How to Adjust Your Seat on the Move

Now this really is a mountain biking skill that can change your game and give you loads more fun.  You might think me crazy, but this is a long forgotten old school mountain biking technique for getting through the rough and steep stuff.

And you’ve probably never heard of it because so few mountain bikers do it these days.  A lost art you could say.  But that’s all about to change.

When you learn how to adjust your bike seat on the move you’ll have so much more capability as a mountain biker.  No stopping to adjust your seat to go down the rough stuff.  A quick adjust to your seat height on the move is all that’s needed to keep you rolling and blasting through the rough stuff.

Did you ever want to do this…

–   ride a gnarly downhill or rock-garden faster
go down the drop
–   bunny-hop the log instead of crashing over it

…but you didn’t want to stop and drop your seat to make it all happen?  You didn’t want to make your riding buddies wait?

So instead, you rode slowly and carefully down so your full height seat wouldn’t buck you off.  Where’s the fun in that?

Well, now you don’t have to stop.  And it doesn’t take a Crankbrothers Joplin or RockShox Reverb adjustable seatpost to do it.  Sure those posts might be good, but they come at a price and weight penalty.

Why not learn this skill for free?

If nothing else it will impress the heck out of your mates…

They won’t have to wait for you anymore.  No more dismounting your bike and walking down.  Just adjust your seat lower on the move and new possibilities will open up before you. It makes that much of a difference.

And it’s not just for the crazy free-ride mountain bikers.  I’ve been all-mountain and cross country for years and use this skill all the time, even in mountain bike races like Wildside MTB in Tasmania and the Mt Perry Gold Rush 6 Hour.

Adapting on the move

Think how cool that would be.  You’re flying along sweet singletrack.  Oooooo, there’s a drop up ahead.  But hey, I’ll just adjust my bike seat on the move and power down it without even stopping!

Very cool.

It’s easy to see why

This new mountain biking skill will change your game.  Dropping your seat on the move will give you more freedom to move over your bike and allow the bike to move more freely under you as you hit the tricky stuff.  You’ll…

  • flow better on downhills and rough stuff
  • have more clearance for bunny-hopping and jumping
  • be able to adjust your centre of gravity on those steep drops in an instant without snagging your crotch on the seat

Goodbye bucking bull.  No more feeling like your seat is going to shoot you off and put you over the handlebars. And no more avoiding what you really wish you could ride. So let’s get started…

What you need to adjust your seat on the move

  1. a bike with a quick release seat clamp
  2. a seat post that slides up and down easily

And this is how you’re going to do it…

While rolling towards the obstacle…let’s call it a drop…keep your eyes forward and…

1. pick a spot that you can ride one-handed

2. squeeze your thighs together to hold your seat if needed

3. release your seat clamp then put your hand back on the bar

4. lower the seat down to your desired position by bending your knees

5. tighten the seat clamp then put your hand back on the bar

ride the drop like never before then

6. pick a spot that you can ride one-handed

7. squeeze your thighs together to hold the seat if needed

8. release the seat clamp then put your hand back on the bar

9. pull the seat back up by the nose as you extend your legs

10. return your hand to the handlebar while holding your seat up with your thighs

11. tighten the clamp then put your hand back on the bar

Super Tip: No Eyes For Ears

Your hand can find your ears without using your eyes, so finding your seat clamp on the move without looking shouldn’t be any different.

Get used to finding the clamp without looking until it becomes second-nature.  Make it a priority to keep your eyes looking forward along the trail as you adjust your seat.

Think three things only

So you’ve learned the steps.  You know what to do.  Now each time you go to do it think about these three things only:

1. Seat drop and clamp before the obstacle

2. Raise and clamp after the obstacle

3. Speed up then fine-tune

Focus on simply dropping the seat enough to do the job – don’t worry about dropping it to an exact point.  Likewise, when lifting the seat back up, just get it to a height that’s near-enough to the right spot, then clamp it.

Don’t Fuss

Don’t fuss with the clamp or a precise height at this point.  Instead, put your focus to the trail and getting back up to cruising speed.  Once you’ve regained momentum you can fine-tune your seat position at a better part of the trail on the move if needed.

Keep at it and soon you’ll get quite good at finding the right top and bottom seat positions first go.  And if you want help finding the bottom then give this Super Tip a whirl…

Super Tip: Find Your Bottom with Ease

Give yourself a helping hand and fit a bottom stop to your seat post.

The bottom stop in the photo is a seat post reflector clamp, minus the reflector and turned to point forwards.  A cable tie or a few wraps of electrical tape would work also.

Keep your post clean

Make sure your seat post slides and your clamp operates with ease.  Keep them in good working order so that you can adjust your bike seat height with speed and finesse, anytime, anywhere.

Your seat post and seat tube

  • clean them periodically.  Never apply oil or grease.  Ever.
  • if your post doesn’t move as smooth as you’d like, give it a light sand with fine sandpaper until you achieve the desired fit

Your clamp

  • periodically dismantle your clamp and clean all parts.  Re-assemble, applying a small amount of chain oil or grease to the thread, cam, washers and shims
  • opening and closing your clamp shouldn’t be a struggle.  If it is, investigate or buy one that works well
  • difficult seat clamps usually free up after a good clean and a bit of lubrication

Beginner mountain biking tips for adjusting your seat

  • practice on grass without clipless shoes
  • keep your elbows and knees bent to aid balance
  • return your hand to the handlebar between each clamp release, seat slide and clamp closure step to aid balance and bike control.  To help your balance you’ll want to keep the time you spend riding one-handed as short as possible.

Don’t rush it.  Get the steps, the technique and the balance first.  Then…

Go For Speed

Your mountain biking will benefit the most from this skill when you can do it fast because having the ability to do it at speed means you can do it almost anywhere, adapting to the trail at a moments notice, with a minimum of fuss.

And to get that speed in your technique you’ll need good balance and one-handed riding skills, so check these out.  Then put your new seat-dropping skills to the test and Learn How to Ride Drops on a Mountain bike.


if it’s all too hard or too Old Skool for you maybe an adjustable seatpost might be more your style…

How to adjust your bike seat on a mountain bike – The Video…