For many, speed is the name of the game when it comes to mountain bike riding. We’re constantly trying to beat our trail times, and constantly trying to push ourselves. Today, we’re going to give you some pro-tips to move more quickly down the trail...And we’re off!
Fitter Means Faster
We’re just going to get this one out of the way. The healthier you are, the faster you’ll go on the mountain bike. A fitter body can handle more stress for prolonged periods of time. For us, cardio is key. If you can maintain your top level of performance for longer, you’re going to sail down the trail. Alternatively, building core strength is going to allow you to ride with more power, controlling your bike more accurately.
Points of Control
On your bike, you basically have two points of contact: your feet and your hands. Optimizing the things going on at these points is crucial to moving quickly down a trail. With the right set of gloves, you’ll be able to maintain that 1:1 relationship between you and the bike. Dirt Gloves are engineered to make this happen. Thin enough to not get in the way, but thick enough to offer protection and comfort...we’ve made our gloves with speed in mind.
Use Your Brakes (Correctly)
As a rule of thumb, mountain bike tires can turn or they can brake. Doing both at the same time is a recipe for disaster. So, try to brake before the corner, so you can coast through the apex without applying any brake at all. Lean into the corner, trying to keep your body upright.
Float Down the Trail
Keep loose! Don’t let your bike jostle or bounce you around. You want to stand, and let your bike bounce itself off of obstacles. Use your arms and legs as shock absorbers. Push down when traction is needed. Otherwise, lift up and give your bike room to play. For added comfort and safety while doing this, make sure you’re wearing the proper gloves.
Go In Slow, Come Out Fast
Another piece of cornering advice -- brake before the corners and juice it on the way out. This is going to provide the most efficient, speedy way to get around bends. Calm way down when moving into the corners, but make up that time (and then some) by confidently exiting the bend.
Look Where You’re Going
We’ve spoken about this before, but always be sure to look past the next obstacle -- not at it. This is going to let you read the trail better, creating a smoother and more speedy ride as you do so.
Control What You Can
Unfortunately, riders can’t change the weather or riding conditions. But what you can alter is how you approach a trail. Try to adapt to the conditions at hand. Change tires, use a mudguard, or even devise a different route.
Body Down, Head Up
The posture you keep when riding is essential to moving quickly and staying in control. Keep your arms bent at the elbows, your head over the handlebars, and keep your back flat. Stay loose, and maintain an aggressive stance. When things get rough, our form is generally the first thing that suffers. By strictly keeping a good shape, we’ll naturally want to snap back into that riding posture. This type of confident, aggressive position is going to allow your bike to move more freely, and thus -- more quickly.
Slow Down (No, Really!)
In Eastern martial arts like Tai Chi, combat moves are practiced at excruciatingly slow speeds so they can later be applied quickly and with ease. The same can be said of Mountain Biking -- sort of. Take time to learn a trail. Ride the trail a few times at a modest pace before trying to move quickly. The more familiar with the trail, the easier it will be to hit the gas (so to speak).
Adjust Tire Pressure
Perhaps the most direct trick on our list, decreasing tire pressure can actually increase your speed. Although ‘higher is faster’ is an oft-repeated mantra amongst MTB circles, it may not be true. Slightly decreasing your tire pressure can create more traction, which surely will result in a quicker trail time. This is especially true with tubeless setups, as you don’t run the risk of pinch flats. For an even better balance of speed and traction, try keeping the back tire a bit harder.