8 Habits to Break in the New Year

mountain biker with proper form full view

Keep a bend in your elbows for a more relaxed upper body, and room to move the bike underneath you. Dropping the outside foot in some corners can help improve traction.

Regardless of how long we’ve been riding, most of us likely have a bad habit or two we’ve developed along the way.

Some habits are easier to break than others, but it can be done! You will feel better on your bike, and your riding will benefit.

Kick off the new year by breaking these common habits:

1) The death grip. It’s time to release it. It’s not serving you. When your hands are gripping the bar tightly, your whole body tenses up. Ride with your index finger covering your brake levers, and have a comfortable but not tight grip on the bars with the rest of your digits.

2) Hugging the saddle with your legs. This may feel comforting in the moment, but you are actually making controlling your bike more difficult. When you are connected to your saddle like this, it is very difficult to practice bike-body separation, and you can’t move freely fore and aft and side to side as you ride.

3) Straight arms. Locked elbows result in a stiff upper body, and make controlling your bike very difficult. Relax and ride with a bend in your elbows to so there is room to move the bike underneath you. Your limbs also act as additional shock absorbers, complementing your bike’s suspension if it has it, and helping to smooth out the ride if it doesn’t!

4) Straight legs. Same as above. When descending, keeping a bend in your knees will let you move around as needed, and keep you more relaxed. It will also help

5) Not using the front brake. It’s very common to fear the front brake, but when used properly, you will stop faster, with less skidding and more control. Use both front and rear brakes at the same time for balanced and efficient braking.

6) Getting behind the saddle on every downhill. Resist the urge to get way into the backseat as you ride downhill. Dropper posts and modern geometry have made this riding position a thing of the past, unless on very, very steep slopes. Staying centered over the bottom bracket the majority of the time is a better bet.

7) Ignoring your feet. As contact points, your feet are super important, but it’s easy to forget about them when there is so much going on with the rest of your body. But learning to drop your heels on descents will help with body position, traction and more.

8) Not keeping your pedals horizontal. Don’t be tempted to drop a foot when you’re not actively pedaling. Not only do you risk striking your foot/pedal on something, it also throws you off balance. Keep your pedals horizontal to the terrain most of the time (dropping the outside foot in some corners is an exception) when descending/coasting.