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Thread: Berms?

  1. #1
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    Berms?

    What is the proper way to ride a berm.

    Lean the bike, lean body and bike?

    weight into the outside pedal?

  2. #2
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    Yes.

    A lot of it is situation-dependent and a skilled rider might do all of those things to some degree depending on the berm. Without knowing your skill level, I'll address a starting point.

    First, start with level pedals. Talking about dropping and weighting the outside pedal really comes into play when you start getting into more aggressive leans of the bike.

    You'll want to lean the bike into the center of the berm, straighten the inside arm, bend the outside arm. Shift your hips towards the outside of the berm (how much depends on how much you're leaning the bike, you're doing this to keep your center of gravity over the bike).

    You want to look through the exit of the berm, too.

    At higher speeds and steeper, tighter berms, you might instead lean your body with the bike, relying on your speed to keep your tires planted into the berm.

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    OK that makes sense.

    What angle is the bike supposed to be at, should it be perpendicular to the berm?
    I suppose increased speeds require more angle like any turn?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blinkz View Post
    OK that makes sense.

    What angle is the bike supposed to be at, should it be perpendicular to the berm?
    I suppose increased speeds require more angle like any turn?
    It depends. How high/steep is the berm? How fast are you going? How tight is the corner? What is the trail condition? It it tacky, loose and dusty, poorly maintained and rough, or something else? Do you have tires well matched to the trail and conditions?

    There is no concrete answer.

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    Hmm ok so I have to just do it a bunch and try to figure it out


    Are there any technique differences between a tall berm and a shorter one that is not much taller than a tire width? I feel way less comfortable on the short berms.

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    Height mainly changes how high up you can ride on it. With an increase in speed, you'll naturally go higher up, so with a lower berm, lower speed or better control to keep the bike low is necessary. But, speed is crucial. If you're going too slow, you'll lay the bike down if you lean into it, too upright and you'll slip and lay yourself into the berm... This is where it just takes practice to know what you can get away with and unfortunately it just doesn't work at low speeds which makes it all the more difficult to practice, as you have to commit.
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    So smaller berm mostly just requires more bike control to keep the tires on the smaller amount of berm. There are a couple larger berms at the place I like to ride. Maybe I'll have to just hang out on them for a little bit and try and get a better feel for it.

    This spring thaw stuff is taking too long.

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    Most flat cornering principles still apply, but you can lead with your torso in bermed turns. Your hips should be flipped, either way, with your inside knee pointing toward the exit of the turn. Don't go higher than your speed dictates; it's just a longer path. Once you're comfortable maintaining your speed, you can start pumping into them to increase speed and flow, the same as you would a depression in the trail.

    There's too much to cornering to tackle at once, so focus on a couple things(vision/bike lean vs body position) and then flipping your hips more, and then pumping. If you put in the time, you'll get there.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blinkz View Post
    So smaller berm mostly just requires more bike control to keep the tires on the smaller amount of berm. There are a couple larger berms at the place I like to ride. Maybe I'll have to just hang out on them for a little bit and try and get a better feel for it.

    This spring thaw stuff is taking too long.
    funny...usually that's a big issue here this time of year. this year, we didn't really even have much of a consistent winter freeze.

    Frankly, the smaller ones sometimes aren't even worth using. Either they're poorly built or they weren't built at all...they're the result of people riding fast on a flat turn and pushing dirt into a berm. Again, speed is the important part. If you're not riding fast enough for the berm, then don't bother trying to ride it.

    Wooden berms are another interesting variation on the theme. All the normal rules apply, but with some added concern. Namely, wooden stuff gets slippery. If the wood is damp from rain or morning dew, or your tires are wet, stay off. They're treacherous. I went down HARD on one last summer because it was early and there was dew on the ground, which got on my tires, which made the wood like ice, even though it was dry. They also don't tend to have smooth transitions along the slope. They have one or more angle transitions, and that's exactly where my problem occurred. I had enough speed to ride higher on the steeper portion of the bank, so as I transitioned from the less steep to the more steep part, that's where my tires slid. I probably had not adjusted my body position enough for the steeper part of the berm, but with the dampness being the factor that it was, the margin for error was nil (or negative, if you take that to mean I shouldn't have been on it until the sun dried things out more). I basically high-sided the top edge of the berm (maybe 4-5ft high at that point) with my hip, which caused me to flip. My pack's hipbelt caught on the wood, so I was hanging upside-down from my hip belt and had to do a shoulder press to extricate myself. It was pretty spectacular.

