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10 Simple Ways To Improve Your Mountain Biking

15min
April 9th, 2022

No matter what we strive for in life, we’re always learning. Room for improvement is ever-present, and once you’ve figured out how to ride a mountain bike, the fun begins! You can focus on techniques to improve your riding, making the experience even more enjoyable!

By improving your mountain bike technique and learning a few mountain biking tricks, you’ll have more tools under the belt to up the enjoyment of your ride. It can also be good to avoid bad techniques and habits, which, if left unchecked, will develop and cause frustrating mishaps.

Continually practising the basics and mastering a few foundation techniques like positioning, cornering, braking and more means greater control and consistency. So with that in mind, read on for ten simple ways to improve your mountain biking.

Tip #1: Focus on your body position

When you are learning how to ride a mountain bike, it can be tricky to give too much focus to your body position. However, once you are more comfortable on the bike, you can give more mental energy to improving this element.

Body position refers to your stance when entering a technical section, as opposed to climbing or cruising along. For example, downhill runs with corners can be easier if you are in a position that allows for greater control of the bike.

Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Have your wrists positioned down slightly and rolled back
  • Keep your head up and look down the trail instead of just in front of the front wheel
  • When standing, remain constant and sustained (known as the ‘ready’ or ‘attack’ position
  • Keep your arms and legs bent slightly with your torso upright

Always remember, when tackling the challenging terrain, dropping your heels will make it easier to transfer force down and through the bike.

Tip #2: Ride In As Many Places As Possible

This won’t come as much of a surprise, but the more time spent on your bike, the better rider you will become. Reinforcing your riding skills is as simple as riding as much as possible. Mastering simple obstacles like a few stairs on your way to work or school makes it easier to tackle bigger obstacles when you are out on the trails.

Downhill runs are fun but technical, so the more time you spend on your bike, the more comfortable you’ll become, making it easier to react and learn where to put your weight. When you visit Lake Mountain, you’ll have lots of trail options to try various tricks and techniques as you boost your comfort level.

Pro tip: Getting comfortable enough that you avoid braking sharply on downhill sections is the goal!

Tip #3: Understand The Trail

Even though you are rushing through it, you want to understand your trail as best as possible. To do this, always look towards where you want to go. This will give you as much warning as possible about the roots and rocks that you need to navigate. Always place your focus on the line that you want to find the best way to take it.

Target fixation is a real thing (you can Google the term for a scientific explanation), and it explains that looking ahead to find your preferred line will lead to a smoother ride. Eventually, you’ll master your regular trails, so it’s time to explore new ones when you are ready for something fresh!

Tip #4: Practice Your Cornering

The ability to corner well is a great way to speed up your ride. When cornering off-road you should always set your speed before you hit the corner. Any braking should happen before entering the corner, as opposed to in the corner. So essentially, you want to set your speed and then avoid the brakes.

Always commit to the turn with your body following the line of the turn with your head, shoulders and hips. If you are tackling flat corners, keep your outside foot down and remember that your pedal position will vary depending on the corner. Try to avoid automatically dropping the outside pedal; if your pedals can remain level, you’ll be more balanced.

Tip #5: Always Look After Your Bike

A worker is only as good as their tools, and improving your mountain biking isn’t just about you; your bike needs to be in great shape as well. Basic bike maintenance ensures that you can always rely on your ride and be safe when out on the trails.

Check over your entire bike before and after every ride and look for anything that may be wearing out, cracked or broken. Small issues can grow bigger very quickly on a mountain bike. Before purchasing a new bike, you must ensure that you’ve chosen the right frame for your size. Anything too big or small can make things harder than they need to be!

Tip #6: Mastering The Climb

Downhill riding is lots of fun, but part of the deal is climbing! Control is the main mountain bike technique to consider when it comes to mastering the climb. Attacking a climb too much can result in your back wheel spinning or lifting up.

Saddle height is a big consideration on steep climbs. If you lower the height slightly, you’ll be better centred on the bike, which also keeps the front wheel from lifting while maintaining balance and traction. Always keep your head up to negotiate the terrain and set your gearing early. Remember, smooth, steady pedalling is the key to keeping traction up a hill!

Tip #7: Aim to relax

While we do put some effort and consideration into our bike’s suspension, it is important to remember that your body is also a form of suspension – and an important one! Your arms and legs will do a lot of the suspension work, so be sure to stand up, relax yourself and let your arms and legs absorb the intricacies of the trail.

If you can feel how to let your bike move beneath you, you’ll tackle the various obstacles you encounter with ease. Relaxing your grip is also beneficial; white-knuckling will tire your forearms and hands quickly, and you’ll actually have less control of your bike despite thinking you have more.

Tip #8: Descending - The Fun Part

We all love riding downhill on the perfect line, but we need to be vigilant if these areas are particularly technical or steep. When riding downhill, avoid braking too sharply, as this can cause you to lose balance and skid. Instead, stay tall on the bike and always set your sights on the end of the section.

By staying smooth on the brakes and setting your speed before hitting the downhill section, you’ll be able to increase your confidence and enjoyment of your downhill runs. Always start small and build up to the bigger sections; they’ll always be there waiting for you when you are ready!

close up off mountain bike tyres with a guy riding the bike

Tip #9: Throw In Some Wheelies

Wheelies are not only just fun mountain biking tricks, but they are also a good way to get your front wheel over an object on the trail. You don’t even need to get your wheel off of the ground; even just lifting your weight makes your run smoother in specific sections.

A basic wheelie involves pulling up the handlebars and moving your weight over the back wheel. Next, push down on the up pedal, then come back down, or continue pedalling and try to maintain the wheelie. If you tip too far back, just pull the rear brake. You’ll be impressing onlookers in no time!

Tip #10: Head Out On Trails With Better Riders

It’s always easier to learn from those that are more experienced. Plus, you’ll likely push yourself a little harder as you pick up tried and proven riding habits. If you can ride with experienced mountain bikers, you’ll have a lot of fun and be able to watch how they position their bodies, handle rocky sections and even fix a flat tire from the side of a mountain.

Join a riding group or simply network when you are out on trails to meet like-minded riders. You’ll probably make some new cool friends along the way as well!

Practice Your MTB techniques at Lake Mountain

Lake Mountain is the perfect spot to practice all of the above tips and improve your riding. We have plenty of trails for mountain bikers of all levels and are very close to Melbourne CBD. A day trip to hit some trails on the bike has never been easier!

Before you head up, check out our clothing essentials for mountain bike riding article to ensure you have all the gear you need. Then it’s just a short drive to find some fun trails and other riders to learn from at Lake Mountain.

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