Reader feedback: Mastering Mountain Bike Skills

Hi all, I’m starting another book, and I’m doing a little market research. If you don’t mind helping, could you please post comments regarding these questions?

1. If you own Mastering Mountain Bike Skills, have you read the whole book? What do you like about the way it’s done? What could be better?

2. How do you like the balance of text and images?

3. Does the text speak to you effectively? Is it too informal, too technical or just right?

4. Are the images effective? Do they look cool? Do they convey information?

5. How old are the people in your household who have read the book? Do your kids read it? Do teens read it? Is the book effective for them?

6. Is Mastering Mountain Bike Skills in your bathroom? Now that’s a high compliment! 🙂

Whatever else you want to say. … Thanks so much!

— Lee

34 replies
  1. jason says:

    1. Yes. I like the casual and understandable style. I thought that some areas were lighter in details than others.

    2. Perfect. For a book like this you need lots of pics and you did well.

    3. Perfect.

    4. Yes. Yes. Yes.

    5. 32, 32, 2. Only I read it.

    6. Yes, it’s been red flagged.

  2. Stefan says:

    I read both books cover to cover. I realy got a lot out of the skills book, I found it to be clear and to the point.

    I am not a writer so I can’t critique your work, but I improved substantualy and continue to improve by folowing your instructions.

    I had no truble getting your point.

    Keep up the great work.
    Stefan (old-hucker)

  3. Kit says:

    1. I’ve had MMBS for almost a year, but still haven’t read it cover to cover. I get the feeling it’s not really meant to be read that way. I have no interest in jumping, so I’ve never read that chapter. If/when the pump track gets done, maybe I’ll read it then. In general, the book feels like it’s very informational but written in a fun style that resounds with most of the target demographic. The bright and in-your-face style of the graphics and layout are simultaneously good and bad. When I see 3 or 4 different fonts on a given page, it’s a little visually assaulting. Maybe that’s just the engineer in me. The most disappointing section for me is the Cross Country racing tips. Mark Weir seems like an overly extreme and not truly representative sample of most cross-country racers. Most of us that race own Joe Friel’s “Mountain Biker’s Training Bible” and do rely on intervals and such for our training. While MMBS isn’t trying to be a “Training Bible”, it would be good to get some of that kind of info into the XC racing section, as it seems a little thin and superficial compared to the other racing sections.

    2. The balance of text to images is the best of any of the “instructional” bike books on my shelf. Obviously a lot of work went into that. Occasionally the pictures aren’t useful (like on page 147), but sometimes a little eye candy is okay.

    3. The text is very good, with a slight lean towards too informal. Occasionally I’ll run across a phrase that I have to read twice or think about to truly understand. An example would be page 50, “I hauled down my SX…” I can figure out what you mean, but it seems like there’s gotta be a better word. Similar examples are “scrub speed” (page 48) and “fisting her left grip” on page 49. Nothing is truly baffling, just things I need to read twice.

    4. Yes. The images, as stated above, are really good.

    5. I’m 28, and the only one in my house that has read it.

    6. MMBS makes its way back and forth between the bathroom and the bedside.

  4. Brandy says:

    Just a thought…what about a DVD companion. So we could see the instructions in action?
    I know that didnt answer your question, it was just an idea.
    I thought the book captured the MTN bike person well, casual yet instructional.
    I am 35.
    Photos good.
    Text just right.

  5. Jason says:

    Hey Lee,
    The book is awesome, as I’ve told you before. For me, however, a book only does so much, just the type of learner I am. Your skills clinic helped me to improve much more, so maybe the DVD would be good. Back to the topic, I’ve read the entire book, found it helpful to take small bites, and just practice one technique at a time. I tell everyone I know to buy it, that it can help anyone at any level to improve. Images and text worked well together, although, I think you need to take me to Whistler to help next time!

  6. Stephen says:

    Just to continue the highjack for a moment…
    A dvd would be sweet, it would allow people to read it in your book, see the image, watch it in motion, and then apply it themselves. Anybody with a video camera could tape themselves and see how they look compared to you. That way people would be able to interact with the information in more ways, learn more effectively, etc.

