Downhill Mountain Biking is without doubt the most exciting and white knuckle experience you can have whilst mountain biking. Downhill mountain biking is all about getting to the top of the hill, and enjoying the adrenaline rush of heading downhill as quickly as possible.
A downhill mountain bike track is usually singletrack, and can feature all kinds of twists and turns - with natural and man made obstacles including, but not limited to rocks and stones, roots, berms, as well as steps, jumps and drops.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that downhill mountain biking is just a case of pointing your wheel downhill and making it to the bottom. To make it down some downhill trails - you need skill, guts and the right gear.
In this post, we look at some of the best tips that we would give to ourselves, when we first set out on our downhill mountain biking journey:
Have the Right Equipment
Although the cynical amongst you will say that this is a sales pitch from us - it’s not! You really cannot safely ride downhill trails without the right equipment. At the top of the list of things to have, is a full suspension mountain bike. Tackling serious downhill trails requires bikes with big suspension capabilities, and geometry which has been designed to tackle downhill obstacles, twists and turns.
As well as having the right bike, the right protective equipment is also a must - and downhill riders should have a jersey with body armour, knee pads, full face helmet, elbow pads as well as eye protection, such as goggles or sunglasses. Gloves should also be worn - ideally full finger gloves for maximum grip at all times.
Position on the Bike
Although we would not attempt to give a masterclass on downhill mountain biking on a blog post - there are a few proven ways of sitting and riding a downhill mountain bike for maximum success and safety:
Lower your body and keep the lowest centre of mass possible, keep knees and elbows soft and flexible - able to quickly respond and tackle the trail with fluidity. Always look forward and ahead - to read the trail and obstacles which you face next. The last bit is common sense, but mega important - make sure that you keep good control of the bike's brakes.
Experiment with Braking
Although many people smashing downhill trails will want to go in maximum attack mode, it’s well worth taking some time to learn the best way to brake for you. Braking is massively important in downhill mountain biking, and as well as the brakes on your bike keeping you safe - using them correctly will also speed up your times, allowing you to beat your PB’s.
At some point when on a downhill trail - you will experience a drop off. The secret to effectively landing drop offs large and small is the same, and it’s the ability to be able to keep the bike running parallel to the ground. The temptation when heading off drop offs is to allow the bike to roll forward - but it’s essential to keep the front of the bike pulled up.
Downhill trails can be very intimidating, so it’s always worth taking the time to get used to downhill trails, starting with easier trails and building up your confidence and abilities slowly. When heading down, it’s also important to keep the mind and body relaxed - if you are tense and panicky, you are more likely to make a mistake.
Beginner Downhill Mountain Bikes & Equipment
At Westbrook Cycles, we stock and supply a fantastic array of Downhill Mountain Bikes and accessories - keeping every newbie downhill mountain biker as safe as humanly possible! You can view the full range of downhill bikes, and downhill mountain bike protective clothing across our site.
If you have any questions about the right downhill bike for you, or the equipment you need to enter this exhilarating sport - just get in touch and we will be more than happy to discuss everything with you. A few members of our staff are massively into their downhill mountain biking - so are in a good position to advise you based on personal experience, not just training manuals.