Skidding on a Mountain Bike


So, you want to know how to skid on a mountain bike?  Well, let me get straight to the point.  Rear wheel skidding on a mountain bike shouldn’t be part of your general mountain bike riding technique.

But read on. There are alternative mountain biking skills you can learn to help you become a better mountain biker, and help you get Rid of the Skid. We’ll get to of few of those shortly, including how to pull out of a skid.

But first, let’s quickly go through the advantages and disadvantages of skidding on a mountain bike.

Advantages of Skidding on a Bike:

  • For you – Skidding is the easy option
  • For the trail – None.

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Disadvantages of Skidding:

  • skidding reduces bike control and kills your potential for true flow on the trails
  • skidding offers no traction. Only a rolling tire has traction.
  • skidding chews out tread climbing and braking blocks and reduces tire life considerably
  • skidding on sharp and rocky trails increases the chance of punctures and tire cuts
  • skidding a mountain bike on multi-use trails leaves a bad impression for other users
  • skidding creates grooves and depressions that spoil the riding line for others
  • skidding is bad bike handling technique that stalls your development of better mountain biking skills

For the trail

  • skid grooves and low spots capture rain water, accelerating trail erosion and the formation of ruts (Bad!)

But Who Cares?

We’ve all been skidders at some stage (even non-skidders unintentionally slip one out every now and then!), but…

The time to change is now.

So, if you’re a skidder why not do yourself and mother nature a huge favour on your next ride?  Start your quest towards true flow on the trails and make it your goal that day to not skid.  Not once.

Sure, the change will be a challenge, but a change this important can be habit forming.

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And what will happen as You change?

You’ll start to see the trail differently. How entry speed affects exit speed. How much grip is really there. How to use the front brake. When to use the heel drop. How to sink for speed. When to shift a touch more weight over the front. How to ride more relaxed in tricky situations.

You’ll get better. I guarantee it!  And you’ll start singing…

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A New Song

Just like discovering the proper lyrics to a five year-old song for the first time, you’ll find new meaning on the trails, and your new rhythm will make more sense. You and your bike will sing a better tune, and…

Your quest for true flow, greater momentum and more control on a mountain bike will have truly begun!

Start Your Quest with These Great Tips and Techniques:

The Heel Drop technique
Front Braking technique
How to Corner like You’re on Rails
Easier Turns and Switchbacks

and don’t forget the Super Tip below.  It might just save your bacon one day.

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  Super Tip: How to Pull Out of a Skid

Rear wheel skidding on a mountain bike should not be part of your general mountain bike riding technique. There will, however, be times when you might unintentionally skid, such as :

  • Overcooking: when you’re carrying too much speed and your first reaction to regain control of your bike is to grab a handful of brakes (for example – fast descent or downhill switchback)
  • Misjudging: when you brake and expect full traction, but the terrain doesn’t offer the grip you thought, so your wheel skids instead (for example – slowing on loose over hardpack trail)

In those instances try to remember that skidding affords no traction. Sure, that panic skid on that gnarly downhill might help you regain your balance on the bike and steer you away from danger initially, but once that moment has passed, lose the skid.

How to pull out of a skid: Have the courage to release the brakes for a split second to stop the skid, then re-apply the brakes without skidding, to restore traction and control.

Try to remain calm and relaxed on the bars, drop your heels, lower your center of gravity, and look ahead for a safe path.


  Super Tip: Chant for Change

A great place to practice ‘losing the skid’ is on your local familiar mountain bike trails. At the start of each ride remind yourself that your main goal is to not skid.

And when you do skid, make that your cue for this chant in your head “I skidded, so there must be something I’m doing wrong here!”

Think: “What is it that I need to change? What improvements do I need to make to my mountain biking technique, so that I can Get Rid of the Skid?”

Strive to look for alternative ways to get along, around and down that don’t include skidding.

Start with these:

The Heel Drop technique
Front Braking technique
How to Corner like You’re on Rails
Easier Turns and Switchbacks

Note: This article does not refer to the intentional high speed skid turn or drift turn technique used by downhillers on mountain bike specific trails or race courses