Mountain biking in mud or wet conditions? Here are three great tips that will boost your grip and control and stop you slipping and sliding over tricky obstacles.
No matter if it’s wet logs at an angle across the trail that you can’t bunnyhop, roots across a cambered trail, or a slippery ramped rock that you just can hit square on. These three tips will boost your grip and control.
They’re not the only three tips, though. There are more mud riding tips at the bottom, but these three are probably three of the least commonly known ‘cheats’. They’re simply to learn and easy to put into effect.
Before we get to them though, lets run through…
The Golden Rule of Mountain biking in Mud and Wet Conditions
The golden rule when mountain biking in mud and wet conditions is to approach all obstacles and surfaces as square on as possible. This minimizes, or prevents your wheels from deflecting and sliding out from underneath you. But,
it’s not always possible to approach every obstacle square-on. Even highly skilled riders find it difficult to time their weight shifting over slippery obstacles to maximise grip.
So, here are three great cheats you can use, even if you don’t have the skills of a Pro, to maximize your grip, speed and control in these tricky situations:
1. Reduce your suspension rebound settings by two to three clicks
(As a starting point) Reducing the speed at which your suspension rebounds – or extends back out – will slow the speed at which your bike bounces off or pushes back off the slippery log or obstacle.
- Helps you and the bike absorb more of the impact energy so there’s less energy rebounding to produce a slip or bounce
- The bike stays more planted, enhancing grip and control
- If you don’t have rear suspension, relax your legs a touch more to soften the rear wheel impact
2. Lower your tire pressure two to three psi
This reduces tire bounce similar to lowering suspension rebound.
- With less air pressure resisting the impact, your tire will rebound slightly slower, boosting grip and control
- Lower pressures increase the tire’s tread contact patch and their ability to conform to the shape of the obstacle. All this gives you more grip and control.
- Three p.s.i. might not sound like much, but it will provide a significant advantage. Just don’t go too low that you risk rim damage, punctures or tire squirm!
Check out the video below for a great visual comparison between high and low pressure contact patches.
3. Rise and Tilt
Rise off the saddle and tilt the bike vertically perpendicular to the obstacle or surface while you’re riding over it.
- Even if the obstacle is on an angle itself, ride your bike perpendicular to it
- Use the tire’s centre treads, so that your weight and pressure is applied square-on
- The more you use your tire’s off-centre treads in the wet the more you’re asking to slip!
Use these three tips and the bonus tips below for mountain biking in mud or wet conditions. I’m sure you’ll power over those tricky obstacles with more grip, speed, control and confidence than you thought possible.
The Video: 3 Secret Tips for Grip and Control over Slippery obstacles
Bonus Tips for Mountain Biking in Mud and Wet Conditions:
- Use momentum to get you over the slipperiest obstacles as far as possible before engaging smooth pedal strokes to finish the job.
- Avoid stomping on the pedals and breaking traction. Instead, pedal as smoothly as possible so that the delivery of power to the rear wheel is consistent and continuous. View the smooth pedal motion video here
- If you know it’s going to be a muddy ride, fit all-terrain or mud tires. Or at least fit the next size wider tire to what you usually ride in the dry. Here are Chris’ favorite all-terrain tires.
- Mud kills bikes, so avoid as much of it as possible. Mud reduces performance and accelerates wear of parts and components, bearings, your suspension and drivetrain. And the more mud on your bike and tires, the more energy it takes to pedal.
- Pick your lines well. Look for the more solid and grippier ground in every scenario. Watch other riders ahead of you to see how they handled the terrain. Did they slip? Or did they choose a good line for you to follow?
- Relax your shoulders and your grip on the bar. Get off your seat over obstacles and through deep mud, and let the bike move under you. Similar to riding through a rock garden, allowing the bike to wiggle under you, even as you pedal, is key to your success. View the rock garden video tutorial here
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