Off-camber corners are less common these days, but it's still a handy skill to practice.
Words: Jared Rando
Photos: Nick Waygood
I gotta say it’s pretty rare these days to come across off camber corners. We are pretty spoiled as riders with purpose built trails wherever we go and this means corners are generally built to carry speed and flow down the trail which means flat or banked corners for the most part. That said, being able to carry speed through off camber corners is a great skill which transfers really well across to flat and slightly banked turns as it’s all about maximising traction and maintaining speed.
The other setup you’re likely to see on trails is an off camber entry into a corner such as the corner pictured here. Setups like this are fairly common on natural style trails where the exit of the corner becomes flat or banked with increased traffic but the entry remains off camber. These can be real traps for novice riders as the corner appears like it will offer some support but seems to “disappear” underneath you as you enter it and get pushed wide. The key element is to recognise the entry to the corner for what it is early. If it’s off camber at the entry or the whole way through, here’s how to carry speed through the corner and not get caught out.
Step 1 – Set up early, really early
The main element in off camber corners is a really early setup. This includes picking your line and adjusting your speed earlier than you would with flat or banked corners. The reason for this is that once you are in the corner, any major adjustment to your speed is going to result in you breaking traction, sliding out and killing your flow. As you enter look at the entry and exit if you can. Pick a wide entry on the edge of the trail and aim to transition across to an early apex and hold as tight a line as possible. This will give you some extra space on the exit to run a little wide without braking hard.
Step 2 – Brake early and push through to the trail
As you begin to enter the corner, you should have your speed adjusted to a pace you can carry through the corner. This really takes some discipline with your braking control and practicing the same corner over and over again is the best way to get a feel for it. Once you have your speed adjusted, pushing through to the trail with your legs is key to maintaining traction. More weight will mean more traction and you can see here I’m dropping my outside foot really early in the corner to maximise and lower my weight distribution centrally over the bike.
Step 3 – Hold your line and body position
Once you are in the corner, holding a steady and consistent line and body position is really important. Like the setup, this is something you’ll get a feel for by practicing over and over again. You’ll find that any minute adjustment to your body position, line or weight will break traction on the trail. At this point, you want to look up and spot the exit of the corner as early as possible as this will assist in holding the right line through the corner. Push hard through your cranks, stay low on the bike and hold it!
Step 4 – Easy on the brakes
You can see in this picture I’ve transitioned to the inside of the corner to give myself some extra space on the exit. At this point I’m still maintaining my position weighting the bike but looking towards the exit to see how much extra space I have. With the extra space on the trail I can begin to ease off my brakes and look to make use of the extra space to run wide on the exit and carry more speed out of the corner. Braking throughout the whole process needs to be a really delicate process. Quite often (and especially with steeper corners) you’ll need to control your speed throughout the whole corner and if this is the case you want to be really gentle and soft on the brakes. Any harsh braking and you’ll simply break your traction and wash your speed off.
Step 5 – Look to the exit
As you get towards the end of the corner, really focus hard on looking through the exit and opening your body to face the exit of the corner. By looking towards the exit early your body will naturally open up to the exit and your bike will follow. The golden rule of riding is you’ll go wherever you look and as you exit the corner this is absolutely key with on the exit. Look at the exit, follow with your body and your bike will follow the lead! Well hopefully anyway – practice makes perfect with this one and this really is a skill you’ll see huge gains on by practicing over and over and over again.
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