Switchbacks were not designed for mountain bikes. They were cut out
of the mountain way before
mountain bikes were invented
and originally developed for
hikers (with an average shoe
size of 10. 5 inches, not a
44-inch wheelbase). And that’s
where our problems start.
How do you get around these
180-degree corners without
resorting to hiking mode?
There will always be
switchbacks that prove too
precarious to pedal, but by
understanding a few skills, you
should be able to clear more
switchbacks than you ever
N I C MasteringSwitchbacks
Changing directions while moving forward
First, what not to do. Do
not use the often-abused “flat
tracker” technique for downhill
switchbacks. A rider using the
flat tracker technique locks the
rear wheel, counter-steers the
front wheel sharply, skids the
rear end around, and then releases the rear brake. This can be
destructive to the trail, and since
you are skidding, and therefore
out of control, you create a hazard for other trail users. Try the
following techniques that won’t
scrape the trail surface or scare
other trail users.
Most switchbacks, even the
tight ones with steps, can be
ridden around without resorting
to dramatic tricks or destructive
skidding. If your bike is equipped
with a dropper seatpost (a seatpost that lowers the saddle a few
inches at the push of a lever),
lowering it will help you complete this maneuver.
Use both front and rear
brakes to reduce your speed
to a walking pace, but keep
the wheels rolling.
Start your turn wide.
Steer in with a decisive twist of the
handlebar as close to the apex of
the switchback as possible.