Mountain Biking Tips
Basic tips for braking on a Mountain Bike
Locking the brakes should be achieved by two fingers the most since the other three should be used in maintaining grip and control of the bike while braking.
Front brakes offer stronger braking capacity but beware not to slam on the front brakes. This will cause the front wheel to lock up thus setting you off flying over the handlebar!
The rear brake is less of a concern: if you over brake the rear wheel it will lock up and begin to skid. Although this is not as bad as when your front wheels lock up (you will fall off!). Skidding causes considerable trail damage, which should be avoided at all times.
A mix of both front and rear brakes is always the best way to stop. Unless, you are familiar with the characteristics of your front brake, don't use them during short descents, high-speed cornering, and loose terrain.
When on a long descent, do not apply brakes constantly for this will cause the brakes to over heat which may cause you to loose stopping power. Try to "pump" the brakes. Apply and release during the descent. This way, the brakes are kept cool and your speed is controlled.
Know which brake controls the front wheel. Of course you will know it of your own mountain bike, but if you are renting one or using your friends then please check if the left brake controls the front wheel or the rear wheel.
Don't brake before going over obstacles, SPEED UP. If the section is too steep, WALK.
Basic Gear Shifting Techniques on a Mountain Bike
- The right-hand lever operates the rear gear (moving the chain across the sprockets).
- The left-hand lever operates the front mechanism, which shifts the chain from one chain wheel to another.
- When the chain is on the big chain wheel you will be in a bigger gear - usually used for riding along the flat or downhill.
- The smaller (inner) chain wheels are used for uphill work, riding with luggage, or into a strong headwind.
- With the chain on the smallest rear wheel sprocket, you will be in a big gear, travelling further for each revolution of the pedals.
- The biggest sprocket provides your lowest gear for hill climbing or starting off from junctions.
- A derailleur mechanism needs you to keep pedalling to get the chain to shift from one sprocket (or chain wheel) to the next.