What Is the Attack Position? Mastering an Essential Skill in Biking

Gain stability, control, and confidence on your bike. Learn what the attack position is and how it can transform your cycling experience.

Ready to shred the trails like a pro? Well, you’re in the right place! In this exciting blog post, we’ll dive deep into the mechanics and strategies behind the attack position, a fundamental technique used by riders to maximize speed, control, and efficiency on the trails. Whether you’re a beginner looking to improve your skills or an experienced rider seeking a refresher, we’ve got you covered.

What is the attack position? The attack position is a common technique in mountain biking. It is the fundamental stance where you stand up on your pedals, slightly bend your knees, keep your head above the handlebars, and extend your elbows. It’s all about maximizing stability and control on your bike.

Why is the attack position important?

The term “attack position” typically refers to a specific body position or posture that riders adopt in certain situations, particularly when they need to navigate technical terrain or overcome obstacles. The attack position is crucial for several reasons:

A man riding a bicycle on a terrain. Source: pexels
A man riding a bicycle on a terrain. Source: Pexels

1. Balance and stability

The attack position helps riders maintain balance and stability, especially when riding on uneven or challenging terrain. By distributing their weight effectively, riders can stay centered on the bike and react quickly to changes in the trail.

2. Control

Adopting the attack position allows cyclists to have greater control over their bikes. With their weight shifted back and their elbows and knees slightly bent, riders can absorb shocks and bumps more effectively, keeping the bike stable and preventing it from bouncing or getting off course.

3. Maneuverability

The attack position enables riders to maneuver their bikes more efficiently. By keeping the body relaxed and loose, riders can quickly shift their weight, change directions, and negotiate tight turns or obstacles more effectively.

…riders are better prepared to respond to unexpected obstacles or changes in the terrain, reducing the risk of accidents or crashes.

4. Power and efficiency

When in the attack position, cyclists can generate more power and pedal more efficiently. By positioning their body correctly, riders can engage their core muscles and transfer power from their legs to the pedals more effectively, resulting in better acceleration and speed.

5. Safety

The attack position provides a safer riding experience. By being in a ready and balanced stance, riders are better prepared to respond to unexpected obstacles or changes in the terrain, reducing the risk of accidents or crashes.

The attack position is not the only posture used in biking. Different riding styles, disciplines, and situations may require variations in body positioning. However, understanding and being able to utilize the attack position is a fundamental skill for off-road or mountain biking, where technical challenges and obstacles are more common.

My favorite fixed-gear bike (right now):

State Bicycle Co. Black Label 6061

Best overall fixed gear bike state bicycle co 6061 black label v2
My favorite fixed-gear bike (right now):

State Bicycle Co. Black Label 6061

This is my daily ride, my trusty Black Label. It’s lightweight and beautifully crafted. Looks like a beast and rides like one too. I upgraded the saddle, but everything else is pretty much as it was out of the box. I highly recommend it.

How do you practice the correct attack position?

Practicing the correct attack position is essential to master this foundational skill. Let’s dive into the steps that will help you develop proper technique and build confidence on your bike.

Step 1: Stand on the pedals

Begin by standing on the pedals while a friend supports your bike or by balancing it against a wall. This allows you to focus solely on getting the stance right without worrying about balance. Remember to keep the pedals almost level, with your heels slightly below the pedal axle. This position maximizes your stability and control.

Step 2: Position elbows wide above the handlebars

Next, concentrate on positioning your elbows correctly. Stand with your elbows bent wide directly above the handlebars. This placement offers the necessary leverage for maneuvering your bike effectively. It helps distribute your weight, with approximately 40% over the handlebars, enabling your front wheel to gain traction during turns and providing a solid base for handling obstacles.

Step 3: Maintain bent arms and knees

To further enhance your balance and stability, it’s crucial to keep your arms and knees slightly bent. This flexibility allows you to absorb bumps and maintain control over your bike. By keeping your knees parallel to the pedals and away from the frame, you create additional space for fluid turning and maneuvering.

Step 4: Look ahead and cover the brakes

Don’t forget the importance of maintaining good visual awareness on the trail. Keep your gaze focused ahead, looking down the trail to anticipate obstacles and changes in terrain. This proactive approach allows you to react promptly and stay in control.

Additionally, always cover the brakes with one finger (usually the index finger) on each hand. This technique ensures you’re prepared to brake quickly when necessary, enabling you to confidently navigate any challenging situations.

Here’s a handy table to guide you through the dos and don’ts of practicing the attack position:

Stand on the pedals with confidence.Don’t hunch your shoulders or lean too far forward.
Position your elbows wide above the handlebars.Don’t grip the handlebars too tightly. Relax your hands.
Keep your arms and knees slightly bent for flexibility.Don’t look down at your front wheel. Keep your eyes forward.
Maintain a forward gaze and look ahead down the trail.Don’t forget to cover the brakes with one finger. Be prepared to react.
Dos and don’ts of practicing the attack position

Can you still do an attack position on a fixie?

