Tom Pidcock's top tips for descending

Tom Pidcock is many things on many bikes, but one thing he is consistently regarded as, is one of the best descenders in the world. Here he shares with us some of his top tips for smashing those descents

Clock16:15, Friday 22nd September 2023

Tom Pidcock is arguably the best bike handler in the WorldTour right now. His daredevil descending down the Col du Galibier in stage 12 of the 2022 Tour de France went viral beyond cycling circles, showcasing his MotoGP-esque riding.

Pidcock also left jaws on the floor when footage emerged of him descending Tuna Canyon in Santa Monica, almost coming a cropper at one point before non-chalantly shouting 'oil!'

There was also the gap he almost accidentally opened on a gravel descent at Strade Bianche, providing the platform for a sensational solo victory. In fact, there are countless examples of Pidcock going downhill at eye-watering speeds, with flawless style.

GCN's very own Alex Paton sat down with Pidcock to talk all things descending. You can watch the full video above, as Tom delves into how he got so good, but he also shares some advice for the rest of us, so read on for Tom's top tips.

Bike set-up

"Let's start with the obvious things. Bike set-up is the initial thing you want to be thinking about," Pidcock says.

Saddle

"You don't want too high a saddle, so that the centre of gravity is lower. if you're someone who doesn't exactly know where their saddle should be, they should go on the lower side."

Tyres

"I think generally 28mm tyres are good for everyday use. The pressure depends on your weight. I use 4.2 bar (61psi)."

Disc brakes

"Disc brakes will give you more confidence. They're more reliable for braking performance. They make your bike a bit heavier, but I think they're a good thing."

Confidence

"Confidence is really important to descending," Pidcock says. "Building it up slowly, without crashing, while you're learning the skills, is really important. Having confidence in your ability and your bike is really important to first of all descend but then descend really well and fast."

Crashing

"You need to know why you crashed and how it happened, and don't just think it is going to happen again. Just build back up slowly. After I crashed at Tour de l'Avenir in the wet in the mountains, it took me a long time to get back the confidence descending in the wet in the mountains. Sometimes it takes a while, but you just have to build up slowly within what you're comfortable with."

Cornering

"First of all, position on the bike. Going on the drops is better, for a lower centre of gravity. As you approach the corner you want to be putting your outside leg straight and the pedal down. It's a bit counter-intuitive, but you need to put your weight on the inside of your handlebar, and that will lean your bike in - you don't need to turn.

"Look through the corner, at where you want to go, anticipate the speed you need to be going, how far your'e going to drift out with the speed you've got. Then the basics of 'outside to apex to outside', and also think about where the apex is. If the corner is regular then it's in the middle but if it tightens up you want to be hitting the apex later."

Braking

"If you're going super fast, you want to keep yourself stabilised as much as possible. If you're going too fast into a corner it's better to use your rear brake than the front brake, because it can kind of turn you round the corner, whereas if you lose grip with you front wheel, you're screwed."

If you want to find out more on the art of cornering we have a documentary made specifically about this over on GCN+ where Alec Briggs takes you through a masterclass on how to perfect this crucial element of descending.

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