How to Ride Mountain Bike
Mountain Bike Training, How To Select a Suitable bike And Basic Techniques while Riding a Mountain Bike
If you are interested in exploring some adventurous sports then mountain biking must be on your priority list. It not only teaches you how to be in good shape but also train your body with much-needed endurance. It is really fun to explore new trail and terrain stretches. Advanced lightweight bike frames, suspension design, easy shifting gears and big fat tires – makes it easier to try different terrain. Whether you are a beginner learning to try terrain riding skills, likes to try cross country or riding alpine singletrack, you must be in a good shape. You need to train your body to fully enjoy mountain biking. It does not mean an only well-trained person can ride mountain bikes. Once you get fit you can fully utilize the benefit of mountain biking.
When you have been training keep yourself motivated by maintaining a training chart that looks over your progress. This will help you to know where you stand and allows you to learn new skills to reach where you want to be. As you progress in your training you will eventually learn more techniques and skill-sets by repeated practice. If you want to start mountain biking do it slowly, first you need to train your legs and upper body and this can be achieved by two methods.
Climbing up the hills sitting on the saddle would strengthen your upper body and legs. You must also climb up the hill out of the saddle to improve your training muscles of the upper body. Try to increase your strength and stamina before you get fully into a mountain bike. Running up hills is one of the best training which will train you well and increase your endurance level that is much needed for full-fledged mountain biking sports. Although it is a little difficult running is the best training to strengthen your legs and upper body.
Choose Your Bike
Mountain bikes are not as simple as you think, if you make a bad choice when selecting a bike then you will end up riding unsuitable rig. Your height and inside leg are the basic measurements which help you to choose a mountain bike based on your height. Ride a suitable bike that helps you to do all sorts of riding you prefer. There are two types of mountain bikes such as Hardtail and full suspension mountain bike.
- Hardtail – It has the front suspension fork and no rear suspension shock, helps to handle the technical terrain.
- Full suspension bikes – Has both front suspension fork and rear suspension shock helps to handle the more technical terrain.
For beginners, it is a big question what mountain bike to buy? It is always better to start with Hardtail bike because you will be less abused when you ride on rugged dirt roads and rough terrain. It is a true mountain bike for beginners and this front suspension fork bike is comfortable for shortest trip. Your wrists, hands, neck, shoulders and spinal cord will not get tired soon. Full suspension bikes are also more comfortable and give good control and traction on rough climbs and descents. They are heavier than hardtail bikes and need good maintenance. If you ride on consistent rocky technical terrain then you can start with full suspension otherwise it is not necessary.
Choose Right Frame Size and Frame Material
Choosing right frame size is very important and the measurements of your height and inside leg are the major criteria to decide on right size frame. Make sure your bike has enough stand-over clearance – the space between the top tube of the frame and your crotch. Frame material is another big choice that needs attention. Steel and titanium are the popular frame material for hardtail bikes. Steel is durable and tough, withstand the tough ride. Aluminium is also another frame material which is stiffer but suitable only for full suspension bikes not for hardtail bikes.
Popular Wheel Size
29-inch wheels are most popular on both hardtail and full suspension bikes. It’s stable and large size makes them a great choice for hardtail bikes which gives great maneuverability and speed. 26-inch wheels are the general option for better handling and normally used in all types of mountain bikes.
Basic Techniques While riding a Bike
- When you are riding on a technical singletrack keep your focus on the trail not on the trees, rocks, and bushes.
- Always keep your eyes spotting over the obstacles and keep your head up and look ahead down the trail. Your bike wheel will follow wherever you look.
- It is not necessary to hold your handlebar tight but at the same time have good control over the handlebar.
- Slightly bend your arm to absorb bumpy trail and never lock your elbows or hunch your shoulders.
- Keeping your handlebar lower than your saddle height is purely a personal preference and by doing so, you can get greater control over the handlebar.
- Keep your shoulder and arm in relaxed position with loose grip over the handlebar so, that you can easily use your fingers to hold the brake lever and apply braking whenever necessary.
- By lowering your seat post for about 1/2 inch, you can handle bumpy terrain.
if you are not feeling comfortable when following the above steps while riding the bike then you need to tweak some parts of the bike, specifically the stem length to have the fit of the bike. Most of the shop or amateur riders help you find a bike that fits you properly.
General Riding Tips
- Keep your body weight placed uniform over both wheels to have good traction on the trail.
- Ensure you maintain a moderate speed to get better handling around corners, up and down the hill, small obstacles instead of going slow and breaking even for small obstacles.
