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How To Ride Tight & Steep Switchback Corners On Your Mountain Bike

How To Ride Tight & Steep Switchback Corners On Your Mountain Bike

– Tight and steep switchback corners are really hard to get right. Sometimes you don’t ever
really get them right, you just wobble around
them and off you go. They tend to be more in
sort of steep situations. Some parts of The Alps
have endless amounts of tight switchbacks. When you have a switchback
and you make it steep, it really does increase
the technicality of it, but also the risk. So this is how to master
tight, steep switchbacks. (upbeat instrumental music) This trail is called Little
Champery here in Finale Ligure and it’s named after the
infamous world cup downhill track where Sam Hill entered
mountain bike folklore when he almost won the race
after a torrential downpour. This trail isn’t quite as steep and as technical as that track, but it still gets the heart rate going. (relaxed techno music) When things get steep,
it’s more comfortable to have a higher bar and a shorter stem. So it just makes it
easier to get your weight to the back of the bike
by dropping your heels, your hips go to the back. When the downhill racers go to places like Champery or Andorra
you’re likely to see more spaces go underneath their stems. Sometimes they’ll drop
their triple clamp forks through the crowns just
to raise the bars as well, and a good set of grippy
tires is really going to help. (relaxed techno music) Now I know this corner isn’t a really tight or steep switchback, but let’s start with
the fundamentals here, and hopefully we’ll carry them on to the ones that do get a bit harder. So it’s really important that you try and come into this corner in control. So that means setting up nicely, so doing most of your
braking so that you know you’re going to grip around
this corner before you get here. Getting as wide as
possible, and then trying to come off the brakes around the corner. Again, always trying to look to the exit. That is going to get more
important the tighter it gets. (upbeat instrumental music) Right, the corners are starting
to get tighter down here and the thing that’s really
important with all corners is to really look for your exit, but it becomes more important where things get more risky on a
steep, tight switchback, sometimes you might be
out of control mid-corner and that’s just the way it is. You’ve just got to get the
bike facing the other way, sort of across the fall line. But it’s really important you
hit that mark on the way out, because going wide on a corner like this means that you’re going
off that steep hillside and probably tumbling or falling, potentially quite a long way. (relaxed techno music) This trail is amazing, I
love the way it’s built. The good thing about it as well, when they come to getting a bit tighter, they’re actually fairly
well banked and built in, so on this trail there’s loads of grip. You’re not always going to get that on tight, steep switchbacks. I try to think of corners
as three parts really. So entry, I’ve talked about that already, setting up in control,
mid corner and then exit. I did say before as well about trying to get as wide as you can. To be honest, in this situation,
I’m not sure I’m going to. I feel that if I come up
here, it’s really narrow, so it feels to me like I want
to be turning in already, and to do that, you
have to go really fast, otherwise you’ll end up sort of turning across here and end up too far inside. This is where I’m kind of improvising. It feels to me like the
middle might be better. I could try it and it could be wrong. So this is a situation,
if I was racing downhill, I’d probably try both. As I’m just out for a fun ride, I’ll just go with my first choice. (relaxed techno music) It’s always good to try
and get off your brakes in a corner, but the situation’s, of course if the hill’s steep, you’re going to need to
be dragging your brakes, so I’m going to be braking hard anyway into the entry of this corner, and turning in I’m definitely
still going to be braking. Hopefully, at about mid
part through the corner I can then start coming off the brakes to really try and get
the best amount of grip. Again, this is a really nice corner, loads of support, actually
a lot of grip today. So what I’m trying to do
is trying to get my weight to the outside of the bike,
and the way I’m doing that is just bringing my hips, if my hips are above the
saddle when I turn in, my weight is directly
sort of above the bike, but kind of to the inside corner, so really I want to try
to bring into the outside. It’s much more stable for your weight to be sort of more
central if you’re looking at where the tires are
gripping on the fore, if your weight’s to the
outside it’s much nearer. If it’s to the inside you’re really hanging off the inside of that tire and it’s not going to get as much grip. So smooth around the mid
turn like I’ve said already, ease off the brakes and
get ready for the next one. (relaxed techno music) So this is pretty much as steep
as you could ride, really. This is getting much more
like the old Champery. Luckily it’s dry and it’s grippy today. So super steep, and obviously
this part of the corner, mid corner, you’re riding across
the fall line of the hill. So if I look down from here,
there’s like a 20 foot drop and then there’s probably a 40 foot drop, and at this point of the corner, you’re headed straight towards it and there’s nothing there to stop you. So it’s really dangerous of course, and it’s a real balancing
act of coming in super slow, you’ve got to brake really hard on this, let off the brakes too early
you won’t make that corner, but brake too much you
really risk sliding out. So you’ve got to be really committed, you’ve got to be confident to do this, but really make sure you
hit that patch over there and don’t go over back this corner, otherwise there’s big consequences. Practice, practice, practice. Tight switchbacks are never easy, and when you make them steep
as well they get super hard. The big thing to try and remember is even if you forget everything else, try and look to the exit and
hope it gets you round there. There’s definitely a satisfaction
in nailing them, though. Right, if you want to see another video about some cornering fundamentals, ooh it’s getting rough down here, then click on the bottom
left-hand side of the screen for how to brake like a
pro over there as well. Thumbs up, hit that subscribe button!

