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
    I married a witch.
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    Rookie mistakes. Any advice to help us through the learning curve?

    So, I've been riding. I've found that if I take a corner with my inside foot low, I tend to catch more stumps, so I try to ride with that foot high.

    As I slow down to enter a turn, I drop gears, because I've found it's pretty darn hard to get going again, in the gear I was riding comfortably at in that long straight section before the bend.

    Soft sand is another place where it's a good idea to get in a lower gear BEFORE you enter it.

    Trying to shift into a lower gear while you're climbing a steep hill, might leave you with a busted chain, and a long walk back to the trail head.


    So, I ask you experienced guys, what kind of advice do you have for the new rider? What tips and techniques can you recommend to keep a newbie from having to learn these types of things the hard way?

    Watch your route.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacknife417 View Post
    Look at where you want to go! Don't get too focused on the corner itself. I have to tell myself to do this all the time. Once you get used to letting your body follow your plane of sight, you'd be supprised some at how fast you can take corners.

    Wear a helmet!
    Quote Originally Posted by "Rod" View Post
    Don't look at the odometer when you're going fast. Good ones will save your max speed. You will go out of the trail if you do not heed my warning. I may or may not have done that! I'm sure this was my face when I went off the trail.
    Quote Originally Posted by CCMTB View Post
    Look where you want to go, not where you're going. Similar to that, don't stare at an obstacle on the trail; you'll hit it.
    Corners

    Quote Originally Posted by emtnate View Post
    When you take corners, if you keep your outside foot low, you can push down on the outside pedal and improve your traction to take the corner faster. If you have a berm or bank, you can really keep your speed up this way.
    Shifting

    Sand

    Quote Originally Posted by "Rod" View Post
    Wide tires and keep spinning in high cadence. It will help you float over it. If you pedal hard you will sink into the sand. I learned this on a dirt bike growing up.
    Tires

    Quote Originally Posted by theMeat View Post
    FWIW I enjoy a rounder profile, bigger tire in front. Feel the point of washout/no washout becomes more up to me and less for tire and gives me a better balance front to rear brake loose point..
    To match tire with terrain and the way you like to ride also.
    Climbing

    Quote Originally Posted by emtnate View Post
    I'm not sure how to explain it, but there are times when it is actually easier to shift into an easier gear while climbing. Like you said, you can break a chain or have your rear wheel slip, so you need to be careful. Practice is the only advice I can come up with.
    Quote Originally Posted by PapaBlunt View Post
    Lower the pressure in your tires if you keep loosing traction while climbing. I used to always stand on my pedals for a climb, but if you shift down and keep your cadence up and ass on the seat, you'll climb better. Smoothness will help you get out of some hairy situations.
    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Try spinning the lowest gear you can use and still put some power into the bike. Experienced mountain bikers tend to have cadences around 80 rpm, although it can be higher and some people are shockingly happy to climb with slower pedal speed.
    Quote Originally Posted by theMeat View Post
    Yup. Where do you begin. Everyone is better at some stuff than others. Just ride more! Maybe different terrain and bikes help you figure it out faster? As in a rigid SS will force you to pick better lines than a FS 29er, and knowing the difference between the bikes reaction, and yours.
    Videos

    Quote Originally Posted by danpass View Post
    I found it useful to practice the trackstand, basically stationary balancing. Spinning the cranks in reverse seems to help. Perhaps it adds gyroscopic effect.


    user 'bikeskills.com' has decent videos on youtube
    Quote Originally Posted by Hutch3637 View Post
    Two threads to help you out.

    http://forums.mtbr.com/beginners-cor...eo-741742.html

    One piece of advice for new riders…

    First link has a couple hours worth of riding techniques through the use of videos.

    Second link is six pages of advice in text to help people out.

    Books

    Quote Originally Posted by Slash5 View Post
    Highly recommend the Mastering Mountain Bike Skills book by Brian Lopes and Lee McCormack.
    Last edited by Flying-Monkey; 04-23-2012 at 05:52 PM.

  2. #2
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    I tend to avoid loose sand in general. It gets everywhere and causes damage to drivetrain parts. Image throwing little tiny rocks between metal to metal contact points of your bike.

  3. #3
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    When you take corners, if you keep your outside foot low, you can push down on the outside pedal and improve your traction to take the corner faster. If you have a berm or bank, you can really keep your speed up this way.

