Skillz: Cornering Discussion

Discussion in 'Cornering' started by Mikie, Sep 9, 2019.



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  1. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    I think I have two weaknesses riding mountain bikes. Jumps and Cornering. I'm sure I know what you are thinking, "Geez Mikie, anyone can go fast in a straight line!" Not necessarily! I have had folks just leave me in the dust on a smooth flowy straight line singletrack and I have had the opportunity to leave others in that same dust. Start adding chunk, jumps, and corners, and now we have a discussion.

    Cornering is an art and some science. I understand the science but would love to hear some of the art of cornering. For example, I was just talking with @SS Barby and he was talking about his front brake and how it's a significant part of his corning skills. I think John is faster than me in many cases and so why would I not listen to a faster rider?!?!

    I have been called old school by @UPSed regarding my cornering techniques. I often use my rear brake for steering, meaning I change directions by tapping my rear brake. It does two things one good and one very bad. 1) It does indeed change my direction instantly, but 2) I'm using my damn brakes! So I'm slowing myself down! There is one more advantage to tapping your brakes to turn however... It freaks out the guy behind you and they have to deal with EATING MY DUST! Ha hah!

    Let's talk cornering!
     
    Cisco Roots, MrGreedom, Luis and 12 others like this.
  2. mtnbikej

    mtnbikej J-Zilla

    Location:
    Orange
    Name:
    J M
    Current Bike:
    SC Chameleon SS, SC Hightower
    This came up on the drive home after Cannell.

    The Plunge was slippery. Between the sand and pea gravel, you had to pay a little bit more attention to the sections that weren’t a straight line. A lot of it comes down to how comfortable you are when your tires are drifting. I like to believe that the rides we do help out a lot.

    Now I know ALOT of you guys here dread fire roads. I believe they actually make you a better rider. Singletrack trails generally have some type of berm when it comes to turns. Makes them much easier to ride at speed. Now fire roads tend to have flat turns. Knowing how to carry that same ST speed around a flat turn is a little more work. This was a topic that was being discussed at one of the last WC DH races where the newer crop of riders weren’t as skilled on the wide open high speed turns as the old school riders....mostly because they weren’t Bike Park trails or flow trails.

    You also get pretty comfortable on high speed fire roads making those flat turns in loose conditions over that pea gravel. I think this is why I like the looseness of the Motorway.

    I also think the new style of bike isn’t helping here. Long, low, slack are making bike much more stable in a straight line, but requires a bit more input for the turns. Add in that many riders don’t lean when it comes to turns, stay more upright and just use the front wheel to steer....they just don’t have the skills.

    I’m by no means a strong rider when it comes to cornering, but I like to think I can do it efficiently.
     
    MrGreedom, Danmtchl, Luis and 10 others like this.
  3. buggravy

    buggravy Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Calabasas
    Name:
    Matt
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol
    I will follow this thread closely, and hopefully there will be some discussion of lessons learned as people progressed. As fundamental of a skill as it is, it is absolutely the one area that I struggle with the most. As was the case throughout Cannell, I am much more likely to eat sh!t on low angle moderate speed turns than I am on technical chunky descents and climbs that (in my mind) should be much harder. Having my front tire slip out is the cause of probably 80% of my off bike excursions. After the Skyline ride I was thinking it was because I just wasn't committed enough and wasn't weighting the front tire enough. However, though I felt like I'd learned that lesson and adjusted after Skyline, that weakness bit me repeatedly on Cannell, not just at the top of the plunge, but even on the much lower angle loose but bermy turn at the beginning of the ride. Maybe too much front brake? I can tell I'm definitely faster with the tail slipping and sliding, but for me I think that becomes sort of a cheat, when I'm actually missing some very fundamental skill.
     
    Danmtchl, Luis, DangerDirtyD and 8 others like this.
  4. CBone

    CBone Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Antelope Valley
    Name:
    Tucker
    Current Bike:
    Intense Primer
    Lean your bike not your body. Turn your hips. Don’t brake during the turn. All easier said than done. I’m not good at it but these are the things I’ve read and seen on YouTube instructional videos.
    I’m convinced that riding fast is similar to skiing. Setting an edge, weighting and unweighting, committing and carving.
     
