Feedback needed: Part 1 of a video series on how to ride a mountain bike in a straight line (skinnies!)

I’ve decided to do a how-to video on how to ride a mountain bike in a straight line, since A) I’m pretty good at it; B) I have other riders occasionally asking for tips on how to get better at it; and C) I’ve not come across online resources that explain it in ways that I’ve found helpful.

I’m not (yet!) a certified instructor but it seems to me that knowing how to ride a straight line on a mountain bike is a fundamental skill. It’s most obviously useful for riding across trail bridges, the length of logs, and other man-made ‘skinnies.’ But it’s also helpful for ‘holding a line’ on a chosen route through a rock garden, an approach to a difficult step or drop, or just a narrow section of the trail.

Part 1 of my how-to series focuses on understanding the importance of leaning the bike to help maintain a straight line.

This a Beta version, 4 minutes long. Comments on how it can be improved are most welcome. Meanwhile, I’m working on Part 2.

Update June 4: I’ve removed the video because A) I’ve learned a few more things since I first created it that should be included; and B) I’m cooking up a much more detailed process (curriculum?) on learning to ride skinnies. Stay tuned to the blog and/or my email list

10 thoughts on “Feedback needed: Part 1 of a video series on how to ride a mountain bike in a straight line (skinnies!)”

  1. Griff. Good stuff. Very much lays out what you coached me on last summer to encourage me to let the bike “float” under me as we rode Yawkey single track together. I have continued to work on these basic principles and that has helped my riding a lot. I really noticed improvement this winter where maintaining a line under adverse conditions was essential. As you know, I had started mountain biking as a complete novice with no information or instruction. That led to poor form which limited my riding ability and added some risks for falling. Thanks for sharing what you know. I look for more.

  2. You’re welcome, John. Glad to hear you’re making use of my sometimes uninvited coaching!

    I’m wondering: does the bit in the video about understanding what’s happening when you ride no-handed makes sense — and how that translates to leaning the bike for riding straight? Any suggestions on how that could be improved?

  3. you’re making good sense using concept progressions allowing enough time for even this 53-yr old one-day geezer to grasp -- I especially like “seperation of bike from body”

  4. Tim, I learned the phrase “bike/body separation” from the information on IMBA’s Instructor Certification Program (ICP) . You can see Lead Instructor Shaums March demonstrating it in this video for the Level 2 course:


  5. Thanks Griff, enjoyed your video. I must admit, never being “shown” how to ride a bike. Since becoming more involved I know I need to upgrade my skills, love the technical stuff, so watching your videos certainly helps. Keep em coming Griff, appreciate it. David Cobb

  6. wow
    great videos
    I need some serious work practicing, as now I know I’ve been doing the same wrong things over and over

  7. Thanks, James. Can you say a little more about what you’ve discovered?

    And ‘practicing’ is one of the issues I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about, ie, what things deter us from practicing and what can be done about it, both individually and collectively. I’m working on a survey that’s almost done. Watch for it.

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