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10 MTB Tips For Beginners | Setup And Riding


– So this video is an
essential list of the skills that are gonna help beginner riders feel more confident on their bike. But first, I start with
a really quick bike check to make sure we’re starting
off on the right foot. It’s important to mention that whilst I’m on a very
nice, flashy bike here, these skills can be done on any bike, hard tail, fully rigid, whatever, however expensive the bike
is, same skills apply. So I’m gonna start checking my tires. (quiet jazz music) You don’t need many tools when you’re getting into mountain biking, but a good multi-tool and a
pump will do most jobs for you. So there’s two types of valve on bikes, you got Presta and Schrader. Schrader is the car type valve, I’ve actually got Presta,
the smaller thinner one, and a good pump will have the
option to pump up both valves. And I think anywhere between 20 and 25 psi is good for most beginners. (quiet jazz music) I like to put in slightly
more pressure in my rear tire, so up to about 28 psi,
’cause you’ll find that one takes most of the abuse and that’s the one that can get pinch punctures. (quiet jazz music) Next, make sure you’ve got
your handlebar controls in a really comfortable position so you can use them all the time. So with brake levers you’ll wanna be using two fingers or preferably one, ’cause most modern bikes will
have powerful enough brakes just to be able to use one finger. So make sure that brake lever is in a super comfortable position. I like mine relatively high on the bars just so when I’m in that
attack position on the bike I’m not reaching over to get to ’em. So they’re nice and comfortable, my one finger rests right on the end of that lever for maximum leverage. Top tip, don’t over tighten your bolts, it’s a beginner mistake
that I think most of us have made when they start riding. So make sure that you
don’t over tighten them and risk stripping out
those threads on that bolt. (quiet jazz music) Now to get the correct saddle height. The first thing I do, is set
it about my hip bone level. Then I jump on the bike and
get that final position. So what you want is a slight bend still in your knee when you’re pedaling. So that’s gonna mean you’re comfortable and you’re getting the most
efficient pedaling stroke. So with my foot in the right position you can see me pedaling along, you still see there’s
some bend in my knee. The other way to check,
that’s actually by putting your heel of your foot on the pedal and your legs should
go just about straight when your heel’s there. So when you move your foot
back to the right position, you’ve got that nice bend, nice and high, get the best pedaling position. So, I’ve got a lovely fancy
dropper seatpost on there, so that’s great for riding
more technical stuff. I push the lever, get
my seat outta the way. That’s not essential, you can
do this with any seat post. You can use quick release
or use an Allen key, ’cause getting your saddle out of the way on technical terrain and steep descents, is really gonna help. Okay, my bike’s ready,
hopefully your bike is ready, let’s talk about some essential skills. (quiet jazz music) Okay, let’s start with that neutral stance or the attack position,
whatever you call it. On mountain bike terrain you’re likely to be moving around the bike all the time to maintain steering and traction, and that all comes from
standing tall on the bike in that neutral position. So stand nice and tall on the bike with a slight bend in your knees. It should feel like most of your weight is going through your legs, not up and on your arms. Now this way you’re gonna start to move front to back and side to side on a bike. (quiet jazz music) Right, so jump on your bike and
practice a couple of drills. So, think about moving
your weight around the bike really front to back,
you do that much more than you do side to side, and it’s what I call the arc of movement. So there’s my neutral
stance, ready position. To go to the back of the bike think about using your feet. So heels down, really drop
your hips all the way down to the back tire, loads of movement there. Then when you go up and forward, think about dipping your toes, but really your shoulders shouldn’t come in front of your bars very often at all. That could lead you into
a dangerous situation, and getting very close
to going over the bars. (quiet jazz music) So it’s surprisingly important
to really practice that. Really get a feel for how
much you can move on the bike but also know where your rear tire is so you don’t go slammin’ into it. So you will wanna use all
that range of movement but just make sure you’re
using it at the right times. ‘Cause if you’re at the
extreme back of your bike, let’s say when you come down into a dip, a steep downhill, and into that ditch, when you go back up the other side, you’ve got to move forward. ‘Cause if you’re still in the back, there’s a good chance your front wheel could start coming up. So, extremes of movement,
and then with experience you’ll know when to use them. (quiet jazz music) So the ready position gives
you a really strong stance and helps you move around the bike and deal with that rough
terrain or undulating terrain that you’ll find on a mountain bike. And that arc of movement’s gonna help you with those big ups and downs. (quiet jazz music) A simple way to explain
that center of gravity, weight thing, so moving
around on the bike. When you’re in the neutral
stance, think about your hips as being that center of gravity. Neutral stance on flat terrain’s gonna be in the middle of the bike,
above the bottom bracket. When you ride into a downhill section, then you drop your heels
and move your hips back, really, your hips gonna be there. Again, your center of gravity’s gonna be in the middle of the bike. On the opposite end of the scale, riding up a climb, slide
into the front of the saddle. Yeah, it’s not gonna be the comfiest, but doing that and
dropping your chest, again, is gonna keep your center of gravity balanced between the two wheels. (quiet jazz music) When it comes to peddling,
try and spin circles, so you’re putting consistent
power through the pedals, rather than going stomp, stomp, stomp. Couple that with your body movement when it comes to climbing, and you’ll keep much more traction on the rear tire, means you’ll get up the climbs. Spinning circles is relatively