    Tom the Bomb, Danmtchl, Luis and 10 others like this.
  5. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Ssnake"
    Current Bike:
    Vassago/Trek
    We need @rossage to chime in here...

    There are so many variables in cornering. Terrain, angles, texture, moisture, tightness, and of course, how we happen to be feeling on a given day.

    Some days I am dialed in and some days I am not. But back to the basics, look up cornering technique videos on youtube. There are some great ones.
     
  6. Voodoo Tom

    Voodoo Tom MTB Addict

    Location:
    Castaic
    Name:
    Tom Kokkinakis
    Current Bike:
    Mango one, blue one, black one
    Give me a break pal your cornering skills are not lacking. Your times are consistently among the fastest but no harm in wanting to get better. My advice would be to just follow @scottay and do what he does cause he makes it look easy.

    I'm slowly getting better but it's hard to break old habits. I've followed many many of you faster guys and I try to learn something from anybody who is in front of me. After seeing some videos of myself I realized I was way too far back and trying to use my knees to turn instead of my elbows and upper body. When I got to the middle of the corner my inside knee was flung out like some sort of counterbalance trying to keep the bike from standing straight up. Focusing on using my upper body a bit more and not always having my butt planted on the seat has helped a bunch. Don't take my advice though, you're a heck of a lot better at it than I am.
     
  7. Redman

    Redman Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Cypress, Ca
    Name:
    Kevin
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Nomad CC 27.5
    Not an expert in any way. These are the top 5 things I try to focus on.... when I remember.
    1. Do ALL of your braking BEFORE the turn. Braking in the turn, especially rear braking will stand the bike up. Slowing you down and pushing you towards the outside of the turn and off line.
    2. Lower your center of gravity, leaning the bike and keep your hips centered over the bike.
    3. Outside elbow up, outside pedal down and apply a ton of weight to it.
    4. Look where you want to go, forward and thru the turn if you can.
    5. Shift before the turn, not after. Already be in the right gear when you exit.
     
  8. kazlx

    kazlx Member

    Location:
    Tustin, CA
    Name:
    Joe
    Current Bike:
    Yeti SB5.5
    Also, what seems to be common sense, is not always common. Amazes me how many people I see don't drop their outside foot while cornering. I think the biggest thing to corners is foot and body position. You really want to get the bike over onto the side knobs, since that's what they are actually there for. Definitely brake before the turn and have your line picked out before entering the corner. It really helps to flatten out the corner by coming in high and cutting across so you're sort of 'mid trail' on the exit. You really know when you nail a corner because you can feel yourself carrying/picking up speed. Bike parks that have really well done berms can highlight this. There's so many other factors that can affect cornering that not all things work in all situations. I agree with everything Redman said as well. All your decisions need to be made before the corner.

    You also need to weight the front wheel. That's where all your traction is. At least neutral on the bike, but a little more forward is better.
     
  9. SS Barby

    SS Barby Member

    Location:
    Palmdale, CA
    Name:
    Barby
    Current Bike:
    Ibis Ripley LS
    I am totally in the same way of thinking as Redman. Every point he makes is exactly how I approach turns.

    1.) So my front brake theory is while applying your front brake going into the turn you scrubbed the speed that you need to before the entering the turn, if you planned well enough in advance.
    2.) Then as @Snake Charmer states, then angle of attack comes into play, if you apply the pressure to your outside pedal correctly, and your center of gravity including upper body placement and arms, that will control both your angle and allow you not to have to steer quite as much.
    3.) Then comes once your into the turn the modulation needed of your rear brake for control the overall steering of the turn and any additional speed. My big thing is trying not to skid as much as possible. Shouldn't be too hard if you have done the first couple of things correctly and have a nice banked turn.
    4.) Finally, the big things when possible, is to look through your turn and know where you are trying to end up.

    @Redman, great advice on the shifting before the turn so you don't have to work as hard and are ready to hit the throttle upon exiting. My big obstacle in turns is when they are rutted switchbacks. I guess since until recently I have only ridden hardtails I still haven't adapted to allowing the bike to take a brunt of the harshness from rocks, ruts, etc. That is why as I told @Mikie, I preferred the top of Cannell way more than the Plunge. I would have preferred to do two laps on the top versus doing the Plunge. I really enjoy switchbacks but not so much rutted or chunky switchbacks. I am a total flow type rider. That is why I can't wait for Hellacious, hopefully my Ripley is good by then.
     
