You see, most people think that mountain biking is all about speed, but it’s not; at least not in the way, you might imagine it to be. As most beginners do, it’s more about using speed rationally than chasing it blindly.
Knowing how to use your brakes correctly, which line to choose on each obstacle, and how to pick an ideal trajectory – are essential skills that every rider should develop if they wish to become proficient at tackling challenging trails. You can learn all of these mountain bike cornering tips by reading on!
Learn how to accelerate out of corners instead of just slowing down, corner without losing traction, and improve your trail speed in the process.
1) Brake Before You Enter a Corner
This is a simple technique that most beginners fail to grasp – break before you enter the turn! A novice rider will typically unweight their rear-wheel while turning to cause it to wash out slightly, resulting in minimal acceleration when exiting the corner. To prevent this from happening, brake long before you enter the turn, using both brakes equally so that when you finally do reach your desired entry speed, your front wheel doesn’t wash out. A little tip here; if you’re braking with only one finger (on most brakes), the chances are that your brake is not set hard enough!
Always brake before you enter a corner, even on hard turns. This will provide the bike with more grip and enable you to accelerate out of turn faster. If your front wheel does wash away slightly, it is no big deal since you’re already running wide by the time you hit most corners anyway – so just maintain control and pedal through. Note that these braking techniques are relevant only when you have ample traction to use them; otherwise, they can be dangerous and cause a serious wipeout. In this case, keep your weight forward and don’t overbake while leaning sharply into the turn instead – counter steering is all it takes in order to negotiate the turn without slowing down too much.
2) Lean at a 45 Degree Angle
This is a pretty cool trick that can greatly improve your corner speed and enables you to ride through tight bends at full tilt without losing traction. So how does it work? It’s simple, really. All it requires is for you to lean the bike onto its side so that your tires are parallel to the ground at any given point during your turn. You do this by counter-steering into each turn while moving towards the direction of the bend at all times instead of stopping mid-turn from turning your handlebars. This will enable you to maximize both speed and stability throughout every single curve.
3) Maximize Your Traction
Instead of wasting traction by accelerating during slow turns or pumping just before entering them, use momentum to your advantage by picking an ideal line with enough speed to carry you through. This way, you won’t lose traction while cornering (because your wheels will be rolling instead of skidding), nor will you slow down too much. You can pick an ideal trajectory by using the “20M” rule suggested by experienced riders; take 20 meters of the flat ground prior to each turn and use it as a marker in order to determine whether or not your speed is sufficient for that particular turn. So if you’re approaching a left hairpin turn where the marker prior to it is 20m away on your right side, then decide ahead whether or not you’re going fast enough to go all the way through without breaking – if so, count 20m from your right marker and pass it while leaning your bike 45 degrees without touching the left brake. If, on the other hand, you’re not going fast enough for a certain bend, then you should either slow down or pick a different trajectory that will allow you to do so.
If your wheels start skidding when cornering, don’t panic! Just pedal through and apply a little pressure on the brakes once outside of the turn if necessary – this is normally all it takes to regain traction. This comes only with practice, though, because even seasoned riders tend to panic when their wheels start skidding during sharp turns…
4) Utilize Your Bike Geometry.
Most mountain bikes are designed in such a way that they can be ridden both backward and forwards but turning them is more difficult when they are steered forwards – this is because the handlebars are positioned more in front of the rider’s torso instead of further back, which makes it harder to reach them while turning. So if you’re riding your bike forward, your arms will be closer together, making it seem more difficult to steer through sharper turns. However, if you turn your bars all the way around while remaining on the same trajectory, you should find yourself able to negotiate sharp bends without losing much speed or traction.
5) Unweight Your Bike
If you’re already leaning your bike 45 degrees into a turn but still can’t go any faster, then try unweighting it by shifting your bodyweight even further over its side until you feel that it starts lifting the rear wheel. This will allow you to negotiate even the sharpest turns at full speed or even increase your control over the bike if it’s started fishtailing underneath you.
6) Brake Light When Cornering, Keep Your Braking Light (Especially on Wet Surfaces)
When you do this, you’ll be able to control your speed more easily and won’t have to worry about skidding out of control. You don’t need to use too much force either; just apply enough pressure in order to make your brakes squeal slightly – this will slow down both front and back wheels equally, which is what you want when turning.
7) Lean With Your Bike
If, for some reason, you’re unable to unweight the back tire, then try leaning your body 90 degrees from the bike instead of 45. This way, you’ll be able to direct your weight downwards and get it on top of the front wheel instead – this will allow you to keep both wheels gripping the ground while cornering, which is a lot more stable than leaning towards one side only.
8) Learn The Limits of Your Bike
If you’re going really fast, then there’s a high chance that you’ll start skidding when turning sharply. The best thing to do in such an instance takes a wider trajectory which will enable you to negotiate even the sharpest turns at full speed without losing traction or control… But if for some reason, this isn’t an option, either try lifting your rear wheel over obstacles while swerving around them – this will allow you to ride more aggressively even on rough surfaces without losing too much speed.
9) Corner Early and Choose The Widest Trajectory
Don’t wait until the last moment before turning, or you may find yourself running off of the road because of two reasons: firstly, your front wheel has a smaller turning radius than your rear wheel, so you want to start leaning early in order for both tires to have time to shrink their distance from each other. Secondly, if there is another obstacle ahead, then it’s better that you take it into account earlier rather than later by picking a wider trajectory with which to maneuver around it.
Getting good at cornering doesn’t come out of anywhere; it takes lots of practice and determination to master the art! So don’t be discouraged if you keep skidding out at first – just try again until you get it right.