It doesn’t take superpowers to be able to carve around corners like a pro, but it does take patience, perseverance and practice to master the manoeuvre. It’s usually one of the first things that people want to learn how to do when they start mountain biking and, once you have perfected your corner carving technique, the rest of the skills you will need will come easily. So, to help you carve corners like a pro, in this post in our series of best mountain bike tips and tricks, we will go through the basics that you will need to know to become a master at carving those tricky corners.
As any experienced mountain biker will tell you, no two corners are exactly alike. They come in different shapes, sizes, inclines and terrain, and each new corner brings a brand new challenge. The trick is to take every corner you encounter smoothly and safely until you have fully mastered how to take them at speed. We’ll start this best mountain bike guide with a few tips on braking.
The first thing you need to learn that will help you make the best mountain bike turns is the basics of slowing down so that you can get the right angle going into a corner. Rather than constantly applying the brakes into and around the turn, you should hit the brakes before the corner to slow your speed and then release the brakes gradually as you perform the corner carving. Obviously this all depends on the type of corner because, as we know, they all vary but, for most general corners, this is the style of braking you will need to adopt. What you definitely shouldn’t do is brake suddenly when you come to a corner as this will put you and your bike off balance and you will lose traction as you take the corner, which could well have you falling off the bike.
Once you have mastered the braking techniques, the next thing to practice is the angles you adopt when you take a corner. To get the angle right, you will need to lean your bike to the side to counterbalance your body position and try to shift your body weight to the pedal on the outside of the corner, which will give you better traction and stop sliding out. You might find this a little unnerving the first few times you do it, but as you will soon learn, you can lean a bike to quite a severe angle and you won’t fall off. If you take a look at some video clips of some of the best mountain bike riders, you will see what we mean. It might take a bit of practice to master this manoeuvre. It would be advisable to start learning how to carve corners on soft, open ground, before you try it on a rough trail.
As you take the curve at speed you will have already applied the brake pressure and adopted your body to the correct angle. The next step in carving out that perfect corner is to twist your body, which will lower your centre of gravity. Not many novice mountain bikers remember to do this, but it does help to provide a much better sense of space and stability, which goes hand in hand with the angulation method we spoke about above.
Remember, too, to push your body weight into the bike’s front wheels as you turn the corner so that so that you get the maximum traction applied to the ground. This tip alone will make an amazing difference in how well you can take a corner at speed on your mountain bike.
You may not have thought that how you position your hands would really make all that much of a difference to how well you can carve a corner, but you’d be surprised at just how important this is. Your grip and how you place your weight through your hands will make a huge difference to your stability when you take a corner. To get the most traction out of your mountain bike, hold the handlebars with a firm grip and try to keep your shoulders over the handlebars. With your weight leaning over the front forks, you will be able to take the corner faster and keep the bike more stable.
When the bike is going through the angulation process this is the ideal time to shift your weight to maximise the traction. To perfect this technique and to make the best mountain bike turns, try practicing at slower speeds to begin with. Once you have mastered carving corners at slow speeds, the same techniques will work like a dream when you take corners at high speed.
Taking a corner on a mountain bike is no different from cornering on any other type of bike, apart from the fact that you are likely to be riding on loose, rough ground. Because of that, you need to shift your centre of gravity by leaning the bike whilst at the same time shifting your weight onto the outside pedal and the front forks to maintain your traction.
Once you have mastered the basics of carving a corner, you can try things like pushing yourself up from your bike to push more weight down on the front wheels. Then there is bumping the bike, which means pushing your weight toward the front as you enter the corner and then letting the weight transfer to the rear of the bike as you exit the corner, and then you can also try power pedalling your way out of the corner to gain the maximum exit speed and more traction.
As with all the best mountain bike tips; practice makes perfect! Follow these basic tips and study other people’s cornering techniques and you too will soon be carving corners like a pro.
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