How to drift your mountain bike

Here’s how to slide in style

Being able to drift a corner is a great feeling when you nail it. Breaking grip with both wheels drifting together – off the brakes, at speed and in control– is arguably one of the hardest skills you can master, yet get it right and it’s also one of the most fun and rewarding. Here's how to do it.

1. Plan ahead

Look for turns that are relatively smooth and provide you with the space to drift wide without hitting trees or rocks. 

Set up your turn early, giving yourself room to relax as you cut the apex, and then push the tyres to drift out wide on the exit.

2. Push it

Push the front hard as you enter the apex, then back off it as you first feel the tyre start to break grip, by moving your weight slightly towards the rear of the bike – this should cause the back tyre to follow. 

Steer into the drift and try to feel where your weight needs to be. As a rule of thumb, you don’t want the front weighted too lightly or it’ll wash out.

3. Mid is good

Make the most of the winter and don’t avoid wet and muddy rides – it’s far easier to practise drifting corners when the ground is soaking wet and muddy! 

You break grip at lower speeds, must work harder to control the drift and if you fall then the ground is softer. 

When you’ve mastered the mud, you can try the higher speeds and consequences of drifting in the dry.

4. Look for the catch

If you can see a bank or camber on the outside of a turn that’ll catch you, it’s much easier to commit. Pushing so hard that both tyres break grip is less nerve-wracking when you know that you’ll always drift out to the catch, which will pick the bike back up, rather than going down in flames!

Profile: Rowan Sorrell

Job: Elite level racer and professional track builder

Credentials: Rowan has been racing for years and also runs trail building firm Back on Track. He knows a thing or two about riding hard and fast, as can be seen from his trails at BikePark Wales.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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