Elite level racer Joe Rafferty heads up his own coaching business, Pro Ride, and has been passing on his expertise to riders for over 10 years as a full-time skills coach. Here he focusses on mastering switchbacks and shares these four steps to get round even the tightest bends.
- 5 tips for tackling loose descents
- How to ride flat turns at maximum speed
- How to manual a mountain bike
Enter too fast and you’ll have to slam on the anchors so you don’t overshoot. Get your head up and spot the exit early so you can judge your entry speed.
If it’s a steep corner you may need to brake mid turn to keep your speed under control. Release the front brake slightly earlier than the rear to allow the front tyre to grip and hold the turn.
2. Line choice
Take a wide line to increase the room you have to turn, making sure your tyres are on the outside of the bend when you enter.
On natural trails it’s unlikely there’ll be a berm to help you round the corner, but look for a small rut or camber you can hit with your tyres to help you turn faster and get more predictable grip.
3. Body position
Keep your elbows bent, stay low and don’t hang off the back of the bike or you’ll lose the front wheel. Keep your head up and eyes looking through the turn. Aim your hips and body through and the bike will follow. Dipping and weighting your outside pedal will help you lean the bike and turn your hips.
4. Advanced skills
If a turn is super-tight then a pro trick is to use an endo to get round. Use the front brake and your bodyweight to unweight the back end and lift it off the ground, and then swing the rear wheel around.
Make sure you’re comfy doing an endo and pivoting on the front wheel on the flat before trying this in a switchback!