Arms in corners: pushing, pulling or what?

Hi Lee, great site and book.

Thanks to your tips my cornering has improved but I’m still not sure what to do with my arms, should they be relaxed, semi flexed or pulling upwards?

Thanks, Vito

The more you click, the more I can post. Lee Likes Groceries dot com!

For this flat, loose turn I’ve shifted my weight forward onto my bars. The foot isn’t just out to the side; it’s forward too. The front tire is sticking, and the rear is drifting. Pretty good, except that right elbow is lazy!

Hey Vito. Thanks for the kindness.

Make this your default:

– Arms relaxed, elbows out.

– Weight driving into your pedal(s).

– Hands weightless. Let your bars do what they want.

Once you get that dialed, you can start getting tricky:

Lean forward onto your bars to increase front traction. Watch the pros drifting in the MTB videos. As Steve Peat told me, as long as your front end is tracking, it doesn’t really matter when your back end is doing. Keep your arms as relaxed as possible, and let the bars turn naturally.

There are more tricks, but I save those for clinics and my DVD, which we’ll start shooting soon.


— Lee

A nice berm and plenty of traction. My arms are poised for anything, but they’re very relaxed. All of my Awesome PowerTM is crushing the right pedal.

I’m pulling close to 3 Gs — I weigh 180, so that’s 540 pounds pressing sideways into the berm. To corner this hard, you have to support yourself with your legs.

This was a great day. Link goes to my old site.

6 replies
  1. Joshua says:

    I have the same question but in a different context. I was riding some terribly loose dirt recently and found that the only way to keep my front tire in check under braking was to lean forward a little, get really low, and press down on the handlebars with my hands. I know you say all kinds of things about pressing with the legs, but that just wasn’t working. In those conditions was I doing it right or just not committing to the leg thing?

  2. leelikesbikes says:

    Hello Grasshoppers,

    You raise excellent questions that I want to answer in more detail. For now:

    Wheelying out of berms: It looks great, and it sometimes helps you finish a turn. But if you want to make max speed, you gotta get the front end back down. Any time you’re wheelying, you’re modulating your power.

    Loose turns: I teach everyone to ride with their feet; that’s the ideal default. But in loose turns you do need to weight the front. The Fix monkeys and I worked that action on Sunday; I’ll post photos.

  3. Yauya says:

    Oh ok, what’s the point of wheelying out of berms then? I’m sure it’s not just for fun 🙂

  4. leelikesbikes says:

    It can help you finish a turn. I was ripping a Fruita singletrack yesterday at ludicrous speed — too fast to carve the whole turn. I pumped the beginning of the turn, rocked into a manual and finished the turn pivoting on the rear wheel and sprinting. Set the wheel into the next turn and say BRAAAP!!! [repeat]

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