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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am new to MTB, been on it for about six months now and enjoying it immensely.

When I first started I had no expectations or idea on what I was doing which actually resulted in some pretty decent runs on my local trials (Berms sections ect ect)
However now I am more conscious of trying to improve times and increase skill level to do things “better/by the book” I feel (and the times I am getting support this) like my I am going backwards.

As an example which I would really like help/advise with: It seems on tight corners/berms I cannot get round without over shooting the corner and going badly off line, it’s like I can’t get tight enough. I am getting low with the dropper down but it feels I am leaning backwards really badly in the process – would that explain it?

Any help would be greatly received
 

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Shartacular Spectacular
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First off, stay loose and relax, you could be thinking so hard it’s tensing you up and making it hard for your body to naturally make the necessary adjustments to rail those turns. Focus on turning your hips hard in the direction you want to go and keep your eyes further down the trail where you want to go. Upon entering the turn you should be looking at the exit. It’s amazing how much doing these two things can help.

Also, brake early so you aren’t braking in the turn. Braking in the turn will stand the bike bike up and make it harder to hold your line. Finally, really lean the bike over hard and then dial in back as needed. I don’t know what tires you’re running, but leaning the bike over hard will ensure you’re engaging the outside lugs and not stuck in that vague area between the inner and outer lugs. You mentioned being way off the back of the bike, if too much of your weight is over the back, you could be losing grip in the front allowing it to wander— put more weight on your bars to engage your front tire and those side lugs as you are turning. If you’re still struggling, setup a camera/GoPro with a good view of a turn and take a video of yourself. Watch that video and see if anything stands out as looking odd.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
First off, stay loose and relax, you could be thinking so hard it's tensing you up and making it hard for your body to naturally make the necessary adjustments to rail those turns. Focus on turning your hips hard in the direction you want to go and keep your eyes further down the trail where you want to go. Upon entering the turn you should be looking at the exit. It's amazing how much doing these two things can help.

Also, brake early so you aren't braking in the turn. Braking in the turn will stand the bike bike up to and make it harder to hold your line. Finally, really lean the bike over hard and then dial in back as needed. I don't know what tires you're running, but leaning the bike over hard will ensure you're engaging the outside lugs and not stuck I that vague area between the inner and outer lugs. You mentioned being way off the back of the bike, if too much of your weight is over the back, you could be losing grip in the front allowing it to wander- put more weight on your bars to engage your front tire and those side lugs as you are turning. If you're still struggling, setup a camera/GoPro with a good view of a turn and take a video of yourself. Watch that video and see if anything stands out as looking odd.
Thats awesome advice, thank you very much.
 

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It seems on tight corners/berms I cannot get round without over shooting the corner and going badly off line, it's like I can't get tight enough. I am getting low with the dropper down but it feels I am leaning backwards really badly in the process
Over shooting and leaning back sound like braking issues. If you enter a corner hanging off the back off the bike and braking hard (some people get really far back while braking) then it's very hard to get into proper cornering position. Try a combination of braking early and when you brake get low but only as far back as you need to.

Other randoms tips...
1) Use your dropper (get one if you don't have one)
2) Use a pre-turn in tight corners (see video below)
3) Lean the bike more. It's easy to feel like you're leaning the bike a lot but you may actually be leaning your body into the turn and only leaning the bike slightly more.
4) Don't just go through the motions. You've learned the general form ( lean the bike not your body, drop the outside foot, etc.) but are you actually weighting the outside pedal, are you looking ahead, etc?
5) Carefully assess your body position. If you keep hitting corners and it feels wrong, think about why. Go back and session that corner and do some serious evaluation of what's happening.

I highly recommend Simon Lawton's videos on cornering. He breaks down a lot of aspects I haven't seen mentioned anywhere else.
 

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Wanna ride bikes?
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OP, you may benefit from a more aggressive front tire depending on what you have on there now.

I also like this vid.

Ultimately it takes time and practice. Think in terms of seasons and years, not weeks or months. It will come with more time and practice.
 

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Snow Dog
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a big piece of advice that has really helped me - and already mentioned in thus post - is the looking "past" or "Through" the turn/obstacle etc...for many things, this has helped me get through stuff on the trail. And repeating/re-riding the same area for reps will also help...I feel like the "looking down the trail" thing helps me connect the lines through the berms well

also, for your specific question, possibly try finding a skatepark maybe, and riding some of the curves in the bottom of bowls or quarter/half pipes. Doing that via BMX, for me, really gave me an edge for bike handling on berms and turns on the trail.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Consider some skills instruction. Lots of classes out there ranging from one-on-one stuff to group work. They all have their place. If anything, they can give you the tools that you can take home and use to practice more effectively. Plus, the group classes I've taken or otherwise attended have been a lot of fun.

For cornering, you absolutely need your body centered or slightly biased towards the front. Brake before the corner. When practicing, go even slower than you might when riding the trail, so you can dial in your technique and have more time to do so. Increase speed later as your comfort level increases and things become automatic. Lean the bike into the corner. ROTATE YOUR WHOLE BODY to point it where you want to go. Don't just turn your head to look. Stick your butt towards the berm! Seriously, hang it off the side of the bike so you can rotate your hips, point your belly button where you want to go (honestly, if you rotate like this, I don't think you'll even need to think about weighting the outside pedal...it'll just happen). Straighten your inside arm. Bend the outside arm. STAY LOOSE so you can adjust quickly!