  7. cheong says:

    Read about 3/4 of it, leaving the rest for when I nailed my basics like wheelies.
    1) Photos 2)Its by topic (don’t have to read by sequence) but you have progressively introduce harder and more advance techniques, which is good. 3) Fundamental core skills are drum into the reader

    Improvements (lee I’m just shooting off… don’t be offended…I REALLY LOVE the book):
    1) More photos with sequence 2)DVD (thought you are releasing a DVD end of this year?) 3)some basic maintenance skills 4) to include the cornering skills topic from this website to your new book 5)how to choose a bike with the correct top tube length for 50mm stem 6) lots of feedback and questions from this website could guide you too?? 6) how to ride skinnys?? seated or standing? 7) how to track stand 8)drop offs could be dicussed further… do you huck it to keep front wheel up or just shift weight back….(hmmm…could just be me…I didn’t read that part right)

    Hm… I think DVD is the best improvement as nothing beat visual learning. i have been using your book with ryan leech bike trial video to improve my skills

    The text is just right and i felt that it was very inspiring, as you constantly remind reader on fundamentals.

    Photos were COOL! good mix of yourself, Lopes, ladies…. nice bikes, great bike attires….but most importantly it shows what a normal rider would wear

    I’m 35 and the book is with a friend of mid 40s now, who has just started biking…thought that your book will inspire her…

    Hope this helps….

  8. leelikesbikes says:

    Thanks everyone.

    – Yeah, the typography in MMBS is gaudy for my taste. That was the publisher. From now on I’m self publishing.

    – The DVD is in the works. Lots of stuff these days. It’ll be worth the wait!

    – I’ve learned a lot since I did the book. Coaching will do that for you. You’re right: The cornering advice on the site is more honed than in the book.

    – And I appreciate all the other comments. Keep ’em rolling … I mean … please continue to send your ideas. 🙂

  9. zach says:

    Lee I think the book is great for the general mountain bike community it has tons of helpful hints and a decent layout. But what I truly feel is missing is the video and as you mentioned that is on the way. But if I were in your shoes and looking at how my priorities lie I would say the video makes much more since from a consumer stand point. The majority of people in this world are visual learners and especially in the action sports community. Not to say another book wouldn’t be great but I think the video would draw in many more teens and up and comers not to mention just in general. I think with a nice soundtrack you as the story teller and your kick ass pool of talented riders you have a recipe for success that words could never describe. This is my 2 cents and keep on Rockin.

  10. Vito says:

    1. Yes. I think it was entertaining, clear, comprehensive and helpful. Certain areas may benefit from a more in depth coverage.

    2. I liked it.

    3. Just right.

    4. yes, yes, yes.

    5. Before moving I gave it to a friend who’s in the mid 50’s, he’s a go0d mountain and road biker.

    6. It would be if I still had it.

    I think either a dvd, or a more “advanced” second (e)book would be a great complement.

  11. Justin says:

    Lee, I just got it yesterday, so give me a bit of time here!
    I did read about 30 pages last night though…

  12. Ron says:

    Hi Lee,

    I like your book and your website, and have learned lots from both. My single biggest obstacle on the content was getting up to speed on the MTB-specific slang (manifestation of advancing age I suppose).

    It’s not a huge deal, but I thought I would toss it out there for your consideration.

  13. james says:

    1. If you own Mastering Mountain Bike Skills, have you read the whole book? What do you like about the way it’s done? What could be better?
    I’ve read the whole book, i like the content both pictures and words but the style is a bit off. Not in anyway that I can put a finger on i just dont think its very cool.

    2. How do you like the balance of text and images?
    I do like it but again layout is a problem

    3. Does the text speak to you effectively? Is it too informal, too technical or just right?
    I think the text is good, easily accesable but never patronising, yes i realise that is probably spelt wrong.

    4. Are the images effective? Do they look cool? Do they convey information?
    Some of them are cool, but mostly they convey good information. If you want cool images dirt and road mag Rouleur are the places for that.

