How many feet down in turns?


Been an admirer from the UK for a while now and have a good collection of your books. I’d be interested in seeing a blog post from you on cornering technique.

In Mastering Mountain Bike Skills 2nd Edition, you advocate putting your outside leg down and putting all the weight into the outside leg. This allows the rider to weight the tyre effectively and get your lean on. I’ve also seen other people use a technique where they lean their butt out just as much and lean the bike, but they keep their feet parallel to the ground. I see the benefits to this being that, since both legs are not full extension, the rider can extend into any depressions and most importantly get their pump on as they’re coming out of the corner.

Connected to that, your book advocates a similar technique for traversing a slope where the down slope leg is fully extended and the hips are tilted over the bike. To me, this is another situation where it might make more sense to have feet parallel to the slope so that they can extend into any depressions.

Anyway, as mentioned, I’d be keen to know your opinions on this. I’ve always used the leg down technique but am wondering if I should be using the other technique for more radness!


Hey Gavin, thanks for the great question.

I’ve learned a ton — and taught thousands of riders — since writing Mastering Mountain Bike Skills 2nd Edition.

This is what I currently teach:

If you’re trying to survive a turn — sketchy, off camber, you just want to make it — extend and load the outside leg. This gives you maximum edging power. It’s also technically easier for most riders, so we start here.

Trying to make the point in a class.

Foot-out cornering like this might be considered an example of extreme edging. Sir Steve Peat at Big Bear, CA!

If you’re trying to crush a turn — railing a berm or pumping a flat turn — nail it with level feet. This gives you more range of motion and way more power. It also helps you work bumps while cornering.

Portrait of an angry young man. Crushing a pump track in Fort Collins, CO.

Older and smoother, and I don’t need a pump track:

Hopping out of a turn might be considered the product of extreme pumping. Level feet for sure.

Other thoughts:

Rotate your torso in the direction you want to go. Flashlight in your belly button.

Mix and match as you like. If I’m trying to pump a turn and sense a disturbance in the force, I can always edge it. You can also play with a hybrid, diagonal approach.

Fast Jon Watt with a hybrid approach. You see this a lot in high-end riders.

As riders get more skilled and aggressive, they’re more likely to pump all turns, and they’re more likely to corner with level feet. Just watch World Cup DH.

Over the past few years, my default has evolved from edging unless I see a berm to pumping unless I sense danger. When I do set an edge, I still try to pump for extra traction and speed.

I hope that makes sense!


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