    I'm not sure how to explain it, but there are times when it is actually easier to shift into an easier gear while climbing. Like you said, you can break a chain or have your rear wheel slip, so you need to be careful. Practice is the only advice I can come up with.

  4. #4
    What could go wrong ...
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    there are many bike skills videos on YouTube
    I used to ride to Win ... Now I ride to Grin

    While my guitar gently weeps, my bike sits there mocking me

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by emtnate View Post
    Practice is the only advice I can come up with.
    Yup. Where do you begin. Everyone is better at some stuff than others. Just ride more! Maybe different terrain and bikes help you figure it out faster? As in a rigid SS will force you to pick better lines than a FS 29er, and knowing the difference between the bikes reaction, and yours.
    Round and round we go

  6. #6
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    Look at where you want to go! Don't get too focused on the corner itself. I have to tell myself to do this all the time. Once you get used to letting your body follow your plane of sight, you'd be supprised some at how fast you can take corners.

    Wear a helmet!

  7. #7
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    FWIW I enjoy a rounder profile, bigger tire in front. Feel the point of washout/no washout becomes more up to me and less for tire and gives me a better balance front to rear brake loose point..
    To match tire with terrain and the way you like to ride also.
    Round and round we go

  8. #8
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    Two threads to help you out.

    http://forums.mtbr.com/beginners-cor...eo-741742.html

    One piece of advice for new riders…

    First link has a couple hours worth of riding techniques through the use of videos.

    Second link is six pages of advice in text to help people out.
    Yip yip yip nope nope nope

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by aikane View Post
    I tend to avoid loose sand in general. It gets everywhere and causes damage to drivetrain parts. Image throwing little tiny rocks between metal to metal contact points of your bike.
    I don't have much choice, short of staying on pavement. It seems Florida is pretty much nothing but sand...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying-Monkey View Post
    I don't have much choice, short of staying on pavement. It seems Florida is pretty much nothing but sand...
    In that case get some hi psi slick road tires. Talk about cornering. On sand low psi and BIG tires.
    Round and round we go

  11. #11
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    Lower the pressure in your tires if you keep loosing traction while climbing. I used to always stand on my pedals for a climb, but if you shift down and keep your cadence up and ass on the seat, you'll climb better. Smoothness will help you get out of some hairy situations.

  12. #12
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    I don't think that rooking is very honest
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying-Monkey View Post
    As I slow down to enter a turn, I drop gears, because I've found it's pretty darn hard to get going again, in the gear I was riding comfortably at in that long straight section before the bend.
    You're probably in too high a gear to begin with if it's hard for you to get back on top of it after cornering.

    Try spinning the lowest gear you can use and still put some power into the bike. Experienced mountain bikers tend to have cadences around 80 rpm, although it can be higher and some people are shockingly happy to climb with slower pedal speed.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    You're probably in too high a gear to begin with if it's hard for you to get back on top of it after cornering.

    Try spinning the lowest gear you can use and still put some power into the bike. Experienced mountain bikers tend to have cadences around 80 rpm, although it can be higher and some people are shockingly happy to climb with slower pedal speed.
    Yeah, I'm too used to road biking, and working to high gear and trying to stay there...

    It seems a waste to have three gears in front, and only use the middle one.

    One of the guys that took me on my first single track ride was a little surprised to see that I ran the whole way on the largest front gear. He then said something about having fast or slow twitch muscle fibers being why I seemed to like higher gears and slower cadence.

    I've tried riding in lower gears, but having a hard time getting used to the faster cadence.
    Be respectful to the disrespectful, wise to the unwise, caring to the uncaring, courteous to the uncourteous.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by theMeat View Post
    In that case get some hi psi slick road tires. Talk about cornering. On sand low psi and BIG tires.
    I'll stick to the trails, and the sand here. Most of them are awesome, with a few breaks in the surface where there's a service road intersection, or where horses have gotten on the trail.
    Be respectful to the disrespectful, wise to the unwise, caring to the uncaring, courteous to the uncourteous.
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  16. #16
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    Forget about all the shifting nonsense, get a single speed, and just pedal.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kawigreen99 View Post
    Forget about all the shifting nonsense, get a single speed, and just pedal.
    There does seem to be some appeal to that. A few less things to break and maintain.
    Be respectful to the disrespectful, wise to the unwise, caring to the uncaring, courteous to the uncourteous.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying-Monkey View Post
    There does seem to be some appeal to that. A few less things to break and maintain.
    For those riding in the mountains with long climbs I can see wanting gears, but if you happen to ride where it's generally flat, single speed is great. It teaches you to keep your momentum and won't allow you to get lazy and shift into an easy gear. It's a great way to learn how to ride IMO. And yes it's definitely less things to break and less to maintain.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying-Monkey View Post
    Yeah, I'm too used to road biking, and working to high gear and trying to stay there...

