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Posted (edited)

riding south Austin stuff, I find a lot of twisty and relatively flat trails. I enjoy this stuff, but I find myself slowing down a lot for the flat turns (no berms, that's a different story) because I can feel my front tire starting to wash out if I take them too fast. I am trying to narrow down what I can do to improve my confidence because breaking is a real buzzkill. a few limiting factors all contribute to this, some of which are beyond my control:

  • trails are just dry and dusty. nothing is going to stay sure-footed after a certain point when the dirt is loose
  • tires over-inflated. I stopped and dropped my pressure quite a bit mid-ride. I think I had it in the low 20s when I started. 29mm inner width rim with a 2.4 tire.
  • suspension too stiff could also be a factor. I have not yet mastered the perfect fork setup (hardtail, so no rear squish to worry about)
  • not enough tread wrap on this tire for the rim width. Bontrager XR-4 tire. or there's not enough sharp tread left on this tire. anyone have an opinion to share on that as a front tire?
  • poor body positioning/ I just suck. my bike has a pretty compact fit. I don't like that "in the bike" feeling as a ex-BMX guy who likes to bunnyhop stuff. I would think that the relatively steep HTA and short reach of this bike would make it easy to keep weight on the front tire.
Edited by mack_turtle

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Im sure you already do this, but just in case, do you have all your weight on the outside pedal leaning the bike and not yourself?

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1 minute ago, crazyt said:

Im sure you already do this, but just in case, do you have all your weight on the outside pedal leaning the bike and not yourself?

I think so. something to monitor next time out. maybe I need to get better at that.

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I find that the only way I can consistently keep my weight over my front tire when turning is to bend my elbows. That pulls you forward and down. Of course, washing out like that is super sketchy but the extra weight helps prevent it. When you figure it out, share with us other cornering challenged brake haters.


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Practice keeping all of your weight on the back tire. Lean back and push out with the outside leg down. Feel free to keep the inside leg off the pedal and out in case you do actually start to slip (great for learning the maximum you and your bike can handle). Turn the bar when pulling back and you'll start to feel the bike turn without much of any weight on the front tire. At least, that's how I do it. 

Don't sweat the gear and setup too much. Physics are physics. Of course, good tires that can handle what you throw at them is a good thing. I use 29er Maxxis Minions (DHR and DHF) 2.3's and they are overkill in all the right ways.

Hope this helps.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Michael Bevilacqua said:

I use 29er Maxxis Minions (DHR and DHF) 2.3's and they are overkill in all the right ways.

 

 Maxxis Minions. They might not always be the right tires but they are never the wrong tires. 😜

Edited by WLemke
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Quit wasting time working on turning technique. 

Go build more berms! 😉

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In my early days of MTB I spent my share of time tomahawking down the trail from high speed washouts. When I came into a corner too hot, my natural instinct was to move back on the bike "away from the danger" and that was all it took to send me OTB. 

Had to overcome that fear and put as much weight as I could on the front tire when things got weird. Totally counterintuitive to lead head first into the danger but it works. Youre basically  in a position weighting the front like you're doing pushups on your bars. 

Also, the "dirt" here is anti-grip when it's dry, and sometimes you won't get traction no matter what tire or technique you use.

Proper technique will help minimize the carnage though.

My crap 2c

 

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11 hours ago, Michael Bevilacqua said:

Practice keeping all of your weight on the back tire. Lean back and push out with the outside leg down.

 

25 minutes ago, ATXZJ said:

Had to overcome that fear and put as much weight as I could on the front tire when things got weird. Totally counterintuitive to lead head first into the danger but it works. Youre basically  in a position weighting the front like you're doing pushups on your bars. 

 

am I reading these two approaches correctly when I conclude that they are in direct contradiction?

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3 minutes ago, mack_turtle said:

 

 

am I reading these two approaches correctly when I conclude that they are in direct contradiction?

Yes. One of those suggestions is definitely wrong.

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I think each of those suggestions can work. it seems like the first is "old school" and might work better on older style bikes. newer bikes with long wheelbases and such might not take well to this. I'll play around with both and see what works on my bike.

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Barry said:

Yes. One of those suggestions is definitely wrong.

I’ve always been under the impression that you should keep the front light when turning to not over burden the front tire. In your opinion, what is the proper form?

 

edit: more specifically, keeping your weight over the pedals. Not necessarily weighting the back or front. 

Edited by WLemke

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5 minutes ago, WLemke said:

I’ve always been under the impression that you should keep the front light when turning to not over burden the front tire. In your opinion, what is the proper form?

Not at all in my opinion. The font tire is what really matters, particularly when conditions are loose. I don't care if my rear tire drifts around, but I do everything possible to increase traction on my front tire.

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Posted (edited)

My tendency is to move my weight backward but that is not going to help keep weight on the front tire.  I try and concentrate on bending my elbows and keeping forward so that front tire really bites.  Weight over the bottom bracket seems optimal but I would suggest trying some different techniques and see what works for you.  Youtube videos, keyboard riders (us), and your buddies will tell you what they believe to be gospel but it all comes down to what works best for you.  

Edited by Tree Magnet
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Posted (edited)

Rich Drew explains it well - 

 

I've also found House Fire in SATN to be a great place to practice this.  You can do an intermediate speed to practice and then ramp up the speed as you get more comfortable.