  10. SS Barby

    SS Barby Member

    Location:
    Palmdale, CA
    Name:
    Barby
    Current Bike:
    Ibis Ripley LS
    I think these skills videos by Phil are great and he has tons of them. This guy can shred. He pretty much covers all skills need to get faster. I have really been thinking of taking a skills class, but am still skeptical because of cost. But I guess, if you become better the money is worth it.

     
    MrGreedom, herzalot, Faust29 and 6 others like this.
  11. SS Barby

    SS Barby Member

    Location:
    Palmdale, CA
    Name:
    Barby
    Current Bike:
    Ibis Ripley LS
    @buggravy the turns on Skyline are like heaven too me. Those turns were so smooth and nicely swept. I loved every moment of turning up there. Those are the perfect example of turns that if you brake correctly going into the turn and your positioned correctly on the bike with you weighing the outside pedal then you can rail the turn and pick up speed coming out.
     
    MrGreedom, Danmtchl, Faust29 and 6 others like this.
  12. Redman

    Redman Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Cypress, Ca
    Name:
    Kevin
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Nomad CC 27.5
    Braking into turns.... 80% front brake - 20% rear brake. Maybe even 90-10. You'll know its good when you brake really hard and no rear skidding.
     
    MrGreedom, Danmtchl, Faust29 and 7 others like this.
  13. mountaingirl sara

    mountaingirl sara iMTB Addict

    Location:
    So Cal
    Name:
    Sara Ford
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz 5010
    Do I sense an Imtbtrails skillz clinic in the near future?:whistling:
     
    MrGreedom, Danmtchl, Mikie and 5 others like this.
  14. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    Maybe.
    I know I’m going to build a new forum to house the good info so it’s not lost...
     
    MrGreedom, Faust29, Danmtchl and 3 others like this.
  15. Grego

    Grego iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Fullerton
    Name:
    joe
    Current Bike:
    WFO9
  16. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    :confused:
     
  17. Grego

    Grego iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Fullerton
    Name:
    joe
    Current Bike:
    WFO9
    No skills for me when it comes to cornering. Well, unless you call taking a leg off the pedal and half spread eagle a skill. :eek:
     
  18. bvader

    bvader Well-Known Member

    Location:
    HB
    Name:
    Mr. Brown
    I just remember what our awesome coach in Whistler said

    "You can work on your turns everyday.. and still have room to improve."

    He also said what you don't see is the pros working on turns which they do constantly ... Because it's not as cool as chunks or air.. but carrying speed through the turns are where races are won and lost.
     
    herzalot, MrGreedom, Faust29 and 5 others like this.
  19. Redman

    Redman Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Cypress, Ca
    Name:
    Kevin
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Nomad CC 27.5
    For your switchbacks, if they aren’t REALLY TIGHT. You can use your suspension in your favor to help you through. Rear suspension on downhill switchbacks. Preload the rear shock coming into and through the corner. And, use the rebound coming out to help propel you forward. Front suspension on uphill switchbacks. Kinda same principle as rear. Preload if you can and swing the front tire up(not off the ground) and around the turn. As if you were scooping up something with your handlebars and throwing it up and through the turn. This will give you a small burst of momentum coming out of the turn. Both techniques are hard to do. I get it wrong more than right. Especially the downhill one. But, when you get it right it sure pings the stoke meter!!!
     
    SS Barby, MrGreedom, Faust29 and 6 others like this.
  20. hill^billy

    hill^billy Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Prescott
    Name:
    hill^billy
    Water skiing included.
     
    MrGreedom, Faust29, Danmtchl and 2 others like this.
  21. alexfore

    alexfore Member

    Location:
    Altadena
    Name:
    Alex F
    Cornering is the most complex skill in mountain biking. I like to think of cornering as an extension of pumping. To practice I like to do no pedal El P descents where I only pedal when I run out of momentum. Try to gain speed via pumping and keep it by being as precise as you can in every corner. When you start riding like this you can think of pumping the corner by being heavy on the bike in the corner to increase normal force and thus cornering force. The trail is a series of things you can flow over, light, heavy, light, heavy. It's all there you just have to find the flow. If you ride behind me you'll see I like to bounce into my suspension around even in flat wide sections weaving back on forth, I'm practicing.

