How to Corner on your Mountain Bike


Mountain biking is an exhilarating sport that combines adrenaline, skill, and connection with nature. One of the most essential skills every rider must master is cornering. Proper cornering technique allows you to maintain control, conserve momentum, and navigate turns with confidence. In this article, I’ll share valuable tips and advice on how to corner on your mountain bike effectively. So, let’s get ready to enhance your cornering skills and take your riding to the next level!

Importance of Cornering Skills

Cornering skills are crucial for any mountain biker, regardless of skill level. Mastering the art of cornering offers numerous benefits, including:

Maintaining Control:

Proper cornering technique ensures stability and control throughout turns, reducing the risk of sliding out or losing balance.

Conserving Momentum:

Cornering efficiently allows you to carry speed through turns, minimizing energy loss and helping you maintain momentum.

Navigating Technical Terrain:

Mountain bike trails often feature tight corners, switchbacks, and challenging terrain. Solid cornering skills enable you to negotiate these sections confidently and smoothly.

Body Positioning

To corner effectively, it’s essential to maintain the correct body position. Follow these guidelines:

Positioning for Success

Position your body correctly by:

Weight Distribution:

Shift your weight slightly backward, keeping your pedals level, and lowering your center of gravity. This distributes weight between your wheels, enhancing traction and control.

Bend Your Knees and Elbows:

Flex your knees and elbows to absorb impacts and allow your body to move fluidly with the bike. This dynamic position helps maintain balance and allows for quick adjustments.

Line Selection

Choosing the right line through a corner is crucial for maintaining speed and control. Consider the following factors:

Finding the Ideal Line

Entry Point:

Start wide on the outside of the corner, allowing for a smoother and more efficient arc.How to Corner on your Mountain Bike


Identify the apex, the innermost point of the turn, and aim to hit it for maximum efficiency.


Drift wide as you exit the corner, utilizing the full width of the trail to carry momentum.

Braking Techniques

Effective braking is essential for controlled cornering. Follow these tips:

Braking with Finesse

Brake Early:

Begin braking before entering the corner to scrub off speed gradually.

Modulate Brake Pressure:

Apply brakes smoothly and progressively, avoiding abrupt or excessive force that may cause wheel lock-up.How to Corner on your Mountain Bike

Trail Brake:

If necessary, release the brakes slightly as you enter the corner to maintain traction and control.

Looking Ahead

Maintaining focus and looking ahead are critical components of successful cornering. Keep these pointers in mind:

Eyes on the Prize

Target Fixation:

Look through the corner toward your desired exit point, rather than fixating on obstacles or hazards.


Scan the trail ahead to anticipate changes in terrain and choose the best line.

Practicing Cornering

Improving your cornering skills requires practice and repetition. Here’s how to make the most of your training sessions:

Skill Building Sessions

Find Suitable Corners:

Seek out corners of varying difficulty levels, allowing you to progress gradually.

Focus on Technique:

Practice body positioning, line selection, and braking techniques individually before integrating them into fluid cornering.
Ride with Skilled Riders: Riding with more experienced riders can provide valuable insights and inspiration.

Adjusting Speed

Adjusting your speed appropriately is crucial for successful cornering. Consider these factors:

Speed Control

Entry Speed:

Enter corners at a speed that allows you to maintain control while still carrying momentum.

Trail Conditions:

Adapt your speed based on trail conditions, such as loose gravel or wet surfaces.

Leaning Techniques

Proper leaning technique helps you maintain traction and stability throughout corners. Follow these guidelines:

Leaning with Confidence

Outside Foot Down:

Drop your outside foot and lean your bike into the corner while keeping your body upright.

Weight Distribution:

Transfer weight to the outside pedal and maintain an even distribution between your tires.

Confidence Building

Building confidence is an integral part of becoming a proficient cornering rider. Consider these tips:

Confidence is Key

Start Small:

Begin with gradual turns and gradually progress to more challenging corners.How to Corner on your Mountain Bike


Mentally rehearse successful cornering techniques and envision yourself executing them with confidence.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

To become a better cornering rider, be mindful of these common mistakes:

Pitfalls to Avoid


Excessive or late braking can disrupt your flow and reduce traction.

Inside Pedal Strikes:

Keep your pedals level to avoid striking rocks or obstacles with your inside pedal.

Stiff Body Position:

Avoid being rigid and locked up; instead, stay loose and relaxed for better bike control.

Advanced Cornering Techniques

As you become more proficient, you can explore advanced cornering techniques to enhance your skills further. Some advanced techniques include:

Taking it to the Next Level

Pumping Through Turns:

Utilize pumping motions to generate additional speed and momentum through corners.


Controlled drifts can be employed on specific corners to maximize speed and style.

Bike Setup for Cornering

Optimizing your bike setup can greatly improve your cornering performance. Consider these aspects:How to Corner on your Mountain Bike

 Bike Setup Tips

Tire Pressure:

Adjust tire pressure to find the right balance between grip and rolling resistance.

Suspension Setup:

Optimize suspension settings to provide the appropriate amount of support and traction.


Mastering cornering skills is a fundamental aspect of mountain biking. By honing your technique, understanding line selection, and practicing regularly, you’ll become a more confident and capable rider. Remember to stay relaxed, keep your eyes up, and adjust your speed and body position accordingly. With time and dedication, you’ll be railing corners like a pro!


FAQ 1: Is it necessary to lean the bike while cornering?

Yes, leaning the bike into the corner helps maintain balance, stability, and traction, allowing you to navigate turns smoothly.

FAQ 2: Can I use the front brake while cornering?

Using the front brake while cornering can cause the front wheel to wash out, leading to a loss of control. It’s best to avoid or minimize front brake use during corners.

FAQ 3: How can I improve my cornering speed?

To improve your cornering speed, focus on proper body positioning, look ahead, and practice maintaining an optimal line through corners. Building confidence and experience will also contribute to increased cornering speed over time.

FAQ 4: Should I lean my body or the bike more while cornering?

It’s crucial to lean the bike into the corner while keeping your body upright. This allows you to maintain traction and stability while maximizing control.

FAQ 5: Are there any specific cornering techniques for different trail conditions?

Yes, adapting your cornering technique to different trail conditions is essential. For loose or slippery surfaces, focusing on weight distribution, controlled braking, and maintaining an appropriate line becomes even more critical.

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Duncan Peters

Remember, at, Duncan is not just an author; he's your cycling companion. Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or just starting your biking journey, Duncan is here to support and guide you every step of the way. So, hop on your bike, join the community, and let Duncan be your trusted source of inspiration, knowledge, and camaraderie.

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