    5. How old are the people in your household who have read the book? Do your kids read it? Do teens read it? Is the book effective for them?
    im 20 and got it when i was 18 or 19. The book has been to some neighbours who love it and they’re between 9 and 13 but its mainly the 13 year old who reads it for knowledge the younger kids just like the pictures.

    6. Is Mastering Mountain Bike Skills in your bathroom? Now that’s a high compliment!
    No but i dont have anything in the bog, but it has been taken there and read in the bath.

  14. leelikesbikes says:

    Slang … oh yeah. You have MTB slang, plus LeeSpeak, which is extra weird. Point taken.

    I wonder how it all translates into Spanish, French, Russian, Polish and Korean.

  15. adam says: the book, read it all. every single bit.

    2. the balance is good.

    3 the text is good too, but i would like a bit more technical stuff. but it might be too technical for more people. i am a real geek when it comes to bikes like you. 🙂 maybe if for each section you have most of it covering everything thats needed, then a little extra bit which is more technical. if thats possible?

    4. great

    5. no one else really, my riding friends go straight for it tho.

    6. nope, dont keep any reading material in my bathroom.

    when is the video coming? 😀 its long overdue!!!

  16. Jonas says:

    1. I read the whole book more than once, I think. I like it very much. There are some details where I don’t agree, but in general I like it very much, the first book about mountainbiking skills that reaches the standard of books you can buy about skiing or snowbording.
    2. I like the balance. However, I think the pics aren’t always the best choice to illustrate the technique.
    3. I like the style of the textes, but I think in some places it gets too scientific were it isn’t. Did you check your theories with an engineer or a physicist?
    4. Not all pics look cool, but I think this is not the main point of a pic in a skills book. As I mentioned above, I think not every pic is as informative as it could be and sometimes doesn’t correspond with the text (the picture in the manual chapter springs to my mind).
    5. I’m the only one who reads it in our household and I’m 25.
    6. No it isn’t in my bathroom, its just beneath my bed, so don’t be disappointed, I have no books or magazines in my bathroom.

  17. Kit says:

    Don’t ditch all of the slang and terminology, or it will cease to be your voice. What you write should reflect who you are, and the tone of and MMBS are what make me read them. Keep hauling the mail, but maybe haul a glossary into the back too.

  18. Marcus Jennings says:

    1, Read it and I keeping dipping back into it. I like the way it leads you through the book from basics to black belt bike fu. You do manage to make it sound like these things are possible. Make it better, I can’t think of anything for the book, but an accompanying dvd would be cool.
    2, Nice balance of images and text.
    3, Language is cool too, even for a Brit like me I understood what you were getting at.
    4, Some great action shots and the one’s that really brought home the motion were the one’s where you’ve photoshoped multi images over one back drop.
    5, I’m the only one who reads it in our house and at 38 my wife still thinks I’m a teen.
    6, Right next to loo. It’s now part of my weekend ritual, big breakfast, large coffee, major dump and what lesson can I apply on the trails today. (there’s an image you don’t need).

  19. tony says:

    sometimes I read it in the bathroom and then take a dump on the trail (i.e., I forget to apply the “kung fu” techie lessons from the masters of mastering mtb skills…)

    overall, every advance I’ve made in my riding can be attributed to this book. period.
    technical advice (body positioning, balance, etc), mental advice (dealing with scary clowns) , philosophical (what kind of riding do you do and why?) are all basic issues put into clear terms that help solidify the entire riding experience for the novice to advanced rider/reader.

    I have been a h.s. coach (football and weight lifitng) for 20 years, and I can tell you, Lee, that your communication skills and coaching ability is right on! slang is good, as long as it’s backed up with sound proven skills…you got the goods, dude.

    ridin’ down in PTown

    ps congrats on the marriage and good luck with dental woes.