While riding a fixed-gear bike, an “attack position” would likely refer to an optimal body position that prioritizes control, balance, and efficiency. This is particularly important for fixed-gear biking as riders don’t have the luxury of freewheeling or gear shifts, making the connection between the rider and the bike extremely direct and integral to the performance.

Here are some elements to consider for an effective attack position in fixed-gear biking:

1. Balance and flexibility

Riders should maintain a position that allows the bike to move beneath them, enabling them to stay in balance and relaxed. A slight bend in the knees can enhance control.

2. Weight distribution

It’s crucial to manage your weight effectively. Supporting your core mass with your legs and not your hands will get your weight low at the bottom bracket, which is stable, and free your arms up for control and steering. Think heavy feet, light hands.

3. Anticipation and planning

Fixed-gear biking requires riders to think a move or two ahead, especially when cornering. Riders need to give themselves room to maneuver and slow things down a little. Fast reactions are essential, particularly in traffic situations.

4. Speed control

Learning to control speed, particularly during hill climbs and descents, is a valuable skill for fixed-gear biking. This can be a challenge, but it is an essential part of mastering the discipline.

5. Core engagement

Engaging your core muscles is vital. This involves sticking your backside out and not rounding your lower back, which is beneficial for power and efficiency.

6. Head and eye position

Keep your chin up and focus on the trail or road ahead. Looking down the path where you want to go helps maintain balance.

A group of cyclists riding on the side of the street. Source: unsplash
A group of cyclists riding on the side of the street. Source: Unsplash

Advantages and disadvantages of the attack position

The attack position offers numerous advantages when it comes to fixed-gear, single-speed, and track-bike cycling. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of using the attack position to optimize your riding experience.

Advantages of the attack position:

  • Improved Stability: By adopting the attack position, you gain enhanced stability, allowing you to maintain balance and control while riding.
  • Enhanced Control: The attack position provides a solid foundation for controlling your bike, enabling precise maneuvering and confident handling of various terrains.
  • Better Responsiveness: With the attack position, you’re able to react swiftly to obstacles or sudden changes in the environment, ensuring a safer and more dynamic riding experience.
  • Increased Confidence: By mastering the attack position, you’ll feel more confident in your abilities, allowing you to push your limits and explore new challenges with greater assurance.
  • Optimal Body Position: The attack position aligns your body optimally for power transfer, efficiency, and balance, maximizing your performance on the bike.
  • Quick Reaction to Obstacles: With the attack position, you’re poised to react swiftly to unexpected obstacles, enabling you to navigate through them with ease and agility.

Disadvantages of the attack position:

  • Physical Fatigue: Maintaining the attack position for extended periods can lead to increased fatigue, especially for riders who are not accustomed to this riding style. Regular practice and conditioning can help overcome this.
  • Learning Curve: Mastering the attack position may require time and practice to develop muscle memory and find the right balance. However, the benefits far outweigh the initial learning curve.

If you want even more great tips and information, check out the video.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions about what the attack position is? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions.

How does the attack position benefit fixed-gear cycling?

The attack position offers improved stability, control, and responsiveness, which are essential elements for navigating the urban landscape on a fixed-gear bike. It helps riders maintain balance, react to obstacles, and confidently maneuver through traffic.

Can I use the attack position on a single-speed bike?

Absolutely! The attack position is applicable to single-speed cycling as well. It provides a solid foundation for maintaining control, enhancing stability, and allowing quick reactions to unexpected situations. Whether you’re cruising the streets or tackling challenging terrain, the attack position will greatly benefit your single-speed rides.

Is the attack position necessary for track bike cycling?

Yes, the attack position plays a crucial role in track bike cycling too. It provides optimal body positioning for power transfer and balance, enabling riders to unleash their speed and agility on the velodrome. Mastering the attack position will enhance your control and responsiveness, giving you an edge on the track.


Now that you’ve learned all about the attack position, it’s time to put your knowledge into action. Remember to stand tall on your pedals, elbows out, and knees slightly bent. Look ahead, cover those brakes, and conquer the trails or urban streets with confidence!

Did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, share it with a friend, and check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on tackling the cycling world. Thanks for reading, and remember, keep pedaling and enjoying the thrill of the ride!

Key takeaways

This article covered the essential aspects of the attack position in biking. Here are some key takeaways:

  • The attack position is the foundation for many other skills in cycling, promoting stability, control, and the ability to react to obstacles.
  • Practice the attack position by standing on the pedals, positioning your elbows wide above the handlebars, keeping your arms and knees slightly bent, and looking ahead.
  • Always cover the brakes, and remember to transfer from the attack position to a subtler position for specific turns.
  • The attack position benefits riders of all skill levels, instilling confidence and allowing quick reactions to challenges.
  • Whether on mountain trails or urban streets, mastering the attack position enhances your riding experience and improves performance.

Helpful resources

Bradley Knight Image
Written by Bradley Knight, Staff Writer

Hey there! My name is Bradley, and I've been riding fixed for years. I love all the joy and pain that comes with this unique style of cycling and the passionate community that drives it. If you love fixed-gear bikes, this is the place for you.

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