Handle Bar View Mountain Bike

BAD MOUNTAIN BIKING ADVICE I WISH I HAD NEVER BEEN GIVEN

As a newbie starting out, I was bombarded with mountain biking advice from all sides. I found it to be a very welcoming community, with many people eager to share their experience. Although everyone meant well, unfortunately not all mountain biking advice you receive should be taken on board. I had to learn this the hard way.

YOU DON’T NEED ALL THE GEAR, JUST RIDE IN SHORTS AND A T-SHIRT

This is all good and well in the sun but the second you get caught in a downpour, 20 kilometres from the car, you will wish you had something that is going to keep you dry and warm for the rest of the day. If the forecast has any chance of rain at all, bring a proper mountain biking t-shirt so your day isn’t ruined by the cold, wet weather.

TAKING YOUR FOOT OFF THE PEDAL IN THE CORNERS WILL HELP WITH SPEED

This is not true at all. If you really think about the physics of it, it doesn’t make logical sense either. If you take your foot off a pedal, you have no possibility of accelerating out of the turn and it may take you a few moments to get your foot back on the pedal and in the right position. Occasionally you may need to throw a foot out to dab and regain stability but this will in no way enhance your speed.

THE LIGHTER THE BIKE, THE BETTER

With so many companies looking at ways of making their components lighter, I can see why some mountain bikers would subscribe to the idea that lighter means better. However, particularly for downhill riders, going lighter can often mean sacrificing handling and control. In fact, in recent years more and more downhill riders have actually experimented with adding weight to their bikes, in the hope it delivers a smoother, more controlled ride.

There is also a lot to be said for reliability. Many of the modern lightweight components are not as sturdy as their heavier counterparts. What use is a lightweight, modern bike if the components are constantly breaking and keeping you off the trails,

GET DUAL CONTROL SHIFTERS

The fact that these dual control shifters were a craze still baffles me. Using brake levers to change gears as well was just as confusing then as it is now and was totally needless.

LEARN TO RIDE ON A HARDTAIL

What is the point in learning to ride on a hardtail if this is the only time you will ever use one and will fork out for a sprung bike at the first opportunity? Hardtails are not ideal for aggressive downhill or trail-riding, so don’t learn on one. Full suspension bikes are not even that much more expensive than hardtails these days, so it doesn’t even make economic sense.

BAR ENDS ARE COOL

In the 90s, most mountain bikes came with the ludicrous bar ends that made it look like some sort of skinny bull. Thinking back, these were ridiculous, offered nothing for performance and were just another thing to hit yourself with if you had a big crash. Thank God they fell out of fashion and people stopped talking about them in the early 2000s.

LAND ON YOUR BACK WHEEL FIRST

This doesn’t make for a smoother landing. If you are landing on flat ground, maxing the landing on both wheels at the same time will give the smoothest landing. Going into a downward slope, touching the nose down first will probably give the nicest landing.

THE FASTER YOU GO AT IT, THE EASIER AND SAFER IT IS

This was always the answer I got when I asked experience riders for help tackling a particularly tricky segment. It might make sense in their head but telling novice mountain bikers everything becomes safer when you go faster is poor advice and could end up putting them in danger. If you can’t adequately explain how to tackle something, just apologise and say you aren’t sure.

LEAN BACK WHEN IT GETS REALLY STEEP

Loads of riders offer this advice for tackling steep sections but it doesn’t give you as much control. If you lean back, you take the weight off the front of the bike, meaning the front brake will not work as effectively. The best way to handle steep descents is to move your hips back while dropping your chest towards the handlebars to keep some weight on the front tyre.

AVOID USING YOUR FRONT BRAKES

I was told this at an early stage of my mountain biking development. As a result, I genuinely don’t think I used my front brake at all for the first year I was riding. I was told if I did, I would end up over the handlebars in a crumpled mess on the floor. The truth is, at times you do need to use your front brake to bring the bike to a controlled stop or to help control your pace during steep descents. Don’t feel like you shouldn’t use it ever.

Although there was a lot of poor advice out there, the majority of the advice I received from riders was incredibly helpful and allowed me to improve as a rider. Bear in mind that not all advice is good advice but don’t ignore everything you hear. If you are unsure, ask for a second opinion or look it up online.


 

What is the worst piece of mountain biking advice you have received? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Peter Williams
peterwilliams@dinga.com.au

Peter loves bikes of all kinds. He has a passion for mountain biking right through to cycling long distance. He is sharing his experience here OnDECK.