Bike Handling: Corning, Braking, Climbing and Descending

Learn more about the research consulted and images used in this section.

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Boost your bike this season with training advice from Zoom Multisport Racing. Put these to the test in the Zoom Triathlons, Duathlons, & Aquabike this summer! 

Some Basic Resources

Emergency Stopping

Great Video to help you Master the Skill 

    1. Be sure you have a good grip on the handlebars and access to the brakes. 
    2. Move your center of gravity back by quickly pushing your butt back off behind the seat
    3. Control the bike with your body, you can grip the seat with your thighs
    4. Apply the brakes evenly (more back brake than front to avoid flipping)
    5. Steer straight ahead and keep your body positioned straight ahead
    6. Unclip as soon as you can

What to expect:

  • You should be able to come to a quick stop while keeping the bike stable and straight
  • If you do not unclip you may fall sideways; though it is better to fall sideways at a low speed
  • If you do not get your weight back the back tire may come off the ground
  • If you brake too much with the rear, the rear tire may skid
  • If you brake too much with the front the rear tire may come off the ground
  • If you turn the front wheel you will likely flip


  • Practice the emergency stopping position on a trainer first
  • Practice in a golf course or soccer field in case you fall
  • Practice at slower speeds first, then increase your speed


Here is a Video to Help you Master Descending

    1. Keep your head up, as your head directs the bike and it allows you to see potential obstacles.
    2. Be in your drops so you have access to the brakes and you have more control on the bike. It is recommended that you have your fingers on the brakes so you can access them quickly.
    3. Sit just off the back of the seat to use an emergency stop in the case of an obstacle. 
    4. Sit just off the seat and use your legs as shock absorbers. This can be done most effectively with the legs in the 3 o’clock & 9 o’clock positions. Keep pedaling so to keep your legs warm on longer descents. 
    5. Get more aerodynamic by crouching down and increasing your draft. 
    6. Stay alert and be ready for anything around the next bend
    7. You can also shift to a harder gear and pedal faster to boost your momentum and speed. This can help you accelerate into a flat or up the next climb. You just might put some extra time on the rider who is coasting for recovery or catch the person in front of you. 
    8. If your descent has turns or a turn at the bottom, be sure you apply the corning technique explained below.
    9. If you have turns on your descent, be sure you reference the corning section of this guide.


Here is a Great Video to Help You

  1. Try to gain momentum going into the climb, but choose your gearing before you enter the climb. 
  2. Climb at your own speed: Moderate climbs 80-90 cadence is ideal and for steeper climbs 60-70 cadence is good. Climb at your own pace; choose a pace that is manageable. Pushing a larger gear at a lower cadence could tire you out faster, so choose the right gear. Maintain your cadence on your current gear until you feel like you're about to have to lift out of the saddle to continue pedaling. At this point, shift into a lower gear. This will help you maintain your speed and make the hill seem shorter, the climb less grueling. Find a steady rhythm and relax your upper body. Find an effort that you can maintain. Start slower and more relaxed, especially on long climbs.  
  3. Hands: Keep your hands on the hoods or on the bars for climbing. 
  4. Pedal Technique: Pay very close attention to your pedaling technique. Really think about moving the foot back as if you're scraping your shoe. Then pull up on the pedal and step forward until that foot is ready to deliver another stroke. Remember good pedal stroke is a push-scrape-pull-step motion down so that you're delivering a smooth circle full of power.

Seating Climbing:

  • This is a very helpful especially on long climbs. 
  • Form: You can adjust your position on the seat or the bike to work different muscles. Sitting farther back on the seat recruits your glutes, sitting father forward on the seat emphasizes your quads, and sitting more upright engages your hamstrings.
  • More Power? Drive your rear end to the back of your seat as you push on the downstroke. Also, lean forward. Keep your elbows flexed but pull on the side of the handlebar opposite from your downstroke. This helps you use your gluteal muscles as well as your leg muscles.

Standing Climb

Standing can offer you more power, but it is less efficient and can tire you out faster. Standing can also give your muscles a break. Standing can also be used to regain momentum or to tackle steeper sections on the climb. 

  • Form: As you begin the downward stroke, lean the bike away from the foot delivering the stroke. Keep your body in a straight line over the weighted foot. Lean forward on the handlebars to deliver even more power, but keep your elbows loose. As the weighted foot finishes its stroke, transfer your weight to the other foot. Use the bike as a lever to help pull your weight over to the other foot. The bike should now be leaning toward the unweighted foot and your body should be in a straight line above the weighted foot.


Long Steady Climb

(a) Stay seated for prolonged periods and stand as needed; (b) Your cadence should be high (80 to 90 is ideal). Go harder for steeper pitches (stand as needed), then settle back into your pace; (c) Choose a pace you can hold. 

Rollers (Rolling Climbs)

  • Gain momentum as you approach the roller. Stay in the same gear until your cadence starts to drop. Then either down shift or stand and power through and maintain speed.
  • Attack the bottom of the roller at the same intensity as on the flats, but gradually increase the effort as you ascend. 
  • Ride through the top of the climb and you can recover on the descent. Or you can push through the descent to gain an advantage over other riders or to prepare for the next roller. 

Short & Steep Climbs

  • Gain momentum as you approach the climb then downshift as needed. 
  • You will climb with a lower cadence (60-70 rpm), but you want to attack the climb and try to get over it as quickly as you can. 
  • Depending on the climb length, you'll either stand the whole time or alternate seated and standing. Stand when the gradient pitches up; sit when it backs off a notch, but keep the cadence consistent.


Tips to Help You Corner on Your Bike

  1. Keep your head up, as your head directs the bike and it allows you to see potential obstacles
  2. Be in your drops so you have access to the brakes and you have more control on the bike
  3. Brake before you enter the turn not while you are in the turn. So reduce your speed before the corner. Braking when you are in the corner will likely lead to a crash.
  4. Enter the turn as wide as possible, cut in late (try to hit the apex [tip] of the corner), and come out of the corner wide on the other side (outside, inside, outline line). Be sure you do not cross over the center line, unless you are on a closed course.
  5. To Corner:
  • Move your weight slightly back in the saddle
  • Ensure your inside pedal is up and your outside pedal is down
  • Put your weight on the outside pedal and point your inside knee to the apex of the corner, this offers you more stability
  • Pushing downward on your inside hand will give you greater control. Push down more for a greater turn angle and lighten it to reduce the angle. 

Then it is recommended your when you finish the corner you stand up, pedal faster, and gain your lost momentum.