Go 20% Faster: Flat out

By Guy Kesteven | Tuesday, December 4, 2007 12.00am

We've all got our regular trails that we're gradually getting better and better on, but wouldn't it be great to get significantly faster? And so quickly that your mountain biking mates won't know what's hit them?

On the face of it, getting you to ride 20 per cent faster in just a few weeks may sound impossible. But if each of our expert honed tips only gains you one per cent extra speed, you can see how the results soon start to add up.

We'll show you how to say goodbye to days when you ride like crap, and sections you never clear, with a quantum leap in your ability and riding attitude. We'll explain the small technical tips that'll unleash the natural speed of your bike as well as boosting your fitness so you're flying up climbs you'd cough your lungs up on right now. Whatever your current riding level, we'll make you the faster, smoother rider you've always wanted to be and free the speed that's bursting to get out of your bike...

Flat out

There's way more to fast singletrack riding than just pushing the pedals round quicker. Turn and burn like a trail top gun with our handful of high-speed techniques

Attack position

If you want to go fast, look like you mean it. Attack the trail by dropping your elbows and getting forward on your bike so you can really push the front tyre hard through corners and stop the firing back in your face. Just like on downhills, bending your legs will let the bike move around underneath you if you're cranking it right over or rattling over rocks.

Go fast, stop hard

You can brake even harder on the flat than you can on descents, so leave your braking till the last minute so you're going faster for longer. Braking hard can also help you corner by dipping the fork and steepening the head angle just as you turn in. Make sure you get off the front brake as soon as you actually start turning. A skim of back brake through corners can help increase front wheel traction and make sure that if any wheel slides, it's the rear one.

In slow, out fast

Charging flat out into a corner is pointless if you're slow coming out. Aim to carry as much speed through the corner as possible, but only if you can still hit the fastest exit line. If you're heading into a multiple corner sequence, choose a line that lets you set up for the best line on the last corner, even if that means going into the first corner relatively slowly. For a fast exit, always look as far up the trail as possible as soon as you've passed the apex.

Work with the trail

Watch a really fast rider and they'll ride parts of the trail you never even thought of. Swing wide up a bank coming into a turn to maximise the turning space. Use a root or rock to pop the bike up over a bigger obstacle or flick the bike into a turn faster than it would naturally go. If there's any sort of berm, use it to rail round the corner, going in as high and early as possible to maximise the effect. Don't just trundle round in other people's wheel tracks - start using all of the available space to boost your speed.

Pump it up

The irritating thing about following a top rider is the way they can just surge away without even pedalling. Their secret is 'pumping' the trail - sucking the bike up over upslopes that will rob you of speed then squeezing it down through the bars and pedals on the downslope to drive the bike forward. Practice 'pouncing' on every backslope or potential ramp and you'll soon be the one leaving your mates for dead.

Under pressure

Tyre pressure makes a huge difference in bike performance. Higher (35-40psi) pressures stop punctures and increase speed on hard rocky courses, while lower pressures (35-30psi) increase traction on loose or soft/rolling trails.

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