    Other techniques: find small rocks in corners that can be used like a berm and slam/cutty your rear tire into those rocks as if it was a catch berm.

    I didn't start to truly understand cornering until I switched to flats. With flats I over commit to corners on purpose sometimes and have no fear of not being able to dab. Flats require you to find the pump and flow of the trail in rocky sections or else you will lose the pedals.

    Jumping is also pumping, heavy on the face of jump, light in air, heavy on transition..

    So go to the pumptrack!
     
  22. buggravy

    buggravy Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Calabasas
    Name:
    Matt
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol
    In a weird way I think my snowboarding way of thinking has been my undoing in someways. Contrary to leaning the bike, but not so much my body, I think I've been feeling like I need to commit my body to that same lean angle, the same way I would a deep carve on my snowboard. Anyway, good thread. I can already see some seemingly easily correctable mistakes that I was making.
     
    herzalot, MrGreedom, Faust29 and 4 others like this.
  23. MrGreedom

    MrGreedom Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Name:
    Ryan
    Current Bike:
    BH Lynx6
    Being a recent MTB convert (<5yrs) I feel this way about my riding. I have a propensity to steer my bike, and it slows me down. I have been consciously trying to let the bike flow through the trail. Taking it off axis and finding traction with the sidewalls of tires. It feels better, and Im getting faster.

    Outward sloping edges of exposed turns aren't confidence inspiring though. I can't get the safety first thinking out my head, and I probably shouldn't. I want to ride my bike for a long time.
     
  24. SS Barby

    SS Barby Member

    Location:
    Palmdale, CA
    Name:
    Barby
    Current Bike:
    Ibis Ripley LS
    Great advice! I am trying to find a location near my house to build a pump track. I also do not know how to properly build one. But, it's funny the few times I've ridden El P I did so in the same way. Trying to see how little I could pddal and maintain momentum.
     
  25. da big hills

    da big hills Well-Known Member

    Location:
    pearl harbor
    Name:
    cagey
    Current Bike:
    enduro 29
    The fastest guy I ever saw was up on Space, no shirt, no helmet, no clips, no suspension. He would drop an inside foot skid the rear wheel into the very small berm, if you could even call it a berm. He would strike and shoot off it like a rocket. I tried to keep up just to watch but in no time he was gone.
    Happy scary fast trails on Space
     
  26. da big hills

    da big hills Well-Known Member

    Location:
    pearl harbor
    Name:
    cagey
    Current Bike:
    enduro 29
    ouch no clips makes me hurt when I get air, every time. Even when I tell myself no clips, no air. I soon forget, grab some air and then live the pain.
     
  27. da big hills

    da big hills Well-Known Member

    Location:
    pearl harbor
    Name:
    cagey
    Current Bike:
    enduro 29
    air is for fun. when you want to ride fast you upweight the obstacle before you hit to flatten the course.
     
  28. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    '15 Intense Tracer 275c DVOish
    Shove your inside hand forward. It's counterintuitive, and it works brilliantly.

    You're welcome!
     
  29. buggravy

    buggravy Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Calabasas
    Name:
    Matt
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol
    I'm so glad this thread and section came to pass. Though I am new to mountain biking I grew up riding BMX bikes and building trails and jumps through the woods around our rural house. I've always felt comfortable on a bike, and never gave much thought to having to learn how to turn at this stage of the game. Reading through this thread, and watching a couple videos, I realized I needed to make some small adjustments, but I felt like I was largely doing everything I was supposed to be doing. That is, until I really paid attention as I was riding some more flowy sections today. I quickly realized that my natural tendency was taking me down a path of bad habits. I don't like "thinking" about riding too much, but even in one ride I can see how some mindful adjustments will quickly turn into better riding. Thank you IMTBTrails.
     
    Mikie, SS Barby, herzalot and 5 others like this.
  30. Tom the Bomb

    Tom the Bomb Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Alta Loma, Ca.
    Name:
    Thomas Cosgrove
    Current Bike:
    Niner rip 9
    This is huge Alex. Pump it baby! Watch the best in the world , dual slalom racers. How they slam the turns with their body.
     
    Mikie, SS Barby and herzalot like this.
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