1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Controlling bike at higher speeds

    It's been about a year and a half since I started mountain biking and I've gotten quite comfortable on my my Trek full rigid 26er.

    Question - How do I feel more in control of the bike at higher speeds going downhill?

    Problem - For some reason when I go faster on the downhill sections at Coyote Hills or Hayward Plunge, I feel like I can't turn my bike well. It feels like if I turn it, I'll starting squirming and lose control and crash. On the other hand, it also feels like when I go too slow, my bike starts to slide the rear end. I also feel like if I lean my bike to adapt to the turn, it'll just slip under me.

    I can ride technical terrain fairly comfortably, and normal trails with no significant speed I feel fine, but for some reason I just can't seem to get over the uncomfortable feelings of going around turns at higher speeds without feeling like I'm losing control.

    The only thing I can do right now is just slow down tremendously before the turn, but that kind of ruins the fun, besides I feel like I must be doing something wrong if I have to take away 70% of my speed just to line myself up for a turn.

  2. #2
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    I'm pretty new to the sport, but I got some advice from someone that is really good and it has been helping me a lot. He told me that when you go through corners, lean the bike, while trying to keep your body as upright as possible. You can practice in your driveway by setting up a couple cones and doing some figure 8's. I can take turns way faster now, and found that this, combined with pumping around the turn helps 100%

  3. #3
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    I could try to lean the corners more, I think the main problem is the fact that the turns are not banked inward...in fact they almost roll away from the turn. I can get through banked turns decently, I think the fact that they are flat'ish or banking the opposite way, it freaks me out a little.

  4. #4
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    Tires and pressure make a difference. Suspension would help also.

  5. #5
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    Tires are Specialized Captain Sport 2.2 Front 2.0 Rear, running tubed 30psi on both. Obviously no shocks...although I'd argue I'm the suspension

  6. #6
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    Do a search for videos on you tube for hip turning and leaning your mountain bike.

    There are some really good ones that teach you how to lean your bike while maximising tyre grip and maintaining your centre of gravity.

    The key is to get your bike leaned over while keeping weight centred over you wheels. I'm a complete noob myself so I won't attempt to teach anyone how to do it, but I've recently research it myself and im currently trying to learn how to do it myself

  7. #7
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    definately a technique thing. Have to learn it. if turns are actually banked away from inside of corner, you need to slow down regardless, flat its all about leaning your bike while keeping your body upright and your weight forward or back as needed.

    BTW how big are you that you need 30psi????? especially front and rear. Lower your pressures little by little till you find the right spots for them. Im 265lbs on a 29er and dont run much over that in the rear and about that in the front.
    Trek Marlin 29er

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  8. #8
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    I've tried everything from 50psi down to 30psi where I am now. I know that's a very low pressure, but for me that seems to be the most comfortable pressure especially since I ride a full rigid chromoly 26er. It absorbs more of the small bumps really well at lower pressure. I'm quite small, only 5'4" and 145lbs, but regardless, when I had my psi around 40psi or higher, I felt like my hands would melt from all the rattling and jarring. I do have Specialized gel gloves, but either way, I've grown accustomed to lower pressure.

  9. #9
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    I run my tubes 24psi rear and 22 front. Fatter tires with nice nobbley sides help to. Check out maxxis high roller think they are about 2.35

  10. #10
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    30 isn't low psi.
    You can lower your pressure until you get rim hits or squirm in the corners.. At your weight 18 front 22 rear is worth trying. Tubeless you could go lower.
    Tires wear out. Check yours.
    Here's a cornering vid--

  11. #11
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    Re: Controlling bike at higher speeds

    I'm a little heavier than you and use 22.5 and 25.

    Off camber turns are tough. And for me, maintaining traction at speed is what suspension is all about.

    I assume you're already out of the saddle.

    The position of my feet helps, I think. I try to approach a turn with my feet at 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock. That gives me a ton of range of motion. I prefer to put the foot that will be on the outside of the turn to the front, but have trouble with that on one side.

    I like to put the outside foot down somewhere around the apex of the turn. A lot of DH guys don't bother, so try it both ways.

