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.
mtn. biking 101
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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    How to conquer rocks/roots/logs?

    I know this is basically the key of mountain biking but I wanted to ask for some help. I have watched several tutorial videos of how to jump logs, do a manual, and jump over obstacles but I still suck at anything over 4". I always freak out when I see and obstacle coming so I usually have to stop the bike and walk it. There is also one particular challenge which is basically a couple of log steps, the steps being 8" in depth and about 6" in height that I have never figured how to get over (I can go down them just fine). I'll try to post a pic of them later.
    Will someday be living in Alaska with 2 pooches

  2. #2
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    Freaking out is normal. Just keep trying. Except the fact that you will fail a bunch of times before you get it. I still get a little nervous on some drops that I hit even though I've done them a hundred times. I think it's normal.

  3. #3
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    The key is to keep moving. Instead of walking it, Try it. If you bail go to the top and try it again. when ever I see someone bail and then see them go back to the top or bottom and try it again, I think very highly of them and I stop to and wait to let them succeed. I don't mind waiting.
    Mountain Biking is not a hobby. It's a lifestyle.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by MOSZ View Post
    The key is to keep moving. Instead of walking it, Try it. If you bail go to the top and try it again. when ever I see someone bail and then see them go back to the top or bottom and try it again, I think very highly of them and I stop to and wait to let them succeed. I don't mind waiting.
    I forgot to mention that I wear clipless, so?...
    Will someday be living in Alaska with 2 pooches

  5. #5
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    Just unclip...
    Mountain Biking is not a hobby. It's a lifestyle.

  6. #6
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    The momentum is key. Usually things get easier the faster you. The flipside is that initially it's too intimidating to go fast. I wear clipless pedals and have no problem getting out of them any slower than if I was on flats. If the clipless pedals are part of your fear you should loosen them up some and maybe do some practicing getting out. I know when I was first learning I would periodically take my foot out just to get that muscle memory. Another key factor in tackling those technical sections or the logs is core strenght and balence. You can practice doing track stands to work on your balence. It helps a lot with those sections when you are doing something slower to be able to balence yourself while making decisions.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbg33k View Post
    The momentum is key. Usually things get easier the faster you. The flipside is that initially it's too intimidating to go fast. I wear clipless pedals and have no problem getting out of them any slower than if I was on flats. If the clipless pedals are part of your fear you should loosen them up some and maybe do some practicing getting out. I know when I was first learning I would periodically take my foot out just to get that muscle memory. Another key factor in tackling those technical sections or the logs is core strenght and balence. You can practice doing track stands to work on your balence. It helps a lot with those sections when you are doing something slower to be able to balence yourself while making decisions.
    OK thanks. And also, what is a realistic height of an obstacle I should be able to get over?
    Will someday be living in Alaska with 2 pooches

  8. #8
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    Honestly I've seen some guys up in Oregon get over some logs that I wouldn't have even considered trying. Just for the sake of conversation I'd say some of them were like 24" in diameter or more. They would bunny hop up onto it and sink thier chainring in then pedal through it. Basically I've come to the conclusion that almost anything is rideable. I just may not be able to. LOL

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbg33k View Post
    Honestly I've seen some guys up in Oregon get over some logs that I wouldn't have even considered trying. Just for the sake of conversation I'd say some of them were like 24" in diameter or more. They would bunny hop up onto it and sink thier chainring in then pedal through it. Basically I've come to the conclusion that almost anything is rideable. I just may not be able to. LOL
    Yeah, I've seen some videos of some truly insane 2 foot+ logs that people can somehow do . I think I'll stick to sub 12" obstacles
    Will someday be living in Alaska with 2 pooches

  10. #10
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    Check out this video it will blow your mind watching how these guys ride. This is more street stuff but it's a good way to show the crazy crap you can do on a bike. I've seen some videos like this one but in stupid rocky technical boulders. It's all possible...just takes time and like I said at the beginning of the post...lots of failures.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbg33k View Post
    Check out this video it will blow your mind watching how these guys ride. This is more street stuff but it's a good way to show the crazy crap you can do on a bike. I've seen some videos like this one but in stupid rocky technical boulders. It's all possible...just takes time and like I said at the beginning of the post...lots of failures.
    Wow I swear those guys were about to puncture their tires, bend rims, or just completely destroy the bike. They could really use those skills to get over practically anything encountered on any MTB trail, maybe even jump over a tree
    Will someday be living in Alaska with 2 pooches

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muffinhead View Post
    OK thanks. And also, what is a realistic height of an obstacle I should be able to get over?
    There is no "should". There is only "can". "Can" changes as you learn, and if you keep trying you will learn.

