Corner Like You’re On Rails – Mountain Bike Cornering Technique

Do you want more speed in the corners than you have now? Yes please. How about having the ability to rail corners so fast and in control that it’s like you’re glued to railway tracks? Yes again.

Building on Mountain Bike Cornering Basics

Cornering on rails is all about taking your basic mountain bike cornering skills from How to corner on a mountain bike and building on those to bring greater intention, flow and control to your cornering style.  And it’s this intention, flow and control that will give you extra cornering skill and speed.  So here’s the…

Advanced mountain biking cornering technique

Push down on the outside pedal as usual, bum off the saddle.  But this time add these three

1. swing your outside knee closer to the bike frame as you’re turning,


2. point your belly button around the corner, twisting your hips slightly to help both knees point around the corner, and

3. Lower your head and chest to your inside hand (often 2 or 3 inches lower is all that’s needed)

Simple as that, just like in the photo.  Outside foot down, outside knee in, slight hip twist, chest drop.

Using these three techniques helps you hold more cornering speed with more control because it lowers your centre of gravity to the inside of the corner  In addition, it also trains you to use your body to talk to the bike, and put more intention into your cornering style.

Find a corner and go try it

Go find a familiar corner.  Ride the corner like you usually do.  Then, ride it again using this new mountain bike cornering technique.  And what happened?  Well, if you’re like most new comers to this tip, you’ll probably say something like ‘the corner felt easier, the bike almost turned itself’.

Tune your cornering skills wih the 9 Steps to Mountain Bike Cornering below:

Mountain Bike Cornering Technique – The 9 Steps

1. Set your speed – A rolling tire has more traction and therefore gives you more control than a braking or skidding tire.  So, set your corner speed before you enter the corner using the Golden Rule of Cornering.  This way you’ll have more control because you won’t be changing your speed and grip levels or struggling for control while you’re turning

2. Change gears – If you’re not going to pedal around the corner, before going into it, shift to the gear you want to use for pedaling out of the corner.  This way you’ll be in the right gear to pedal back up to speed after the corner is done

3. Look ahead – Your wheels will follow your eyes.  Look ahead into the corner, then by halfway around, start looking up and through the corner exit to where you want to go next.  Ignore insignificant trail features

Notice the outside knee and hips turned in?

4. Relax your hold – Keep a strong, but relaxed hold of the handlebar and drop your shoulders so that you’re not shrugging them

5. Position your body – Ride with a good, balanced position over the bike so that both tires are gripping well

6. Push on the outside – If you’re not pedaling the corner, push your outside foot down on the pedal as you turn. This technique works like magic to help ground the tires, particularly on off-camber corners!

7. Outside knee in – Swing your outside knee in to encourage your bike to turn. The more aggressive and the tighter the corner, the more of a ‘swing’ you can put into it

8. Hip twist – Add more intention by turning your hips into the corner. It’s not a bus, it’s a bike, so get your whole body into it!  Subtle hip movements help your body talk with your bike to create greater flow and control

9. Drop your center of gravity – Lowering your centre of gravity will help you corner faster. It’s easier to do with the seat down of course, but even with the seat up in XC mode you can drop your elbows, shoulders and head down and closer to your inside hand to hold more speed and improve your stability and control.

Works particularly well on rhythm turns and high speed sweeping corners.  Go try it!  You’ll be amazed at how much more corner sticking power a three inch drop will give you.

Super Tip : Front Wheel Wash-out – If your front wheel is slipping or washing out on corners you’re probably cornering with too much rearward bias.

To fix this mid-corner just perform a simply weight shift forward. Sometimes a simply shift of your head and chest closer to the inside hand is all it takes for your front wheel to find more traction.  It may feel un-natural at first to make these mid-corner adjustments, but with practice it becomes automatic, and the slip stops instantly.

Find the Grip

For the next week treat every corner as a practice corner.  Follow the nine steps and focus on finding grip for both the front and rear treads.  Feel what works and gives you greater stability at speed.

Ride all sorts of different corners to improve your knowledge on the subtle differences in centre of gravity, speed and body position between them all.  Soon you’ll be able to find the right position for traction and speed in any corner without even thinking.  And don’t forget to follow…

The Golden Rule of Mountain Bike Cornering

Focus on exiting the corner fast, rather than entering the corner fast. Follow that Golden Rule and the nine techniques above and soon, you’ll be cornering faster than ever before.  Oh, and make sure you’re riding on mountain bike tires suited to the terrain your ride.  The right tires make a huge difference to your cornering ability. See the Tire Selection Guide below.

Where to Next:

Faster Cornering: S-Bend Super Tip
How to Choose the Right Mountain Bike Tires – 6 Step Guide
How to Use a Dropper Post for MORE than Just Downhill

Special tire code for the MTBtips Community:

Use the voucher code MTBTIPS online HERE at Chain Reaction to receive an EXTRA 10% OFF ALL tire prices. NOTE: The code expires at 12pm (BST) on 29th July.

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