  20. Colin says:

    1. Read it all, some chapters MANY, MANY times.
    2. Good balance
    3. As a snowboarder and ex-skater the text was fine for me, I suspect normal types could have a problem with some lingo.
    4. Most of the pics and graphics are good.
    5. Me only (age 34)
    6. It has been on my living room coffee table for over a year non-stop. I read it then go out and ride while thinking about it, then read it again and think about how to improve my riding. I am currently working on my “Dirt Jumper Style”.

    Negatives – I don’t really understand when I should lean more than the bike or vice versa ? If its a pretty flat turn in gravel/stoney conditions should I lean the bike more than me ? It looks like the jump landing sequence is of Brian coming up short and making the best of it – he is ultra low over the back tyre and not centered over the bike.

    Some thoughts – I would like to see more info on real world technical stuff like wet roots, gravel, mud etc (I live in Scotland BTW). An instructional DVD made by you and Brian Lopes would be great. I a have zero interest in racing, so I have only read that chapter once. The jumping section has been very helpful. Coping with braking bumps also translated very well to real life. I still grab both brakes a little during an occasional downhill turn, it seems impossible not to without entering very slowly.

  21. Brian says:

    I have read the whole book cover to cover. And then I go back and look at stuff again. Sometimes I will plan on trying to corner better and I will look at that section for some pointers before hitting the trail,jumps,track, etc. I don’t like the photo on the cover.

    2. Good for me.

    3. Does the text speak to you effectively? Is it too informal, too technical or just right?

    Sometimes it can get a bit informal but not in a bad way. Just write how you write.

    4. all good

    5. I am 38 and my girlfriend is 38. We have two copies.

    6. Girlfriends is on the bookcase. Mine is on the living room floor.

    I want that dvd made!!! And I want a how to ride a dirt bike book/dvd from you. Sea Otter is in 6 months.

  22. scott says:

    1) read the whole things cover to cover many times (first one’s falling apart)
    2) images are well balanced most contribute a lot
    3)I’m biased, I’ve heard the lessons in person, tough to really recall my first reaction when reading the book. all in all, text is effective
    4)see #3
    5) easy for me, tough for the kids, matt’s looked at and likes the cool pictures, jake has read some, but neither has been through the whole text
    7) it’s even been in the back of the truck at nathrop, has lived in the bathroom for months on end.

    You try to cover a LOT of ground with that text, readers are all the way from seasoned gravity riders to other MTB riders or beginners. You almost need an introductory-intermediate-advanced series of texts, or a bigger book

    keep up the good work sensei,


  23. Alex Ogrinz says:

    Lee, I read some of your book, but not cover to cover. Man I can’t believe I got it right when it came out a couple years back. I remember reading some sections and saying yeah that makes sense. But I think it is really good for people wanting to work on that single thing at a time like, jumping, manualing, cornering, etc. And I am sure your teaching has given you more ideas to elaborate on. As for your questions lets see.

    1. No haven’t read cover to cover, but read a lot of certain sections. Love the pictures and techniques sections that visual look really helps you realize what you should be doing, especially when you see a picture of your riding style. I am not exactly sure what could be better, but since it has been a couple years, I am sure there is something.

    2. Love the balance of text and images. It really helps you figure techniques out reading and then seeing what to do.

    3. I’d say it is just right.

    4. yes, yes & yes.

    5. 30 & 28

    6. Can’t say it has been red flagged yet, but it might have a time or two.

    Can’t wait to see the new book and vid.

  24. Mike LaFlow says:

    Read the whole book. Best time was in the evening at the Moab hostel to pick my next day’s skill to practice. I like the focus on flow first, on building skills based on the feeling. I think MTB is the cheapest way to feel like youre flying. Your & Brian’s personalities comes through in your language and that’s important– this is MTB after all! Next important are the strobe photos, the step-by-step organisation with illustrative photo. Unfortunately, almost all the photos are of droids — fullface helmet — which is less informative. Include some boxes with different people/ages talking about how they do what they do (like your website). I suggest explanatory (not descriptive) captions on every single photo, and be sure they are in sharp sharp focus and well lit so we can learn from them. The typography and color palette are awful, like old Popular Mechanics magazines. A smaller serif text font will create more white space, which is also needed. I am a MTB maniac but my 31yo partner is not (we both ride) and she has no interest in the book. She would love a beginner-intermediate video, but I would choose this book any day for the rapid access to le skill du jour. Conceiving this book was a tremendous feat of imagination, and put real joy and serious injury within the reach of everyone. Thanks to you, I now require (and own) protective gear for every bone in my body.
    Rock on,

