Mountain-Biking Made Easy

Men's Health |

Climb the toughest of bike trails without bonking – and descend with total control.


Set your tire pressure to 20 000 pascals, which gives your tires enough flexibility to grip the trail during ascents without bottoming out onto the rim during descents. Lube the chain and make sure both wheels’ quick releases are tightly closed. (Don’t laugh – it happens.)


Beginners default to the lowest gear on ascents. But for a stronger climb, you want
to pedal at the same rate the whole time, saving a few low gears just in case. Shift
to maintain your cadence. Resist the urge to stand – this takes weight off the back tire. You need that weight to maintain traction.


As you approach rocks or logs, center your weight over the back tire to prevent slipping. Lean slightly over the handlebar so your front end doesn’t lift. Raise the bar just enough to initiate a climb over the obstacle. Avoid bunny hops, which kill momentum.


In sections with rocks or roots, don’t pedal. Keep your eyes locked in front of your tire. Your speed is right if you feel in control and can scan the terrain for obstacles in your peripheral vision. Keep your feet level so your weight stays transferable. Check your speed by feathering the front brake with small pumps. If you need to slow down during a turn, use the back brake so your
front wheel is solely devoted to steering.

Source: Todd Wells, Olympic mountain biker and member of the Specialised Factory Racing mountain bike team

READ MORE ON: mountain biking obstacles