Skills: How to Corner your Mountain Bike in Wet Mud

How to corner confidently when the trail becomes a giant slip n' slide

Mountain biking embraces the natural landscapes and transforms them into your very own playground, but with Mother Nature and all her beauty, you also have to deal with whatever she decides to throw at you… like rain.

A little bit of rain never hurt anyone (I don’t think), and a shower here or there is fun to ride in, some even prefer it. But how do we cope when a lot of rain blows out the track, turns the mud into a sloppy mess and throws all our riding knowledge into panic? How do we keep control on a MTB slip n’ slide?

Although riding in the wet mud is really fun, it can cause many of us to be more cautious and brake heavily, especially when entering and exiting a corner.

Before we look at how to combat the mud and attack the corners like a pro, let’s go back to some basic cornering technique and remind ourselves of the fundamentals required for carrying speed and control around corners and berms.

Cornering Basics:

Speed: As you approach a corner check your speed. It’s better to slow before a corner and increase speed out of it. Consider what gear you’re approaching in, and which gear you’ll want on exit. Then make the shift before entering the corner so you can fly out of it again.

Bike Position: Keep wide on the trail so you can see as much of the corner as possible, including the exit. That way you know exactly what’s coming and can prepare to attack it.

Body Position: It’s important to keep your weight above the bike at all times, rather than being sat too far over the rear or too far forward. Technique can vary, but it’s common practise that the outside foot is down and firmly planted on the pedal with as much of your body weight on it as possible. This will increase the traction between your tyres and the ground. It’s also good practise to keep your shoulders relaxed, and your outside shoulder slightly higher.

Eyes: As soon as you head into that corner, look for the exit. Your bike will naturally follow your eye line, so twist your hips to position your body for that exit. It can be difficult, but remember to look at where you want to go, and not at things you are looking to avoid.

Relax: Try not to tense your body, otherwise you’ll be unable to move around the bike very smoothly. Sudden and jerky movements can easily cause you to slow down, lose momentum and even slide out completely.

Those basic points are important to remember for handling corners and berms effectively, while keeping control and confidence. But how does this vary when you’re heading into a sloppy muddy corner? Well, it doesn’t really. Technique remains the same, but there are a number of things you can do to make it easier for yourself and improve your performance.

Muddy Riding Tips:

Suspension: If you’re heading out on the bike and you know the conditions will be a little boggy, then it’s an idea to lower the rebound setting on your bike, just by a couple of clicks. This will slow the rebound effect when you hit an obstacle or feature, making it less “springy”. This effect allows you and your bike to absorb more impact and it keeps you grounded, and more in contact with the trail.

Tyres: Similarly, you can afford to lower your tyre pressure by 2 – 3 PSI. Even though this doesn’t sound like a lot, it will improve the ride by creating a softer tyre that will deform better over features and create more traction with the ground through a slightly larger surface area. Be sure to not lower the PSI too much, otherwise you’ll open yourself up to the risk of pinch-bites.

Our guide for finding the right MTB tyre pressure

– Body Position: When you’re riding, your body and the bike need to be travelling at the same speed. When your bike hits a muddy patch, it’ll slow quicker than you. So keep your weight back a little, and your feet level on the pedals. It’s easy to get a little panicked and rip on the brakes, but this will almost definitely cause you to slide out. If your back end flies out, you can regain control and pull it back together. However, if your front wheel slides out from you, you’re in a little more trouble, so be aware of heavy front braking in slippery and muddy conditions.

Now it’s your turn

If you can remember the key riding tips for handling corners, and make the appropriate adjustments to your bike set-up, then you’ll all set for a controlled, speedy and messy ride in the wet mud. Like all biking techniques and tricks, it’s important to relax, take deep breaths and make no sudden movements that will cause you to have a tumble. So now you can embrace the wet winter weather, and get out there with more confidence, style and fun.


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