How to Corner on a Mountain Bike

Learn how to corner on a mountain bike with skill and control using these 6 simple mountain bike cornering tips.  Once you’ve nailed them, follow the link at the bottom to the advanced cornering techniques.

But be warned.  There are no shortcuts to speed.  Make sure you get these basic mountain bike cornering skills right first.  Only then will you have a solid foundation on which to build your cornering technique even further.

He’s fast…

We’ve all seen a fast mountain biker who just doesn’t look fast. “He makes that look so easy,” everybody says. That’s because his technique is so smooth and relaxed that he simply flows with the bike.

So, what can we learn from that fast mountain biker?  Don’t try too hard and make sure you:

Keep relaxed to keep the flow

Sure it’s hard to relax when you’re worried you’ll crash, but relaxing really is the key.  If you really want to learn how to corner on a mountain bike smoothly, then you need to start with your mind:

  • avoid thinking too much about what to do
  • only think about the six mountain bike cornering tips each time to approach a corner
  • as your skills improve, think about less and just ride with feel
  • avoid tensing your body on the bike.  Tension slows you thoughts and your reactions.
  • enjoy the corner

How to corner on a mountain bike – 6 easy steps

How to corner on a mountain bike

Lead the bike with your eyes

1. Set your speed. Set the speed at which you want to ride the corner, BEFORE you enter the corner.  And, follow the Golden Rule for Cornering on a Mountain Bike which is: Focus on exiting the corner fast, rather than entering the corner fast.

Avoid braking heavily or skidding around corners as this reduces your control and ability to exit the corner fast.

2. Change gears. If going to roll the corner then pedal the exit, shift to that next gear before entering the corner.  That way you’ll be in the right gear in advance to efficiently pedal back up to speed once the corner is done.

3. Look ahead. Look ahead into the corner, quickly scanning the corner with your eyes.  Shoot your eyes to the exit as you ride the turn.

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

5. Position your body. Put most of your weight through the seat and / or the pedals.

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 improve traction, particularly on off-camber corners!

Super Tip: Your wheels will follow your eyes

Follow the golden rule of mountain biking and look where you want to go, instead of looking at what you want to miss.  Lead your bike forward by looking ahead and around the corner.

How to corner on a mountain bike even faster

Get good with these basic cornering skills, then take the next step .  Check out How to corner like you’re on Rails in the advanced mountain biking tips section.  There you’ll learn how to corner faster still.

And remember, the right mountain bike tires make a huge difference.  They’re one of the most important upgrades you can make on your bike.  Just like on race cars and motorbikes, good quality tires suited to the terrain you ride, and inflated to the right pressure, will provide far better control.  So, make sure your tires are up to the task, otherwise you might keep struggling in those corners.


Where to Next:

How to Corner Like You’re on Rails
22 gear Shifting Do’s and Don’ts – How to Gear Shift on a Mountain Bike – Shared 10,000 times!
Faster Cornering – S-Bend Super Tip

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