- Slow speed would not help you to hop over small rocks or when you could just roll over something easily when riding with good speed.
Mountain bike riding techniques under different riding condition.
There are two riding positions such as seated position and standing position otherwise called as “Attack Position” (neutral riding position). The Basic riding position is the standing position used when you approach any tight or twisty turns on technical terrain.
- Stand on the pedal, keep your butt out of the saddle with shoulder and arm in relaxed position.
- Slightly bend your knees and elbow to absorb the shock bear by a rough section of the trail. This will avoid any shock that passes onto your body.
- Do not crouch your upper body and try to keep your back straight in any riding condition.
- Keep your leg loose and do not hug your saddle with your thighs. Your arm and legs must act like a spring and should work with the suspension.
With the help of this riding position, you can easily handle the bike well on corners and move the bike on any tough obstacles with great maneuverability. The seated riding position is used when you approach a flat trail or straight path but not so good when the trail gets technical and tough.
Learn how to use the front brake along with the rear brake correctly and this is the best way to control your bike when driving at great speed. Do not use the front brake alone and this may throw you over the handlebar. The front brake gives a major portion of stopping power and it must be used properly along with back brake to slow down the bike during the steep slope.
- Simply practice on steep slope applying the front brake alone using one or two fingers and not the whole hand.
- Do not stop the bike quickly by suddenly jamming the brake, you may skid the bike.
- Gently hold the brake with modulation instead of grabbing, apply consistent braking to have smooth stopping power.
The brake lever can be adjusted based on your reach (amount of movement) and feel (tight or soft). This way you can make it easy to reach the brake lever with just one or two fingers. You might come across a situation where you need emergency stopping when you see big obstacles on the trail while driving down the hill.
- Put your body weight on the rear wheel by going far back on the saddle, move back as much as you can and slowly apply the front brake to slow down the speed. You will not be thrown over the handlebar since all your body weight is on the back wheel.
- Make sure you will not skid while descending because you may go out of control. You can safely stop the bike before hitting the obstacles down the hill but condition change when you drive on a wet trail. You need to be cautious when riding on a new trail.
Climbing up a steep hill is again a more fun in mountain biking also you need some skill to climb up the steepest hills.
- Ride a correct bike size with suitable cockpit length before you make up to the hill.
- Check your bike and ensure that the fittings are perfect otherwise you will have a lot of trouble climbing.
- If you use front suspension fork turn the lockout lever on.
- Change to a lower gear to make it easier to climb.
- Be seated and slightly bend your elbow, lower your upper body over the handlebar to put the weight in the front to give your wheels some traction.
- Keep your head down and pedal quickly to overcome roots and rocks in the path.
- If you find difficult to overcome some technical path then just stand up and pedal quickly, this will keep your momentum going up the hill.
- Save your energy for the big push over any big obstacles near a short steep section, around a switchback or big steep.
Three basic steps to be followed before you get into cornering:
- Keep your outside leg extended.
- Slightly lean into the corner to balance the weight.
- Stay in a neutral riding position and this will improve the tire contact with the ground.
Always be focussed on the exit point of the turn and slow down a little before the turn to have total control over the corner. Adjust your brake lever for the comfortable reach to have more control over both the front and rear brake. This will improve cornering especially on switchbacks.
Basically, you will encounter slow speed turns as well as high-speed turns in the corner. When you attempt for slow speed turn:
- Take up an easy way to pass the turn without any obstacles on the path.
- Be cautious over the wet trails.
- Down the gear before leaving the corner.
- When you come across sharp high speed turns:
- Take a wide turn as possible to have enough time to complete the corner
- Follow three basic steps for cornering as said before to avoid skidding.
Approaching Steep Slopes – Down the Hill
- While approaching a steep decent slow down the bike to shift body positions and put your body weight on the rear wheel by going far back on the saddle, move back as much as you can.
- Have a wide grip on the handlebar and use the brakes effectively to control the bike. Read the Braking section above to learn how to apply the brake when driving down the steep hill.
- While going down the hill your speed will increase, this speed could be very friendly and helps to roll over any bumps. Be prepared to get back to normal riding position after a descent to avoid any crash.
Practice-Practice-Practice, if you want to enjoy mountain biking then take time and practice some skills. Include some of the interesting skills in your goal such as jumping, bunny hopping, dropping in, perfect landing, hopping up, jumping a log, handling more technical stuff like rocks and roots. Ride a lot and have fun.