What separates beginner mountain bikers from professionals is the ability to corner efficiently and make those incredible turns. After all, that’s what makes mountain biking an incredibly fun and adrenaline-fueled ride. Becoming an expert in cornering takes plenty of dedication and practice.
In this short guide, we’ve prepared some tips on how to improve cornering, get better control of your mountain bike, and master the technique.
Always Look Ahead
The foundation of an excellent cornering technique is the importance of knowing where you want to go. You need to anticipate what kind of terrain you’re headed into and what kind of turn you’ll be doing. It is impossible to do that if you are staring directly ahead of your front wheel.
To get an optimal view of the trail before cornering, make sure to look towards the apex, or inside, of the corner right before starting to corner. As you begin, switch your vision towards the exit of the corner to maintain vision and anticipation of the terrain ahead.
Always Brake Before Cornering
The best time to brake is when your mountain bike has the most grip, as it will quickly slow down the bike without affecting your balance. Breaking mid-corner is extremely difficult, as the tires will be sliding, you will shift in riding position, and the trail will throw new challenges at you.
Proper cornering focuses on the exit speed rather than entry speed. Try to avoid locking up your wheels in the middle of the corner. It might look flashy, but it will cause you to lose speed in the corners. Ideally, you should finish breaking before you start to lean into the corner and change your balance on the bike.
Always Downshift Before Cornering
The same logic which applies to gear shifting also applies here. If you fail to downshift gears before entering the corner, you will find yourself in an unreasonably high gear and will struggle to get up to speed on the corner exit. Similar problems will occur if you decide to downshift mid-corner, as you will lose the ability to control the bike’s speed.
By downshifting before the corner, you will find yourself in a more comfortable gear. You will be better suited to the exit speed of the corner, which is significantly slower than the entry speed.
By lowering your center of gravity when cornering, you’ll gain additional control and your bike will move faster through corners. This is relatively straightforward and easy to do – just make sure to transfer your center of gravity by bending your knees slightly and lower your chest towards the handlebars.
This position enables you to make quick transitions once you need to corner. You can quickly shift your balance to aid the bike in cornering and remove some stress from the tires. It might be challenging to get the position and transitions right at first, but with some practice, you’ll soon be able to carve trails.
Shift Your Weight to the Outside Pedal
If you break on time, reduce your speed before entering the corner, and are in a perfect riding position with a low center of gravity ready to lean into the corner, what could go wrong? Well, your inside pedal could get stuck in the ground as you lean into the corner.
To avoid these problems, shift your weight to the outside pedal as you lean into the corner. This will cause the outside pedal to go down, which will lift the inside pedal and prevent it from getting caught in the dirt. It might seem like a trivial thing, but not doing this could kick you off the bike. Additionally, shifting your weight to the outside pedal generates a better grip on the tires, which will improve cornering.
We hope that you find our advice useful and that some of these tips will help you become a better mountain biker. As you are dealing with a specific technique, it will take you some time to get everything down. But once you’ve mastered it, the trails will be yours for the taking.
- Mountain Biking Cornering Techniques – REI Co-op
- Trail Riding – 5 Tips to Improve Your Mountain Bike Cornering Skills – Decathlon
- 5 Top Tips to Improve Your Cornering – Red Bull