Stop being a Mountain Bike Bigot!

In 12 years of coaching mtb skills I still cannot get over how closed minded mountain bikers can be! “Oh, he is a single speeder, they always…”, “damn downhiller’s with 8″ of travel, of course they can ride that section, no skill, the bike does all the work, bet he can’t climb to save his life”, “look at that idiot on that fully rigid bike doesn’t he know…”, etc. Well, we are doing the exact same sport! Riding bicycles off road and guess what? The Core, Fundamental Skills are All The Same no matter what kind of mtb you are riding!

Cornering on a downhill bike is fundamentally the same as cornering on a full rigid bike. There are some advanced skills you can add with 8″ of  suspension travel and cornering on a fully rigid bike is harder (because no matter how smooth you are you will have less traction on a rigid bike) but the fundamental, most important skills are the same.

This is true with jumping, climbing technical sections, descending technical sections, riding a bike!

Why is this important to you? Because if you want to improve you can learn a lot from riders that are different from you. The skill it takes for Greg Minnaar and Mitch Ropelato to corner so well is the exact same skill all mountain bikers need, regardless of the bike they are on or the label they give themselves. Think about it, if the best downhill racers in the world need those skills to corner a bike that has way better traction* than most non-downhill bikes, those skills must be extra important on a “xc” bike. So an “xc” rider can learn from the watching a rider like Steve Peat corner even though Steve is on a different mountain bike.

*Downhill bikes have longer travel/better working suspension (which keeps the tires on the ground better than non-dh bikes), downhill bikes have wider tires with likely less air pressure (producing a bigger contact patch), softer rubber compound tires (which grip way better than harder rubber but roll slower, wear out quicker and cost more) and more tread patterns designed for hooking up on the surface they are riding (providing more traction than a general purpose tread pattern).

So open your mind and stop labeling people/riders/things. You can learn from our examples/videos/coaching even if the example we us is on a much different bike that yours.  We are fortunate enough to coach many of the best races in the world in all disciplines of mtb racing and we teach them all the same core skills (although in our downhill camps we don’t teach climbing skills as climbing on a 40lb bike isn’t much fun!). Yes, we taught singlespeed World Champions Ross Schnell and Sue Haywood the exact same cornering skills in the camps they took from us as we taught World Cup downhill racers Mitch Ropelato and Jackie Harmony in their downhill camps.

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3 replies
  1. Chris Cornelison says:

    It’s refreshing to see and experiment with different riding styles whether it be cross country, dirt jumping, all mountain, or downhill. Met some great guys this weekend while checking out some new trails. Among us, there were two all-mountain bikes, one trail bike, and a hardtail 26′er. The trails we rode were super rocky, slow and technical. Doubt we ever went faster than ten miles an hour. On the ride, discovered a secret little downhill run, and one of the riders says, “What do you say we rip this downhill”. I think they were headed to find something smooth and flowy to ride later that night.

    It was refreshing to meet some riders that embrace a little bit of everything.

    Reply
  2. Jason says:

    I see that kind of attitude all the time on my downhill bike. It’s fun to ride with someone on a cross country or all mountain bike and listen to them complain that my bike lets me go faster through the rocks then we switch bikes and I still spank them on their own bike. Rider skill is rider skill. The bike makes a difference but not as much as most people think. Put Steve Peat on a beach cruiser and he would still beat most guys down a downhill course.

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