When mountain biking there is a fine line between going faster and falling off. Everyone has pushed their mountain bike skills to the limit and come a cropper, so we have put together 7 tips to help you avoid MTB crashes.
Of course we can’t promise you won’t come off. After all, the thrill of mountain biking comes from skirting with failure and pushing yourself harder, all in the knowledge that one wrong move and you could break your bike or yourself.
7 tips to avoid MTB crashes
No one wants to crash but sometimes it happens, the good news is that with the right mountain bike skills you can reduce the risk. So here are 7 tips to avoid MTB crashes, keep them in mind during your next ride and they will help you improve.
Anticipate your route
Riding quickly means learning to read the terrain faster, which requires looking further ahead. Don’t look at the ground directly in front of you, but at the next thing you’ll have to do, or the thing after that.
For instance, if you have a tree close on your left, followed by a right turn and a muddy climb you need to be planning to take as much pace as possible into the right turn. If you focus on the tree on your left it could push you too far right, meaning you slow down to make the corner and don’t have enough pace to make the climb.
The key is to stop focussing on the immediate and to plan your next move and the one after that. It requires a bit of trust in your mountain bike skills but it will help you avoid MTB crashes, because you are heading into features already knowing how you will negotiate them.
Work on your balance
Good mountain bikers should always maintain a dynamic body position with arms and knees bent ready to absorb lumps and bumps. The exact position depends on the geometry of your bike, but you want your weight centred forwards and backwards relative to the slope and the bike. The days of hanging your ass out over the back wheel are long gone…
Sharp turns? Keep your inside pedal up and lean to the outside. The better balanced you are over the entire bike, the better your reaction will be when something unexpected comes along.
The worst thing that can happen to you on the trail is to tense up. Loosen your grip on the brakes, relax your neck and shoulder muscles, and make sure there is spring in your position.
Keep your elbows and knees bent to absorb the bike’s bounce and allow the bike to move beneath you. If you are tense, the bike is more likely to throw you. Enjoy the ride, don’t fight it and you’ll avoid MTB crashes.
Practice mountain bike skills on the tough bits
Practice obstacles at your level. Did you roll over that small log? Nice one. Don’t move on to full-sized tree trunks until you have mastered its smaller counterparts.
Doing the log quickly is one way to tackle it. Try it slower, then as slow as you possibly can. Try it from an angle. Try balancing on it sideways. Get to the point where each time you approach the log you nail it. Then move on to a slightly larger one and repeat to improve your mountain bike skills.
Staying in shape improves your overall balance as well as the recovery from a fall. Working on your core muscles will help your general positioning on the bike, and assist in quick movements when things go pear-shaped to help avoid MTB crashes.
If you do tank, being flexible and having better bone-density (which comes from high-impact sports like running) will have you riding away from falls with fewer bruises. Finally, most accidents happen when you are tired and your mountain bike skills go out of the window, by being fitter you’ll be less tired and have less crashes.
Know when and how to eject!
OK so this tip doesn’t help you avoid MTB crashes, but how to deal with it when it happens. There comes a time when we have to let go. The problem is, it’s so unpredictable we can hardly prepare for it.
The best way is to let your body go limp. If you need to ditch the bike, do it. Even a top-end bike is worth less than your health.
If you fly over the handlebars then tuck in. Put your chin down to your chest and roll with the fall. Sticking your arms out won’t stop the fall and might break a limb, so try to keep them tucked in.
Appropriate safety gear
Even with the best mountain bike skills you are still likely to have the odd fall. So this tip is to always wear the appropriate safety gear for the type of trail you are riding and the way you ride. We all know what we should wear, so we’re not going to lecture you on safety gear.
Except helmets. Always wear a helmet, even if you are just pootling down a quiet cycle path as you never know what will happen. Broken bones mend, cuts heal but head injuries are often permanent, so it’s just not worth the risk.
We hope these 7 tips to avoid MTB crashes help to improve your mountain bike skills. We thoroughly recommend getting some tuition as you’ll improve much quicker than figuring things out yourself. Be sure to check out our mountain biking discounts as you may well save a fortune on lessons etc.