I'll also reiterate it's going to take quite awhile to make notable improvements on any one skill. I've been riding for 20yrs and I'm still working on my cornering technique. I think about all of those things I mentioned above when I'm on a trail with lots of corners that affords me the opportunity to think about them and put them to practice. And honestly, if I slow down and focus on technique, I'm usually faster overall through the section than I am if I'm focusing on hammering hard (and not on cornering technique).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Consider some skills instruction. Lots of classes out there ranging from one-on-one stuff to group work. They all have their place. If anything, they can give you the tools that you can take home and use to practice more effectively. Plus, the group classes I've taken or otherwise attended have been a lot of fun.

For cornering, you absolutely need your body centered or slightly biased towards the front. Brake before the corner. When practicing, go even slower than you might when riding the trail, so you can dial in your technique and have more time to do so. Increase speed later as your comfort level increases and things become automatic. Lean the bike into the corner. ROTATE YOUR WHOLE BODY to point it where you want to go. Don't just turn your head to look. Stick your butt towards the berm! Seriously, hang it off the side of the bike so you can rotate your hips, point your belly button where you want to go (honestly, if you rotate like this, I don't think you'll even need to think about weighting the outside pedal...it'll just happen). Straighten your inside arm. Bend the outside arm. STAY LOOSE so you can adjust quickly!

I'll also reiterate it's going to take quite awhile to make notable improvements on any one skill. I've been riding for 20yrs and I'm still working on my cornering technique. I think about all of those things I mentioned above when I'm on a trail with lots of corners that affords me the opportunity to think about them and put them to practice. And honestly, if I slow down and focus on technique, I'm usually faster overall through the section than I am if I'm focusing on hammering hard (and not on cornering technique).
Thank you all for the help, very useful and I will take them all on board. Looking at some tuition/course and I have seen this one which looks good. Any feedback from the UK guys on this company? UK Bike Skills
https://ukbikeskills.co.uk/
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Thank you all for the help, very useful and I will take them all on board. Looking at some tuition/course and I have seen this one which looks good. Any feedback from the UK guys on this company? UK Bike Skills
https://ukbikeskills.co.uk/
They look pretty legit. First place I've seen that advertises a purpose built coaching facility.

I know a couple spots in the US that sorta do something similar, but it is just an ancillary service they offer in addition to camping/lodging, shuttles, and guiding. Definitely isn't their primary business model like the place you linked.

Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk
 

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jcd's best friend
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For a moment, I thought your post title was referring to riding backwards as in fakies!

Oh and looking toward your exit point does work. I was taught that during a motorcycle training course and it helped me do the figure 8 box test (and generalized cornering of a motorcycle).
 

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Always look where you want to go, not where you don't want to go. On the brakes early; 'trail braking' is ok; hardest braking is always in a straight line, less brake as you add turn, done with braking by mid turn/apex if not before.

My brother was really good at sitting on the bars (backwards) and riding around, he got stopped by the cops in college for riding 'backwards' down the street in the middle of the night; college town cops: "stop doing that!" "why not?" "... -just stop doing that!!". I can just barely do it.
 

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Professional Crastinator
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Go slower.
^^^This really is the root of the matter.

When you can corner and hit your line exactly right without brake dabbing, it's time to speed up.

Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.

Right?

It seems everyone always thinks they can change tires or watch some videos or get a dropper and suddenly everything will be AWESOME.

Wrong. Those are just distractions.

Go practice. Figure it out.

-F
 

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You've received some good advice, but I don't think anyone has suggested going out into the parking lot and practicing turns. I recommend starting slow and focusing first on keeping all your weight in your feet. Try to keep your arms totally loose while leaning the bike. All the weight should be in your feet. Inside foot should be forward, and you might want to drop the outside foot.

The goal here is getting used to how a bike naturally wants to turn. It also helps your body get used to turning while staying balanced and neutral--neither leaning forward nor hanging off the back--and screwing the bike into the ground with your hips. When you get good at this, you should be able to get a nice low turn while barely holding onto the bars at all. You'll likely need to have a pretty decent hip hinge to pull this off.

Later, you can add input from the arms to get more pump in the turns. Eventually pumping a turn will start feeling a lot like pumping a roller.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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You've received some good advice, but I don't think anyone has suggested going out into the parking lot and practicing turns. I recommend starting slow and focusing first on keeping all your weight in your feet. Try to keep your arms totally loose while leaning the bike. All the weight should be in your feet. Inside foot should be forward, and you might want to drop the outside foot.

The goal here is getting used to how a bike naturally wants to turn. It also helps your body get used to turning while staying balanced and neutral--neither leaning forward nor hanging off the back--and screwing the bike into the ground with your hips. When you get good at this, you should be able to get a nice low turn while barely holding onto the bars at all. You'll likely need to have a pretty decent hip hinge to pull this off.

Later, you can add input from the arms to get more pump in the turns. Eventually pumping a turn will start feeling a lot like pumping a roller.
good advice, but multiple folks DID recommend practice. I'm not sure the location matters a ton, so long as it's a place you can get super repetitive practice in an easy, low-consequence environment. parking lot. grassy field. your yard. bmx park. pump track. they all work. even a trail with repetitive turns can be good.
 

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good advice, but multiple folks DID recommend practice. I'm not sure the location matters a ton, so long as it's a place you can get super repetitive practice in an easy, low-consequence environment. parking lot. grassy field. your yard. bmx park. pump track. they all work. even a trail with repetitive turns can be good.
I think pavement is the best place to start, since it's readily available and it allows the rider to strip away most variables. Practice anywhere is better than practice nowhere, for sure.

And I just skimmed through the thread again, and no one mentioned practicing in the parking lot. So I was TECHNICALLY correct. LOL. I'm just glad no one is recommending that he change his pedal type or upgrade his suspension. :p
 
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