Mountain Bike Aero Position (Beginners Guide)

Mountain Bike Aero Position

Biking is a fascinating sport, but like all sports, there is that one thing that will get in your way.

In biking, it’s air resistance. Even slow riders encounter air resistance, which will hit you harder as you go faster.

But, you can tackle air resistance with an aero position; you will also conserve a ton of energy that you would have otherwise used to resist it.

The most efficient and energy-conserving position on a mountain bike is the biker riding with hands on the hood, their arms must be downward with both forearms parallel to the ground. Arms must remain on the handlebars to maintain balance.

How Do You Use the Aero Position On a Mountain Bike?

Mountain Bike Aero Position

Using the aero position on your mountain bike can improve your output and increase your speed and efficiency.

The goal of any aero position is to get you to lower the trunk of your body from your shoulders to your hips so that your trunk will be smaller and you can better resist the aerodynamic drag.

To use the aero position to the best advantage, you should assume the following position.

  • Grab the handlebars of your mountain bike and hold them as close to the bike’s stem as you can.
  • When riding in the aero position, your back must be very flat to reduce contact with the breeze. In that position, you will not have a lot of aerodynamic drag with which to contend.
  • With the posture you assume on the bike, you have to slide forward or backward on the bike. But usually, the aero position is a forward pull. When that happens, the bike becomes less steady, so brace yourself for that.

To make the most out of the aero position, ensure your hands are close together, but taking them off the bike rest handlebars is not advisable, especially if you’re a novice.

So, keep your hands on the handlebars, which will close your hands to the stem.

Make your back as flat as possible, making your forearms very small and your back flat.

The goal is to appear very small and elude the wind. If you’re rolling downhill and don’t need to pedal, you can lift your backside and make your back much flatter.

What Is the Most Aerodynamic Position On a Bike?

A biker can assume several positions and body postures to reduce aerodynamic pull.

All the positions aim to ensure the cyclist can ride against the wind’s force.

There have been a lot of improvements to biking equipment such as wheels, helmets, and bike frames to cheat aerodynamic pull, reduce system drag and increase speed. 

However, when it comes to cycling, the rider is the primary factor. And the position the rider assumes on the bike determines the speed and efficiency.

The rider’s posture, shape, and position on the bike determine the airflow over the rider, increasing or reducing aerodynamics.

Still, selecting the most aerodynamic position on a bike is not straightforward because several factors are involved.

However, for a lot of experts, the most aerodynamic position on a bike is the classic upright riding position;

This position has the rider place both hands on the hood and bends their arms so they are in a parallel position to the ground. 

With this position, it is easier to overcome aerodynamic drag, and the posture is good for efficiency in riding.

Placing your hands on the hood will make your back flatter, and if you’re riding down a slope, you can go further and stick your bum in the air so that your back will be even flatter.

Do Aerodynamics Matter In Mountain Biking?

In mountain biking, the terrain is rougher than in road biking. Thus, the speed reduces drastically. Still, aerodynamics also comes into play in mountain biking.

But, because of the terrain, mountain bikers are more affected by rolling resistance than by aerodynamic pull. 

However, that does not mean mountain bikers are immune to aerodynamic resistance.

Even at slower speeds than road bike cyclists, they experience aerodynamic drag.

Just like road bike cyclists, mountain bikers also have a frontal area that depends on their position or posture on the bike and their drag coefficient, which, when put together, will result in an aero resistance of about 35%.

Of course, the rolling resistance affects the aerodynamic resistance, and for its part, the bike’s rolling resistance is hampered by the following;

#1. Mountain Bike Tire Type

There are usually two types of tires, smooth and knobby. In addition, the type of bike affects its rolling resistance.

#2. The Terrain

The terrain or surface for mountain bike cyclists differs from road bikes. The field surface is usually road, sand, and grass.

That is not usually the case for mountain bikes; for mountain bikes, the terrain is usually grass and sometimes road, especially if the terrain is well used.

So, if there is little rolling resistance, the bike moves quickly, and then there is quite a bit of aero resistance due to the increase in speed.

On the other hand, if there is a lot of rolling resistance, especially if the bike has knobby tires and rough terrain, it will slow down the bike, and the aero resistance will be significantly less.

Thus, aerodynamics are also essential in mountain biking, although they’re not as important in mountain biking as in road biking. 

Why is that? The table below will compare the two and determine why aerodynamics are more important in road bikes.

Road BikeMountain Bike
Road bikes are designed for speedMountain bikes are more about navigating rugged terrain 
A rider on a road bike is already in an aerodynamic position.With a mountain bike, the rider must keep moving as the terrain is challenging.
The road bike rider will need to maximize aerodynamics because the bike is quite stiff.The mountain bike frame is softer and more resistant to air resistance.

How Can I Improve My Aero Position On My Mountain Bike?

Improving aero position in your mountain bike also means enhancing speed and efficiency.

If you can assume a better posture on your bike, your air resistance will improve, and you can use the technique to make aerodynamic drag less of a challenge to your biking experience.

For some riders, being aerodynamic is not a challenge; the issue is how to be aero and retain control of their bike.

Some positions that increase aerodynamics can give the biker less bike control. The trick is to ensure your hands remain on the handlebars.

Although some extra comfortable riders put both hands on the fork crown, for most riders, that will make their bike very unstable.

To improve your aero position, you have to make your profile smaller to penetrate the air, so to speak, with much less effort. So,

  • Bring your hands and arms very close together, preferably place them on the handlebars, close to the stem
  • Bring your body close to the bike’s frame so your back is flat against the air.
  • If you’re not pedaling, you can stand up from the bike and put your butt in the air to make your back even flatter and get an edge.
  • This position helps you maintain control of your bike, which is very important on sloppy dirt downhill roads.

So, you maintain control of your bike and still improve aerodynamics resistance.

Ways to get Aero On Your Mountain Bike

Aerodynamics is the new sheriff in town, the biking town that is.

Whether aero for a road bike or mountain bike, the best way to increase speed is to overcome wind resistance for you and your bike.

There are some ways that you can do just that.

#1. Work On Your Strength And Flexibility

The first thing to look at is your body and position on the bike. It is tempting to spend money on better equipment and aerodynamic gear to increase aero, but your body’s most significant resistance will be.

Work on your flexibility so it is easier to assume that aero position.

#2. Get Aerodynamics Gear

You can get more aero on your mountain bike from your bike and helmet if you have the right equipment, so invest in good aero equipment to boost your rides.


In conclusion, mountain bikers must also maximize aerodynamics for maximum speed and efficiency.

In addition, mountain bikes also need to be aerodynamic because, like road bikers, they also encounter aerodynamic pull, which can slow them down.

So, the best position to assume is placing your arms together and keeping your back flat.

Josh Matthews

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