How to Ride a Short Steep Descent

At some time or another you’re bound to come across a steep transition.  These can be quite intimidating without a solid plan of action.  Using the following 6 steps,  you’ll find these quite easy and fun!


Ninja Coach Hannah Levine demonstrates the correct technique for riding a steep transition.  The transition she’s riding in this video is about 4′.  We recommend you start with something smaller and progress to bigger transitions as you get comfortable with the technique.

1. Inspect

Before you tackle any unfamiliar section of trail, take a minute to evaluate the situation.  Look for what may be an obvious ‘line’ (a route that most other mountain bikes have taken).  This route may not always be the most efficient choice or even the smoothest, but it’s usually the path of least overall resistance.

2. Approach

As you approach the descent, slow down, bring your weight forward and look over the bars down the descent.

3. Confirm Line

Once you’ve made your line choice, start down.

4. Explode!

Just as your front tire starts to descend, quickly and explosively, lunge your bike forward.  This will bring your hips back behind the saddle and put all your weight directly on the pedals.

5. Stay Ready

Make sure you’re in full Ninja (ready) position at this point: heels down, knees bent,  low center of mass, elbows bent, knees out, fingers not overly tight on the grips, index finger over each brake lever, head up.

6. Roll Out

As you finish the steep transition, bring your weight forward over the saddle.  Look where you want to go, relax and roll out!

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5 Thoughts on “How to Ride a Short Steep Descent

  1. Kamala Slight on January 10, 2018 at 9:20 pm said:

    Great demo, Hannah!

  2. VADIM GOZIKER on July 19, 2018 at 3:18 pm said:


  3. AlanBardsley on April 1, 2019 at 10:38 am said:

    I always think of the bike as pivoting below the rider. It rotates, the rider doesn’t.

  4. Warren Holmes on July 20, 2021 at 11:38 am said:

    A Q for Hannah: Under pic “4. Explode” you say, “Just as your front tire starts to descend, quickly and explosively, lunge your bike forward.” By “lunge” do you mean *push* your arms forward and move your hips behind your saddle? Or, is there some other way to “lunge”? And BTW “Go Blue” 🙂.

    • Hey Warren! Yup, you are correct. By “lunge” we mean push the bike forward with your arms and shift your weight back. When riding a steep transition at a slow speed, the lunge would be more pronounced than when riding at a faster speed. So the slower the speed, the more explosive the lunge. Hope that helps! Go Blue!

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