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


  1. John Schaubach said:

    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.

    April 10, 2014
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    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?

    April 11, 2014
  3. Tim Larson said:

    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”

    April 13, 2014
  4. Griff Wigley said:

    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:


    April 13, 2014
  5. David Cobb said:

    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

    April 27, 2014
  6. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks for letting me know, David. I’m definitely going to “keep ’em coming.”

    April 28, 2014
  7. Tim Larson said:

    looking forward to future instructions to use and pass on

    June 5, 2014
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    Good to hear, Tim. I’ve got more than a few things in the works!

    June 5, 2014
  9. James popkin said:

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

    July 3, 2014
  10. Griff Wigley said:

    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.

    July 3, 2014

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