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How to ride Switchbacks on a Mountain Bike Better in 4 minutes

How to ride Switchbacks on a Mountain Bike Better in 4 minutes

Hi Groovers, Chris here from Rather than teach you every little micro technique that makes up really good switchback skill, here are the most important techniques that
make the biggest difference, and give the biggest gains, to the riders I coach. Make sure you do these steps really well, and then everything else will just fall into place. UP – On approach: Look ahead to a wide and grippy entry. Save a burst, and set your gear and speed. Look ahead to a wide and grippy entry. For most switchbacks the wide path around the turn is faster and less steep. Save a burst: Don’t approach the switchback flat-out. Save some energy for a mid-turn power surge. Set your gear and speed: Pedal in a gear and at a speed that gives you
the momentum and control to overcome any obstacles on the turn. And stay off the brakes! At entry: Find mid-turn, stay seated, and get ready to shift. Find mid-turn: Your eyes should be scanning through mid-turn by now. Remember, your eyes lead the bike, not your hands! Stay seated. Only rise
off the saddle if you have the traction and power to do
so. Use the chest and nose technique for steep switchbacks. Get ready to shift: If you really have to
gear shift, do it in advance then instantly
increase pedal speed to maintain momentum. Mid-turn: Boost your Eyes, Power Surge, and Lower your Chest. Boost your Eyes: Quickly boost your eyes with purpose along your line to that wide, grippy exit path. You’ll exit smoother and straighter without the
wiggles. Power Surge: At the same time, or before the climb
steals your speed, apply that strong surge of pedal power
to maintain your momentum. Without this, you’ll lose momentum and
struggle for balance. Lower your Chest: As the turn steepens, lower your chest to the bar to maintain your center of gravity to keep that front wheel tracking. At Exit: Look ahead to whatever is coming next. If
it’s another switchback then you should be searching for its
wide and grippy entry line. Your legs might be tired, but your eyes aren’t, so use them! DOWN – Approach: Look ahead to a wide, grippy entry. Set your gear and speed, and Get low off the saddle. Look ahead to a wide, grippy entry. A wide entry path, then cutting closer for a late apex, out to a wide exit usually provides more speed and control. Set your gear and speed. Shift to the gear you’ll need on exit and
adjust your speed so that you enter the switchback in control, without
skidding. Get low off the saddle: Low is Key. Use your dropper post, or get one fast! At entry: Find mid-turn, Off the front brake, and Get low and lean. Find mid-turn: Your eyes should be scanning through mid-turn by now. Off the Front, feather the rear. If you can’t release the front brake, you didn’t get control on approach. Front braking on a tight turn spells disaster! Get low and lean: Lean the bike inward and get low with most of your weight on the outside pedal, light on the bar. Mid-turn: Find the grippy exit, Feather the rear, and Keep low and lean. Find the grippy exit. Look through to a wide and straight exit path. Feather the rear: Feather the rear brake smoothly, and let it go at about two-thirds to
three-quarters around the turn. Keep low and lean. Weight your outside pedal with your center of
gravity vertically above the bottom bracket. You should be light and relaxed on the
handlebar. At Exit: Look ahead to whatever is coming next. If
it’s another switchback then you should be searching for its
wide and grippy entry line.

60 comments on “How to ride Switchbacks on a Mountain Bike Better in 4 minutes

  1. YES THANK YOU! I was waiting for you to make a video about switchbacks because I desperately need help on descending on them. I'm going to pop some popcorn and enjoy your video! Thanks!

  2. Hey Chris I am trying to decide between a 650b carbon fiber 100mm travel full suspension bike or a 130mm aluminium full suspension bike. I do not do much racing but like to be fast. Do you think that the carbon frame on the 650b bike will make it so the bike does not feels as rough as 100mm travel bikes can be. or do you think I should get the 130mm stumpjumper.
    -Thanks and great videos 

  3. Is it wrong of me to ask you to include more examples of what not to do and the consequences in future videos?? 😉 Another excellent tip. Cheers.

