Control a Nasty Descent on a Mountain Bike

Control a Nasty Descent on a Mountain Bike
Launching down a hill at high speeds on a bike is something not just anyone should try without the proper skill and knowledge. Even the most seasoned rider can have scary dreams of losing his ability to control a nasty descent. The following steps will help you control your descent on a mountain bike.


Difficulty: Easy

Prep Your Ride

Step 1
Equip the bike with the proper gear and make adjustments for downhill riding. This includes seat position and making sure the bike has downhill tires. Uprights and an undersized stem will make a rider's bike easier to control in a steep decline. The key is to install the smaller stem, but raise its height, then move the uprights so they are nearly vertical.
Step 2
Stiffen the fork for greater durability should mid-road impacts occur on your descent by mountain bike. A rider's front suspension may feel nice and soft while taking on a single-track, but high-speed descents need harder suspension, granting the rider the ability to cruise over the objects they're hitting so fast.
Step 3
Invest in some body-armor. Regardless of a rider's skill level, a crash is bound to happen, so having a face mask, helmet, knee and elbow pads will greatly reduce chance of serious injury.

The Descent

Step 1
Use bodyweight to your advantage to exercise the best possible descent control. A rider will need to stand up in his or her seat, placing the opposite foot forward to the direction they are about to turn. A rider can control a nasty descent easily by moving as much weight as possible to the back tire.
Step 2
Slow down before a turn even if it seems too difficult. A rider will lose excess speed quickly as long as the surface is flat, dry and mostly dirt. Using front brakes here is a big no-no. Instead, use your best judgment by determining the condition of the trail and the grade of the descent to adjust your speed accordingly.
Step 3
Let your legs act as counterweights against your seat. Using the inside of their thighs, riders enhance balance and receive greater traction when they adjust or push the back of the bike with their legs. If already standing and going downhill, you won't need to use your legs to pedal, so this move is ideal.
Step 4
Exercise brake control to your advantage as you pile it on to get traction or as you work to avoid a slippery fall. When a rider understands the myriad of surfaces he will be on, it will be exponentially easier to predict the mountain bike's response and control during a nasty downhill descent.

Tips & Warnings

Keeping wheels on the ground is the most basic principle of downhill riding, but sometimes, a last ditch bail-out into some foliage will end up saving a rider. Just like driving on the freeway, stopping distances need to be greatly increased. A rider must keep this in mind when an obstacle or roadblock emerges ahead - start your stop earlier than you might think you need to. Stay off the front brakes in the steepest sections of the descent. Riders eliminate them altogether in ruts, using only the rear brakes or they negate braking and just ride it out. Loose grips might be recommended for certain rides, but to control a nasty descent, most riders grasp the handlebars tightly.

Article Written By Kevin Yeoman

Kevin Yeoman is a freelance writer who spent much of his time growing up, biking and skiing in the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming. His work has been seen in The Boulder Weekly of Boulder Colorado.

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