    One by one the little lights on the Christmas tree light up. Little victories are one of the best parts of riding.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  13. #13
    no trees are safe
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    Lol those guys probably had their share of fractures, cuts and bruises. I mean damn I would have a problem getting over some of those things with my legs lol.

  14. #14
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    That's just amazing. Especially to someone who is still trying to learn how to bunny-hop over something bigger than a paint line.

  15. #15
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    3 Tips 4 Success

    1) Confidence - This alone, is 50% of the battle. Knowing you won't let a stupid rock or log cause you to crash...is nearly priceless. The enjoyment of riding without fear only gets better, as your confidence is gained. Skill = confidence.

    2) Momentum - Grab a small bucket of water. Twirl it in circular motion with your arm. The ONLY way a twirling bucket of water will not spill....is when you spin it fast. Slow it down and gravity will suddenly turn it into a shower. Same goes for objects on the trail. You already know damn well in MTB that most crashes are not the result of fast speed....but no speed. Keep things moving....this is not Golf.

    3) Ass Over Rear Wheel(AORW) - In order to clear any trail obstacle - weight transfer is crucial. AORW is as simple as that. Why do downhillers make shredding look so fluid, relaxed and almost easy? Hit rewind and notice their butts almost touch the rear wheel. Now you know why most mountain bikes are equipped with quick-release seat clamps, and now dropper posts. Master AORW and suddenly, your confidence skyrockets. It will blow your mind how much stuff you can clear applying AORW. Your rides will be more all about looking for technical obstacles to clear...than fearing about what may appear out on the trail. AORW...it's not a concept - it's your friend.
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  16. #16
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    confidence is key!

  17. #17
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    That line about looking for obstacles is so true! When I first started riding it was about finding the easiest line. Now it's more like that looks impossible...I'm gonna try it!!!

  18. #18
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    How long did you ride flat pedals before doing clipless?

    I prefer clipless myself, but I think a lot of people switch way too early. Certainly I did. You should be reasonably confident on the bike first, and if you can't bunny hop with flat pedals, your bunny hop sucks and you'll be a much cleaner, more efficient rider when you fix it. At least, going back to flats for a while was very helpful for me.

    For me, flat pedals can also free me to try things I'm less sure I can clean. And they're handy to loan to friends so they don't have to ride the test ride pedals while they get some practice and before they get whatever their eventual pedal choice is. Drop the saddle a bunch too if you like. For some things, having more clearance makes it easier to succeed the first time. You can raise the saddle back to your normal riding height later. The understanding of how to clean the obstacle doesn't go away, and you don't need as much clearance once you've figured it out.

    Anyway, I'd say go back to flats and work on the fundamentals. Pedal-ups are a huge one for getting over things, kind of a mini wheelie using drivetrain torque to lift the front wheel. Then start practicing obstacles again. Try different things. Lift your front wheel over them. Plant your front wheel on top. Be subtle. Exaggerate. Play around with it.

    If you only have test ride pedals, or don't have them anymore, definitely get some non-sucky flat pedals. They don't need to be expensive. I knew I wasn't going to use mine much, so I got some Redline Alloy pedals for $15. When the bearings wear out, I'll throw them away. But they're an alloy pedal with concave faces and you can get them either with nubs (my model) or pins. They're a huge step up over a test ride pedal. If you think this might be more long-term, I'm sure others will have some recommendations for pedals and shoes.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    How long did you ride flat pedals before doing clipless?

    I prefer clipless myself, but I think a lot of people switch way too early. Certainly I did. You should be reasonably confident on the bike first, and if you can't bunny hop with flat pedals, your bunny hop sucks and you'll be a much cleaner, more efficient rider when you fix it. At least, going back to flats for a while was very helpful for me.

