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How To Ride Steep MTB Trails

In this video, Will gives you some tips and tricks on how to ride steep trails on a mountain bike as well as getting the right bike setup for the job.

Let us know in the comments what you think of the video and make sure to like and subscribe.

MTB Tips and Tricks

Here is a summary of the suggestions I made in the video.

Bike Setup


Having your brakes set up correctly is really important to be able to control your speed and stay in control when riding any trail but it’s even more important when riding steep trails as things can get out of hand quickly.

Ensure your brakes are working correctly so check your pads have plenty of life left in them and that there is no air in your cables. If you do not know how to do this, visit your local bike shop who will be able to help you with this.

Choosing the correct angle for your brakes leavers is really important. Having them too steep or too high makes gripping your bars and squeezing your brake levers inefficient and uncomfortable which is only exaggerated when riding steep trails. My suggestion is to make sure your wrist is straight and in line with your arm and finger when you have your index finger on the brake lever. This way you are not putting additional stress on your wrists which will also help reduce arm pump.


Having the correct suspension setup is also really important, not only to absorb the big hits but also small bumps and increased traction will help you with grip and the ability to brake. Visit your local bike shop or head to your suspension manufacturers website to get the correct base settings for your weight and style of riding.


Tyres are arguably the most important component on your bike. It is the one contact point between the bike and the terrain so having the correct tyre for the job will make a huge difference. Don’t just ask people online what the best tyre is as there is no one perfect tyre. Find a tyre that suits you, your riding style and the terrain you are riding on. For example, a rock tyre is going to be terrible in the mud and a mud spike is going to be awful on rocky trails. Tyre pressures also make a big difference. The higher the pressure the faster the tyre will roll but you will lose traction. So counter intuitively often having lower pressures will make you a faster rider as you will have increased grip and control in the corners.

Other Tips and Tricks


Often overlooked, breathing is really important when it comes to riding trails and steep trails are no exception. Breathing will help your brain and other muscles oxygenated so they perform at their best which also reduces things like slow reaction times and arm pump. You will want your wits about you and fast reaction times when riding steeper trails. Breathing can also help keep you calm when the trails push you out of your comfort zone.

Look Ahead

A common mistake so many mountain bikers make is that they only look directly in front of them meaning they are constantly reacting to what is happening in the moment rather than being prepared for what is coming up next. Looking a head to the next feature will not only prepare you for what’s coming up but will also help you ignore less significant things such as roots that may be a distraction and cause you to make silly mistakes. Knowing what is coming up will allow you to make better line choices and get down trails quicker, more efficiently and often safer.

Ride Within Your Limits

This one should go without saying. Ride within your limits. Work your way up to harder and more advanced trails and features. Work on the basics first so that you are not only riding safely but are riding correctly which is also more fun. If you push yourself too soon you are likely going to end up crashing and having a bad time.

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What do you think of this how-to ride steep MTB trails video guide? Are there any other technique, MTB tips and tricks I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments section below and make sure you like and subscribe to stay up to date with our latest videos on YouTube.

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Will Brett-Atkin

Will Brett-Atkin

Will (@willbrettbikes) is the founder and creator of One Track Mind Mag. He is an award-winning Digital Product Designer and has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world. When not behind a computer screen Will likes to be out in nature riding natural trails with friends. He also likes to dabble in a bit of Enduro racing and has had some great results racing in the UK

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