, Pastrana, Windham, all 6’2” or 6’1”). Both sports are disproportionally short — as there’s a small advantage for shorter riders vs taller riders (in certain ways) relative to nearly-homogenous bike sizing (wheelbase and certain dimensions) in both sports.
  • 3 0
 @GreaterShadow: Likely also certain socio-economic factors (including income, nutrition and its generational effect on height and physique, proximity to trails in more / less affluent areas, etc) that play into deciding to ride mountain bikes — probably much more so than height. It seems there is often less demand for tall-persons in sports in areas away from cities and closer to the mountains (bigger schools near or in cities will more actively recruit taller people for more competitive sports teams that benefit from tall or strong athletes), and so on. For a given area where mountain biking is popular, I’d say there is often significantly less demand for tall traditional-team-sports athletes (at least in our area and the outskirts of Seattle). I played basketball up until I got dunked on at 14 by a dude who later went to the NBA (then turned Pro in DH at 18 ). I was inclined to ride because we had dirt where we could make jumps in my neighborhood — unlike lots of kids in the city just 6-7 miles south.

And likewise, cycling is super popular with more affluent people (and engineers, many of whom are tall skinny white guys, haha)...and cycling frequently runs in families and close social groups (usually starting by loaning a bike to a friend or family member for a ride). Cycling and mountain biking can be so expensive (often prohibitively), with compounding and otherwise significant barriers to entry, that I see height as being less of a determining factor. I see proximity to trails and friends / family who ride as being more important.

BMX competition favored powerful riders, short and tall (as the height-dependent traction variables and traction requirements are different on a short-wheelbase rigid BMX bike on a relatively smooth track) so power / watts was a big factor in BMX racing in the 70’s / 80’s / 90’s. Power-to-weight ratio, not just watts, is likely a big factor in people enjoying and “succeeding” at mountain biking (including deciding to compete).

So I imagine the main “competition” for people taking up mountain biking are sports / activities like running, hiking, and rock climbing — when looking at power-to-weight ratio’s effects on enjoyment and success. From an action sports perspective, cars, off-roading/4x4, motorcycles, skiing / snowboarding, hiking, etc, all seem to cannibalize potential riding candidates. I’ve also seen how many women choose running, hiking, volleyball, winter sports, road biking, cyclocross, etc, due to the perceived “extremeness” and “danger” of mountain biking...which are really just perceptions based on certain assumptions (possibly including older brothers who broke limbs on a mountain bike, haha). Can’t tell you how many women have turned me down for trail riding, but will do any of those other sports with me, ha! I’ve gotten a few to go and they got hooked (including getting hooked to new boyfriends who ride and may or may not have given them a brand new bike to lure them away from me, LOL...well that and then being very wealthy and better looking than me).

I’ve also definitely noticed an aversion to the price of mountain bikes, the perceived elitism (including the geeky spandex perception, and the rich person “I make more money than you and I’m gonna flaunt it” perception at some trailheads), as well as the perceived “danger” (for good reason in certain cases). But hopefully MTB can become more inclusive and diverse socio-economically, address “safety” and “expense” concerns with potential new riders, and likewise better address very tall riders’ needs (many brands no longer offer bikes for 6’4”+ riders). And hopefully also include more city-based kids in MTB — particularly as many team sports won’t be happening for years, with Coronavirus (as vaccines likely won’t make things better). Just imagine if there was a “spec racing” category in high school MTB (and general MTB riding/racing), where racers compete on a Shimano Deore equipped trail bike in XC, dual slalom, and Enduro, and a similar-spec DH bike — both costing under $1000 each and made to industry-standard specs for tires, weight, suspension, performance, maintenance, sizing, wheel strength, etc...saving money through mass production and scaling. The “1K Class” could be a huge draw for new riders, also leveling the playing field during competition — especially if the bikes worked well, were durable, included some instruction and safety / peripheral equipment for cheap, and if they offered optional bike & medical insurance and bike financing.

Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble =P
  • 1 1
 All your French data are wrong by an inch or more
@Trudeez:
  • 2 0
 @Trudeez: mind changed at least in part, thanks for the education. When I typed that I was thinking that Maes, Bruni and Pierron were all 6'0". I said take Gwin out because he's an outlier in terms of number of wins and I think he would skew the results. He won approximately half of the races between 2010-2015.

The only thing I would add is that 5.10.5 is mentioned as average male height for Europe and North America... I think this would be higher for the under 40-s who are racing bikes. I certainly don't feel like I am above average height at 6'0". I describe that as average height. Again, the stats could prove me wrong.

