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Downhill Elementary: Turns

Corners are important! Get them right and everything becomes easier. Fail to master them and everything on the trail will be harder.

We’ll learn how to go through flat corners and bermed ones. When you take these techniques out on the trail, remember that practice makes perfect. If you’re lucky enough to have a trail network or bike park near to you, get out there and ride as much as you can. You’ll soon build up your skills and before you know it, you’ll be carving like a pro.


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1. Flat Turns

The first step is a flat turn. Braking is required before you start the turn, there is only a limited amount of grip available to the tyres at any one time. Braking whilst turning leaves less grip for the tyres to get you around the corner. Brake smoothly, release the lever gently to help stabilize the bike before turning. This gives better cornering control. Leaning the bike into the corner will help it to turn. But how?


Lean the bike in the direction of the turn by extending your inside arm and pulling the outside grip towards the centre of your chest. Dropping the outside pedal whilst cornering lowers your centre of gravity and gives your tyres extra grip. Put all your weight into it.


Control the angle of the bike by controlling how far towards the inside of the turn you push the handlebars. Turn your head, shoulders and upper body in the direction of the turn to mentally committing to making the bike turn.


Wrong Position

Do not lean forward!


2. Bermed Turns

Now get on the berms! Built well, and tackled with the right technique, they make it possible to negotiate corners with little or no braking — allowing you to maintain speed and flow throughout this section of trail. Above all, though, they are great fun. It’s like carving on your skis!


Approach at the right speed. You’ll know how fast it is after some practice. If you come in with too much speed you’ll have to do all your braking in the turn. You need to be off the brakes by the time you hit the berm. Remember it well. Once you’ve got all your braking done, keep a finger covering each lever just in case. Keep your eyes fixed on the line you want to take it through the berm. In most cases the best option is to enter slightly above the centre line of the banking.



Always keep your weight low through a berm. Bend your elbows and knees and remember to stay loose. Lean with the bike rather than staying upright as you would on a flat or off-camber corner. This is because the angle of the banking reduces the bike’s dependence on the tyre’s friction with the dirt, to negotiate the corner. Make sure your bike and your body are at a similar angle, so all the pressure goes through to the tyres in a nice straight line.


Wrong Position

Remember to keep your weight low!


Before you go riding watch the video a couple of times. Think about what makes our guide riding faster than you. Then try it by yourself. Enjoy!

Do you want to learn more?

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