The Head Float Mountain Bike Control Tip for Surprise Rough


Here’s a mountain bike control tip for those times when you get surprised by a section of rough trail that literally wants to throw you off your bike.

You know the scenario: You’re riding along having a good time, then all of a sudden out of nowhere are some rocks, roots or ruts on the trail that you didn’t see. The surprise makes you panic. Your natural instinct kicks in and you instantly grab the brakes, and…

…everything shakes to a dead stop. Or maybe just a slow. Either way it’s hard to get going again, or keep the little momentum you have left. And you think to yourself, ‘I wish I had the skill to ride through that, instead of panic.’

Well, here’s the skill.

The Head Float Mountain Bike Control Tip

Next time a section of rough sneaks up on you, take that leap of faith, trust your skills, and do the opposite to what you would normally do.

Make it your natural instinct to instantly relax your grip and shoulders first, instead of braking first. Loosen your legs and suspend your body low over the bike, to ‘float your head’ and restore vision so you can keep your eyes focused on the trail ahead.

Take a look at the ‘Mountain Bike Control Tip for Surprise Rough ‘2 minute video below and you’ll see exactly what I mean.  It’s worth the look.

It can take some time to change that natural reaction of tensing up and braking, but with some practice, your new Head Float habit will become…

Your New Natural Instinct

Practice the Head Float technique of relaxing your grip and shoulders, low off the bike, a few times per week as you approach a familiar rough section that you usually brake into.  Feel the difference in bike control and momentum that the Head Float technique provides, compared to your old habit.

Feel yourself adapting to the trail surface quicker, absorbing the knocks and bumps with ease and greater control.  Notice how the technique keeps you focused on the trail ahead and less distracted by the rough underneath, or the initial shock of the rough.  Notice how instantly relaxing and loosening up on the bike is what provides that improved control, confidence and momentum.

Don’t Get Me Wrong

You might still brake, yes.  And there will be times when you’ll definitely need to.  But, if needed, braking will be second.  The key, in that split-second when you are surprised by rough trail, is to relax your grip and shoulders FIRST.  Not panic and brake first.


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More MTBtips Mountain Bike Control Tips and Techniques:

Better Balance and Control for Corners and Switchbacks includes video
How to Ride along logs and planks in 4 Easy Steps includes video
The Brake Release Downhill Mountain Biking Tip includes video