Off-camber turns for a BMXer

Hey Lee,

Although I have been racing BMX for about 6 years and consider myself competent at the downhill aspect of mountain biking, I have trouble pulling G’s out of off-camber turns. I think my lean angle is pretty good, but I am unsure as to how my pedals should be positioned. In berms, I like to keep my pedals level for a nice, uniform pump, but I’m not sure that this is the best for off-cambers. Should I drop the outside pedal instead to get more weight to the other side of the bike? Thanks. -Rex

Hey Rex,

I say this with utmost respect for BMX racers, but most of them can’t turn without berms. This makes them about as skilled, cornering-wise, as soccer balls.

Everyone has trouble pulling Gs out of off-camber turns. There just isn’t enough support. The best you can do is make good angles, load the tires as much as you can and find a tiny patch that isn’t so off camber.

Check this out:

This corner has a slightly positive camber, but the technique is the same for negative camber: leaning the bike, pressing into the outside pedal, driving hips toward the next turn, saying “braaap!” Location: Valmont Bike Park. Photographer: Marty Caivano.

The book Mastering Mountain Bike Skills has lots more detail (but the same ragged t-shirt).

By the way:

Loading the outside pedal improves control when things get sketchy on the BMX.



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2 replies
  1. John (aka Wish I Were Riding) says:

    I crashed this weekend riding some single track when I came downhill towards a right hand corner that had a tree in it’s apex. I was kind of in the middle of the trail and the sides were banked. I would have taken the outside line and the corner without issue, but I moved to the inside onto the off camber part to try and avoid the tree. My front wheel washed out and I ended up using the outside or my right leg as a brake. (ouch)

    Do you ever lean the bike to the outside of a turn for better traction? Did I just blow it by misjudging the terrain?

  2. leelikesbikes says:

    I can’t think of a situation where I’d lean the bike to the outside of the turn. It sounds like you could have taken a better line. I can’t visualize what you’re talking about, so I can’t offer a more specific suggestion.

    Do you want to email a drawing to lee @, or maybe post a link to an image?

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