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…
Descending faster isn’t just about having bigger balls or more travel. Our five tips will speed you up whether you’ve just started or you’re already a gravity guru…
1. Braking balance
The harder you can stop, the faster you can go in between. Too much front brake, though, and you’ll throw your bike’s steering right out or go clean over the bars. In contrast, using your back brake will act like a stabilising anchor, keeping the bike running straight even through rough sections. The trick is to scope well ahead so you can brake as hard as possible before steep or really rough sections, then roll through down them with minimum front brake. Whenever you’re going downhill, practise stopping hard and then letting go and staying loose and relaxed until you need to slam on again.
2. Drop it like it’s hot
To achieve maximum braking traction and minimum chance of ejection, get your body as low and backwards as possible. Bend your knees, push back with your arms and slide your arse to the back of the saddle. On really steep slopes, drop your saddle and get right off the back of it so the tyre is literally buzzing on your butt. You’ll suddenly find that you can roll down or over anything without worrying.
3. Chill down the hill
However much suspension you’ve got, staying relaxed is the key to real smoothness. Don’t tense up and lock yourself rigid. Keep your elbows and knees slightly bent outwards to set up a naturally relaxed, mobile position. This instantly improves your control and composure because it allows your bike to move around underneath you rather than bouncing you all over the place. You might think you don’t do it, but holding your breath when you’re scared is an instinctive natural reaction. The trouble is, it’ll make you even more panicked and pumped, so try to stay breathing deeply and regularly at all times.
4. Straight down
Wherever you lose control on a descent, corners are where most accidents end up happening, so eliminate as many as possible. Look ahead and pick the longest, straightest lines possible between turns. This stops the front wheel getting knocked sideways and tucked round underneath you, and keeps you straight when you’re braking hard. It gives you maximum time to set up the corners that really are there. If possible, stay central to the trail on straight sections too. That way you’ve got both left and right options to take, if dead ahead suddenly looks genuinely deadly.
5. Stay low, stay fast
Showboat jumping looks cool but it’s not fast. Take a tip from the fastest racers and keep yourself grounded instead. By lifting the front wheel before a jump and sucking it up – or prejumping so you land on top or even on the backslope – you stop yourself getting fired into the air. This means you’re back on the ground much quicker after every drop or jump so you can brake, make the turn or get the power down as quickly as possible.