  25. Chris says:

    1. I read it cover to cover the day I got it. Read it cover to cover the second day too. Zeroed in on the things I needed to work on, went out and did drill after drill after drill. Some chapters were read many, many times. I like the approach, the ‘vibe’ of the book. An equivalent DVD would rock, but make sure it has plenty of content, no matter how trivial. DVDs can have soooo many chpaters it doesn’t matter.

    2. Balance is good.

    3. The language is just fine, personalities come through. It feels like you are talking to us, not pointing out the facts. MTBers are generally a more casual group, don’t tone down the lingo. Keep the fun.

    4. A graphic or two took me a little while to figure out what was up. There is a photo of a rider coming down the trail and at first I thought it was multiple guys on the same team, not a multiple-exposure of the same guy. Overlapping them would have made it more obvious, but I’m picking here. The Lopes going high AND low over that jump with the speed scale below is excellent.

    5. 36 and I can’t get my wife to read it.

    6. It visits occasionally but never stays in there.

    One last thing is that one of your most valuable resources is us. For example there is an easy little experiment I showed beginners when coaching for my club. I got them to roll along with their weight on the front and hit the back brakes. They skidded, of course. I then tell them to go the same pace and exaggerate their weight on the back. This time they slow but with no (or less) skidding. I then drill two principles into them: 1. The tire with more weight on it gets the grip. 2. The more weight on a tire, the more grip it has. WE all know it, but it is not set out in such a basic form in your book (though it is applied in many ways, so don’t flame me). Riders can then self diagnose the problem when their front wheel washes out. Other readers may have similar tips.

    And Cheong, I may not be the fastest, but I AM the slowest. My track stands are very good. Either camber, uphill, downhill, various techinques, one hand, no hand, seated, standing. Comes from years of obeying red lights and stop signs.

  26. Eric says:

    I’m 20, love your book, and am a mechanical engineering student who is currently in school.

    I dunno… I personally like the ‘mountain bike specific’ slang stuff… helps make it the ‘mountain biking type’ book yah know… Other sports have their own ‘sport specific’ slang, so why shouldn’t we?

    I love the photo sequences- more of those would be great. You can never have too many of those when discussing stuff like bunnyhops and other tech moves. I think it would be really helpful to have a cable cam sequence of shots to show how to ‘flow’ through different types of trails. That would be a really good visual to help people incorporate all the individual skills you demonstrate throughout your book… just my two cents.

  27. jeff says:

    1. I’ve read the whole book. I really like the progressive format of the book, ie, breaking things down into sections such as turning, riding drops, jumping, etc. That makes a lot of sense to me!

    2. The balance of text and images is really good. A picture really is worth a thousand words, so I’d think that adding even MORE images would be a good thing. Also, those geeky charts that show up on the leelikesbikes website are GREAT! Some of them should definitely be in the new version of the book.

    3. The tone of the text is good – it reminds me of how you talk in private lesson… so in that case, there’s an honesty there which is appreciated. When writing gets too technical things get boring, or seem too mechanical. Mountain biking’s about fun, and the text should be fun to read. Having said that, please dont dumb the writing down to a kids level. I appreciate wit, irony and vocabulary.

    4. Images are effective, and the arrows that point out where things are going are certainly super handy. As long as the idea gets across, I’m not too concerned if it looks “cool” or not.

    5. The people that read the MMB in my house are in their early thirties.

    6. MMB has been known to reside in the bathroom for sure. That, and it spends a lot of time by the bed, or brought out in the car when I go riding.

