The act of descending rough, gnarly downhill and enduro tracks can often feel like doing a series of rapid push-ups. Who hasn’t experienced death grip-induced arm pump in a race run? Ewan Clark has designed Descent Master, a training tool designed to train riders in these areas specifically. Using the rider’s body weight only, the Descent Master is designed to strengthen and condition your core abdominal muscles, rotator cuff and general upper body muscles – aimed at all mountain bikers but realistically we see this tool would be particularly useful for enduro and downhill riders looking to build upper body strength and endurance.

downhill enduro conditioning training tool descent master mtb

Mimic cornering to get a dynamic workout

How does Descent Master work?

We got an, albeit very short, shot on this at the Scottish Mountain Bike Conference, Aviemore, where the product was launched last week. First of all, you’re going to need to be able to execute a solid ‘plank’ position to use this contraption. Thankfully, I’ve just about enough core strength to avoid face planting the bars in front of the delegates.

descent master mtb training tool downhill enduro

Immediately you feel it replicates the feel of descending on the bike. With so much weight over the bars it kind of feels like you’re in a big compression after landing a drop really hard.


The multi-axis pivoting bar of the Descent Master

It is effectively up to you how you use this tool. With a multi-axis pivot beneath the handlebar clamp, it achieves a frictionless rotation about the would-be stem allowing the user to replicate simple turning of the handlebars, angulating as you might do to carry speed through a flat corner, or deep banked turns through berms, and anything in between! The training tool can be adjusted to increase or decrease the resistance applied about the axes of rotation – increased resistance make it easier, providing more support to make you feel less shaky and wobbly. It is most difficult in the free rotation setting – for this setting you’ll need a lot more core strength.


Handy carry strap and foldable legs make for easy storage

Designer and builder Ewan Clark came up with the concept for the Descent Master after  a career in XC mountain bike racing. After a severe injury robbed him of arm strength, Ewan was struggling to get to the bottom of downhill tracks in one clean run. He felt he needed a training tool to build up his arm and upper body strength again that would replicate bike riding in a safe, controlled, risk free environment. Thus, Descent Master was born out of a need for injury rehab.


Lewis Buchanan, Ibis cycles enduro race team athlete, riding his home trails in the Tweed Valley, Scotland

Developed and tested at the Sports Science labs of Edinburgh Napier University, using both lab and trail techniques, Enduro World Series rider Lewis Buchanan has also been heavily involved in testing prototypes of Descent Master. He has tested various iterations over the last 10 months throughout his 2018 race season. Here’s what he has to say about it, “Since I started using the Descent Master it’s really helped stabilize my shoulders and allowed me to gain more control when holding onto my handlebars. It’s also really helped me build good stability in my core which has been the biggest thing for me.”

descent master training tool mtb downhill enduro xc racing core conditioning strength exercise

Descent Master pricing & availability

Pre-orders for the first batch of Descent Master are being taken now, numbers are limited to a strictly first-come first-served basis so don’t hang about! Early birds can enjoy the pre-order price of £299, ~$380, that’s £50 off the RRP. Descent Master comes supplied with handlebars and lock-on grips, as shown. Descent Master is manufactured in the UK by Superstar Manufacturing  CNC-machine the higher precision components.


Ewan Clark, Descent Master designer kilted and booted at the Scottish MTB Conference, Aviemore

Ewan’s only just getting started with Descent Master. Stay tuned to hear about exciting innovations in the pipeline.


  1. Tim on

    Great idea! I wish there some kind of exercise machine/ device for the movement you make when doing a bunnyhop. Kind of like one of those machines in the gym where you are sitting down and pull on a narrow bar as you slide your weight back, but with a more bike-like position.

    • KF on

      Unnecessary. You want to get better at bunnyhops, then you get on bike and practice…a lot! Being a gym rat is only going to make more strength, not teach proper technique. I’ve seen the strongest muscle heads out on the trails that can’t even hop over a 5″ log. At the same rate some friends of mine that sport typical dad bods can bunnyhop as high as your chin, so go figure.

      • Tim on

        Strength without technique = won’t get off the ground
        Technique without strength = risk of injury, especially if you do a move too abruptly.
        I’m no stranger to practice- back when I was riding trials, I’d get out there every day, and could bunnyhop up some pretty tall stuff.
        All the trials riders I knew back when I was riding were popping aspirin because their backs and necks hurt; I was one of those people, too. Muscle is also armor if you crash, which happens.

        • KF on

          Strength training is good for cycling, but has its limits. Too much muscle mass means more weight, counterintuitive for this sport. Far more important to be limber to mitigate injury. I do a combination of yoga and TKD, which for the last 20 years of practice has served my cycling quite well. Road, CX, MTB, BMX…

          • Tim on

            Agreed- just don’t overdo the muscle mass part. Being limber and being strong don’t exclude each other. I wouldn’t suggest any exercise machine as a substitute for the real thing, just think of it as a good supplement.

      • AK_Ben on

        Right, Nino Schurter, Kate Courtney, et al need to stay out of the gym and only ride bikes for their training. @KF, there is a difference between being a muscle-bound gymrat, and somebody who uses specific and general off-the-bike strength to keep the body healthy and balanced.

    • Waki on

      Tim, there is. It is called Riprow and it is designed by Lee McCormack. And looks way better than this. Quite frankly you can have a better work out with an old bar stem and grip by putting the on the ground than this. Also… hw is that better than push ups?

    • JN on

      The RipRow is what you’re looking for. It will help with both strength and technique for stuff like pumping and hopping. Lee McCormack invented it and backs it up real with riding theory, unlike the machine above.

  2. Brian Cooney on

    In fairness it pales into insignificance in comparison to Lee McCormack’s Riprow. This idea is not mtb specific, I certainly don’t ride downhill with all my weight on the bars, that’s a recipe for disaster. I keep my weight over the bottom bracket and keep my hands light and this won’t train me or anyone else the right technique

    • Lee McCormack on


      The RipRow teaches you how to balance on your pedals and generate power via rowing and anti-rowing. These movements are the key to great pumping, hopping, jumping, sprinting, cornering and all-around shredding.

      This device appears to train static core stabilization, a la a plank, and upper body push strength, a la isometric pushups or presses.

  3. Dannn on

    Why not just save your money and go riding more often to strengthen your body? If your muscles are sore after practicing bunnyhops or doing runs down a DH track it’s a sign of using them and that they are strengthening in the process. Seems like a bunch of marketing crap to me.


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