Riding techniques explained

Key mountain biking skills part 4: riding techniques explained

Previously in our key mountain biking skills series we’ve focused on mastering specific skills, like lifting your front and rear wheels, that will help you to overcome trail obstacles safely.

We’re now going right back to basics with a quick low-down on the various techniques involved in mountain biking and some tips on how to achieve these effectively.

Pedalling: For effective pedalling, SPD pedals and shoes (“clipped-in” style) are recommended and you should try to achieve a circular motion when pedalling, and avoid a chopping style where you are pushing down and only using half the pedal stroke.
Braking: Mountain bike brakes are very powerful these days, hydraulic and disks are a great combination, but require a different style of braking to V-brakes. Getting used to a one finger braking style and modulating your braking will stand you in good stead. Modulating: don’t grab a hand full of brake, bring on the power slowly and gradually.
Climbing: A great tip for climbing: when it gets steep, keep your elbows in to your side, this will help to keep the front wheel on the ground and avoid it wandering around the trail in front of you. Also, pull yourself forward on the saddle a little to move your weight towards the front of the bike, this will also keep the front wheel on the ground.
Descending: Always stand up when descending, keep arms and legs slightly bent and allow them to move – don’t lock them!

Gear usage: When changing gear, think about releasing some of the pressure that you have going through the chain when pedalling, ease off when changing but continue to turn the pedals, and you will achieve a smooth gear change.
Where to look: Always look between 3m and 10m up the trail in front of you, this way you will see what is coming towards you before you are actually there, and yes, even in corners look along the trail, where you want to go.
Attack position: This combines a number of the techniques described above, so, bend your arms and legs, allow them to move with the trail, look further up the trail than your front wheel, cover your brake levers with one finger and even dip your heals a little, and you will descend like a trail ninja!

Focusing on one skill at a time when you’re out on your local trails will help build your technique and confidence on the bike and prepare you for your next incredible mountain biking adventure! with our riding techniques explained series.

For further training advice, why not check out our “Skills and fitness explained“, “Skills part 1” and “Training for your mountain bike tour” blog posts.