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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  1. #1
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    technique questions on trail features

    Started riding a couple months ago, and trying to get out -- weather/life/work permitting -- at least 2x week. I have some questions, though, about a couple trail features I don't know how to handle.

    1) Roots -- they're ubiquitous in my area. I normally try to get light in the hands (lighter), pick the best line I can, and ride over 'em with as much speed as I can. But I've read or seen tips about unloading the front wheel, and lifting it over the root, and just rolling over it with the back wheel. This seems like it takes *more* energy, to compress the shock, and pull back (to lift the front wheel) and it's not noticeably any softer since the rear wheel still bumps over the root.

    2) Big bumps -- one day I just 'felt' the pump thing; a light went off in my head, and it really changed my riding. When you come to a large rise, do you pump the downhill (backside)? Or launch off the top, getting a little bit of air. Both are fun -- just curious which is faster.

    3) Small drops immediately followed by a sharp turn. Not sure what to do here. If there wasn't a turn, I'd probably make sure I had good speed and launch off the top. But I'm slowing way down, which makes the drop rough (and tends to throw me forward a bit) and kills any momentum going into the turn.

    I see this feature a lot.

    Thx!

  2. #2
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    1. Roots -- I also ride a lot of roots. On the flats I try to keep my weight fairly centered in order to distribute the force evenly on the bike and my body...speed also helps. A lot of times on climbs I will lift the front end over them, depending on the size and how steep the climb is. I feel like it helps keep my momentum going. On descents, I just kinda point it and go, lol.

    2. Big bumps -- if you want speed, pump down the backside of the bump. Another technique you can use, on the front side of a bump, is to pre-manual. When you do this it generates more force and momentum for pumping down the backside.

    3. I think this is really a case by case situation. Some features like this will have to be taken slowly no matter what simply due to the distance between the drop and the turn. You can play with the line you are taking off the drop in anticipation of the turn in order to maintain speed and set yourself up for making the turn. If there is no option for a different line start trying it with more speed, in small increments...with some trial and error you can determine the proper speed. I'm willing to bet you can go faster off of it than you can now, but are just overly concentrated on that turn coming up.

    Good luck.
    2011 Trance x1

    All good things in all good time

  3. #3
    EDR
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    When tackling a flat-ish (low grade) section of rocks or in your case roots, I try to 'lighten' the front end like you mentioned. The way to do this is not to pump the fork but to unweight the front end and elevate it slightly so you float over the roots (rocks) with the front tire. Basically I push the bike (bars) forward while shifting my weight backwards a bit...performing a mini-manual. This takes little effort compared to pumping the fork and can be done several times in succession if needed.

    Running your front end straight into rock/roots really limits the speed you carry, much more so than what the rear tire hits. The more speed you carry the easier and smoother the line will be...if you loft that front end just enough. Think "skimming" the top of the roots or rocks with the front end.
    Last edited by eatdrinkride; 08-27-2013 at 04:40 PM.

  4. #4
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    Another thing for riding roots and its not a technique answer, is tire pressure. Having high air pressure in your tires will make you feel like your bouncing on the roots rather than riding over them. This helps with rock gardens as well. Too low and you could get pinch flats, so you want to be weary of that as well.

  5. #5
    local trails rider
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    Most things are case by case...
    I might cross a small root on my rigid bike just staying loose. Many roots are tall and steep enough that it is best to actively unweigh the bike - or even hop if you prefer - for a smoother and more economical crossing, regardless of suspension systems.

    Another thing about roots is that they are not just bumps. Depending on conditions, they can be very slippery bumps, compared with the surrounding dirt.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  6. #6
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    Thx all --

    I really don't have this 'push/shift weight back' manual thing going at all. When I come to big roots, or the typical small log obstacle, I'm shoving down on the fork, first, then yanking the hell out of it upwards, to make damn sure the front wheel clears.

    Need to work on this, I think.

    But I was messing around yesterday evening, and on the uphill climbs, where it's a lot easier to lift the front slightly -- even with bad technique -- roots are softer and the momentum is better.

