When you’re riding well, you’re riding smoothly. And when you’re riding smoothly, there's no doubt you’re having fun.
No matter what your ambitions are — shredding loamy north-shore descents or crushing faceless competitors on Strava — technical know-how will let you have more fun.
Almost every bike-owner knows the two golden rules of biking: look ahead and brake in straight lines. But it’s time to dive into the nitty-gritty with these crucial tech tips:
1. Lean the bike — not your body — in flat corners.
The next time you have a short, steep slope in front of you, do this experiment: pick a point where you’re right on the edge of traction, and take short steps uphill so that your weight is pretty much directly over your feet at all times. Now, try taking longer steps so that your center of mass moves out-of-line with your feet.
Here’s what you’ll find: when your weight is centered over your feet, you get excellent traction. When you’re at an angle, you slip. It turns out those treads on your shoes do best when your weight is directly over top of them.
Apply this to your bike on corners. Instead of keeping your bike and body locked in a rigid line, lean the bike over and shift your hips and shoulders to keep your center of gravity over the point of contact between the tires and the ground. This will help those edge treads lock into the soil rather than spitting out from underneath you like a watermelon seed. This technique stays the same for both trail/downhill bikes and slightly heavier e-bikes.
2. Use your dropper post like a derailleur.
Easily one of the most important upgrades to mountain bikes in the last years has been dropper posts. They now come standard on high-end bikes like Specialized, Santa Cruz, and BMC. So why do so many people treat their dropper posts like retirement savings accounts?
Like your rear derailleur, you should be using your dropper post often. Pretty much the only time it should stay in a fixed position is during unbroken downhills or uphills.
When you see a corner coming up, drop that seat.
When there’s a short, swooping downhill, drop that seat.
When there’s anything that would be more fun if you dropped that seat — drop that seat.
3. When cornering, use your front/back weight distribution.
We all know the feeling of being right on the edge of traction while railing a long corner. It’s also easy to get so caught up in the side-to-side weight distribution that we forget the importance of our front-to-back body position.
Remember how your treads work best when they’re weighted down from above? This means both your wheels need a roughly equal distribution of your weight. If you notice your front tire losing traction, shift your weight slightly forward — and if your back wheel starts getting squirrely, move your hips back.
About Mike’s Bikes: Mike’s Bikes is a growing family of local bike shops, all with a singular purpose - to get as many people on bikes as possible. We locally own and operate twelve wildly successful stores in Northern California. In addition to our brick-and-mortar shops, mikesbikes.com is one of the top online bicycle retail sites in the country.