Everything you need to know about trail riding & off-road biking


Whether it's the countryside near your home or visiting a specific trail graded centre, there is a wealth of active clubs and trails to keep you and your MTB covered in mud. The key to riding well on a mountain bike trail - let the bike do the work. But there are a few things that you'll need to do to make that a reality and become an off-road master.

1) Stay loose - don't fight the bike

As you tear down different trails, let the bike do its job and deal with anything in its path, assuming it's not an obstacle. Keeping your elbows and knees unlocked is critical as this will allow your arms and legs to let the bike flow over more technical off-road terrain.

2) Use your momentum on the trail

Momentum doesn't necessarily mean speeding up, unless you are confident you can deal with it. It's about keeping going as this will make clearing difficult terrain easier. It's not just about the pedalling either, there will be points when you need to keep the pedals horizontal and thrust the bike forward or up over bumps on the trail.

3) Shift your weight backwards

Keeping your weight to the back and leaning forward will give you greater control when going downhill. Putting your weight forward on the pedals when you have a climb will keep the back wheel working for you. The key to dealing with different off-road terrain is to look ahead, not down, which will keep you on the right side of the handlebars.

4) Easy on the brakes

You might be tempted to grab both brakes when you see obstacles, but setting your brakes to be super sensitive means you can just apply a quick finger grab to ease the pace. This will have two benefits. You'll keep the momentum going and will keep the rest of your fingers on the handle bars to allow greater control of direction. A top tip is just to work the back brake, this might result in a slight skid but it will stop you going over the handlebars.

5) Use your gears - they're there for a reason

Ensure you shift before you get to the next piece of terrain. Look where you want to go, not directly at what might be in the way. Focus on the exit and keep the centre of gravity low and if in doubt lean back over the rear tire. It might sound obvious but also make sure your suspension is not locked before you head out as this will hamper your opportunity to switch gear smoothly in tricky terrain.

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