So this video is an essential list of the skills that are gonna help beginner riders feel more confident on their bike. But first, I start with a really quick bike check to make sure we are starting off on the right foot. Its important to mention that whilst I am on a very nice, flashy bike here, these skills can be done on any bike, hard tail, fully rigid, whatever, however expensive the bike is, same skills apply. So I am gonna start checking my tires. You do not need many tools when you are getting into mountain biking, but a good multi-tool and a pump will do most jobs for you.
So there is two types of valve on bikes, you got Presta and Schrader. Schrader is the car type valve, I have actually got Presta, the smaller thinner one, and a good pump will have the option to pump up both valves. And I think anywhere between 20 and 25 psi is good for most beginners. (quiet jazz music) I like to put in slightly more pressure in my rear tire, so up to about 28 psi, cause you will find that one takes most of the abuse and that is the one that can get pinch punctures.
(quiet jazz music) Next, make sure you have got your handlebar controls in a really comfortable position so you can use them all the time. So with brake levers you will wanna be using two fingers or preferably one, cause most modern bikes will have powerful enough brakes just to be able to use one finger. So make sure that brake lever is in a super comfortable position. I like mine relatively high on the bars just so when I am in that attack position on the bike I am not reaching over to get to em. So they are nice and comfortable, my one finger rests right on the end of that lever for maximum leverage. Top tip, do not over tighten your bolts, it is a beginner mistake that I think most of us have made when they start riding.
So make sure that you do not over tighten them and risk stripping out those threads on that bolt. (quiet jazz music) Now to get the correct saddle height. The first thing I do, is set it about my hip bone level. Then I jump on the bike and get that final position. So what you want is a slight bend still in your knee when you are pedaling. So that is gonna mean you are comfortable and you are getting the most efficient pedaling stroke. So with my foot in the right position you can see me pedaling along, you still see there is some bend in my knee. The other way to check, that is actually by putting your heel of your foot on the pedal and your legs should go just about straight when your heels there.
So when you move your foot back to the right position, you have got that nice bend, nice and high, get the best pedaling position. So, I have got a lovely fancy dropper seatpost on there, so that is great for riding more technical stuff. I push the lever, get my seat outta the way. Thats not essential, you can do this with any seat post. You can use quick release or use an Allen key, cause getting your saddle out of the way on technical terrain and steep descents, is really gonna help.
Okay, my bikes ready, hopefully your bike is ready, let us talk about some essential skills. (quiet jazz music) Okay, let us start with that neutral stance or the attack position, whatever you call it. On mountain bike terrain you are likely to be moving around the bike all the time to maintain steering and traction, and that all comes from standing tall on the bike in that neutral position. So stand nice and tall on the bike with a slight bend in your knees. It should feel like most of your weight is going through your legs, not up and on your arms. Now this way you are gonna start to move front to back and side to side on a bike. (quiet jazz music) Right, so jump on your bike and practice a couple of drills.
So, think about moving your weight around the bike really front to back, you do that much more than you do side to side, and it is what I call the arc of movement. So there is my neutral stance, ready position. To go to the back of the bike think about using your feet. So heels down, really drop your hips all the way down to the back tire, loads of movement there. Then when you go up and forward, think about dipping your toes, but really your shoulders should not come in front of your bars very often at all. That could lead you into a dangerous situation, and getting very close to going over the bars. (quiet jazz music) So it is surprisingly important to really practice that.
Really get a feel for how much you can move on the bike but also know where your rear tire is so you do not go slammin into it. So you will wanna use all that range of movement but just make sure you are using it at the right times. Cause if you are at the extreme back of your bike, let us say when you come down into a dip, a steep downhill, and into that ditch, when you go back up the other side, you have got to move forward. Cause if you are still in the back, there is a good chance your front wheel could start coming up. So, extremes of movement, and then with experience you will know when to use them. (quiet jazz music) So the ready position gives you a really strong stance and helps you move around the bike and deal with that rough terrain or undulating terrain that you will find on a mountain bike. And that arc of movements gonna help you with those big ups and downs.
(quiet jazz music) A simple way to explain that center of gravity, weight thing, so moving around on the bike. When you are in the neutral stance, think about your hips as being that center of gravity. Neutral stance on flat terrains gonna be in the middle of the bike, above the bottom bracket. When you ride into a downhill section, then you drop your heels and move your hips back, really, your hips gonna be there. Again, your center of gravitys gonna be in the middle of the bike.
On the opposite end of the scale, riding up a climb, slide into the front of the saddle. Yeah, it is not gonna be the comfiest, but doing that and dropping your chest, again, is gonna keep your center of gravity balanced between the two wheels. (quiet jazz music) When it comes to peddling, try and spin circles, so you are putting consistent power through the pedals, rather than going stomp, stomp, stomp. Couple that with your body movement when it comes to climbing, and you will keep much more traction on the rear tire, means you will get up the climbs. Spinning circles is relatively easy with clip-less pedals, just pull up on the upstroke; but with flat pedals, think about scraping back against your pedal on the upstroke.
