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'm a road Triathlete that lucked into a XTERRA World Championship slot via the lottery last year. Being a road...
I'm a road Triathlete that lucked into a XTERRA World Championship slot via the lottery last year. Being a road triathlete, I had very little experience and no technical skills on a mountain bike. I took the Ninja beginner and then intermediate classes almost back to back. Richard is a great teacher, and taught the sequential skills that matter most. He does a great job of "breaking things down" with the what and the why, and illustrates the information well with his demonstrations, all the while, delivering it with a sense of humor and enthusiasm. Richard's instruction helped me successfully get through a very technical course in Maui without major injury! Yea, thank you Richard!!. Whether a complete beginner or an advanced rider, I promise you can take a lot away from his classes.... and, let's be honest ...Who doesn't want to be a Ninja! ~ Ray S.
Team Eastlake Cycling Team thank you for your time, energy and expertise…
I’ve been coaching road & track riding for years. Got into mtn bike riding because of the terrain near our...
I’ve been coaching road & track riding for years. Got into mtn bike riding because of the terrain near our home AND my daughters like to ride in the dirt. Took classes through the high school league to be more acquainted with the fundamentals skills and acquire more knowledge of the NICA league rules. Coach La China and staff broke down the skills for our team riders in a fun and engaging process. Team Eastlake Cycling Team thank you for your time, energy and expertise to bring our riders to a new level of confidence. ~Ron G.
I really enjoyed the Intermediate/Advanced clinic with Aaron in Palmer Park, Colorado Springs. Aaron made sure that every skill was...
I really enjoyed the Intermediate/Advanced clinic with Aaron in Palmer Park, Colorado Springs. Aaron made sure that every skill was practiced thoroughly. He was paying attention to every move and detail and was very patient. My riding has definitely improved since than and I have been practicing the skills a lot on single track. The best advice I received - visualize yourself doing it! I definitely recommend this class to bikers of all levels. ~Yana Brown
I consider myself a strong intermediate MTB rider; I love highly technical downhill single track trails. A friend suggested I...
I consider myself a strong intermediate MTB rider; I love highly technical downhill single track trails. A friend suggested I take a multi-day skills clinic to help get to the next level. After a brief search I found that Ninja Bike Skills 3 day skills clinic up in Big Bear CA. If you have never taken a class then the old adage "you don't know what you don't know" probably holds true; it did with me. While it the clinic started off simple, the skills taught build on one-another to ensure you have solid foundation basics needed to safely leverage the higher skill stuff taught at the back end of the class. Richard and Aaron brought two great perspectives as one is a XC/Edurance/Enduro rider and the other is dedicated to gravity downhill. The teaching style was simple and actionable. All the Ninja instructors are very knowledgeable and very passionate about MTB which is infectious and make the class fun. I would highly recommend to any level riders who have never had any instruction in MTB skills. Plus if you take the class at a place like Snow Summit Big Bear, you get to ride amazing trails!! ~Greg A.
Woohoo! As good as it gets is appropriate! Richard is not only a great rider, he is a great teacher!...
Woohoo! As good as it gets is appropriate! Richard is not only a great rider, he is a great teacher! I would encourage everyone to stay away from the mind trap that buying a more expensive mountain bike is what you need to ride better. Spend the money on lessons instead, and I know you will be happier (and safer) in the long run. I can't say enough positive things about the Bike Skills clinics. ~ Chris G.
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.