I’ve written this article on XC Riding Skills primarily for beginners, but many of these tips apply to mountain bikers of all skill levels. I have seen numerous riders failing to correctly carry out one or more of the tips below.
Tips for XC riding mastery
- Is my front tire pointed the right direction? You laugh, I see this one constantly! Check the back too.
- Is my seat height at the right level? This is a frequent mistake made by riders at all levels. Don’t be lazy; lower your seat when clearing steeper stuff, and raise it again for climbing or long flats. It is important to master the art / balance of applying some pressure to the seat on both hardtails and on full suspension bikes to maintain rear tire traction. It is a bit on of an art and takes practice to master.
- To clear steep stuff or ride fast over rough terrain, lower the seat, stay above it, avoiding letting it hit you in the butt, and get your weight centered behind the seat and more over the rear tire.
- For rifling through big and rocky terrain, you have to go fast and maintain your speed. This of course means if you make mistakes you will crash harder, but you are guaranteed to crash if you attack this type of terrain too gingerly. Hit it fast, get way back over the seat which should already not be at climbing height, and you will have to muscle the front end. Make intelligent steering decisions between rocks and avoid sliding down them if they are sloped. Proper brake control is a must This of course is much easier in dry conditions, and becomes progressively harder when it’s wet or muddy. Run the correct tires for the day.
- Learn to to apply the minimum amount of fingers, often 1 or 2 to your brake levers and develop your finessing / tapping skills to master braking. A big handful is required sometime when you’re in it bad. Always run quality well maintained brakes. It is stupid not to.
- This tip is little more advanced, but make sure you have the correct pedal forward as you enter your turns. Sometimes people don’t switch correctly, and they always have the same foot forward whether the turn is left or right.
- Learn to keep your pedals parallel to the ground and get used to standing on them. Both pedals should be flat and even when you do this. This prevents your pedals from catching on rocks and is the most comfortable way to ride over rough stuff.
- Don’t get lazy because you have suspension. Good riding requires you to be off the seat over rougher terrain. Spend most of your time on the seat for climbing. Many riders get tired, and you see them sitting when they should be above the seat crouched over the bike.
- Don’t be afraid to stop, and walk an area before trying to clear it. If you have the energy, and confidence try it until you clear it. Be smart, don’t hurt yourself if it isn’t your day
XC Mountain Bike Protection
XC Mountain Bike Skills – Bike Setup Articles
- XC Cross Country Mountain Bike Setup for Racing Stem
- A Guide to XC Cross Country Mountain Bike Racing Saddle Setup
- How to Setup Your Mountain Bike for XC Racing – Tire Pressure Guide
- How to Setup XC Mountain Bike Suspension to Win Races
This page was last updated on 4/13/2018.