How to use a RailGun Seat

Our first answer to "How can I make my bike go faster?" is to find fast riders and learn from them.

The path to faster riding is usually a combination of proper bike setup and rider training. Rider training requires an informed rider who has adopted a good mental attitude, good technique and physical training. Here we deal with techniques of power generation.

Our suggestions on the best way to make and hold power on a RailGun seat:

  1. Make power using the pelvic support correctly, not by pushing against the back of the seat.

    The RailGun seat is designed to assist in making power using your pelvis as the primary support for your body, so you can make power properly and not by pushing against the seat back. You don't need to engage your upper body when making power, but instead keep :

  2. Don't mash on the pedals, but instead turn smooth circles to make power.

    We find it is better to have a delayed power stroke, somewhat similar to what is taught for time trial bikes. Imagine you are looking at your crankset as a clock from the drive side of the bike. Divide the clock into (at least) four segments. Point your toes slightly forward (you may need to move your cleats rearward) and from :

    • 10:00 to 1:00 - lift and press forward on the pedal. You should feel the top of your shoe pressing on the top of your foot.
    • 1:00 to 4:00 - place the full weight of your leg on top of the pedal and press forward and down. The (rear) top of your pelvis, shoes and shoulders should be the primary points of contact.
    • 4:00 to 7:00 - keep the weight of your leg on the pedal to push down and pull backwards.
    • 7:00 to 10:00 - lift up on the pedal and and pull backwards.

  3. Weight the pedals on the downstroke and lift on the upstroke. A substantial amount of weight/force should be on the pedal on the downstroke. Staying on top of the pedals will likely require further development of the required support structures (muscles, tendons and ligaments) and may require a substantial amount of effort and time to develop. I found that riding at low power levels in this manner was more difficult than high and tended to develop the support structures more quickly.

    Note that weighting the pedals is not so much for extra power as it is mainly for stability, efficiency and stress reduction. Weighting the pedals tends to keep your body in the correct position to make power much more easily, which makes it easier to maintain your power output.

  4. Remember to use your glutes/hamstrings. The RailGun seat was designed to aid in pulling on the pedals. Work one leg against the other with the pelvis as the connecting point. Think of your legs as connecting rods, your feet as pistons and your pelvis as the crankshaft and crank bearings. You don't need to engage your upper body in this exercise in order to make power. Use the seat to your advantage here.

    The more you can pull back to oppose the forward moving pedal at the same time, the greater the stability and gain you will see and the less force and movement will be applied to the seat so less stress there will be on your body. It should be easy to balance the power your quads can produce under almost all conditions if you have trained well to pull on the pedals. If not, pulling will likely require extra training.

    To possibly emphasize this, place both hands on a metal handrail, gripping the top and push the handrail away from you with one arm while pulling toward you with the other, pretending to bend the handrail. Then swap which arm is pulling and which is pulling. Don't underestimate how much power one can make by pulling on the pedals when countering the push. Few cyclists ever develop this skill to any substantial level so don't believe those who say it can't be done, just because they never trained to do it. If you believe you can't counter your push muscles with pull, you simply haven't developed your pull muscles enough. It is much easier with low seat angle highracers and especially with the RailGun seat so go for it.

  5. Lock your legs into position and go. Once you have the the seating position and pedal technique down, it's time to lock and go. This requires that you concentrate on relaxing your upper body, rotating your pelvis slightly forward and locking or wedging your legs into a slightly arched position between the top of the pedals (still pointing toes forward) and the pelvic support. You should feel your body stabilize in this position which will make it far easier to maintain a high power output for long periods of time, once the support structures are fully developed. When locked in, your legs should feel comfortably loaded so making power should seem like a natural activity, not one you have to force, though it may take a fair amount of concentration initially.

We find these techniques allow for a much more constant and higher power level to be maintained with far less stress on the body.

Thoughts on training:

These techniques can be a little challenging to explain. It is easier to show them once a rider has read and understood these written instructions. We are continually attempting to find better ways of explaining them so personal tutoring is not so crucial to adopting these techniques, so please check back periodically and ask questions if these instructions are not clear.

John Hughes speaks out:

on several of these very pedalling issues (use a round stroke, moving cleats back, improving core and support muscles to stabilize the pelvis)! When you are supported correctly, making power correctly isn't all that much different between bike styles.

Those who assume hypothesis as first principles of their speculations ... may indeed form an ingenious romance, but a romance it will still be. - Roger Coates Preface to Principia Mathematica

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Nov 1, 2016