bikeaddict - downhill, freeride, mountain biking  

Get a FREE website:
home | bike photos | bike videos | bike shops | bike games | trails | articles | bike reviews | bike tours | bike manufacturers | contact us

It would seem that descending would be one of the easiest skills to pick up quickly. And for many, it is. For others they never seem to improve. Number one reason . . . Fear. This is not always easy to overcome. Quickest way to reduce some of that fear and gain confidence is a nice set of protective clothing. I ride with Azonic Knee/Shin and Elbow guards and a Giro Switchblade Helmet. Bell, Core Rat, Roach and Fox also make good stuff. Once you've fallen and don't feel anything, you lose some of that tentativeness.

Pads aren't gonna make you a better descender though. A few techniques that I have learned to adapt over the years have been:

  1. Get Back - Depending on the grade of the hill, get farther and farther back behind your seat. Don't be afraid to have the seat in your gut and your butt right above the rear tire.
  2. Holding On - Keep a relaxed grip on the handlebars (I worry when I suggest this). I keep a very comfortable grip that tightens when I approach anything bumpy, rocky or technical. This keeps my hands from killing after any ride that is long and bumpy (Porcupine Rim). I use only my index finger for braking during easy to moderate descents and switch to index and middle when I need more braking power. Adjust your brakes so you can completely lock out without pulling them to the grips, yet keeping them close enough for you to grab comfortably.
  3. Correct Braking - Brake BEFORE the turn. Just like they tell you in drivers-ed. Try not to lock out your brakes (especially the front!). Do not brake through technical or rocky terrain if you can help it. You end up locking up a lot easier and run a higher risk of flatting out or worse crashing. Brake before the technical section to a speed that you feel comfortable, then take the path of least resistence.
  4. Look Ahead - Keep your eyes quickly scanning way in front for new obstacles and technical sections. You'll have to pick lines quickly. Don't get worried when your line ends up taking you over baby head sized rocks. Tighten you grip, but let the bike go where it wants to go while still maintaining balance. I find that my bike can sometimes pick the best lines on it's own.

Bike Deals