Switch back turns are a whole different reality than berms. Or are they?
The main two differences are lean angle and speed. Switchbacks are just tighter corners that will require a slower entry speed and a bit less lean angle. That’s it.
I generally use three techniques for switchbacks:
1.Pumping the turn like a regular flat corner (my personal favorite)
2. Nose wheelie through
3. Power sliding the bike through like a cutty
A lot of folks do a Scandinavian flick but I rarely see that as faster. It takes more energy and will be even less consistent than a regular pump.
So these three techniques: how do we use them?
Regardless of the technique to you choose, the steps for mastering switchbacks are universal:
Step 1: Do your braking before you get to the turn. It’s much faster to slow too early and nail exit speed than to tip over and crash. All three techniques will require braking before reaching the turn.
Step 2: Analyze the turn. Is it wide enough you can do the best technique- leaning and pumping the bike? Is there an available entrance wall to help begin the turn early? Or is it so tight that a stoppie is best? Is the turn so tight, and is traction so low, that a cutty will be most effective?
Step 3: plan for the exit. Once you have your strategy sorted, how can you maximize your exit speed and control?
After considering those three steps, decide on the technique that will be best. I reviewed cornering back in June. The nose wheelie tutorial from April is helpful too. Let’s go over that technique briefly and quickly right now. Compress the bike so that it’s rebounding while you are turning. Slow before initiating the cutty. Use your arms to counter steer as necessary. Keep your eyes looking towards the exit and make sure your weight is centered. Use pressure on your inside foot to push the bike, and be ready to apply pressure on the outside foot to control and stop the resulting slide.
Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see a whole video dedicated to cutties. I think they are a bit misunderstood, but still a legitimate option for the right, low traction conditions.
If you can’t tell already, my favorite of these three methods is to rail the turn like a berm. This is a very consistent way to corner and the big pump that it generates will help you build a great exit speed. Not to mention it keeps the air in your tires and the trail in tact!
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