Dirt Bike Riding Tips: Taking On Steep Downhills

Steep downhills can be intimidating to new and experienced dirt bikers alike. They can cause the rider to tense up, lock up their tires, and lose control. Learning to be comfortable taking on steep downhills will make you a stronger rider overall, and will help you relax and have fun when you are out riding.

Body Position

When you attack a big hill, keep your body position in mind. You want to be in the “Attack Position”, which involves standing over the seat with a strong grip of the bike with your legs. On a downhill it is especially important to center your body weight to the back of the bike, because gravity is already making the front of the bike heavier. The Attack Position is similar to a general athletic position with your elbows and knees slightly bent, to avoid jarring your joints.

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Cresting the Hill

As you reach the top of the hill, make sure you focus your eyes where you want to travel. If you focus on an obstacle instead, you will gravitate towards. Allow the bike to roll with the speed the downhill naturally generates, and keep it in 2nd or 3rd gear as you begin your descent. Keep your brakes disengaged as long as possible, as braking with the back tire may make you skid and lose control, and braking with your front tire may send you flying over the front of the bike.

Avoiding Obstacles

It is especially important not to ride your brakes if there is loose gravel on the trail, because you will more quickly lose traction. Watch out for ruts, and do what you can to avoid them. If your front wheel falls in the rut the back will likely follow and you will have to slow and possibly dismount to get your dirt bike out.

Reaching the Bottom

Near the bottom of the hill you may be able to simply roll out on the trail, or you may need to slow down to maintain control and navigate any obstacles. If you are going to brake, look at the trial ahead of you and try to stay on the dirt, not rocks or gravel. You don’t want to grab either the front or back brake on their own, but instead ease onto both simultaneously. If you feel your back wheel skidding or losing control, ease off of it slightly. Modulate between the two and make adjustments based on the control of your bike until you are traveling at your desired speed.

Plummeting down a steep hill can be terrifying no matter your experience level. Make sure you stay calm and fight the instinct to ride your brakes. You will maintain the best control allowing the bike to roll on its own, and eventually braking out as you find a spot with good traction.

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