    So yeah, even if you have the speed, you've gotta make sure that everything else works out right so you have the traction on the berm to ride it.

    There's a park with a 3 different downhill trails with some berms (some of which are pretty big/steep). The soil in the park isn't the most ideal for forming berms, so I think they were amended with clay to hold them together when they were built (these trails were pro built with equipment). The hill in the park is a glacial kame, which is a glacial outwash deposit full of sand and gravel. I'd say the gravel component is pretty significant, and there's a lot of it in the berms. The gravel isn't loose (but if it's really dry, there's often a little loose sand on top), but it's sorta like an exposed aggregate patio. Traction can be a little dicey, IMO. Even though I ride a fatbike and have gobs of traction, I feel it when I'm approaching the limits of my traction on that stuff. I feel like I am able to hit a number of the berms at about as fast as is reasonably possible, but that's not the best way to ride the trail, I find. I lose a lot of speed between the berms (hello, fatbike), so I'm not really anywhere close to the top of the strava leaderboards for that trail. I definitely notice that I get overall faster runs on the trail if I am not going balls-out on the berms specifically, but dial it back a little for the berms so I can carry speed through to the next one. Linking them smoothly with control works better than just trying to ride faster.

    It definitely is worthwhile to session a trail with berms so you can get a better feel for them.

  10. #10
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    You're getting some good advice, and some not so good advice. Your bike will always have the most traction available if you keep your body perpendicular to the ground under the tires. That's why you lean the bike but stand straight in flat turns. In my opinion the amount of lean in a berm comes down to two main factors, the shape of the berm and speed. As you lean more and more you need a steeper and steeper angle to prevent you from slipping out over the top of the berm. You also need to carry enough speed to keep you pressed into berm as it gets steeper. If you're not railing the berm you can get away with not leaning to match the bike but even then you'll naturally carry more speed if you do.

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    I appreciate all the input. Giving me ideas to think about for when I get out there.

    If there is a taller berm and I approach it at a lower speed, I can practice the principles of leaning and looking through the turn on a lower portion of the berm?
    Maybe I will just be leaning less because the berm angle is less steep at that point?



    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Wooden berms are another interesting variation on the theme. All the normal rules apply, but with some added concern. Namely, wooden stuff gets slippery. If the wood is damp from rain or morning dew, or your tires are wet, stay off. They're treacherous. I went down HARD on one last summer because it was early and there was dew on the ground, which got on my tires, which made the wood like ice, even though it was dry. They also don't tend to have smooth transitions along the slope. They have one or more angle transitions, and that's exactly where my problem occurred. I had enough speed to ride higher on the steeper portion of the bank, so as I transitioned from the less steep to the more steep part, that's where my tires slid. I probably had not adjusted my body position enough for the steeper part of the berm, but with the dampness being the factor that it was, the margin for error was nil (or negative, if you take that to mean I shouldn't have been on it until the sun dried things out more). I basically high-sided the top edge of the berm (maybe 4-5ft high at that point) with my hip, which caused me to flip. My pack's hipbelt caught on the wood, so I was hanging upside-down from my hip belt and had to do a shoulder press to extricate myself. It was pretty spectacular.
    That is crazy. haha I'm glad you posted this to be honest. There is a wooden berm at the place I ride most of the time. I haven't really gone too nuts on it but also luckily it has always been dry when I am there.

    I ride a fat bike as well. Actually just got a Farley ex8. Cant wait to cush around on my lounge chair. :P

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blinkz View Post
    I appreciate all the input. Giving me ideas to think about for when I get out there.

    If there is a taller berm and I approach it at a lower speed, I can practice the principles of leaning and looking through the turn on a lower portion of the berm?
    Maybe I will just be leaning less because the berm angle is less steep at that point?
    Yep and you can ease into going higher and steeper at your own pace. That's ideal really.



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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blinkz View Post
    I appreciate all the input. Giving me ideas to think about for when I get out there.