I am still feeling it could just be a coincidence of riders at the top being of that height bracket. If you looked at stats from a different era, say 2000-2010, the results would be different maybe... But also as mentioned the geometry was different then. Interesting how tall guys were on top in the short bike era, and now we have moved into the long bike era (constantly being told that finally we have bikes that fit) shorter guys are on top.
  • 2 0
 @WRCDH: I have never considered the alternate leading foot technique. Very interesting.
  • 1 0
 @WRCDH: I really like your idea of spec racing to financially level the playing field. Car racing with everyone in same cars means you know it's it's the best driver who wins, not the best financed.
Though an issue would be bike fit. Human proportions as I'm sure you know vary, a lot. Some brands fit me very well, others do not. And bike fit as your fascinating research shows is really important. So the standard frame designs would need to accommodate that.
An interesting way to make cyclocross racing less elitist is Onebike Cross.
See more here... www.islabikes.co.uk/knowledge/cycling-advice/one-bike-cross
  • 2 0
 @WRCDH: you brought up moto, bmx seems very relative (Day actually raced DH), and all the disadvantages of height in other balance/action sports also come with relative advantages.
  • 1 0
 @WRCDH:
Or the opposite of that.
It took me a few years longer than 3 to get to a point where I can ride left or right foot forward.
I started doing it to balance out the asymmetry of open and closed hips, depending on which way I was turning. The logical choice leaned towards having hips open to the direction of the turn, finishing with pressure on a trailing foot closer to the rear axle and being able to exit with a downward crank on the outside that wouldn’t strike the ground if still leaned in.
In your technique or mine, neither of us get caught “wrong footed” if you’re not bothered by which is leading.
The downside to it is getting to like it and always seeking to switch the leading foot as you approach a corner. Sometimes the trail surface / position of shock / BB don’t want to cooperate and you clip a pedal. In cases like that, it would have been easier and faster to just keep them level or “clock” them like Steven does.
  • 1 0
 @Eatsdirt: Yes, good point! I was thinking they were all surfers or other sports — had to look them up to realize they were moto!
  • 4 0
 @RobbyRideGuide: Hang on a sec. Are you saying that there are two foot switching techniques - one that would have the outside foot forward, and one that would have the inside foot forward?

The plot thickens. I am much more confident going around left handers, right foot forward than I am going around right handers right foot forward. I am more confident going round left handers on my motorbike also. The body position just feels much more natural. It's not just me, this guy who used to be my boss years ago had an FZR400 and he told me about one time he went into a corner too fast after overtaking someone, and "anyway it was a right hander so I crashed." I have also read an interview with Mick Doohan who stated that his body position was always more comfortable through lefts, and that he actually felt like he used different technicques in lefts and rights - not just a mirror image of the other.

Anyway that's another story, but thanks for planting the seed of interest. I can't wait to try it out now.
  • 1 0
 @RobbyRideGuide: Yeah, inside foot rearward could allow for more consistent cornering either way (relative to alternating feet), but doesn’t allow for the 1:30/10:30 force application to steer the rear wheel at will when you have the inside foot forward. The first pedal stroke is never at the apex when the bike is most leaned-over, rather the first pedal stroke is always as the rear wheel is just past the apex...with the first pedal stroke being the inside foot powering downward from 10:30L/1:30R — while pulling up on the same side of the handlebar which causes the bike to stand more upright at corner exit. And having that pedal forward creates less of a chance of an accidental power wheelie (being inside and forward, transferring weight and power downward / inside & forward of the BB). If you’re doing an immediate full-power stroke out of a corner (broken 3 SRAM chains with this technique, haha), which I learned from DS national champ Bart McDaniel, the inside foot forward at 10:30L/1:30R yields the best traction, power transfer, and other corner-exit power-stroke benefits. Never gotten close to striking a pedal. And the intentional power wheelies can be quite fun.
  • 1 0
 @jaame:
It looks like there are.
I wouldn’t have thought about inside foot forward as the way to do it, but have found at least one example where it is.
In the case of that “Scandi-flick” turn, if I do the quick first part of the turn inside foot forward, it allowed more “space” to stand the bike up as you moved into the next turn you were setting up for, while you’d then have the outside foot forward for the second turn.
  • 1 0
 @WRCDH:
The pedaling out of a turn was one where you always had to have your timing right if you were inside pedal forward. If you were doing it right, you wouldn’t pedal strike, as you’d be standing the bike up as you were pushing the foot down.
With the outside foot forward, one of the best things about it was having the inside foot as close to the ground as possible, while at the same time vey close to the back axle. Pivoting the bike around that point seems very natural.
One of the things that took the longest to learn was actually weighting the inside foot... the tendency for the longest time was to weight the “dominant”, “stronger” foot regardless of whether it was forward or back.
  • 1 0
 @jaame: When I reactive my FB, I’ll send a link to the video of me doing it — lots of rear-steering! I do the R-foot-forward/R-corner (1:30 from the right/drive-side view), L-foot-forward/L-corner (10:30 from the left/non-drive-side view). As you put pressure on the forward foot, the rear end will square-up the corner, and then you can just continue that pedal pressure into a corner-exit pedal stroke / power-wheelie after squaring up — it’s like magic! I always close major distance on my buddies in corners doing that. And you can enter a corner too hot, then put pressure on the forward pedal to break the rear ended loose (to scrub speed and also square-up, while also taking a power-pedal-stroke on exit — and the pedal stroke the transfers weight back onto the rear wheel for acceleration traction). Rear steering like that is the best way to “save” a corner when going in too hot (if you can’t initiate a slide another way, which would be difficult in some cases)...as braking will cause a less-controlled slide. This pedal-pressure induced oversteer essentially changes the weight distribution and leverage on the rear wheel (less weight on the rear tire thus reducing relative traction compared to the front wheel, and the pedal pressure pushes the rear wheel outward due to the force vectors acting through the bike), all while that pressure puts more relative weight onto the front wheel to achieve better traction while the rear slides. It’s analogous to trail-braking in a race car, in a way, or oversteering/rear-steering in a car with a flick of the steering wheel and/or brakes (all of which create oversteer/rear-steer from the transient weight transfer which creates reduced traction in the rear wheels relative to the front wheels).

