How to Downhill Mountain Bike

 

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How To Downhill Mountain Bike

 

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Body Position

Holding A Good Body Position

 

 

 

Looking Straight Ahead

Keep Focused On The Line  

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Fitness

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How to Downhill Mountain Bike

 

Going downhill on a mountain bike is regarded as the Formula one of mountain biking.  Its one of the most exciting disciplines and requires a good level of technique, experience and fitness.  We will now look at some techniques used to perfect going downhill.

 

 

Downhill Discipline

 

Mountain biking enthusiasts started throwing themselves down hill in the 70’s on modified cruisers called Klunkers.  By the 1990s, dual forks and suspension designs allowed the real distinction of downhill mountain biking.

The first UCI mountain bike world championships took place in 1990 in Colorado, the second one took place in Italy. Fast forward, to more than thirty years and downhill racing has changed in many ways.

The bikes, techniques and tracks.  One thing that has not changed is the adrenalin rush you get on a downhill track.   The How to Downhill Mountain bike article will now look some techniques that will help you hone your downhill mountain biking.

 

Mountain Biking Set Up

 

Setting up the Mountain Bike for downhill riding to your own personal preference. The size, suspension, tyre pressure, shifters and brakes need to be tailored to your size and weight.

If it’s your first time setting up your MTB for a downhill ride. Get advice from a more experienced rider or take part in a bike set up course.

Getting a good balance depends on number of factors. A well set up bike can make a massive difference to a rider’s performance.

 

Perfecting Downhill Body Position

 

There are a variety of disciplines within mountain biking that require specialised bikes, accessories and clothing.

In downhill mountain biking, the rider travels downhill with a variety of obstacles, jumps, roots and berms.  For the majority of the time, the rider will stand on their pedals and are often out of their saddle.

Having a good body position depends on a few factors. Starting with the position of the feet on the pedals. 

The majority of downhill rider either choose downhill racing clipped in pedals or clipless. In addition, to specialised shoes and pedals. 

To maximise pedalling efficiency; the cleats are moved to the centre of the feet. Allowing the rider to have a good balance while travelling downhill and reducing the pressure on their ankles. 

An added benefit to this position is to maximise ergonomics for bike pumping. Transferring your body weight on to the pedal to increase speed. To continue our article on How to Downhill Mountain bike we look at the best type of shoes.

 

 

Shoes

 

There are shoes designed specifically for the pedals. They normally have a flat design, with small pins that help you have a better grip, improve traction and have better control over the bike.

Keeping the heels low and relaxing the ankles will allow you to take advantage of a centre of gravity and allow you to transfer your weight over the cranks and the wheels.

 

Knees

 

To have the perfect posture, the knees should be bent and a shoulder width apart.  Allowing the legs to easily stretch or bend and act as an added suspension.  By putting weight over both wheels, allowing you maintain a central body position and maximising traction.

The pelvis should be kept behind, or slightly above the saddle when you’re not tackling an exceptional big incline or jump.

The torso should be titled forward, with the head over the handlebars. Arms are bent with elbows wide opened, while you’re looking straight ahead.

 

Shorts

 

Downhill riding causes the body to never be static. The intense pedalling, weight shifts and repeatedly going in and out of the saddle causes shocks not to always be absorbed.  Wearing a specifically designed pair of shorts for downhill riding will help reduce friction.  Normally, the saddle is titled upwards to reduce interference and is safer in the event of a bump or a scrap.

 

For the brief moments you’re in the saddle, the position of the pelvis is slightly backwards. A decent pair of cycling shorts will take the posture into account with the ischial area. Without hindering your freedom of movement.  Purchasing quick drying and good quality chamois fabrics will help improve comfort and maximise performance.  Next in the article on How to Downhill Mountain bike we look at looking ahead.

 

 

Looking Ahead

 

The number one rule for mountain biking is to keep your eyes focused on the line. Mountain biking down difficult terrain comes with experience. Getting into a good habit of looking three to six meters ahead helps tackle difficult terrain.  If you can’t handle the terrain, you must slow down.