  4. Chris you trully kick ass. I learn valuable skills from you. Thank you for what you do here on youtube. Your a hero.
    Keep up the stellar work mate..bloke ? Lol

  5. Excellent no-nonsense pointers! Again! These tips have been the strongest encouragement for me to start making the shift from recreational mtb to more performance oriented varieties. Can't wait for the norhern hemisphere competitive seaason to begin…

  6. Hi Chris, we want to buy Radon Slide Carbon 160 650B 10.0, is this bike versatile or its not good at all for climbing and longer tours? Cheers, Marek 

  7. ah, yes! THIS is the answer to a question I asked before but I think I used some motorcycle terminology so it might have been confusing. thanks for this. good intel.

  8. Great advise! Even though Im still snowboarding on the mountain I am really looking forward to getting out on my bike for those intense cardio rides. I still lightly feather my front brake when approaching steep trails with tight corners because it seems my 29er wheels like to roll off the trail. Cheers!

  9. Great tips, excellent video! Just for sharing: Fabien Barel's video helped me also a lot, especially regarding the turning: MBUK Technique DVD Skills For

  10. Enjoy all your videos.  You always make it look so easy (props to whoever took a fall for the team though).  In this video I really appreciated the idea of saving a burst.  I'm a big (~230 lb) slow rider but I can manage to make it up stuff that some of my (much smaller & more athletic) friends can't.  I have nothing to chalk it up to except that I try to save some energy for when you really need to grind out a few pedal strokes to keep momentum.  One thing we encounter a lot on local trails is mid-switchback water bars.  Just a smooth log purposefully placed mid-turn for water/erosion control…those are rather challenging (for big slow people)… 🙂

  11. Thanks again Chris.  I don't know about any one else but it is so easy for me to drop my eyes to the front wheel. Of course that might have to do with the fact that around here in Seattle, a lot of the time there is a root right at the exit of the turn. Sure makes things interesting.  Keep them coming.  Slim 

  12. Of course our ground, being wet a lot of the time is a lot softer then those rocks you fell on. Ouch for sure.

  13. DON'T DOUBT HIM! I have been an avid road biker in Memphis, TN for years… I stayed away from trail riding for fear of injury! I recently took up MTB at 51 yrs of age and wanted to do it correctly and safely. I'm so relieved to come across Chris' videos. Everything I've heard him say and put into practice has proved VERY helpful and true. I'm improving very quickly and having a great time. I highly recommend watching the videos at least a couple times, riding the trails and putting the tips into practice, then returning and re-watching the videos–you will get more out of them and hone your skills faster. Thanks so much, Chris, for being such a good teacher and for taking the time to make such quality videos.  Good on you.

  14. Thanks, Chris, for sacrificing your body and time to help us. This was the first video of yours I've watched and it has protected me from the fall you demonstrated. I appreciate your style and interest in helping us 'newbys'. Your teaching skill is easy to understand and follow. Good camera work and written bullet points help me understand and remember what you're saying.  Good on you.

  15. C'mon Chris!  Show me how to do something steep and sharp.  Up and/or down.  I don't need help with the easy stuff.  PICK IT UP!

  16. I have a 29er who the sales man said i fit, yet i fell like I'm stretching to much to reach the bars, is there any way to fix this?

  17. I suck at switchbacks… on approach after the turn I can't climb the hill with momentum I switch gears and my chain jumps (I have a 3 by 9 spd group set) and I have to run all the way up… this is a good demonstration on how to do it. Can't wait to try it on my next ride

  18. Excellent video concerning switchbacks. Can you do a video showing the counter-steering technique? When one approaches a sharp right hand turn one pushes the right handlebar and puts ones weight on the left peddle while off the saddle of course. The bike is instantaneously on the edge of the tires and the rider's weight is all countering on the left side of the bike. You just whip around corners with control and a good degree of safety with this technique. I put this to you as you actually demonstrate techniques on the trail and as you know a picture or video is worth a thousand words. Thanks, from Canada.

  19. Mate your vids are terrific I ride daily after work I'm no pro just love mountain bike riding have watched lots of your vids VERY good tips. VERY HAPPY SUBSCRIBER

  20. If you like this video, you’re going to love Check it out! It will take your mountain biking to another level entirely! ~ Chris

  21. Thanks mate! Gonna give these tips a go on the next ride. I've been having trouble on tight switchbacks on descents. Didn't know about the front brake sending you to the ground

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