Want to go faster but don't know where to start? Jared Rando has you covered.
Words: Jared Rando
Photos: Nick Waygood
It would be safe to say that 99% of riders out there, at any point during a ride, want to go faster. There are countless opportunities to gain more speed on the trail and the quest for extra speed will always be ongoing and never ending. The other side of the equation though is that anything which will help you ride faster, will generally help you ride safer as well when you are just cruising and not pushing hard.
All the techniques to help you ride faster will take years and years of ongoing refinement to maximise their benefit. However, there are a handful of tips I could recommend to anyone to concentrate on. Try focusing on one thing at various points of a ride to really emphasise the technique and increase the benefit.
Tip 1 – Tyre and Suspension Setup
Finding a sweet spot in your tyre and suspension setup is critical. There’s a huge amount of info out there and these days manufacturers of bikes and suspension have some great setup guides to get you started. Your local bike shop is also a great place to start. If there’s one thing I can’t emphasise enough though, that is to experiment with different setups. A couple of extra or a few less psi in your tyres or shock can make all the difference. Take notes and remember to check your settings before every ride so you know exactly what you are running so you can figure out what works best for you.
Tip – 2 Get your Brakes Dialled
Brake setup is crucial. A poor brake setup will have detrimental effects on any riding you do. You need to be able to stop fast to ride fast! As a rule of thumb, always brake with one finger and with the brake engaging as close to the bar as you are comfortable with. Run your brakes inboard enough to have a firm grip with the remainder of the bar without forcing your wrists out. Use the end of the lever for braking as it will give you more leverage on the brakes and although personal preference comes into play here – try running your levers flatter if you are having issues holding on or with arm pump. It can make a huge difference. Like with your suspension, don’t be afraid to try different setups until you figure out what works best for you.
Tip 3 – Always look up
This is such a common mistake riders make. Looking up and where you want to go is absolutely critical. A great thing to do in this space is to force yourself to look further forward on the trail than you are naturally comfortable with. This will train you to look further ahead and use not just your focused vision but also your peripheral vision. When you are riding try not to focus on anything in particular, rather you want to focus on everything you can. The more you see, the more time you’ll have to react and make decisions and the faster you’ll go.
Tip 4 – Pump Everything
Every dip, jump, roller, drop and depression on the trail is just waiting to give you some extra speed. Refine your pumping technique on BMX and pump tracks and take it to the trail looking for absolutely anything you can generate some extra speed off. One of the best techniques here is to do “coaster” runs. That is downhill runs without pedalling. This will naturally force you to find all the extra bits and pieces on the trail to give you that extra bit of speed. The added benefit of this is that it will also teach you to better read the trail when you are out riding and help greatly with your trail vision.
Tip 5 – Take the Wide Line
You’ll ride almost every corner faster if you focus on taking the wide line into the corner. Taking the wide line in will quite often get you around or on the smother side of braking bumps, allow you to brake later and also brake less into the corner. It will also allow you to apex earlier and carry extra speed out. It doesn’t just apply to flat corners. Berms and switchbacks are also best attacked with a wide line 99% of the time and always remember the best judge of corner speed is how fast you come out and not how fast you can hit it.
Tip 6 – Learn to Scrub
This is more of a tip for the competent jumpers out there but learning to scrub jumps effectively will have a huge impact on your speed down a trail. As you start going faster and faster, jumps start feeling smaller and smaller and getting a good pump off the backside of any jump is critical to maintaining your speed. Scrubbing doesn’t have to be the throw your bike sideways and flat technique either. Simply learning to “squash” the jump with your legs and arms and pushing down on the backside will make a huge difference – even if you have to break into the jump just to get it right. Like cornering it’s all about speed out and not how fast you can hit it!