Why am I getting dropped in berms?

Hi Lee,
I’ve been racing for a while, and I constantly get dropped by my friends in berms. When I follow, I end up just a little farther back after just about any berm. I consider my weight balanced, but it seems like my body position is biased to the front of the bike. This works great for attacking looser or rougher straights and turns where the front wheel leads and the rear wheel just tracks along, but I think my position is killing me in well-supported turns. I feel like I’m just standing on top of the bike in berms, and I’m just loosing speed. Do I just need to shift my weight back and carve with the rear wheel? Just sit down and rail?
Thanks, I love your website, and sorry for the long question,

Hey Charlie,

Great question.

Cornering is incredibly complex. Just some of the variables:

– Physical dynamics like bike lean and camber thrust

– Different cornering techniques (weight forward foot out, centered and railing, etc.)

– Individual riding styles

– Differing cambers

– Varying surfaces

– The full range of speeds

– Various turn shapes

– Bike setup: geometry, frame, fork, stem, bars, wheels, tires

And so on. The interplay of these factors makes cornering infinitely complex — and double-extra awesome.

Pro DHer Curtis Keene rails paving stones on Whistler’s A-Line. It’s subtle, but he shifted his weight back slightly as he entered the berm. See the slight pull on his forearm muscles? That’s the tell-tail sign.

Back to your question
Why are you losing time in berms? It could be any factor or combination of factors. I suggest looking at these things:

– Pump the berms. Remember that a turn is just a hole turned on its side. How would you pump that hole? Pump the turn the same way.

– Think of a swing. You know how, to get speed and height on a playground swingset, you lean back on the downslope? Try that in the “backside” of the berms. One way to do this subtly: As you set your bike into the berm, sink your weight back onto your saddle.

Experiment. Have fun. Rip it!

— Lee

And BTW: Lay off the brakes!

Know more. Have more fun!

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