    Man, it feels like there's a lot to learn.

  7. #7
    local trails rider
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    There's some pretty good videos about manualing and other riding technique things on youtube - and maybe some that are not all that great.

    It is pretty hard to describe exactly how I do something on trails. For example, I may feel like I'm "pulling the front up" but actually the main thing is probably happening at my legs and hips...

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  8. #8
    EDR
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    Re: technique questions on trail features

    Yeah it's difficult to describe. I think what I really do to lighten the front end is I don't really push so much with my hands on the bars, but I rather push the bike forward with my legs while moving my weight (hips) back, straightening my arms...I'm actually pulling the bars back. Try to visualize "shooting "the bike out from underneath you. That's what I do.

    I agree look for YouTube videos.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by eatdrinkride View Post
    Yeah it's difficult to describe. I think what I really do to lighten the front end is I don't really push so much with my hands on the bars, but I rather push the bike forward with my legs while moving my weight (hips) back, straightening my arms...I'm actually pulling the bars back. Try to visualize "shooting "the bike out from underneath you. That's what I do.

    I agree look for YouTube videos.
    ^^^This is a pretty good description of manualing, I think.

    Roots - for me, it depends on how they are spaced and how fast I am going. If I can jump off the first root and clear a bunch of them, I will do it. For a big tangle, I'll weight the bike right before I get there, then try to float the bike over the tangle - almost weightless. If I am going really slow, I alternate weighting and unweighting the front and the rear, like a teeter-totter. If I mess up, I make sure I keep the front light even if the rear bashes something.

    Big bumps - if there's a landing area, I'm launching. It's just funner! The pre-bunnyhop-to-backside-pump is faster, though.

    Drop to a turn - if I can angle the bike into the turn right from the take-off I will try to do that, but that puts your bike very far into the turn before you can actually turn. If it's really tight, try to get your front wheel down quick so you can initiate the turn right away.

    *disclaimer: I am still constantly working on all of these after many years. I am good a little over 50% of the time.

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  10. #10
    local trails rider
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    There's a few different ways to drop, and some are better at low speeds than others.
    - At speed, it is often best to do the shift weight back / push bike forward drop
    - At less speed, it is sometimes convenient to do a sort of a mini-hop at the lip, keeping rider weight pretty much centered.
    - At really low - or no - speed, there's the wheelie drop, where you keep the front of the bike up with a strong pedal stroke at the lip - together with small weight shifts, of course. Don't ask me to show you...

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  11. #11
    RTM
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    technique questions on trail features

    my favorite technique to hit a drop ahead of a turn is compressing the drop. basically you squat way down on the bike just before you go over the lip, and when the back tire clears you push the bike down with hands and feet toward the ground. if done correctly you will get the tires back on the ground considerably faster and set yourself up for the turn a lot quicker. if done incorrectly...certain death.

    I learned that years ago in a video called "Like a Pro" by Fluidride. Don't let the DH bikes fool you, the skills translate 100% across all riding styles. Watch that video, I can't recommend it highly enough.

    Now, bear in mind that compressing a drop to carry maximum speed into a turn is some pretty advanced technique. I suggest you first master each of those skills independently, then start linking them together.
    Last edited by RTM; 09-04-2013 at 03:40 PM.
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  12. #12
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    We have lots of roots around here in the Pac NW. Depending on the size and frequency, I'll just put weight back, go light on my grip and keep my legs loose and let the bike roll over them.

    Manual is a good technique to learn. Just as was described, it's like pushing the bike forward with your legs while straightening your arms. It's more of a weight shift rather than yanking up on your bars (that take too much energy) The manual should take very little energy so you can rinse and repeat often.

    Also, my fork is tuned stiff and I ride a hardtail. So I tend to "hit" the first root and then land someplace on the backside of another root all the while being sure to pull my legs up a touch when the back is ready to hit.

    For small drops in front of a turn, I'll just slow down and roll off and turn...
    Just get out and ride!

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