Select Page

 Trust Metrics

Written By Cycling Enthusiasts
Established in 2016
Top 100 Cycling blogs
Indepth Research 

Why Technical Skills Are So Important For XC Riding and Racing


In this blog article, I will cover some of the most important technical skills and techniques that are needed for cross country mountain biking and how you can learn them.

Technical skills 


Technical skills make up a big part of mountain biking races. Whether it is drop-offs, technical rocky descents or attacking around tight corners. Many fundamental skills are needed by the XC riders to help them win races.


Unlike road racing, fitness and watts per kilo are of little importance in the world of mountain biking. In mountain biking races can easily be won by performing technical skills better than the other riders. Mountain bike guide.


Reading the trial


You may have heard more experienced riders talking about reading the trial and wondered what they mean by this.


Reading or scanning the trial involves looking as far up the trail as possible and examining different trail features. When scanning the trial you should look for separate sections of grip or alternative lines through corners. Setting up your mountain bike for cross country races.


Most newer riders simply try to look where they are going and maybe what their front wheel is doing, which can mean they get caught out by smaller ruts and bumps in the trail that they may not have seen.


Looking further up the trail and not just directly in front of you will give you extra time to react to obstacles and technical elements. 


When learning how to scan the trail, you should cycle at a slower pace and pay particular attention to different aspects of the trial, such as the surface and any corners or changes in elevation. How to take a corner on a mountain bike.


Reading the trial gives you more time to anticipate changes in the surface of the trial. One example of this may be the change from loose wet mud and leaves to more compact dryer mud. How to make your mountain bike faster.


If you aren’t ready to anticipate the changes in the surface type, then you risk losing tyre traction and sliding all over the place.


Riding drops


Many newer mountain bikers or XC racers are scared of riding jumps and drops. However, if you want to really enjoy mountain biking and improve your race performance, you need to know how to confidently ride drops.


The key to increasing your confidence when riding jumps is to get comfortable with moving your body weight around the bike.


When dropping off a jump or a trial feature, gravity will naturally make your front wheel drop increasing the risk of crashing. So one way to combat this is to move your bodyweight backwards over the back wheel and relax your upper body. Downhill mountain biking.



Body Weight



To get comfortable with moving your body weight around the bike, try to find a gentle trial with small jumps that you can practise on.


When navigating corners, you want to try and move your body weight in the opposite direction of the corner and lean your bike through the corner.


This should look like a moto GP corner but not that extreme. When it comes to riding drops, try to approach the drop with a steady amount of speed and stop pedaling.


Then, move your body weight backwards and relax your upper body. Preparing for the drop and moving your body weight around the bike will allow you to jump off the drop with both wheels level and will result in a smooth landing after the drop.


Front wheel lift


Being able to lift your front wheel at high speed over roots and bumps is a very important skill to have. It may sound easy, but it can go very wrong.


One way of mastering this skill is to use a pump track and practise pumping and lifting the front wheel. By loading and unloading weight onto the front wheel, you will quickly learn how to manoeuvre the front wheel over small obstacles.


This becomes especially useful when navigating sections of fast rutted trail as you will be able to carry more speed over the bumps and changes in grip on the trail.


Learning how to lift your front wheel can also be incredibly useful for steep technical climbs as it can allow you to cycle over ledges in the trail and move your bike around steep corners. Welsh mountain bike trails.


Riding up steep climbs


If you have played close attention to the skills mentioned in this blog, all of the skills rely on you being able to move your body weight around the bike.


Being able to cycle up loose technical climbs is no different and to be successful at it you need to be able to move your body over the front of the bike.


When you are on a steep climb, you need to move your weight forward over the front wheel to help you gain grip and traction on the front tyre.


However, it is a tough balance between front and rear tyre grip when going up steep technical climbs.


Too much weight over the front wheel and you risk the rear wheel sliding about. when putting out big power numbers or if you have too much weight over the rear wheel then the front wheel will slide all over the trail and will be difficult to control.


Top tips for mastering technical XC skills


Firstly you should aim to find a quiet section of mountain biking trail to practise on. When you first attempt to learn a new skill, you should try to slow down your cycling speed so that you can really focus on learning a specific skill.  Mountain biking tips and techniques.


The key to most XC skills is being confident in moving your body weight around the bike.


By practising this, you will be able to corner faster in loose technical trails and you will be more confident in taking jumps and drops at high speed.


Look up the trail beyond your front wheel


By scanning the trail you will be able to see changes in direction, trial smoothness and surface


Find a course to practise your skills on


A pump track provides a great environment to learn how to ride your bike in the most efficient way possible. Read Jacks Battle of the bowl experience.


You will learn to move your body around the bike and unload and load the wheels to create speed. Similarly, if you can find a short section of technical trail you can do several laps in one ride focusing on a particular element of your mountain bike skills per lap.


share your opinion – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

5 + 8 =