    I know you said they're off camber, but look for trail features that can give you some help. Maybe there's a tree on the outside of the turn that can give you better counter force. If you watch the Top Gear video with the car versus the DH bike, you'll notice the DH guy is constantly finding things to stop his lateral drift, even though they're racing in an Italian village and everything is flat or vertical.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Btencer View Post
    I'm pretty new to the sport, but I got some advice from someone that is really good and it has been helping me a lot. He told me that when you go through corners, lean the bike, while trying to keep your body as upright as possible.
    I find this helps a lot, even on off-camber turns. The biggest knobs are on the sides of the tires. Plus, the side of a tire is sort of ice-cream-cone shaped and will naturally roll in a circle.

    This advice is often stated as "lean your bike and not your body". If taken literally, this can get you into trouble. If you find yourself drifting to the outside of a turn, you are not leaning enough.

    Your center-of-gravity MUST be inside the turn. Otherwise, you will tip over. The faster you are going and the sharper the turn, the further in your CG must be. For a given speed and turn radius, there is only one lean angle for your CG that will allow the bike to make the turn. You can choose the angle of your tires, but not your CG. If you indeed do not lean your body, you cannot get your CG very far inside the turn, and will either tip over or more likely brake, or drift to the outside of the turn.

    What I have been doing is leaning the bike as far as practical between my legs, but not hesitating to lean my body too if needed to keep my line. I even practice drifting to the inside of the turn by leaning more.

    Other things I have found that helps me is:

    *put more weight on the handlebars.

    *brake while in the turn. The goal is not to slow down, but to cause weight transfer to the front wheel. When you brake a wheel, it will slip slightly. So use your back brake. Your back wheel skidding a little can actually help you make the turn, and it is easier to recover if the back wheel breaks free than the front.

    *stand up or lift yourself higher while turning. This dynamically "weights" the wheels and digs them in better. You can see this effect by squatting down on a bathroom scale, then standing up.

    *finally, invest in some knee protection. You do a lot better when you aren't scared to death of wiping out. I wear leg warmers doubled over my knees -- adequate protection for dirt.

  13. #13
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    Re: Controlling bike at higher speeds

    I'm relatively beginner but I can share how I do it successfully.

    Let's say I'm making a fast left turn:
    - keep the left pedal up (right pedal down)

    - lean the bike to the left (how much to lean varies and you can learn this by practicing a lot)

    - avoid standing up...keep the center of gravity as low as possible by having your left leg sit on the saddle (back of your knee) while doing the above positions. This is basically keeping your body upright while leaning the bike.

    If you need to use brakes to slow down a bit, use mainly the rear brake to avoid losing control.
    What works for me may not work for you. What's best for you depends on many factors. We are different from each other.

  14. #14
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    AW: Controlling bike at higher speeds

    A good video showing the "leaning your bike more than your body" technique :

    Cornering with Fabien Barel

  15. #15
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    I want to suggest looking at your tire psi, also. I am 5'5, 148lbs, and I run 20 psi front, 23 psi rear. I will sometimes run less than that, too. I found that running high psi in my tires makes the bike feel like it is going to slide out from under me when going downhill. Mind you, I have hit over 47mph on fire-roads with some very steep pitches and tight turns. Not the smartest thing in the world to do when you know you could round a corner and there could be a 1200lb beast standing in the middle of the road, but oh well....

    *By beast I mean Kodiak brown bear.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by mevadus View Post
    47mph on fire-roads with some very steep pitches and tight turns.
    damn

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Lew View Post
    I could try to lean the corners more, I think the main problem is the fact that the turns are not banked inward...in fact they almost roll away from the turn.
    This is exactly the time when you need to lean the bike into the turn.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  18. #18
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    Minimum tire pressure needed to prevent pinch flatting can vary significantly depending on many factors:

    Rider weight
    Wheel size
    Rim width
    Tire size
    Tire construction
    Riding style
    Terrain

    I (@ 250lbs or more) can run 25psi, maybe even a tad less with no worries on most 29" x 2.2" run tubeless on a Stans Flow rim. On a 26" wheel with a rim that has an inner width of 17mm, with a 26" x 2.1" tire, I need to run tire pressure into the high 40's (48psi+) to prevent pinch flats.

    I don't love the Captain tires for the front. They roll well, but don't brake or hug corners as good (on the front) as a tire like the Ground Control or Purgatory will (if we're talking Specialized tires).

