Well, we’ve gone and done it. Our plan is to introduce a small hint or tip with each video; something that can be practiced while you are out riding (with a laser).
Darren and I figured corners would be the best place to kick off the series because every trail has them. And while no two corners are the same, there are a few techniques that will work everywhere. Our hope is that you’ll experiment with a few of these pointers the next time you’re on your bike.
The hints, tips and pointers in this video are performed by professional instructors. Do not attempt to think that by watching this or any other “coaching video” you can recreate the scenes within. This series of videos is meant only to highlight the skills and services of real flesh and blood instructors. Please always consult a real life coach because the internet is dumb.
Here’s some detail for those yearning for it. The acronym I use to remember cornering skills is BATHE:
BRAKE before the corner.
Sterling Moss once said ‘It’s not how fast you go into the corner that counts but rather how fast you leave it.’ Slower in can mean faster out. Or at least not washing out. Do your braking way before the corner. Braking actually forces the bike to stand upright, something that will make the next step much harder.
Keeping your weight evenly distributed over the wheels is an important part of shredding those corners. While this stance is a bit exaggerated, it shows the rider’s weight driving down through the wheels by angulating the bike and not the body, twisting the hips in the direction you want to go, and weighting the outside hand.
ANGULATE the bike, not the body.
Another word for this is lean but this tends to give people the idea that they must lean into the corner like MotoGP racers. This is definitely not the case. Instead we are suggesting angulating the bike more than your body to generate traction we must get our weight directly over the tires.
TWIST the hips.
Point your flashlight (or your headlights if you’re a lady) in the direction you want to turn.
Furthermore, screwing your body into the bike (twisting down into the bikes and in the direction of the turn) gives you a lower centre of gravity (tall trees blow down in the wind) and gives you space to angulate the bike more. It is really quite simple. This is the one tiny technique that really makes a big difference to many riders.
Your bike will go in the direction you tell it to. Point with your hips and screw your body into the bike – this is an easy drill to practice on gradual slopes where you can control the bike’s speed by carving smooth turns.
Pressure control is the act of weighting and unweighting various parts of the bike throughout maneuvers, and it’s essential. When you angulate the bike, bring the outside hand towards your mid line and as you twist, drive your shoulder into it. As you angulate the outside grip becomes the top hand and will be close to directly over the tire contact patch now. Weight this hand more because it will drive your body weight into the tires.
EXPLOSIVE exit extension.
When you feel more confident with your cornering, start to drive even more traction to the tires towards the exit of the turn by pushing through your feet powerfully. You should be screwed into your bike anyway (step three: Twist), so as you unscrew try pushing yourself up to neutral position with a powerful push through the heels of your feet. This should drive more traction but also generate some momentum and bring you to the neutral position quickly, ready for the next corner or trail challenge.
Some riders prefer to corner with their pedals level, while others like to drop the outside foot. The fundamental technique of twisting the hips applies in both cases.
Side Note: Foot Position.
Some people tend to drop their outside foot (Steve Peat, Cedric Gracia and myself) whereas others will appear to keep their pedals pretty level (Sam Hill and Darren Butler) and others play for both teams. As long as you are driving your body weight into the tires.
For more advice please seek a reputable coach (Endless Biking would be a great choice here in on the Shore) or feel free to ask questions below.
With Hey Coach, NSMB.com will introduce you to the fundamentals of good riding technique through easy to practice tips. Get out there and twist those hips… and come back and talk about it! If you have any questions about these or other techniques, please leave a comment below.