    For me, flat pedals can also free me to try things I'm less sure I can clean. And they're handy to loan to friends so they don't have to ride the test ride pedals while they get some practice and before they get whatever their eventual pedal choice is. Drop the saddle a bunch too if you like. For some things, having more clearance makes it easier to succeed the first time. You can raise the saddle back to your normal riding height later. The understanding of how to clean the obstacle doesn't go away, and you don't need as much clearance once you've figured it out.

    Anyway, I'd say go back to flats and work on the fundamentals. Pedal-ups are a huge one for getting over things, kind of a mini wheelie using drivetrain torque to lift the front wheel. Then start practicing obstacles again. Try different things. Lift your front wheel over them. Plant your front wheel on top. Be subtle. Exaggerate. Play around with it.

    If you only have test ride pedals, or don't have them anymore, definitely get some non-sucky flat pedals. They don't need to be expensive. I knew I wasn't going to use mine much, so I got some Redline Alloy pedals for $15. When the bearings wear out, I'll throw them away. But they're an alloy pedal with concave faces and you can get them either with nubs (my model) or pins. They're a huge step up over a test ride pedal. If you think this might be more long-term, I'm sure others will have some recommendations for pedals and shoes.
    I can do a reasonably good pedal up, just my timing is horrible when I get near something
    and btw I was using flat pedals about a year before I switched.
    Will someday be living in Alaska with 2 pooches

  20. #20
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    Thanks for the help!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muffinhead View Post
    OK thanks. And also, what is a realistic height of an obstacle I should be able to get over?
    12 to 16 inches is fairly easy....clipped in just a bunny hop up and off.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muffinhead View Post
    I can do a reasonably good pedal up, just my timing is horrible when I get near something
    and btw I was using flat pedals about a year before I switched.
    Gp practice on something easy......like a curb or maybe a short log on the grass in a park....then just get bigger slowly.

  23. #23
    derp
    Reputation: danielsilva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah View Post
    1) Confidence - This alone, is 50% of the battle. Knowing you won't let a stupid rock or log cause you to crash...is nearly priceless. The enjoyment of riding without fear only gets better, as your confidence is gained. Skill = confidence.

    2) Momentum - Grab a small bucket of water. Twirl it in circular motion with your arm. The ONLY way a twirling bucket of water will not spill....is when you spin it fast. Slow it down and gravity will suddenly turn it into a shower. Same goes for objects on the trail. You already know damn well in MTB that most crashes are not the result of fast speed....but no speed. Keep things moving....this is not Golf.

    3) Ass Over Rear Wheel(AORW) - In order to clear any trail obstacle - weight transfer is crucial. AORW is as simple as that. Why do downhillers make shredding look so fluid, relaxed and almost easy? Hit rewind and notice their butts almost touch the rear wheel. Now you know why most mountain bikes are equipped with quick-release seat clamps, and now dropper posts. Master AORW and suddenly, your confidence skyrockets. It will blow your mind how much stuff you can clear applying AORW. Your rides will be more all about looking for technical obstacles to clear...than fearing about what may appear out on the trail. AORW...it's not a concept - it's your friend.
    Mostly this but i would also throw a "don't be stiff". Use your joints like they were pivot points, your limbs/lower half should follow your bikes movements but your upper half should remain in the same position. Think about your legs/knees as a second set of shocks and your arms as a second set of forks, get natural on the bike and don't stiffen up.

    Look at where your going and not where you're at, look forward to where you'll be landing and not immediately in front of you.
    2006 Cannondale Rush 650b
    2010 Cannondale Trail SL 650b
    2013 Norco Range Killer-B

  24. #24
    duh
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    If you look at most of the bmxers, most of their seats are either none existent or very low so they can get down low and use the momentum of popping up.

  25. #25
    T.W.O.
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    It's a good idea to practice on flats til you are comfortable then apply that when you are on clipless. If it would make you feel even better then put on protective gears, get it "fear" out of the way so you can work on your skill.

    It takes time to practice and build confidence as well as understanding how to maneuver your bike and throw your body mass around. I practice getting up and over the 6" curb for a long time it's like a mantra for me "manual the front, unweight the rear". I did that til I don't think about it and just do it. Next thing I know I start cleaning 12" ledges and logs making technical climb my new favorite thing

    Coming down then I worked on pumping the front wheel and then the rear wheel, I practice on the speed bump around my house to get the timing down.

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