Seated climbing and spinning nice circles is the best way of maintaining traction on your rear tire, and that is gonna work an awful lot. But sometimes you need a bit more power than that to get up a steeper climb, and then you have got to rely on standing up and using more of your muscles, your core muscles and even your arms, to get the power through the pedals. (quiet jazz music) To begin with, you have to learn to sort of respect your brakes, because whilst they obviously slow you down, they can also lead to big crashes. So feathering the brakes is really important. By that I mean just really gently modulating them, so pulling them harder when you want to stop slower, then easing off in situations where it gets more dangerous to use them, for example, corners when you want to try and come off your brakes as much as you possibly can.
Also, you will start to learn the difference between the front and the rear brake, and when to use them, so it becomes absolutely unconscious. You do not really think about it anymore. So especially when cornering, I try and come off the front brake. In the UK we run front on the right and back on the left, but that is different most of the rest of the world. But try and learn which one does affect the bike the most. On the flat, the front brake does a lot of the stopping, but when it comes to riding steeper downhills, you have to rely more on the rear brake.
On slippier terrain, or maybe you are cornering, where you need more traction, then just ease off them slightly, and that is much easier when you are using just one or two fingers. That also means you have got much more grip on the bars. When you are riding along and hitting the brakes, as all your weight is gonna start to get sent forward, as that force is coming back towards you, so actually your weight goes onto the front wheel, it means that front brake is working very effectively, but a quicker, safer way of stopping is actually thinking about dropping your weight back. Its the same as before, when we think about the arc of movement, just think about dropping your heels. Its gonna bring your hips slightly further back. Its also gonna bring your arms behind the bars, and weight behind the pedals, so when you now hit the brakes, it is all gonna go down into the floor and not risk going up and over the bars. That means you will be able to stop much more safely, and faster. The very first time I went out on a mountain bike, I grabbed a handful of front brake in a corner, washed out and skinned my knee, and that was my first lesson.
So you have got to learn to respect the front brake. In the UK we run our brake on the right-hand side, which I know is different to most of the rest of the world, but it should become a really subconscious thing. Just try and learn which one is your front and back, and be careful with that front brake. (quiet jazz music) When riding downhill technical sections, it really is much easier if you can get your seat down and out of the way. So if you have not got a drop post, use your Allen key or quick release. If you have got a dropper, great. You can use that on the fly, all the time, which means you can move your hips around a lot more, soak up things like this step; to really let the bike come up to you and then push it down. And just stay in a safer position behind the bike. (quiet jazz music) So moving around the bike, front to back, side to side, is really going to serve you well but another skill that you are gonna use everywhere is keepin your head up and lookin.
So really that does help with your body weight as well. As soon as you bring your head up, your chest comes back a little bit, puts you in that safer position, but also you can really plan what you are doing. So especially for corners, technical terrain, you really wanna look to where you want to be, because that also works against you. Sometimes you will see a big tree, or a rock, or a root that you do not want to hit. If you look at it, you obviously sort of get drawn in towards it, so try to look at where you want to be. (quiet jazz music) Theres also a bit of footwork that can really help with your confidence and traction when cornering. So go in from your neutral stance, where you have got pedals level, when it comes to cornering, start dropping your outside foot. Thats gonna get your inside foot clear of any obstacles when you dip the bike over, but it is also gonna drop your center of gravity, and give you a bit more grip.
(quiet jazz music) This set of berms that sort of flow into each other really show the sort of lines you should be using. Try to think about nice, smooth lines so you are not squaring corners off, or going inside, cause that is where you are gonna lose traction. So really try and open up the corners, be smooth on your bike, and again, be smooth on your brakes.
If you do have to brake, so coming down a hill, think about trailing your brake, so feather them really lightly, and then coming off that front brake for grip on that front tire. (quiet jazz music) So there you go, there are some essential skills for the beginner mountain biker. Think about your neutral stance, standing nice and tall on the bike and keeping your head up. And then moving around, that arc of movement, front to back, side to side, then you start thinking about your braking, feathering, using one or two fingers, and see how each of those brake affects the bike. Also cornering, think about dropping your outside foot, really looking where you want to go.
Great way of practicing all that stuff is to find yourself a big open space, start moving around, restart, doing extremes, front to back, side to side. Also seeing how each of those individual brakes affect your bike. Also get used to pedaling those nice circles. Once you master these things, you get to the really fun part of mountain biking, where you can really progress, start riding more technical stuff. Really opens up the terrain; you can start doing bunny hops, unweighting, and that is super fun. If you want to see a couple more how-to videos, if you want to progress little bit more, click over there for a how to corner, over there for how to bunny hop.