Learning how to corner on a mountain bike is a skill you can work on forever and ever. There’s always a chance to get better and there are many types of corners. I’ve broken down the basics, but there will be nuanced differences in techniques depending on the type of corner.
Different types of corners include: flat berms, steep berms, switchbacks, flat or loose corners, technical corners… the list goes on. If you use these tips as a starting point for all your cornering, it’ll build a great foundation.
How to Corner on a Mountain Bike
Upon approaching the corner, look ahead. It takes time to learn how to set your speed before entering the corner, but the goal is to do all your braking before you enter the corner. Slow down before entering. Try the same corner over and over entering at different speeds to practice. The reason we don’t want to brake in the corner is because you lose traction (and speed!). After setting your speed, enter the corner as wide as you can.
Instead of looking at the apex (a habit I fall into and regularly have to correct), look to the exist . As you start turning, drop your outside foot. (This tip can change if the corner is super steep). Weight the outside foot and drop your heel. This will help with traction. Lower your body by bending your knees and pushing your elbows out. Center your body over the bike – it might even feel like you are forward. You want some weight on the front wheel to control steering. Steer with your knees and belly button. You’ll want to lean your body to the outside of the bike to help with traction and to exaggerate bike-body separation. You can even push the top tube with your outside knee for more force.
Breathe and stay loose. To improve, practice the same corner repeatedly.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
- Weight too far back/ body not centered
- Not looking through the corner
- Entering too narrow
- Chest too high or body too high
- Wrong leg down
- Too much tire pressure (your tires will be sliding)
- Braking in the corner
Tips for Cornering on a Mountain Bike
- Look through the corner
- Relax upper body
- Steer with your belly button/hips
- Brake early
- Point knees through corner
- Raise outside elbow
- Keep hips low and centered
- Elbows out
- “Brake… Look.”
Have fun getting faster with these new mountain bike skills! My favorite thing about skills is you can actually see improvement and it makes your ride more fun!