10 tips every mountain biker can use

Mountain biking through natural terrain with backpack

Mountain biking is not for the faint-hearted, particularly on the last climb to the top of the hill. Here are 10 ways you can help you climb those altitudes with ease.

1. Pace your breathing

This goes without saying; however it’s more pertinent in high-altitude situations. Focus on keeping your breathing at a good pace when you are exerting yourself during the climb. After the climb, continue a good breathing pace to “catch up” before you hit the next climb.

2. Focus on where you want to go

Also known as ‘target fixation’ – when you are on the trail, look where you want to go, especially on trails with plenty of roots and rocks. If you look at the rock or tree that you are trying to avoid, you will probably hit it. Instead, focus on the line that you want to take.

3. Drop your saddle

Drop your saddle a few millimetres, so it’s easier to push your weight backwards on steep descents. While you’re at it, set your brake levers at 45 degrees, so there is a notional straight line down the arms through the hands.

4. Learn to corner

Learning to corner properly is a fundamental skill with bike park riding. Throughout all trail types and difficulties, cornering properly will help you stay in control while carrying momentum throughout the trail.

5. Accessorise! Accessorise!

Other than your bike there are a few bits of kit you really can’t live without when you’re out on a ride. If you don’t buy anything else, make sure you invest in a solid helmet. There are a lot of options when you’re shopping for your first helmet, but we’d recommend you go with a full face helmet. Have a look at our MET Helmets.

6. Stop! In the name of safety

Hopping and balancing skills really pay off when riding technical trails. Having the ability to come to a stop and then start again without putting a foot down makes it easier to keep your momentum.

7. Brake early, but not often

Not only is braking the whole way down hard on your arms and hands, it’s not great for your brake pads or your bike’s handling, because it changes the way force is exerted on your wheels.

8. Shift often

Beginning riders should practice frequent gear shifting. This builds muscle memory so you can intuitively shift up or down as needed without having to think about whether you’re shifting to an easier or more difficult gear.

9. Ride everywhere

The more time that you spend on your bike, the better you will get. Ride to the mailbox, to the store, to the coffee shop. This will help to reinforce your riding skills as you ride up and down curbs, dodge potholes and outpace friendly competitors. Once you can easily ride down two or three stairs, you can approach trail obstacles with a little more confidence.

10. Mind your manners

Mountain biking is often done on trails or roads shared with other users, such as hikers and horses. Always be a courteous and responsible rider and be in control of your bike. Ride only on trails open to mountain bike use. Here are some of the most important rules.

• Always yield right-of-way to cyclists traveling uphill (in single-track, stop completely and lift the bike out of the trail).

• Slow down when approaching hikers or horses and give them a wide berth. A good approach to dealing with horses is to take direction from the horseback rider.

• Let other trail users know you’re coming – give a friendly greeting.

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