    The only last thing I’d suggest would be to put in more stuff about bike ethics and philosophy towards riding. I’m a yoga geek and I love to think about why we do the things we do. Share your own personal opinions! MMB kicks ass at explaining the “how”, but it’d be neat to see more of the “why” things are done.

  28. Spencer Woo says:

    I’ve read the book cover to cover. Text and graphic images are pretty spot on IMO. I like the humour littered throughout – it’s a little geeky at times, but so am I:)

    There are a couple of points where I think it could be improved on:

    You don’t cover body position in as much detail as I would have liked. In particular, you don’t emphasise bent ankles and explain how to correctly position feet on pedals – which are things I’ve been taught during a skills clinic and have improved my riding no end.

    I would also suggest perhaps offering practice drills at the end of each chapter to help hammer home some of concepts.

    I’d also suggest including a brief chapter covering fitness. Having basic strength and cardio fitness is so core that it should at least get a mention. Obviously, it’s a huge subject, but a few starting points would be very useful for your readers.

    I hope that doesn’t sound too critical. The book is ace and has help me to improve my riding skills no ends.

    BTW, I’m in my thirties, and have just recently learned to pedal wheelie the length of my street:)

  29. Tjaard says:

    I read every page at some point( I allways do that, I am addicted to reading as well as riding) and keep reading it over and over. It is great. I tell all the MTB customers at my bikeshop to buy it.

    I am 33. My wife has read some, she is 29. Our baby (6 wks) will know it all by heart by the time she is old enough to read 😉

    I want to comment on some other points brought up:
    RE the XC race: I agree that the ‘training techniques’ from Mark Weir lack the solid researched backing of your other subjects. But I feel you should NOT put in more detailed (fitness)training information. There are ton’s of road/mtb bike training books and millions of general fitness/workout/exercise books. They are dreary to read. When I need to come up with a training plan, I will pull one of many from my bookshelf, but the rest of the time, I don’t want it cluttering up my fun MTB reading. You should keep the tactical, technique and mental parts in there, because they are unique.

    Re the term ‘fisting’: I thought it was quite clear, you explained in the text that we should wrap our fingers around the grip, fisting seems like a good word.

    The tire section I thought was a little off. A lot of the descriptions of tire styles seemed unclear when paired with their examples. Pick something a little more distinct,
    e.g. a Crossmark for semislick, a Nevegal for big/square knobs and a Chunder for downhill. Also a good section on UST, Stans and tubeless-ready would perhaps be usefull. (maybe I’m to much of a tire geek)

    PS the book never stays in the bathroom because I don’t want to get it damp. So It get’s carefully taken out again after use 😉

  30. cj says:

    Your book is really rad. I am 25 and it was leant to me by a buddy. Trailhead was sold out when I had the chance to stop by. I think it is great that you are bringing the book up to date. I do have one suggestion for the latest iteration. Bring in more tips from more pros.
    Even if you dont get them directly, a great compilation of stuff that is out there with some yes that is a good idea, or while this is good for some kinda remarks. One area that would be cool is adding a building section for trail, stunts, and stuff like that. Also a list of quintessentail riding spots for each respective discipline would be dope.

  31. Chay says:

    Hi Lee,

    1. Read it cover to cover numerous times. I am focusing on the jumping section at the moment. Certainly showing how Brian Lopes does it is great, he got perfect technique, but what I am also interested in are what not to do!

    2. The sequence photos probably work best for me. You have little summary on some of the sequence photos, but I would like the text reference back to the photos more, you have done a lot of those already, e.g. P114/115…etc.

    3. It is also an entertaining read.

    4. The Photos looks cool asssss, MAKES ME WANT TO RIDE MAN….more the better.

    5. I am the only one who reads it at the moment, may be one day when my kids are old enough to read. It is very effective.

    6. It is at work at the moment, when no one watching, I pull it out, and fantasize myself doing a big tabletop off a gigantic double, since I can’t do it in real life.

    Overall I think it will be hard to beat the first book, it has everything. I do suggest may be a focus on a certain type of riding skills like freestyle and drills

    Cheers, Chay

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