Five Tips for MTB Accident Avoidance!
Whether you're new to MTB or a seasoned pro, you know that accidents, spills and thrills are all part of the game.
But, if you can avoid a nasty fall, it's a bonus.
So many MTB accidents are easily avoided with a bit of bike maintenance and cleaning - and while we can't do anything to protect you from crazy downhill stunts, we can share some advice from the Get Dirt Box team!
Keeping your wheels in good nick is pretty simple. It'll also avoid silly accidents, so it is an excellent time investment to keep your rides safer and slicker.
1. Check Your Tyre Pressure Regularly
One of the common accident causes is insufficient tyre pressure. You can check the recommended PSI on the side of the tyre wall, just as with a car tyre and should always make sure it's adequately pumped up.
Incorrect pressure can cause problems with handling or make it a lot easier to get a puncture with all the risks of a bad fall!
The easiest way to keep on top of your pressure checks is to have a decent floor pump with a pressure gauge so you can check it in a minute before a ride.
MTB bikes have either Presta or Schrader valves, so if you're buying a new pump, be sure to check it's compatible! If you have room in your pack or trunk, you can also bring along a CO2 inflator for any emergency top-ups.
2. Make Sure Your Wheel Fastenings are Tight
Sticking with tyres, you should also check the wheel fastenings at the same time.
Now, MTB bike wheels have different fastening systems, but most are a quick-release skewer that holds the wheels in place.
You can check the fastening by opening and closing the levers, so you're confident they're tight and closed properly - check front and back!
3. Test Out Your Brakes
You don't need us to explain why malfunctioning brakes are a serious accident risk.
And, like all disasters, they'll fail at the worst possible moment, on the steepest downhill ride, and leave you careering off at impossible speeds, so let's make sure they're on point before setting out!
There are a couple of ways to check your brakes:
- Squeeze the brake handle to see how quickly the brake engages. If you're pulling the handle right back to the frame, the brakes are too loose.
- Lift your bike with a stand (or a willing friend!) and spin the wheels one at a time. Pull the brake lever and watch to make sure the brake pads squeeze both sides of each wheel and don't rub against the rim.
It's worth a proper check if you haven't used your bike in a while, too, since it isn't always apparent that the brakes are wearing down a bit without taking a good look.
4. Ensure the Stems and Handlebars Are Secure
Next, it's important that the stem bolts and handlebar bolts are tight, rigid, and haven't worn down at all.
Tight bolts go a long way to helping you steer out of a potential fall, whereas wiggly bolts can spell a real issue.
Fetch your Allen key and check that each bolt doesn't have any movement before hitting the trail. If they do, you need to tighten or replace them if the thread has started to run down.
5. Adjust Your Saddle to the Right Height
Finally, it would help if you were seated at the right height.
If your saddle is too high, you won't get a proper grip on the pedals and can sail off without a lot of warning. Too low, and your legs will cramp up and make it pretty tough to steer.
You need to undo the clamp and move the seat to the required height to adjust the seat. Get your Allen key out again, and tighten the clamp to the right level of torque.
If you're unsure if the seat is quite right, sit on the bike and put your heel on the pedal with your toes facing forward, like a 6 pm position. Your knee should be straight, with a fully extended leg - if not, it needs a tweak.
MTB Riding Tips to Avoid Accidents
Even if your bike is in perfect condition, crashes can and will happen - so having the right bike for the right trail is pretty essential.
Whether you're headed out to a bike park, weaving through the single track or whiling away an afternoon at a greenway, having the correct wheels with the right frame and tyre is going to make a big difference.
Each type of MTB bike has different suspension and frames, and they're built to cope with varying levels of abuse,
As a quick guide:
- Downhill trails command a downhill bike, period. These bikes are longer, with more aggressive slack, to manage the big hits and large drops.
- Technical MTB trails need a full-suspension bike, and although they're not cheap, the rear suspension is perfect for rough trails and uneven terrain. A plus-size tyre is also a good shout for technical riding and can soak up more difficult impacts.
- Smoother trails and smaller budgets are best with a hardtail bike - they are stiffer and make it easier to climb, provided the going isn't too rough.
The best way to keep your MTB rides accident free is to run a few checks before heading out, make sure you're using the right bike, and focus on balancing the bike if you get a bit shaky.
Rocky sections can cause even experienced riders to waver. If you have excellent balancing skills, you can use your core strength to keep the bike steady and use your legs to move the pedals and apply more torque to your back tyre to get you over the obstacle.
Knowing the type of trail you're riding before you get started is another great tip!
If you know the features, have a trail map, or even walk the course beforehand, you won't panic at an unexpected dip and will be best placed to emerge victorious - and unscathed.