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5 tips on how to become better at MTB enduro & downhill

Whether you have been mountain biking for a long time or are a beginner, there are always things to improve. These tips are good basic skills to train to be able to increase speed and ride more technical terrain, jumps and drops.

Steve Murphy and Lina Skoglund have many years of experience racing downhill and enduro as well as coaching others. They run Better MTB Coaching and work as mountain bike instructors and coaches in Järvsö Bergscykelpark.

1. An important part of mountain biking is our neutral body position. 

The neutral body position is how we stand on the bike and distribute the weight over the wheels. Think about finding a strong, stable and centered position that gets you ready to attack the terrain. The opposite is hanging back on the bike and becoming a passenger. A strong neutral position is slightly bent legs, hinge at the waist to come down with the upper body and elbows pointing outwards.

From this neutral position you are ready to attack different sections, using your arms and legs as suspension. Sometimes small adjustments in your position can make a big difference to your riding.

2. Being active on the bike means that we are more in control instead of "just riding along".

One way to be active is to use pumping technique. By pumping the bike we can generate speed and flow without pedaling. You can also pump out of corners or skip over roots and rocks. That's a way to also make your riding more smooth. Look up and read the terrain in front of you and plan what you want to do.

Pumping the bike is about compressing, i.e. getting heavy on the bike and then getting light. You do that by using your body weight down through the suspension, centered position and working on the timing.

3. Good brakes and using them at the right time can make you a faster rider.

Remember that the front brake has a stronger braking power than the rear brake, so don't be afraid to use it. If you only use the rear brake, the braking distance will simply be longer. A common fear is being thrown forward. But by using a strong position and lowering your heels when braking you counteract that. By using the front brake as well, you can be more efficient in braking, slow down quickly and then move on to the next section.

Practice different situations when you are out cycling and find the timing for when you start braking and then release the brakes.

4. Being able to separate the body and the bike.

When we ride enduro and downhill, we are usually looking for grip and traction. This means that we sometimes need to separate the bike under us depending on the situation (not always be one with the bike). This way we become stable, create grip and are in control. For example in flat corners, we might have to lean the bike but stay more upright with the body. If we were to lean together with the bike instead, we could easily lose our grip and slide out.

You don't have to be in the forest to practice this. Find the nearest asphalt bike path. Ride slalom and separate the bike under you. Think about your basic position that we talked about in the first point.

5. Cornering is one of the fundamentals of biking and important to practise from the start.

All corners are different and we are never really fully trained. The tips above come in handy to achieve the best cornering possible, where the goal is to have grip and control. Everyone has probably noticed when you didnt fully succeed and you lose speed and balance.

Practice on a corner you like (or dislike) and think about your line choice, where you want to enter and exit the corner. Test where you slow down and where you can release the brakes. Be aware of your body position and where you look, to execute it in the best way.

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5 tips to improve your mountain bike skills. MTB tips for enduro and downhill.

Produced by: Wikinggruppen

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