5 Outstanding Ways to Up Your Speed in Mountain Biking

By Martin Atanasov

There are a million and one reasons to love mountain biking. For some, it’s the peaceful serenity of nature. For others, it’s the challenge. But whoever you are, whatever you ride, you will always enjoy a bit more speed. 

Speed, however, is something that doesn’t come naturally and essentially is dangerous. Since we haven’t been able to reach high speeds for that long, humanity hasn’t evolved to fear high speeds, like we fear great heights and other dangers. Going faster down a slope should be done only when you have the skills and not rely on fake confidence based on nothing but your ego. This being said, it’s time to learn some pretty sweet and easy tips on how to up your speed when riding your MTB.

Perfect your brake use

You may hear from some crazies on the trail that using brakes is a sign of weakness, and you should just go with the flow. Now that’s a great piece of advice if you are in a rush to the hospital. Using your brakes is the single most essential part of controlling your bike. It’s the one thing that can slow down your ever-increasing speed. That and the threes beside the trail, but I bet you would choose to squeeze the tiny lever rather than practice flying tree-hugging.

However, there is a way to up your speed and still ignore toxic comments like “brakes are for wimps.” First off, if you already haven’t, learn to break with only one finger. It will give you better control over the bike, translating to your pace. Almost all new riders subconsciously drag the brakes, which kills more speed than you need. Try to ride several times and concentrate only on when to brake. Then, analyze whether you needed to break and did you overdo it?

And finally, learn to use the front brake. Now I know that the front brake is basically the ejection lever of the bike, but if you teach yourself only gently to caress your front brake, it will turn into one powerful weapon in your riding arsenal.

Perfect your gear changing

The next step toward learning how to flash down any hill is learning how to change your gears properly. Just like with your car, the correct gear gives you the needed power output. So if you are a gear up, you won’t be able to rotate as easily and optimally as you would if you are on the correct one. If you are a gear down, you will have the unpleasant experience of overpedalling, which may even lead to loss of balance and an intimate meeting with the ground.

Using the correct gear at the proper time will help you become much faster on flat terrain and in uphill segments. It’s essential if you are more into enduro and long-distance mountain bike hikes.

Set up your bike right

A bad bike set up is an insult to the bike, so simply don’t do it even if you are not trying to up your speed. On the other hand, a properly set-up bike can increase your speed significantly.

First off, getting the right tire is key to having the ultimate grip on the track. Naturally, there are many variables, like terrain, weather conditions, and your budget. Learning how to determine what tire to use will take you some time, but it’s know-how that will change your riding forever.

Tire pressure is also an art that must be perfected. Have your tires too flat, and your speed will suffer. Have them over-pumped, and you may start losing grip. You need to goldilocks every aspect of your bike and get it just right.

When it comes to the suspension, firstly, make sure you’ve adjusted them to your weight. After that, it’s time to play with the rebound control and the damping. Once again, you need to make them as if the bike was customized for you and you alone.

Fitter is faster

I could tell you that you need to stop eating pizza and drinking beer, but I’m not a monster. Besides, the whole point behind this article is to point out easy ways to up your speed, ain’t that right? Nonetheless, getting a bit fitter will always translate positively on your bike. First of all, it will translate into your endurance on the climbs, which will allow you to make more descents. Secondly, it will delay the inevitable speed reduction caused by fatigue and the mistakes made as a consequence. Finally, and most importantly, your technical riding ability won’t suffer from exhaustion. One easy way to get fitter is to change some small pieces in our lifestyles. For example, stop munching on junk food because of boredom.

Follow a faster rider

Without a doubt one of the fastest ways to up your speed. Following a faster rider shows you where your mistakes are, when they break, which lines they take, and so much more. Even watching videos on YouTube can help, but not as much as witnessing the whole thing shotgun.

Riding behind a faster rider always leads to you rubbing on some of their speed. However, for this to work, the rider in front needs to be only a little bit faster. Otherwise, the only rubbing you will do is on the gravel beneath.

Upping your speed is really not that complex. When all is said and done, all you need to do is to ride some more. With each ride, you optimize your control, breaking and balancing, so in time you will manage to get to the speed you want. Now let’s get those bikes on the trails.