The Magic Heel Drop mountain biking technique


The Heel Drop technique is a somewhat little known, but highly valuable mountain biking technique.  Use it to instantly help control your center of gravity on the bike, particularly when descending rough trail or during aggressive braking.

To Perform the Heel Drop

Like the name suggests, simply drop your heels on the pedals, turning the pedals at an angle.

How Much Should You Drop?

As much or as little as you need to at any moment, to maintain a balanced or ‘centered’ position on the bike.

Your optimum center of gravity or ‘balanced position’ at any moment is when most of your weight is through the pedals, with You balanced low off the saddle, neither pulling or pushing on the handlebar. The Heel Drop helps you make the incremental body shifts fore and aft (and side to side) required to maintain this position as you ride along.

Why is the Heel Drop So Good?

Used in the right situations the heel drop helps you become a better mountain several ways:

  • by helping maintain your center of gravity (and weight) through the pedals, rather than pressing heavily on the handlebar.
  • by preventing that feeling of your feet wanting to ‘lift off’ sending you over the handlebar, because your feet have something to press back against.
  • by helping you combat deceleration forces during braking, keeping you balanced on the bike.
  • with most weight through the pedals, your bar grip is more relaxed, improving steering and braking finesse and control.

The Heel Drop Action Video

The video below shows the Heel Drop technique in action down a fast descent.  Before you watch it, read this:

  • For maximum control and momentum, and minimum braking distance and trail damage, my goal is to not skid.
  • That’s achieved by using the Front Braking technique in addition to the Heel Drop.
  • Front Braking technique allows me to arrive sooner to the corner by braking later, without skidding.
  • The heel drop encourages a lower body position, enhancing rear wheel traction and braking.

As you’ll see in the video, that section of trail really is a blast.  Even more of a blast with the Heel Drop. Put the Heel Drop into practice on your next ride. I’m sure you’ll find that it’s a very valuable mountain biking technique.

Heel Drop Super Tips

Remember: Your optimum center of gravity or ‘balanced position’ at any moment is when most of your weight is through the pedals.  You should be low off the saddle, neither pulling or pushing on the handlebar. The Heel Drop helps you make the incremental body shifts fore and aft (and side to side) required to maintain this position as you ride along.

Front Braking and One Finger Braking are Pure Gold. Without these techniques you’re missing out on loads more fun, control and momentum. Find out about them here: Front Braking and One Finger Braking.

Where to next:

How to Use a Dropper Post for MORE than Just Downhill
Why One Finger Braking is King
The Brake Release Downhill Braking Technique

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