    If there is a taller berm and I approach it at a lower speed, I can practice the principles of leaning and looking through the turn on a lower portion of the berm?
    Maybe I will just be leaning less because the berm angle is less steep at that point?
    That's exactly how you SHOULD learn to ride berms.

    The same type of progression applies to learning any skill, really. You want to ride 5ft drops? Start with 6" and work your way up.


    Quote Originally Posted by Blinkz View Post
    That is crazy. haha I'm glad you posted this to be honest. There is a wooden berm at the place I ride most of the time. I haven't really gone too nuts on it but also luckily it has always been dry when I am there.

    I ride a fat bike as well. Actually just got a Farley ex8. Cant wait to cush around on my lounge chair. :P
    Oh, FS fatbikes aren't lounge chairs. At least mine isn't (Bucksaw). They're more like monster trucks. I have to remind people not to follow me through technical sections, because I often take the "stupid line" that will get most people in trouble. What makes me giggle about the bike is when I am able to crawl/dance up a really steep and rocky climb where the rocks are moving underneath me and there's no "obvious" line and it feels like the bike is just clawing uphill.

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    Thanks guys. Ill have to find a small loop to ride the berms a bunch as soon as the trails open for the summer.
    I'll try and put the advice to use.



    Oh yeah monster truck, I like that. I can't wait to get out and roll over everything.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Oh, FS fatbikes aren't lounge chairs. At least mine isn't (Bucksaw). They're more like monster trucks. I have to remind people not to follow me through technical sections, because I often take the "stupid line" that will get most people in trouble. What makes me giggle about the bike is when I am able to crawl/dance up a really steep and rocky climb where the rocks are moving underneath me and there's no "obvious" line and it feels like the bike is just clawing uphill.

  15. #15
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    I love riding berms. It's my favorite part of trail riding. I took my time and worked my way into it slowly. Now, I will ride up high on the tall berms without thinking too hard about it.

    Overall, don't rush berm riding. It will come naturally if you ride regularly. I learned how to lean over a bike and look through corners from my years of riding sport bikes on the streets.
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    I was trying to focus on looking through the turn but it seems I let myself get distracted a little when going through the berm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    I love riding berms. It's my favorite part of trail riding. I took my time and worked my way into it slowly. Now, I will ride up high on the tall berms without thinking too hard about it.

    Overall, don't rush berm riding. It will come naturally if you ride regularly. I learned how to lean over a bike and look through corners from my years of riding sport bikes on the streets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blinkz View Post
    I was trying to focus on looking through the turn but it seems I let myself get distracted a little when going through the berm.
    When I rode motorcycles, I made it an immediate habit to look through my corners so it's second nature for me to do it on a bike. You have to develop the habit when you ride and make it become second nature.
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    Ok,
    I got to ride a few berms the last week and my question now is about weight shif towards the front and rear of the bike.

    I find I often start shifting towards the rear tire, is this good, bad?
    Or is this kind of a depends on berm situation again?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blinkz View Post
    Ok,
    I got to ride a few berms the last week and my question now is about weight shif towards the front and rear of the bike.

    I find I often start shifting towards the rear tire, is this good, bad?
    Or is this kind of a depends on berm situation again?
    I am not the greatest at explaining things so this might help:

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    GMBN's video on berms:

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    One thing I've learned from my limited experience is that place you enter the berm will effect where you come out.

    If you go into the corner on the outside edge so you're cutting from the outside towards the middle if the berm, hight-wise, you'll tend to head out the other side towards the bottom/inside.

    If on the other hand you go into the berm on the inside then drift up the bank/berm you're more likely to go up towards the top as you go round. If you get it wrong enough there is a risk you'll go over the top edge of the berm and crash.

    Going slow so that you can practice your lines and technique is advised.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    One thing I've learned from my limited experience is that place you enter the berm will effect where you come out.

    If you go into the corner on the outside edge so you're cutting from the outside towards the middle if the berm, hight-wise, you'll tend to head out the other side towards the bottom/inside.

    If on the other hand you go into the berm on the inside then drift up the bank/berm you're more likely to go up towards the top as you go round. If you get it wrong enough there is a risk you'll go over the top edge of the berm and crash.