69 comments on “How To Ride Tight & Steep Switchback Corners On Your Mountain Bike

  1. Nice! But what about switchbacks only managable on your front wheel only? Could help with some trails around my place to film.

  2. I’m still working on body position for switchbacks. Feel like I need to drop my chest towards the bars a little when I get my weight back otherwise I feel like I’m sitting to high through the corner. Any comments?

  3. My problem are those hikingtrail switchbacks. I've got 2 in a row at the finish of one of my favourite trail. It has some awkward roots. Tight trees at the entry and the exit, a fence seperating the trail from an old quarry, and the next one followong immediately with some steps in it aswell.

  4. outro commenting in FPV like a boss. There was a chance to hear the bike, the track, and through your voice, the effect on the rider. Nice, thx!

  5. Banked switchbacks? Those are just tight banked turns aren’t they? Steep switchbacks are hairpin turns with high risk for falling off the edge.

  6. #ASKGMBN Another great video about cornering. What I would love to hear about is, how do you guys decide to unclip or drop the inside foot before a dangerous corner for stabilization. Seems like a no-brainer, but I experience Its hard to get the timing right…

  7. The switchbacks in SoCal are sandy and rocky on top of all this, and those 50 foot consequences will put a death grip on your butthole

  8. * New riders, do yourself a favor and learn to ride on a 100mm travel xc bike. The mountain biking industry has changed and they are trying to make riding as easy as possible with long travel bikes being the standard now. They want Average Joe new Rider to be able to hop on a bike and ride the most technical trails with no problems whatsoever. Problem is you develop absolutely no skills as a mountain biker doing this. The bike does basically all of the work for you and you are just there for a nice smooth ride. Also you will miss out on the experience of actually feeling the trai you are riding. As someone who knows what's up and has been riding for a long time, professionally on team iron horse in the 90s, I think 100mm bikes are the sweet spot for most people. They do everything well. The only problem is they are now hard to find. I'm also of the belief that head angles are getting to be ridiculous, I saw a xc bike with 65 degree head angle which is just retarded. I think about 69-70 degrees is the sweet spot for the average rider…the people who will be watching this video. A lot has changed in the mountain biking industry in the past 10 or 15 years. It's very similar to the cell phone industry in that they make a bunch of unnecessary changes in order to manipulate consumers into believing they need to buy new bikes. The trend is to make riding as easy as possible on big long travel plush bikes where you don't experience the trail anymore you just comfortably roll over it. LAME.

  9. Please say you got helmet can photage? Newer Rider and I don't have many switchbacks but some good corners on my local trails. I think helmet cam photage of this might help us all get a better idea of how you Should look at the exit of the corner.
    Can you do a video with helmet cam photage on cornering?

  10. mh, with that title i assumed you meant corners which you need to endo around. Everything thats rollable isn't tight IMHO

  11. I was hoping there would be more info on the tight switchbacks that require an endo turn, this is the hardest turn in my opinion

  12. Dont know why,i have no more motivation to waching gmbn and they are still doing cool good best videos in the world… Need more trails, I will be champ im cross country my name petar

  13. Every time Neil makes one of these corning tutorials I get a little bit better at cornering next time I'm out on the bike. Study. Ride Study. Ride.

  14. My struggle is where I look, If I look to the tree in the middle of the corner I end there…
    But if I look to the end of the corner magically I keep flowing 🙂

  15. GMBN, you should do a series with a regular 30-45 yr old person who is a couple years into riding, and have Neil, Blake, Martyn do some coaching for a few days. I know of the perfect person. Lol

  16. What’s the deal with skidding your rear tire . It use to be frowned upon because of trail damage. Are you in a bike park?

  17. These aren't even tight though, you're lucky. You get hit with basically 180 degree angles in Colorado such that you have to get good at little Endo/manual adjustment turning maneuvers, it's nuts

  18. are you talking about Champery 2011 where Sam Hill finished 7th and Danny Hart SMASHED everybody else, first place by 11 seconds… after the torrential downpour?! 😛 😛 😛

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