42 Mountain Bike Beginner Tips & Techniques


Cornering

The few fundamentals that are necessary to apply when approaching a corner and how to position your body when riding the corner on your bike. Using proper cornering technique assist you to maximise safety & performance when you are out mountain biking.

  • Scan

Constantly scan as far as you can see the trail giving you more time to identify lines, obstacles and speed.

  • Corner Type

Identify the type of corner if its banked or camber to determine speed and the line you will take.

  • Obstacles

Check for obstacles such as roots and stumps to try to avoid. Once you identify a hazard don’t stare at it, if you do you are more likely to hit it, instead forces on the line you will take.

  • Terrain

Note the type of terrain, such if its sand, gravel, leaves or others, to be aware of the amount of grip that your tires will hold. The more grip you have the tighter and faster you can take the corner.

  • Arms

Keep you arms bent and loose to assist you in cornering smoothly and to minimise any impacts such as roots, rocks or other obstacles you might hit.

  • Legs

The inside leg should be up and outside leg down. This helps to avoid clipping obstacles and maximise the grip of the mountain bike tyre.

  • Lean

Lean the bike not your body, so that you keep your stability and center of gravity even but digs the bikes tires into the corner.

  • Torso

Keep low to lower you center of gravity with arms bent, legs bent and torso leaning over.

  • Pump

Pump into the corner by moving forward and pushing your arms and legs simultaneously down while you move back, this puts more pressure on the tires by compressing the bike and helps it grip into the corner.

  • Focus

Focus ahead and look through the corner to help you keep your lines smooth and prepare for what is ahead.

Braking

Ride safer and faster by applying the pulse braking and knowing how and when to use your mountain bike brakes.

If you found yourself blazing down hill on loose terrain heading head first into a tree the last thing you want to do is slam on your front brake. Learning to use your brakes correctly when mountain biking helps you ride safer and faster.

Remember these tips and consciously practice them until they become habit.

  • Pulse

Prolonged braking heats up the discs and pretty quickly reduces the stopping power of your brakes. Use pulse braking to keep your brakes cool and performing well from the top of the hill to the bottom.

  • Trigger

When braking pretend you are pulling the trigger of a gun. This helps you keep control and feel the amount of grip, in the situation, that the tires have and reduces the likely hood of sliding out when over braking.

  • Simultaneously

The front brake is stronger than back brake, so for most effective braking use your front and back brakes together.

  • Wet

Wet brakes don’t brake as well, if your brakes get submerged in water it is a good idea to brake hard on them immediately after to flush out and water that might have got into the mechanism.

  • Cornering

Brake before corner other wise if you do it in corner, you reduce grip on the wheels.

  • Obstacles

Don’t brake before obstacles, a bit of momentum is better than too little.

  • Fingers

Use 1 finger for light braking, using two fingers makes it easier if you need to brake harder.

  • Body Position

Ensure you have an even spread of body position on your bike cause if you are too far forward and your braking hard on your front brake you are more likely to go over the front, or if there isn’t enough weight on the back tyre your are more likely to skid.

Pedaling

Using the right gear and right actions can lead improving your speed and stability when you are pedaling along a trail.

Pedaling a bike come natural to most people, using the rotation of the front ring the pedal comes up and you push it down with your foot, and the opposite occurs on the other side. When it comes to mountain bike riding in some situations it seems like you are learning to pedal for the first time and knowing how to appropriately apply new techniques to this basic skill can increase you speed, stability and fun.

  • Pedals

There are two different types of pedals used on mountain bikes. One type are the flat pedals, that you can wear sports shoes and ride with, and the other kind are clip less, which require specialised biking shoes, that attach the shoe to the pedal. If you are riding with flats your pedaling motion only places momentum on the down ward stroke or pushing of the foot, while if you have clip less pedals you will also be pulling up on the stroke with you foot. This is more efficient and one of the reasons cross country riders wear these.

  • Seat Height

Make sure you set your seat height at the right level. This allows you to maximise your leg muscles on the downward push and nearly fully extends the leg.

  • Foot

Push down with the ball of your foot on the pedal so that you are transferring the energy efficiently and maintaining a good balance on the pedal, reducing the likely hood of slipping off.

  • Leg

Try to ensure you keep your leg straight. Many people have a tendency to ‘flick’ their knee out while pedaling and place extra wear and reduce the transfer energy. While you are pedaling try to imagine a line running from your hip to your foot and keep your feet and knee along it.

  • Gearing

Using your gears appropriately helps you maintain balance. Try to keep in a low gear when going down hill and higher gear when riding up hill. This will help you prevent your body from bouncing on the saddle when you are in too high of  a gear for your speed, and from loosing traction on your rear wheel cause you have to stand up to pedal when you are in to low off a gear heading up hill.

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Obstacle Riding

Tracks have a variety of obstacles, some are easy to manage while other you need to work up to. Ensuring you use the right techniques for the situation can help you overcome almost all of them, without compromising safety.

