How to ride faster on singletrack


Widening the Turn is an great mountain bike cornering technique that helps you ride faster on singletrack.  Many mountain bikers use this technique already on wide open trails, without even realising it, because on wide trails it’s often the obvious path to take.

But,

not many mountain bikers use it on single track, always only riding in the middle of the trail.

It takes a higher level of precision riding and confidence in your ability to widen the turn on narrow trails, but it’s a very easy way to go faster on a mountain bike, on the right type of trails, for no extra physical effort.

The more you can widen the turns on single track to your advantage, the faster you will go.  You’ll ride with more flow and efficiency, leaving your mates choking on your dust.

The Four main parts to widening the turn to go faster on singletrack

Step 1  Set your speed before you enter the corner, so that you won’t need to brake around the corner. (the Golden Rule of Mountain Bike Cornering)

Step 2  Enter at the widest, grippiest part of the singletrack.  The video below gives good visual examples of the line you should take.  Sometimes you’ll forget to enter wide, or you may not be able to, But, just try to exit wide.

Step 3  Ride a smooth curve, through the corner apex, turning your head to look ahead around the corner for your exit path.  Look for your exit line so that you know how long you can stay wide after the exit.  (If the corner has a berm, then ride it, because it’s usually the fastest path).

Step 4  Exit the corner at the grippiest, most outside edge of the single track, AND stay there for at least a few metres if you can.

Exiting along the outside edge, as long as it’s a grippy and fast line, will straighten your exit path sooner, enable you to pedal out of the corner earlier and help you carry more momentum into the next section of trail.  It’ll also help you cut valuable seconds off lots of corners in your next mountain bike race, too. Seconds that can add up to minutes faster!

Learn the technique Faster with these Super Tips

Although Widening the Turn is a great cornering technique, it won’t suit every singletrack corner your encounter.  On some corners a wide exit will set you up poorly for the next section of trail.  And on other terrain, such as gravel or ‘loose over hardpack’, riding any line outside of the well-worn middle is asking for trouble.

Just look for the ‘widest and grippiest part of the trail’, and remember that for some trails the widest and grippiest path IS that middle well-worn line that everybody uses.

Use the Super Tips and the video below to help you perfect the technique, your riding line, and when and where to widen the turn.

  Super Tips:

  • the most inside line through the corner apex is not always the fastest
  • don’t widen the exit if it compromises your momentum through the next section of trail
  • practice on the same corners on familiar trails over and over again, to perfect the technique and the good habit of looking ahead around the corner
  • be prepared to consider different entry, apex and exit locations and lines on corners you’ve ridden a thousand times before using this technique
  • when exiting wider you’ll often be leaning less on the bike than before. This is a chance for you to start pedaling sooner and gain valuable seconds over your trail mates!