Before thinking about getting out on the trail and improving your skills, there is a lot you can do with getting your set up right. We all know bikes can be expensive, but there are some relatively inexpensive ways to really improve your experience on a trail and to make the most out of your ride.
You have six main contact points, four between the bike and yourself, and two between the bike and the trail. You can see a big benefit from making sure all of these are optimised.
By keeping up to date with replacing your handlebar grips, making sure they have plenty of life left in them can help your hands feel comfy, help to reduce arm pump, and inspire confidence. Grips can often be forgotten about, but by keeping up to date on maintenance of these will go a long way! Also, it is worth trying out some friends grips, what do you like, not like. Now a days you can get different lengths and widths of grips, let a lone the many different styles.
Everyone needs to give flat pedals a go. If you are normally a clipped in rider, give flat pedals a go! This will improve your overall control of the bike, making you more of a driver, rather than a passenger on the bike. I myself ride clips, however regularly change between the two as they both have their pro’s and cons, being good on both makes you a more all round rider. If you are already a flat pedal advocate, great! However, I have seen many people who’s flat pedals were probably not up to standard or were due for being replaced through missing pins. Two main points: Firstly, when a flat pedal has lots some of its pins or they have warn down it is probably time to renew. Secondly, there is a huge selection, ensuring that the pedal platforms are a sufficient size will really help with leg fatigue during a ride, and maintenance of grip and stability on the pedals. If you have big feet, make sure you go for a big platform.
The final contact points are your tyres on the trail. We see it quite often where people’s tyres have perhaps seen better days. Ensuring your tyres have plenty of life in them will help so much to get the most out of your rides. A tyre with little tread can make the bike feel twitchy, this then transfers into riding tight. Riding a tyre with good life will maximise your grip on the trail, which can then in turn translate into confidence on the trail – again leading you to be a driver and not a passenger on the bike. A lot of manufacturers now a days make great tyres, whether it be dry, wet, or a great all rounder..
It may be worth checking over your bike and thinking, are the main contact points OK…
Thanks for reading the first of ALine Mountain Bike Coaching’s monthly top tips