We often get asked how to go faster on your mountain bike, check out our top 10 tips tips to get you smokin’ down the trail.
With practice, these tips will help you ride with more confidence, momentum, efficiency and control.
1. Keep your weight centered on the bike.
If the bicycle were removed from you while riding, you should fall flat on your feet (not your bum or face). Too far forward and you’ll be inclined to launch over the handle bars. Too far back and your front brake won’t be as effective as it should be.
2. Keep your body loose on the bike.
Arms and legs should be slightly bent and never fully extended. If you can’t wiggle your fingers, you’re holding on too tight – relax. One finger on the brakes – with today’s hydraulic disc brakes that’s really all you need. This allows you to keep a good handle on the grips.
3. Let your bike do the work, trust your bike.
Fighting your bike will make riding long, tiring and usually more bumpy that it needs to be. Let your bike flow, down the trail, into and around turns.
4. Speed and momentum are your friends.
If you come to a technical section, having some speed helps tremendously. If you are picking your way over and around every rock you are going to loose you momentum which will require more power to get your speed back up when the trail improves.
5. When in doubt, go straight.
Don’t waste a bunch of time and momentum trying to pick that perfect line every time. Focus on flow and keeping the bike moving.
6. Lower your tire pressure.
Keep your tire pressure around 25lbs, slightly more in your rear tire. Too much tire pressure is going to cause you to bounce all over the trail. Modern tires can handle the lower pressure (tubeless setup is recommend to eliminate the possibility of pinch flats).
7. Ride like a butterfly – float down the trail.
Push down into areas where you need traction (bermmed corners, etc.) and lift up in areas that are rough.
8. Keep your head up.
It’s OK to glance down at an obstacle or feature on the trail, but don’t fixate on it! Once you’ve identified your line, head back up and look down the trail.
9. Rail the corners.
As you turn, centrifugal force wants to throw you off your bike into the bushes (or cactus’s / poison oak) on the outside of the corner. So when you whip around a corner fast, you’ll want lean into it. But because your speed and the radius of the turn are rarely in sync, you need to lean your bike and your body at different angles. Generally, this means leaning your bike into the turn and keeping your body slightly more upright.
10. Brake before the turns.
Keep your momentum – brake BEFORE the turn, not in the turn. Already have your speed set prior to entering the turn and flow out the other side of it. If you brake in the turn, your bike will want to stand up, your traction will diminish and worst of all, you’ll have to power up again coming out of the turn.
Richard La China is a Professional Mountain Bike racer, USAC Certified Cycling Coach and a IMBA Certified Mountain Bike Skills Instructor who coaches beginner to pro cyclist. Currently working with mountain bike XC, Endurance and Enduro racers and other competitive and non-competitive mountain bike riders seeking to become their best.
I was actually surprised to learn so many little tricks!
Last Sunday I went to the Intermediate/Advanced mountain bike skills class in Malibu and loved it! I bike quite a...
Last Sunday I went to the Intermediate/Advanced mountain bike skills class in Malibu and loved it! I bike quite a bit and feel comfortable doing pretty tough trails, but I had never learned proper riding technique. This clinic focused on the skills needed to properly ride obstacles and how to ride them with maximum efficiency. I'm a professional drum instructor and I really enjoyed Richard's teaching methods. He not only showed us how to do something, but WHY we should do it. It really makes the information stick! Kris was great too, super motivating! I was actually surprised to learn so many little tricks and can't wait to practice them on my own! I'd love to go to another clinic or do a one on one session soon. ~Andrew T.
I love to ride bikes, and I love to ride them fast. After some years of road riding, I decided...
I love to ride bikes, and I love to ride them fast. After some years of road riding, I decided (read: my boyfriend suggested) that I should give mountain biking a try. And not just weekend lah-de-dah, pack-a-peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwich mountain biking--I decided I was going to RACE mountain bikes. After all, it couldn't be THAT hard, could it? I mean, I knew how to ride/race a bike, I had great fitness, and I had a totally sweet custom-built race mountain bike (courtesy of said boyfriend). So I signed up for a local race series. Well, several races and countless crashes later (and, allegedly even some tears--although I will deny it to my grave), I wanted to put the kibosh on my mountain bike race career. I had so many cuts, scrapes, gashes, and bruises that you'd have thought I was trying to bring the "mummy" look back into style with all my bandages. (Honestly, I should have bought stock in Band-aids and Advil.) And those were just the external wounds.... My pride/ego and my psyche took a big hit, too, and not even my beautiful series overall winner trophy could take that pain away (yes, I did win, but it wasn't pretty). I just couldn't understand how I could be so terrible at something (ie, how I completely lacked the bike handling skills to navigate around a course crash-free). However, instead of heeding my calls to sell/destroy/part-out my mountain bike--which at that point I had taken to calling "That Stupid Bike"-- my boyfriend suggested that I take a mountain bike skills class with Ninja Mountain Bike Skills. (My boyfriend....he is so full of suggestions). So, in March 2013 I took the Beginner Level 1 class and, wow! Boyfriend's idea was great (for once)! What an amazing and transformative experience. I had...
Aaron Lucy ran an AMAZING training camp,even as an experienced rider I learned all kinds of new skills about corning,...
Aaron Lucy ran an AMAZING training camp,even as an experienced rider I learned all kinds of new skills about corning, technical riding up and down trails, even properly setting my shocks for my exact body weight and riding style! Aaron knows his stuff and I highly encourage anyone even considering a training session to get on it! I use the skills I learned almost constantly when I ride (about once a week!) ~Bruce Barnes
I recently took the intermediate/advanced clinic. It was excellent and would recommend it to anyone who is looking to improve...
I recently took the intermediate/advanced clinic. It was excellent and would recommend it to anyone who is looking to improve their skills. All the instructors were great and made the clinic very fun and informative. ~Greg E.
They’ve helped build my confidence and competence!
Coming from a triathlon background I had spent most of my time on the road, though I did have a...
Coming from a triathlon background I had spent most of my time on the road, though I did have a few seasons of cyclocross under my belt. I was a novice mountain biker with just enough confidence to get myself into trouble on the trails. I started by attending the free Tuesday night mountain bike workouts at Balboa Park, led by Coach Richard. While these are primarily geared toward building fitness, we learned some skills tips and I met some cool folks. Since then I've taken the intermediate and advanced skills clinics, as well as raced a couple times. Coaches Richard and Kris are great at instruction, which is not easy. Most great riders cannot teach others to do the same, but these two are exceptional at it. They've helped build my confidence and competence. In fact they have taken time during weekday and weekend rides to help give me pointers! I joined Team Ninja to train and race with this fun crew and would highly advise you check them out! ~Henry H.
This truly life changing gift will be greatly appreciated by the recipient and is the perfect choice for birthdays, holidays, or any other gift-giving occasion!Gift Certificates are available for all Mountain Bike Skills Clinics, Camps, One-on-one Sessions and Ninja Gear. Order yours here.