Just remember, it’ll feel very awkward at first. Took me 2 years to always ride “better” with it, 3 years to always ride faster. But I could tell very early on, doing it in right corners, that it worked very very well. Having each foot forward, in that slightly elevated 45-degree position, is key to being able to apply pressure to break the rear wheel free and rear-steer at will with just pedal pressure (if the pedals are flat, you can’t apply pressure that will transmit force through the bike, as the pressure will just cause the crank to rotate...the 45-degree angle causes the pressure to exert a force through the crank and frame down to the rear wheel, pushing the tire toward the outside of the corner, creating the slide through that force and the relative change in F & R wheel weighting bias and thus traction bias.
  • 1 0
 @Eatsdirt: That’s right! I remember seeing Mike Day at the Sea Otter DS I believe. Those BMX legends are amazing, so fast out of the gate, so much power — at the 2000 Whistler Joyride Bikercross (which was part of the Joyride event before they renamed it Crankworx in 2003 or 2004), I qualified #1 in pro while there with buddies, celebrating graduating high school, so that was fun, haha. My run times were faster than Wade Boots, but he’d snap me out of the gate — literally 40 feet out of the gate when I was 20 feet out (on my DH bike), only to catch him by the third corner. Ended up finishing 6th as I couldn’t pass very efficiently. Same thing with Andrew Shandro in the dual slalom (he was on his K2 Intense Tazer full suspension rig, I was on my M1). I beat him one run, he beat me another...he advanced by 0.2sec or something...but his power was INCREDIBLE (he was a Cat 1 road racers too)...closing the gap on the sprint to the line, significantly.

Same snap problem with PNW BMX legend, Darrell Young (“DY”). He’d snap me super hard and then gap me just a little bit in several corners, I’d gain on him in the fastest corners like the one pictured, then he’d gain a lot in the final sprint — those BMXers know how to pedal and can put down some SERIOUS horsepower. These pics are from the 98 Mt Hood Pro dual slalom (when I was 16 and stoked to be hanging with the local big guns including top-15 NORBA DH Pro, Jim Johnston)...qualified and finished second to DY. He and Bart McDaniel taught me how to pedal furiously at every chance...EVERY chance...which requires insane fitness as well. They’re truly inspiring!
www.pinkbike.com/photo/18793253/?s6
www.pinkbike.com/photo/18793221/?s4
  • 1 0
 @WRCDH: nice one!
  • 19 0
 I wonder if I am as slow as these other people look when riding the turns in the background?
  • 6 0
 i'm pretty confident that I am.
  • 2 0
 We all are. Big Grin
  • 17 0
 It was funny watching two of the most talented bike riders on the planet scratching their heads as they try to do an ugly/shitty/slow freeride turn for instagram.
  • 3 0
 100%. It would be no detriment to the human race if the term "schralp" entirely disappeared. Learn to corner instead.
  • 18 0
 Sweet holy hell Peaty can ride a bike. Still my all time hero.
  • 2 0
 I used to do race organising and trail building and there was a particularly tricky section on a national DH event I made involving a big boulder and a sharp turn.This caused folk to stumble and lose speed. I took Steve around course after race day because it's not far from where he lived - he was racing in Spain during my event. Steve had a quick look at that corner and then rode it as smoothly as anything. This clearly showed how very much better he was than other very capable riders. He used to use that DH as a practice section and the descent then became known as Peaty's DH Course.
  • 8 0
 These two are amazing on camera together. Such a study in contrast in so many ways.