Edited by gdog-1992
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Now that I think about it, I’m not really too sure where I’m putting my weight. I’m looking at a picture taken recently of me in a turn and it looks like my butt is over the rear but my upper body is leaned more towards the front. IDK. I’m not having traction issues so I guess I’ll not worry about it too much. 
 

not sure what’s up with my facial expression in the attached pic. Lol. 

C1611A17-79B8-4B5B-B7E5-286FD4F2687D.jpeg

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In perfect dirt conditions or on a decent berm, I tend to not worry about it as much and I keep my weight fairly centered over the bike. But under no scenario do I think unweighting the front tire is a good approach.  

 

But I try not to "turn" my bike--I corner. I'm more likely to weight the handlebar than I am to turn it and I try to make only very slight adjustments on the handlebar. Every turn (every turn) I make a concerted effort to place pressure on my tire's side knobs by significantly leaning the bike down with my outside foot down. I'm staying fairly upright, and my bike is positioned under me with all weight on those outside knobs. Is this "new school?" I'm not sure, but it occurs to me that I'm doing exactly that technique on a very much old style geometry bike (2006 Giant Reign) in my avatar photo. That's me cornering on a loose turn on the Whole Enchilada in 2007. Good thing I didn't slide out there, because a ~1700 foot fall is only about 3 feet away. 

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13 minutes ago, gdog-1992 said:

Rich Drew explains it well - 

Indeed!

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I didn't watch the video. But, should there be a different approach if you're pedaling through a turn vs. "pumping" through a turn? Maybe that depends on if there's a berm or not? I usually keep my weight back FWIW.

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Since I corner as I described above, I do not pedal through turns at all. If I'm pedaling, I have effectively exited the turn at the apex and redirected my travel. The rare exception to this is on really big turns, but even then I'm only likely to start pedaling after the apex. 

 

11 minutes ago, JMR said:

I usually keep my weight back FWIW.

I'm surprised at the number of folks who say this. What advantage to you feel you gain by putting your weight back in a turn? 

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regarding technique, go to youtube, watch the videos, then go out and practice in gravel or dirt parking lot. when you get your weight over the front wheel, push the bars and engage the side knobs, it feels 'right'. this is only gonna happen on longer, sweeping turns. 

also, just wanted to add, a little bit of braking isn't always a bad thing, try to brake before the corner, and not so much hitting the brakes, but making sure to just feather them a little, usually that's all that's needed to get your speed in check.

 

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I feel like the weight front/back issue largely boils down to whether we're talking about a bermed or flat corner.  As several folks have said, I can't see how unweighting your front wheel could be good on a flat turn.  Yes, you can lean the bike rather than turning the bars to a degree, but beyond a certain point you are going to need your front wheel making contact with the ground to turn.  On a bermed turn, you can definitely put more weight on the back tire because you've got the berm helping you to make the turn.  Plus it helps when you are trying to schralp...

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1 hour ago, gdog-1992 said:

I've also found House Fire in SATN to be a great place to practice this.  You can do an intermediate speed to practice and then ramp up the speed as you get more comfortable.

That's where I was riding yesterday and noticed how sucky my flat turns are. it's difficult to maintain speed in those snakey turns, which is why the challenge is fun for me. I am sure I could do better if I could learn to dig that front tire in.

1 hour ago, WLemke said:

Now that I think about it, I’m not really too sure where I’m putting my weight. I’m looking at a picture taken recently of me in a turn and it looks like my butt is over the rear but my upper body is leaned more towards the front. IDK. I’m not having traction issues so I guess I’ll not worry about it too much. 

That particular turn looks like it has a built of a "berm" in it, but you're definitely hanging your butt behind the bike in that photo. I guess that's your homework for this month: be self-aware of your body position in flat-ish turns.

19 minutes ago, JMR said:

I didn't watch the video. But, should there be a different approach if you're pedaling through a turn vs. "pumping" through a turn? Maybe that depends on if there's a berm or not? I usually keep my weight back FWIW.

the situation in question is flat turns with no berm. these are often best handled by pumping to maintain speed, but pumping means pushing the bike hard in a direction that is not assisted by gravity and friction. pedaling through these turns would result in digging a pedal into the ground, which would be even worse than losing the front tire IMO.

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The two best tips I've ever got for turns are:

1. Steer with your belly button. Really think about pointing your belly button the direction you want to go. This works especially well in slow switchbacks, but is also essential for higher speed turns. If you go OTB on a turn, it's because you are turning your bike more than you are turning your body. Your bike turns, your body goes straight. 

2. Counter steering. Same as Barry and others are describing. It's a strange feeling, you push down with your inside hand on the handlebar and unweight the outside hand. It seem like this would steer the bars the wrong way, but really what it does in lean the bike in. 

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First thing that comes to my mind is videos of stupid kids riding a wheelie toward oncoming traffic. Last possible second, they'll whip it around to dodge the car (flat turn). All while riding on the back wheel. When I corner, I think of it as digging in my rear tire instead of unweighting the front. Plus, it kinda depends on how sharp the turn is and how much speed you're carrying. I don't know if I'm right or not, but I seldom wash out the front tire in corners.

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