When riding on mountain bike trails there are usually some obstacles or structures. Always ensure you ride within your limits and ensure you practice skills and techniques in a controlled situation before applying them on a ride.

Obstacles can vary from roots, rocks, man made structures, to challenging terrain such as sand. Once you know the technique and feel confident in applying them, conquering the obstacle can be very rewarding.

  • Walk through

If you come up to a new obstacle or in doubt,stop and walk through it first. Have a look at the line you will take, and any areas you will need to avoid.

  • Line

Once you identify the hazards pick your line. Keep focus on where you want the bike to go, many times if you keep staring at the obstacle you inadvertently end up hitting it.

  • Conditions

Some obstacles change characteristic when the conditions alter. Rain can usually makes obstacles slipperier and extra precautions need to be taken, on the other hand if the trail is sand based, extreme heat can dry parts of it out making the sand lighter and more difficult to navigate.

  • Approach

Ensure the line you pick if rising is at 90 degrees to the obstacle such as roots, because the back tyre has a tendency to slide. Keeping your approach at 90 degrees reduces the chance of sliding.

  • Eyes Up

Try to keep your eyes up and scanning ahead. There is a tendency to keep your eye on your front tyre. This gives you less time to plan ahead and thus more likely to pick a harder line. Also it slows your momentum down and cause you to put too much weight on the front tyre, causing it to dig or catch on the obstacle.

  • Pedals

Keep your legs even, to help clearance & reducing the likely hood of your peddle catching as you go over the obstacle.

  • Arms

Keep your arms bent and loose with a firm grip on the handle bars. If your arms are rigid, you will put all the pressure on your front suspension. Keeping them bent allows you to absorb a greater amount of terrain change and bumps, while keeping control.

  • Legs

Bending your legs helps in shock control and lowers your center of gravity.

  • Torso

Keep it low and relaxed, lowering your center of gravity and helping you adjust your weight quickly and smoothly.

  • Body Position

Practice moving your body forwards, backwards and from side to side. In some situations placing more weight on the front tyre is required and moving your body forwards helps this, while in other like drop offs, keeping low and to the back is required.

  • Gearing

Shift up gears before reaching to obstacle. This provides helps keeping your bike moving steadily and reduces the likely hood of your tyre slipping. Also you can overcome any inclines in the obstacle easier than if you are in a low gear.

Climbing

Almost any track features some climbing, be it short burst or long extended climbs. Learning to use your gearing and pedaling correctly can help you conquer those climbs.

Along almost all trails in mountain biking you will encounter a ascent or hill climb. Its a great part to build fitness, muscle and over take slower riders that take it easy on the hills.

  • Assess

Try to spot any inclines and hills before you hit them. This will allow you plenty of time to prepare yourself in regards to position and gearing. It also means that you can choose your lines and access the terrain to avoid areas of roots and sand if possible. If you are in doubt climb off your bike and walk up. Some times you will reach the top with more energy if you walk your bike up than pedaling to reach the top.

  • Momentum

It is your friend, build up as much momentum as you using each little down hill speed you can and pushing your pedals hard. The less work you have to do on the hill the faster you will climb and less energy you will expend.

  • Spin

As you approach a climb try to develop a fast, strong spin. This will assist in reducing the strength required to push up the hill and the more fitness you use rather than strength of your legs the less fatigued you will get and be able to climb for longer easier.

  • Gear

Selecting the right gear for the climb is very important. Usually you want to avoid changing gear during the climb especially up, because if you are riding slow your chain will be under a lot of stress and you could end up snapping a ring and grinding to a halt. If you need to change gear use the rear cassette and shift smoothly and try to create some slack in the chain by giving one stronger push just before you gear change so that you can use the slight increase in momentum for the gear change.

  • Body Position

Shifts in body position might be required during some climbs. If its is steep moving forward and keeping weight on your front wheel helps. Otherwise if you find your back wheel loosing traction you might have to sit down on the seat to keep weight on the wheel. In some instances altering during the climb is required to ride over steps and different terrain.

  • Breathing

Keeping your legs pumping requires a lot of air. Concentrating on your breathing with a cycle of 3 revolutions in 3 out. It helps regulate the oxygen flow, and ensure you use the lower part of the diaphragm, or close to your stomach to maximise the effect of the oxygen coming in.Breathing through your nose and out through your mouth helps regulate nice long effective breaths and minismise the panting you experience when breathing through the mouth only.

  • Rotation

During long extended climbs rotate climbing in your saddle and out of the saddle. This helps use different part of your legs muscles and helps keep the momentum going.

  • Stall

If you need a quick rest of caught up to someone slower, use the track stand. Rather than stopping and dismounting that will be harder to start the momentum and climb back in to the saddle in a hill. Balance using your arms, legs and body, so that you can catch your breath and resume the climb safely.

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