 

Pedals

 

The pedals need to be level while riding downhill, with the cranks at six and nine o clock.  Allowing you to have a better stance when pumping the bike.

Downhill mountain bikers need to be ready and active, anticipate obstacles and absorb shocks and bumps.

The rider needs to pivot there weight on the bottom bracket  when they move up, down, right or left. Focusing on imaginary vertical line from the core. Help creating a rider MTB system that is stable and dynamic.

 

Braking

 

After the sight, weight distribution and position are correct. The next one on the checklist is the braking.

Braking needs to be done with one finger, the hands need to have a tight grip around the handle bars.  Therefore, the brake levers need to be correctly positioned.

Getting into a good habit of checking the brakes on a regular basis and making sure there is no wear and tear. Learning how your brakes reacts at different speeds, terrain and weather conditions.

Braking should be done with precision, feeding the brakes on and off.  Using the front brake over straight sections, steep gradients and before a corner. By weighing the front wheel to improve grip; can help slow you down.

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Fitness

 

Downhill mountain biking is a physical sport. Having good mobility in saddle, good balance, strength, power and sprinting ability.  Practising other sports like swimming, running, skiing and road cycling can help improve physical conditioning.  Taking part in a wide variety of physical activities will help you become a more complete biker.

 

 

How to improve your Endurance

 

To be a competent downhill mountain biker there needs to be a solid base of endurance. You need to complete plenty of kilometres at a low or medium intensity. Two or three rides a week for at least two hours.

Gym

 

Joining the local gym and taking part in some “functional training” to improve strength endurance for mountain biking.   Alternating routines in the gym for 45-minute sessions taking part in aerobic floor exercises and using training machines.

Developing strength through weight training is beneficial by doing deadlifts, squats and press ups.  Getting a personal training can help you get a tailored workout. Don’t forget your stretches. They will help improving the range of motion.  Next, the article on How to Downhill Mountain bike will look at how to ride with better riders.

 

 

Riding With Better Riders

 

Hitting the trail with more experienced riders will allow you to pick up  on how they prepare for the trail, how the technical parts of the trail and what essential accessories they bring along. You could always join your local mountain bike club. There is no other feeling than spending time with people that share your passion for mountain biking.

 

Nutrition & Hydration

 

Maintaining the fuel that the body runs on will help you have a more productive day at the trail. Riding on an empty stomach is no fun. The body needs to replenished ever thirty to forty minutes. Making sure you have some water and some small snacks to help re energise the body.

 

Body armour

 

Downhill mountain biking requires all the necessity apparel, full face helmet (with chin guard), knee and elbow pads, back protector and long finger gloves.  The goal is to be as comfortable as possible, however still being safe in the event of a bump or scrap. You don’t want movement to restrictive.

Wearing a pair of googles that protect the eyes, however protect the eyes in the event of a crash.  Choose flat shoes or clipless. Whichever suits your personal preference. A log sleeve t shirt, short trousers made from good quality materials. Always try the clothing on where possible to make sure it feels comfortable.

Summary

 

Relaxing: Downhill mountain biking is meant to be fun. It will be easier to reach your full potential if you are relaxed and enjoying your time on the trail.

Trust Your Bike: Mountain bikes are designed specifically for tackling tough terrain. Getting into a good habit of letting the bike move beneath you and let it do the its job.

Body: Keep your body centred. A downhill mountain biker will look like they are standing on the pedals when they are tackling a steep spot. 

Small Steps: Try a small jump or a small drop. Try and power the bike off the jump and keep the bike level when it leaves the obstacle.

Looking Forward: Focus on the trail ahead; pick a line and keep your eyes fixed on the line.

Braking: Try and not to brake for no reason. When you come across a scary part of the trail, get the bike pointed in the right direction and let it roll.

 

Taking a Lesson: Booking a training session with a coach will allow you to gain some expert knowledge. 

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