    Going slow so that you can practice your lines and technique is advised.
    Yep, I find for me on downhills a high entry, low exit is "usually" quickest, unless it's a built up berm you can ride into a drop. Up hill low entry high exit seems to carry the most speed. This will vary between riders and trails though.

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    I'm not so interested in the fastest line but the least pig-tumbling one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I'm not so interested in the fastest line but the least pig-tumbling one.
    Funnily enough they seem to be the same around here. Of course excluding technical option lines and gapping over various obstacles.

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    I don't do gaps. Rollable only. I crashed jumping off ramps when I was a kid but I'm way too old for that now, although I still manage to crash even without big jumps :0. ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I don't do gaps. Rollable only. I crashed jumping off ramps when I was a kid but I'm way too old for that now, although I still manage to crash even without big jumps :0. ...
    In this case I'm talking more like a rocky or roots descent you can roll or just send for about a 3'-5' drop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tuckerjt07 View Post
    In this case I'm talking more like a rocky or roots descent you can roll or just send for about a 3'-5' drop.
    No way I could do a five-foot drop! A one-foot drop scares me, I'm not kidding. If you have a transition then a little 'air' is fun but drops to flat are trickier for fat old pigs ;0)

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    yeah, drops to flat are out of the question for me if they exceed about 2ft. 5ft is no problem for me, though, if there's a good transition. Did a couple in the 4+ft range today (depending on where I hit the transition - I didn't exactly measure).

    When I've got good speed, I usually tend to prefer high entry low exit on berms, but it depends on the specifics.

    Fore-aft weight balance depends on a lot of things that you're not going to be able to convey in text very well at all.

    mtb skills almost always come down in the end to repetition and experimentation, and even skills coaches will get you doing that at some point.

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    Thanks everyone. I'll check out those videos as well.

    The trail I got to ride today had some nice berms and a sort of quick loop to get back to them. I'll try and get back there more frequently to ride the berms more.

    I did get going much faster than I have in the past through them but I also almost washed out so I definitely need more practice haha.


    There was a pretty good sized double leading into one of the berms that seemed pretty insane. Definitely need more practice if there are people out there hitting that and making the turn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blinkz View Post
    Thanks everyone. I'll check out those videos as well.

    The trail I got to ride today had some nice berms and a sort of quick loop to get back to them. I'll try and get back there more frequently to ride the berms more.

    I did get going much faster than I have in the past through them but I also almost washed out so I definitely need more practice haha.


    There was a pretty good sized double leading into one of the berms that seemed pretty insane. Definitely need more practice if there are people out there hitting that and making the turn.
    You have a pump track nearby? We have one at my mountain bike park that incorporates a lot of berms. Try poking around online and see if there are any parks near you that have a pump track!
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    Playing on a pump-track is a very good idea. A few years ago I looked around for a BMX track to practice on but couldn't find one nearby. Be nice to find one that wasn't too busy as well. Be rather embarrassing having loads of kids laughing at the fat old man who can't ride a bike ;0)

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    I'll do some searching. There hasn't been one at any of the trails I've been to yet but I thinkthere is a bike park somewhere. Maybe they have one there.

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    At Glentress there is a blue run called Berm Baby Berm. Guess what it is? ;0)

    https://www.pinkbike.com/video/415109/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    At Glentress there is a blue run called Berm Baby Berm. Guess what it is? ;0)

    https://www.pinkbike.com/video/415109/
    That looks pretty fun!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    That looks pretty fun!
    It is actually :0) Dead smooth. If you brushed off the marbles you could skateboard it! Some of the blue trails are the most fun because they are fast and flowing. The reds are typically much rougher which slows you down.

    The more natural trails are better though.

    Good Game:

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    A local group built this section up in my neck of the woods. I need to get out there and try it! Comes with big berms and a few jumps. They still have a ways to go with the entire project.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Battery View Post
    A local group built this section up in my neck of the woods.
    That looks great! I couldn't ride it, but it looks great ;0)

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    I suppose part of living in MN that is a slight disadvantage is there seems to be a max of 2 berms in a row before you have to get back up the hill haha.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blinkz View Post
    I suppose part of living in MN that is a slight disadvantage is there seems to be a max of 2 berms in a row before you have to get back up the hill haha.
    Also in MN, can confirm!

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