    Some tires have a lean angle that gets a little squirrely before you get it truly leaned over onto the actual side lugs. This can be a leap of faith to get all the way over onto the side lugs. OTOH, if you're all the way onto the side lugs already. . . . At my size, some tires that have tall side knobs made with very soft rubber compound, get squirmy for me. No es bueno. YMMV if you're not big enough to bend the side knobs around.

    As for technique, You do generally want to keep your weight inside to one degree or another. Thinking of as trying to keep your weight close to perpendicular to the trail surface while you lean the bike. This drives the knobs into the trails surface at an angle that isn't trying to break loose (even if it's the side knobs because you're leaning the bike over).

    Keeping the outside pedal down is good. Learning when to kick it down right when it's needed is even better.

    Getting the front wheel weighted is very important. Lots of beginning riders have their bars too high because it's more comfortable when just pedaling along. When it comes time to attack a corner, that can make it difficult to get your weight up and over the front wheel enough so it doesn't want to push (wash out). Even 5mm or 10mm lower bar height can make a noticeable difference when attacking a corner aggressively. Get up off the saddle, get your head above the inside grip, and get your elbows up and out so you can push downward on the outside grip.

    Using a little bit of gradually applied trail braking (with the rear brake) can help to load the front wheel as mentioned above, just don't grab a handful too quickly once you actually enter the turn.

    'Steering with your hips' is another subtle technique to add to your cornering arsenal.

    Try to follow some faster riders and watch what they are doing. Not everyone does it perfectly, even if they are fast. My Achilles heal is remembering to lean the bike sooner rather than later. If I wait too late, it's difficult to get it leaned over while keeping my weight more perpendicular to the trail surface.

    All of the above is a LOT to remember. Mere mortals likely can't remember to try it all at once. Pick one or two things to add at once, and try them on a few rides and get them down before adding more technique. This will help to know what to do when it will help the most. First thing on my list would be to get your tire pressure sorted, get your leaning technique sorted, and then get your weight over the front tire so it gets weighted properly. Go on from there.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by joel787 View Post
    damn
    I did the same by accident at well over 40mph, not doing that again

    Best advice for turning corners is to keep practicing and learn the best line, speed , rider position and bike position for different types of corner. Eventually you will be able to to keep the bike on the limits of traction round corners and tap the brake / turn bars / shift weight to quickly bring it back when you lose traction.

  20. #20
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    I wish there was more info available on recovering after you start sliding. It's hardly ever discussed.

  21. #21
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    Relax. Don't fight it.

    Sometimes works for me. :P Better than stiffening up and fighting it, anyway.

    I also try to keep spotting my exit, just like a normal turn. If I can get my bike pointed in the direction I'm going and the direction I'm going pointed at the exit, I'll stop skidding.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  22. #22
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    Recovering is simple on paper. If u slide u need to increase traction/decrease force. So shift in body weight, some loss of speed, lighten up turning to go a bit wider line. You have to figure out how and when is best for what option. Rear sliding out a bit is a slight brake tap and shift weight back slightly. The brake tap while shifting weight will help keep the front from sliding out while correcting rear.

    Could explain till my hands cramp from typing. Simple answer: slow down, adjust body weight, decrease steering. How and when you have to figure out.
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  23. #23
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    Guys! after all the tips I read here and the videos I watched, I went back to that hill and showed him who's boss . I took the first turn at around about 28mph! Before I took it at around 15mph...HOLY SMOKES I flew through the turn and I swear I never would have thought my tires would dig in that hard! I felt the tires clawing at the ground while I burned that first turn. The second turn was even better, going about 30mph...I actually accidentally learned how to kick out my rear wheel to line myself up for the straight. I saw that I was going in too hard so I went out wide to turn in harder--as I came in I hit my right brakes enough to slide my rear wheel--pressed my right foot on the ground and whipped my bike back and flew down the straight. My day has been made and I had a huge grin on my face when I realized how much better I got just from all the tips and practicing with leaning/turning drills.

    Thanks everyone!

    P.S. Listening to music from Parachute Youth and Rudimental made me bike more relaxed too, I legitimately found myself riding smoother and more clam since I was riding the tempo of my music.

  24. #24
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    Great news.... I recently had a similar epiphany, so I know exactly the kind of smile you had on your face. It makes a massive difference!

  25. #25
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    My weekend adventure list just got so much more epic.

    Hopefully I won't repeat the ol' turn-too-fast-on-gravel
    2005 Trek 4300 "Frankenbike"

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