    It seems a waste to have three gears in front, and only use the middle one.

    One of the guys that took me on my first single track ride was a little surprised to see that I ran the whole way on the largest front gear. He then said something about having fast or slow twitch muscle fibers being why I seemed to like higher gears and slower cadence.

    I've tried riding in lower gears, but having a hard time getting used to the faster cadence.
    Mountain biking is very dynamic. Road riding is more dynamic than mountain bikers tend to realize, especially if you're riding with a competitive group. So in either, it's helpful to have a reasonably wide power band in the tool box.

    Do some speed drills when you're on roads. Doesn't matter if it's on the road bike or on a fire road. When you're at a comfortable cruising speed, shift a gear lower and try to maintain the same speed. It helps to have a speedometer. Hold your higher rate for a few minutes, lather rinse repeat. A good one to do during base training, or when you're warming up for a "real" workout, or the interesting part of a ride.

    You really want to be spinning a low enough gear that you can still accelerate it some, whether on- or off-road. The only limit on spinning is that at a certain point, you spend more energy controlling your spin than keeping the bike going. But, you can raise your efficient cadence by drilling. It should drift up naturally as you develop the articulation to spin a lower gear efficiently, and you'll find yourself getting a little faster. Track sprinters hit crazy numbers like 160 rpm.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  20. #20
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    Nothing but mountains here and single speed works fine if you got the right gearing. Skills and fitness improve exponentially (IMO) with a ss, especially when rigid.
    While its best to be in the right gear before the climb you can shift while climbing. Imagine a moment of coasting while you are spinning with little torque and your shift should be pretty smooth.
    Only brake in a straight line. If you must brake in a turn use the rear only. Go tubeless with low psi for better traction.
    Best advice: spend time practising tricky sections. Over and over untill you nail it. The skill will transfer to similar sections of trail.

  21. #21
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    protip from a friend: You know how when you're first starting off your worst enemy is your own fear? Its what makes you wobble on a steep hill, crash on rock gardens and thin lines. Dont pop a few xanax to try and resolve that fear, it will end badly. Also, dextrine wont help either. Basically just dont take any drugs while riding...
    "Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride." - John F. Kennedy

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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll View Post
    I don't think that rooking is very honest
    I was wondering what the heck you were talking about. I looked for a member who posted with the name rooking, I wasn't sure if you were referring to someone else who had a nickname rooking, I was completely confused.

    Finally I saw the typo in the title, and it all became clear.

    Then I fixed the typo.

    Thanks.
    Be respectful to the disrespectful, wise to the unwise, caring to the uncaring, courteous to the uncourteous.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hutch3637 View Post
    Two threads to help you out.

    http://forums.mtbr.com/beginners-cor...eo-741742.html

    One piece of advice for new riders…

    First link has a couple hours worth of riding techniques through the use of videos.

    Second link is six pages of advice in text to help people out.
    The instructional videos are great. Not just the ones by this group, but I've since stumbled on some more.

    Thanks for the heads up!
    Be respectful to the disrespectful, wise to the unwise, caring to the uncaring, courteous to the uncourteous.
    My Riding Blog

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll View Post
    Now my original comment doesn't make sense
    Yeah, I'm kinda evil that way.
    Be respectful to the disrespectful, wise to the unwise, caring to the uncaring, courteous to the uncourteous.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying-Monkey View Post
    I was wondering what the heck you were talking about. I looked for a member who posted with the name rooking, I wasn't sure if you were referring to someone else who had a nickname rooking, I was completely confused.

    Finally I saw the typo in the title, and it all became clear.

    Then I fixed the typo.

    Thanks.
    Now my original comment doesn't make sense
    Honestly... ahh I give up

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