Riding Downhill
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    Riding Downhill

    by Gordon » Mon Sep 20, 2004 10:47 am

    As you begin to practice good downhill techniques, start with easy hills to try out the principles, and work your way gradually to steeper and longer hills.

    Outlook: Downhills are just flat terrain where you accelerate quicker and decelerate slower. Not all downhills require heavy braking. Learn to recognize the difference, especially when the bottom runout area is clean and smooth.

    UNLESS YOU HAVETO GET OFF AND WALK IT DOWN, NEVER LOCK UP YOUR REAR WHEEL AND "SLIDE IT DOWN" THE HILL! You not only lose braking effectiveness that way, you give up a lot of control. A tire that's sliding forward becomes very easy to slide sideways too. A sliding rear tire typically deflects sideways from every rock, root, and Suzuki rider you run over. This is not good! It's better to be doing 20 mph under control, than 5 mph out of control.

    If the hill really requires a very slow descent, use first gear, clutch out, lots of brake, and a little throttle to prevent the rear brake from locking the rear wheel. You actually control your rate of descent with the throttle. This takes a little practice, but it pays big dividends.

    When you approach something really ugly on a downhill, like a bad root, rock, or a short drop-off, get off the brakes just before your front wheel encounters the obstacle, and then reapply the brakes after the rear wheel clears the obstacle. Yes, you'll accelerate a little when you do that, but you keep your wheels rolling, you maintain traction, and you keep control over the obstacle.

    Look for the bottom of the hill, and think of it as the beginning of an uphill. If there's a clean and smooth runout, then get off the brakes and accelerate on the lower part of the hill to carry some speed onto the fast part of the trail.

    You have more control of your bike when you're on the gas, so don't consider every downhill a place where you have to slow down. Many downhills are great opportunities to speed up, and often great opportunities to pass slower riders.

    Practice, practice, practice.
    Gordon Banks, Huntsville, AL
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  • ev
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    by ev » Mon Sep 20, 2004 12:32 pm

    you did not mention anything about moving my rear back

    forgot that because it has so much grown a reflex over the years, that you do not think about it anymore?

    remember, some beginners never even did ride a mountain bike :roll:

    downhills can be scary, but at least gravity will not pull you back up the hill :wink:
    if the descent is soft material like sand, small gravel, freshly piled up soil ... you should move even further back and apply enough gas to keep the front end light and keep it from digging in been there, done that, hurt!
    yes, that your brain knows it is the right thing to do to keep you from going over the bars does not make it less scary :roll:
  • Joker7Icp
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    by Joker7Icp » Wed Aug 31, 2005 6:58 pm

    Yea um.. do you just lean back or like what? It doesnt seem to hard..
    I got a CRF 150
  • montroseman
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    by montroseman » Tue Nov 15, 2005 11:04 am

    Ah, my least favorite thing. I don't seem to have near the fear going up that I do going down. It may be the rationale that if all goes bad, I can slow down and step of going up. When going down slowing down when it gets bad isn't and option, as it usually makes it worse. I can climb some decent hills, then I look back to go down, and often decide to ride the long way, less steep, back. I love the climbs, and dread the decents.
  • EWP Zoul
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    by EWP Zoul » Tue Nov 15, 2005 7:26 pm

    Down hills are fun. I have raced on some that at the buttom you had to lock the back up and slide the bike sideways down the last 5 feet because the buttom got so mucky that you would go over the bars if you tried to ride it front tire first.
    If the transition between hill and flat is not tight, you can treat a down hill like a straight away and throtle down it. It is a good way to pass people when racing. They chicken out and ride the breaks down the hill while you are on the pipe.
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  • WillCRF
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    by WillCRF » Sun Nov 20, 2005 5:02 pm


    I remember when I shared your hesitation on downhillers. For me, the key is to be aggressive and carry some speed while standing with my weight back. If it is rocky, the little extra speed helps to keep the bike under control. Hitting the trottle every now and then also keeps the engine braking up for a controlled decent.

    I now find I can go down much more technical trails than going up. Still have not mastered those 3 foot rock ledges going up. Something is not natural about lifting the front tire on a steep incline. Maybe someday.

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    by PGer555 » Sun Nov 20, 2005 6:27 pm

    Ah steep atv rudded bendy downhills give me the creeps, i prefer the hill climbs...
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    by -r0b- » Tue Nov 22, 2005 5:37 pm

    PGer555 wrote:Ah steep atv rudded bendy downhills give me the creeps, i prefer the hill climbs...

    Ahh, but what goes up must come down...eventually!
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  • kyhillclimber
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    by kyhillclimber » Tue Feb 14, 2006 7:43 am

    I ran into this downhill situation last year that was absoloutely a nightmare. The hill was pretty steep and about 40 yards long. Now it had rained the 3 days before and this place is notorious for taking a long time to dry out. Plus, it looked like a natural spring was contributing to slickness as well. Rocks (big) and ruts where in play as well. At the bottom of the descent you have to turn immediately to the right to avoid dropping 10 to 15 ft into a ravine. Now I knew it was going to be slick but was I in for a surprise...I have never encountered a situation where I couldn't stay on the bike for more than 3 ft at a time. I leaned back, engine braking and tapping the front and back brakes. Didn't work...Half way down ended up walking the bike the rest of the way. Still fell down twice.
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    by BigOL3 » Fri Mar 24, 2006 7:45 pm

    ev wrote:
    remember, some beginners never even did ride a mountain bike :roll:

    Heck.....some old timers never rode a mountain bike :lol:

    Why pedal when I've got a throttle!
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  • topgun
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    by topgun » Sun Sep 03, 2006 5:42 pm

    Ok where I ride we have a 2 km down hill ...

    Rutted, rocky, big ruts ( able to swallow a whole big and rider easily ) twisty turny etc ... a real nightmare ...

    So how do you ride down it ?

    # 1. Get ya butt as far back as possible - like on the tail light

    # 2. Stay off the back brake - use the clutch to stop rear wheel lock up and engine braking - locked wheel have 0 traction and tend to slide into ruts/rocks etc

    # 3. Use front brake where hill is reasonably clear of challenges - jump on it and slow down again as much as possible

    # 4. Try to roll over obstacles - no brakes !!

    # 5. Look as far ahead as possible - don't look at ruts or rocks - you will hit them - called target fixation

    # 6. Plan your route down - look where others have been - work out your path as much as possible - see # 5

    # 7. Normally the edges are good - most sheep go up/down the middle ignoring usually a better path on the edges.

    # 8. If the track is wide enough try zig zagging across the trail - this is good to go over ruts etc and helps to keep the speed down

    Going uphills is basically the same except get ya butt up on the tank and use the gas rather than the brakes.
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    by AgentSmith » Sun Sep 03, 2006 5:49 pm

    That all sounds about right except for #1 should be:

    #1 get a Scotts steering damper.
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  • topgun
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    by topgun » Sun Sep 03, 2006 7:21 pm

    Good point ... but will a Scotts stop you going A over K if your weight is too far forward ?
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    by AgentSmith » Sun Sep 03, 2006 8:01 pm

    topgun wrote: A over K ?

    I got the first part, the A, but what the K stand for?

    And no it will not, however it will keep your bike upright and straight as it goes down the rest of the way without you!!
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    by topgun » Sun Sep 03, 2006 8:29 pm

    A over K =

    A$$ over Kite - ie endooooo !!!

    Yes love watching $10,000 unpiloted bikes complete with Scotts going straight down the hill going faster and faster and faster whilst the previous pilot watches in tears as the inevitable occurs ...

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