Cornering: flat feet or outside foot down (again)?


Hey Lee-
Met you at the Georgia high School mountain bike league Summit last summer with Dan Brooks and got some good riding in there. I have a serious question about cornering and the techniques that IMBA is teaching. I find that I do a combination of flat footed for easy turns and outside foot down for aggressive cornering. What is your recommendation after the recent IMBA teaching of “flat-footed” through turns.

Stefanie Gore
North Georgia Mountain Bike Club (founder and junior mtb coach)
Georgia High School Mountain Bike League coach


Hi Stefanie,

Thanks for writing.

In this post — How many feet down in turns? — I talk about my approach, which is basically foot down to create maximum edging; feet level for pumping.


Demonstrating foot-down style at the NICA Advanced Coach Training Clinic in July 2013.

From my perspective as a teacher who’s worked with thousands of riders of all levels, and who has trained many, many high school MTB coaches:

• Most riders have trouble balancing on two feet while leaning the bike independently from their bodies, and they have trouble leaning the bike while they stand on two feet. I see this all the time, especially with high seats.

• Most riders find it easiest to lean the bike while standing on one foot. With one foot down, the hips can be turned and the inside leg can go above the seat (rather than smacking the seat into the inner thigh, which limits lean and the ability to turn).

• When you’re teaching riders — adults or kids — I think the best techniques are the safest and most easily learned. The foot-down technique is easier for most people to master, and it’s the safest way for them to change direction on sketchy surfaces.

• As NICA’s skills development director, responsible for the training of ~2,000 high school MTB coaches, I say Job 1 is: Don’t hurt kids! The foot-down technique might not create the ultimate shredders (at least not right away), but it saves lives and helps riders discover the radness of this sport.


Demonstrating for high school riders in Lyons, CO.


CO high school rippers dial in the foot-down technique. Lindsey Dye became the league champion and moved on to the pro class. Note how her inner thigh clears the full-height saddle.

I hope this is helpful.

More kids on bikes!

Lee


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2 replies
  1. Hanoch says:

    Hi Lee,
    I find it hard to keep light hands when all my weight is on the outside foot. for example if I’m turning right, and my weight is on my left foot, I have to push the bars with my hands to the right (leaning the bike) to compensate for the lack of weight on my right foot. This make me loose the great feeling and confidence I get from light hands during a turn with level feet.

    Am i doing something wrong?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  2. leelikesbikes says:

    Hanoch!

    It takes some coordination to balance on one foot while cornering (and even while you’re not cornering!). Keep practicing, and it will come.

    I suggest doing a lot of your off-bike strength work on one foot. The F6 ebook/program has some movements that are so challenging riding your bike will feel easy:

    https://www.leelikesbikes.com/f6-six-moves-to-build-your-foundation

    As part of my warmups, I often do one-footed exercises on a balance board.

    If you feel good cornering with level feet, keep it up! I do think it’s a good idea to learn the foot-down style as well. Ultimately, you’ll mix and match according to the trail.

    Have fun,

    Lee

    Reply

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