Tackling ledges can be tricky, so follow these tips to make sure you get it right every time
Words: Jared Rando Photos: Nick Waygood
Steep rock ledges are a surprisingly common feature on trails around the country. Often, you’ll find them positioned as an “A Line” option on easier trails and also as a technical feature on more advanced trails. Getting up and over ledges is something which takes a while to master as it involves a combination of momentum, body positioning and power all to be applied at just the right time. It’s also something that modern, slack, long and low trail bikes don’t do particularly well so technique is even more important on the bigger bikes. Here are some tips to help get you through with an emphasis on what you’ll need to do on bigger bikes.
Step 1: Pick your line, your gear and carry your speed
As you approach the ledge, take note of the smoothest line and the speed you’ll need to carry up and over the ledge. I prefer to use a larger gear as the extra resistance gives you something to balance with and the torque of a larger gear also helps with keeping traction. Look for a smooth transition and avoid any bumps which will kill your momentum.
Step 2: Get the front wheel up and over
Coming on to the ledge, you want to keep your weight back and allow your front wheel to almost “float” over the beginning of the ledge. Hitting hard will kill momentum and throw your balance off. Aim for a smooth transition on to the ledge and pull up on the bars to assist your front wheel getting up and over.
Step 3: Bring your weight forward and ease on the power
One of the most critical parts is just as your rear wheel hits the ledge. You need to avoid having your rear wheel slam into the ledge and at the same time shift your weight forward so you don’t loop out. Keeping your weight as low as possible is also really important to maintain traction. Once your wheel hits the ledge begin to ease on the power to gauge whether or not your wheel is going to spin or not. Once you get a feel you can apply more power, however easing on the power is critical as your momentum dies down.
Step 4: Pedal and look ahead
As you begin to climb up the ledge, don’t forget to look ahead and pick your line. It’s critical to find the balance between weighting the front of your bike and also weighting the rear wheel so that it doesn’t spin out. This is where a bigger gear comes in handy as it allows you to shift your weight around a bit more easily, giving you a bit more resistance to push off if required. On steep ledges staying on the saddle isn’t an option as you’ll simply loop out so standing up and finding a balance is critical.
Step 5: Pedal over the crest
Remember it’s not over until you are well over the top. It always seems to be the last little pinch which will catch you out so always aim for a spot up and over the crest as you climb over the top and remember to keep your weight forward right until the und. There’s nothing worse than looping out at the top!