Loris has to be one of the most unintentionally (or is it intentional.. I sometimes feel bad because I'm not sure if I'm just laughing just because of the way. he communicates in English) hilarious people to watch. When he speaks French, he probably sounds like a brilliant philosopher. I love that all the Frenchies make their stabs at English. Not really a cultural norm for them, I know. If it's any consolation, I make really bad attempts at speaking French when I go to France.
  • 10 0
 Steven’s turns are the kind you learn over years of not being able to trust your wheels and tires.
  • 7 0
 Only thing that would make a series of these guys riding together would be some Bryceland.... although Peaty seems super chilled with Loris... less of a big bro! Love them all!!
  • 7 0
 Pappa Peany when down the Pleney to fetch his dog a bone.
  • 2 0
 @betsie: went down.
8/10 must try harder.
  • 6 0
 Damn that feels good seeing Peaty goofing around with Loris. He's still an absolute machine too.
  • 4 0
 You can see how much Loris respects Peaty, his humility is pretty awesome (considering he's also the guy who just put 7 seconds into the field incl. Minnaar/Bruni at the last French Cup)
  • 1 0
 Premature ejaculation--that's my technique...but the new schooler uses less of the berm than the old schooler. Loris can cut through the apex--French line--more quickly because, all else being similar, his lower mass needs less grip. The heavier rider has to countersteer more to get the same grip, risking a cutty, or worse.
  • 1 0
 I’m 6”7,
And I’ve owned a 01 Kona stinky, 12’ trek slash, 14’ Norco Aurum, and now a 2019 YT Tues, size XXL. I have gotten use to each bike and thought it was the coolest. But I really like my Tues. I love the modern geo and longer bike. First DH bike that feels more like it fits. I really like riding all kinds of trails, and if a trail is challenging then I have something to work on. I don’t worry about height being a factor. And I ride with people of all heights who don't worry. Maybe because we’re not racing WC. But I do like racing local stuff and hope to do good.
My DH bike is a 27.5. A lot of people assume I have the 29er. But for the stuff I like to ride, the 29er isn’t my thing.

Love seeing the syndicate ride, tall or not as tall. Great riding!
  • 1 0
 While Peat is finding smooth lines that carries speed and Loris is trying to unseat his rear tire shralping berms, Sam Hill invites himself to the party, rides inside lines everywhere and wins the race without even touching the berms. Smile
  • 4 0
 That brought a smile to my face, after a hard day Smile
  • 4 0
 It is great to see Peaty getting along so well with a Frenchy.
  • 1 0
 Just don't talk about Algincourt...
  • 1 0
 @geephlow: Agincourt
  • 4 0
 This just needs cathro to do a side by side comparison
  • 1 0
 If a wealthy, 7 ft shredder had 50M to give Ohlins, Maxxis and his favourite wheel builder, he could sit on his custom bike just like Sam Hill does on all his stock sized gear. Scale up the trail and Sam might get dropped.
  • 5 1
 Love it great combo!
  • 5 0
 Me too! Drink and drugs is my all time favourite!
  • 5 0
 @murfio: Good choice... Have you tried driving at the same time?
  • 1 0
 @2:30 Vergier describes the old school method to the new school perfectly. Old school, more big arcing turn while the new school, hit berm hard and make a sharp abrupt turn.
  • 3 0
 Insight into in how to stand to when you have balls the size of peatys!
  • 3 0
 Loris gives me the smile, always Smile
  • 3 0
 the amount of complaining in pinkbike comment sections
  • 1 0
 Great, innit?!!!
  • 2 0
 Peaty's 29er looks like a 26er for him
  • 3 1
 Peaty getting bald, sorry, bold Wink
  • 3 1
 His hairline is receding as fast as his cornering!
  • 5 0
 your time will come
  • 5 0
 So good to see Steve with no hat. Its all genetics anyways. Nothing you can do about it. Why try to hide that he’s losing his hair? Good on ya Steve.
  • 5 0
 @rockin-itis: he is not losing his hair at all. His forehead is just getting bigger which is causing an optical illusion making his eyebrows also appear lower.
  • 2 0
 Shave it. Gta wear hat when sunny or u get sun spots or worse...fair skin
  • 2 0
 "Today on Top Gear, "old man impersonates a Frenchy!""
  • 3 0
 we need more
  • 1 0
 Peaty kinda looks like Eli Tomac to me.
  • 1 0
 How do they go that fast? Guess I'll never know...
  • 1 0
 Good stuff!

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