How to clamber across cambers

Keep your bike going exactly where you want it to with our tips for riding awkward slopes

Do you struggle to stop the slide when the trail begins to slope? We've got a few tips on how to handle off-camber sections of trail and, while its mostly down to technique, we've got some set-up tips too that will help you nail them.

1. Eyes up!

It sounds obvious, but you’ve got to look where you want to go, not at the obstacles you need to avoid.

You’ll be surprised what your body is capable of if you don’t think about what you’re doing in too much detail.

2. Neutral body

Lean your body and bike into the slope. This will help the edges of the tyres dig in and should give you plenty of grip.

Don’t lean too far though — the chances of sliding out increase as you get closer to the tyre’s edge. If you don’t lean enough, you’ll slip down the slope and won’t go where you want to either.

3. Stay centred

Keep your weight in the middle of the bike. Put too much over the front, and your back wheel will break away. Lean too far back, and your front wheel will turn down the hill or wash out.

4. Dancing feet

Load your outside foot with most of your weight to help dig your tyres into the dirt.

5. Balancing act

Keeping your cool across cambers is essential — one movement too far in any direction and you’ll end up crashing or riding off-line.

If you stay focused on where you want to go, your body should take care of the rest.

6. Build up

Don’t think you need to master the gnarliest of cambers straightaway. You’re best off building up to root-infested 30-degree slopes rather than going for gold on your first try.

7. Foot off!

If you feel like you can lean further or are more confident with your inside foot off the pedal, then don’t be shy to hang it out!

Bike set-up

1. Suspension settings

Don’t set the rebound damping of your fork or shock too fast, or your bike will try to pogo you off-line, making your trip across the camber much trickier.

2. Tyre tricks

If your tyres are too soft the carcass will deform, making your bike feel unstable and vague. Equally, if they’re too hard, there’ll be no grip and bumps will knock you off-course.

Make sure you’ve got the right tread for the terrain — don’t be a hero and ride a mud spike on hardpack. Even if you’re not riding across a camber, you won’t get any useful grip!

3. Wheel wobble

If your spoke tension is out, it’ll make riding cambers much harder.

Flexy wheels can help absorb impacts and stop obstacles deflecting you off-line, but they can also make it difficult to feel the terrain beneath you and turn it into a struggle to hold your line.

Mountain Biking UK

Mountain Biking UK (MBUK) Magazine
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine – for everything that is great about mountain biking. Try your first five issues for £5 when you subscribe today.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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