easy with clip-less pedals, just pull up on the upstroke; but with flat pedals,
think about scraping back against your pedal on the upstroke. Seated climbing and spinning nice circles is the best way of maintaining traction on your rear tire, and that’s
gonna work an awful lot. But sometimes you need a
bit more power than that to get up a steeper climb,
and then you’ve got to rely on standing up and using
more of your muscles, your core muscles and even your arms, to get the power through the pedals. (quiet jazz music) To begin with, you have to learn to sort of respect your brakes, because whilst they
obviously slow you down, they can also lead to big crashes. So feathering the brakes
is really important. By that I mean just really
gently modulating them, so pulling them harder when
you want to stop slower, then easing off in situations where it gets more dangerous to use them, for example, corners when you want to try and come off your brakes as
much as you possibly can. Also, you will start
to learn the difference between the front and the rear brake, and when to use them, so it
becomes absolutely unconscious. You don’t really think about it anymore. So especially when cornering, I try and come off the front brake. In the UK we run front on the
right and back on the left, but that is different most
of the rest of the world. But try and learn which one
does affect the bike the most. On the flat, the front brake
does a lot of the stopping, but when it comes to
riding steeper downhills, you have to rely more on the rear brake. On slippier terrain, or
maybe you’re cornering, where you need more traction, then just ease off them
slightly, and that is much easier when you’re using just one or two fingers. That also means you’ve got
much more grip on the bars. When you’re riding along
and hitting the brakes, as all your weight is gonna
start to get sent forward, as that force is coming back towards you, so actually your weight
goes onto the front wheel, it means that front brake
is working very effectively, but a quicker, safer way
of stopping is actually thinking about dropping your weight back. It’s the same as before,
when we think about the arc of movement, just think
about dropping your heels. It’s gonna bring your hips
slightly further back. It’s also gonna bring
your arms behind the bars, and weight behind the
pedals, so when you now hit the brakes, it’s all gonna
go down into the floor and not risk going up and over the bars. That means you’ll be able to stop much more safely, and faster. The very first time I went
out on a mountain bike, I grabbed a handful of
front brake in a corner, washed out and skinned my knee, and that was my first lesson. So you’ve got to learn to
respect the front brake. In the UK we run our brake
on the right-hand side, which I know is different to
most of the rest of the world, but it should become a
really subconscious thing. Just try and learn which
one is your front and back, and be careful with that front brake. (quiet jazz music) When riding downhill technical sections, it really is much easier if you can get your seat down and out of the way. So if you haven’t got a drop post, use your Allen key or quick release. If you have got a dropper, great. You can use that on the fly, all the time, which means you can move
your hips around a lot more, soak up things like this
step; to really let the bike come up to you and then push it down. And just stay in a safer
position behind the bike. (quiet jazz music) So moving around the bike,
front to back, side to side, is really going to serve
you well but another skill that you’re gonna use everywhere is keepin’ your head up and lookin’. So really that does help with
your body weight as well. As soon as you bring your
head up, your chest comes back a little bit, puts you
in that safer position, but also you can really
plan what you’re doing. So especially for corners,
technical terrain, you really wanna look
to where you want to be, because that also works against you. Sometimes you’ll see a big
tree, or a rock, or a root that you don’t want to hit. If you look at it, you
obviously sort of get drawn in towards it, so try to look
at where you want to be. (quiet jazz music) There’s also a bit of
footwork that can really help with your confidence and
traction when cornering. So go in from your neutral stance, where you’ve got pedals level, when it comes to cornering, start dropping your outside foot. That’s gonna get your inside
foot clear of any obstacles when you dip the bike
over, but it’s also gonna drop your center of gravity,
and give you a bit more grip. (quiet jazz music) This set of berms that sort
of flow into each other really show the sort of
lines you should be using. Try to think about nice, smooth lines so you’re not squaring
corners off, or going inside, ’cause that’s where you’re
gonna lose traction. So really try and open up the corners, be smooth on your bike, and again, be smooth on your brakes. If you do have to brake,
so coming down a hill, think about trailing your
brake, so feather them really lightly, and then
coming off that front brake for grip on that front tire. (quiet jazz music) So there you go, there
are some essential skills for the beginner mountain biker. Think about your neutral stance, standing nice and tall on the
bike and keeping your head up. And then moving around,
that arc of movement, front to back, side to side, then you start thinking
about your braking, feathering, using one or two fingers, and see how each of those
brake affects the bike. Also cornering, think about
dropping your outside foot, really looking where you want to go. Great way of practicing all that stuff is to find yourself a big open space, start moving around,
restart, doing extremes, front to back, side to side. Also seeing how each of those individual brakes affect your bike. Also get used to pedaling
those nice circles. Once you master these things,
you get to the really fun part of mountain biking,
where you can really progress, start riding more technical stuff. Really opens up the terrain;
you can start doing bunny hops, unweighting, and that’s super fun. If you want to see a
couple more how-to videos, if you want to progress little bit more, click over there for a how to corner, over there for how to bunny hop. Leave us your comments, let
us know how you’re gettin’ on, how you’re progressin’. Thumbs up.

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