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  1. #1
    Neat - w/ ice on the side dalmore's Avatar
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    noobie wants to switchback ...

    I don't know what I'm doing but I'm not doing it right! That much I know ...

    What's the proper approach to a switchback? Brake and shift, inside pedal up. Come in wide. Turn into the apex, lean and fall? hardly seems proper to me...

    I've also tried: Brake and shift, inside pedal up. Come in wide. Turn into the apex, not lean and fall - again there is something missing there.

    The only switchbacks I recall navigating without the fall involved some trail blazing which again I don't think is the recommended method.

    HELP?!?!

  2. #2
    Banned. Jason222's Avatar
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    Get more aggressive/wider tires?

  3. #3
    Hardtail WorldWind's Avatar
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    Without seeing what you are doing its very hard to offer advice. There are many effective approaches to switchbacks just as there are many types of switchbacks. The turns that most people have trouble with are those narrow very tight down hill hairpins with exposed rocks that make it hard to pick a good line.
    Just for arguments sake lets assume that this is the type of turn you are having trouble with.

    If you do feel you need to make a shift to be in a different gear as you exit the turn make the gear selection before you start to break and just after you have set your peddle position. The shift will happen as you pedal out of your turn. The outside foot down gives you the most inside ground clearance but leaves you the least cockpit room to maneuver in. Think about your breaking and the guys behind you. Once you enter the turn you will be OFF your front break and in most cases your rear also. Shift your weight from over the rear wheel to over the front as you carve into the turn. In your mind you go from a long wheel base with a very lightly weighted front end for the down hill approach into a unicycle short wheel base with all the weight and steering control balanced over the front. The rear just lightly follows. With a very sharp switch back you may need to loft and swing the back end around. If you encounter one of those very steep very tight turns with a post or fence section to assist hikers or dissuade corner cutting then you need to take another approach for a fast sweep if the post will be in the way of where your head or shoulder needs to be while executing your turn.

    Most of the time I find myself entering even the tightest turns with my pedals near horizontal. This allows me to loft the bike to change a degrading line or avoided a large rock it also allows me the largest cockpit to move in. The center of gravity is higher so leans are steeper and precision is more critical but I have grown confident with my control and have gotten pretty fast using my technique. I find that you need to take proper attention to how far your bike needs to lean into the turn to maintain traction and many times your weight can not be on a line with your contact patch and your seat tube sometimes you need to be over the side of the frame such that your wheels take a massive side loading to get you around fast.

    To start, get the maneuver perfected, focus on the front wheel and then add more and more speed, as you feel more comfortable.

  4. #4
    Neat - w/ ice on the side dalmore's Avatar
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    Thanks guys - beginner friendly tires might be a big help - I'm told that my tires are skinny and slick - but coming from a road riding background they look gianoromous and anything but slick to me. kenda kozmick lite on the rear and kenda kharisma lite on the front ...

    However, I'm more suspect of my technique than equipment at this point.

    I'll concentrate on my weight shifts this evening when I ride. I haven't considered it before but I think I'm actually moving my weight more to the rear as I tackle these corners - that will explain the times the bike didn't turn nearly as much as I'd planned and I went off doing lewis and clark type stuff wide of the turn. One fall was when I tried to muscle the bike back into the turn as it went wide so that may have been weight rear as well... hmmm

    I just feel odd when that front suspension compresses and I want to scoot back.

  5. #5
    In search of moar cowbell dminor's Avatar
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    Tight switchbacks are a weird animal; you have to do so many counterintuitive things. Normal cornering calls for counterstearing. Descending usually calls for shifting your weight over the rear wheel. Both of these things don't work (for me at least) going down tight switchbacks. Weight back makes the front end plow (as you discovered); and the turns are too tight to countersteer.

    Try your cranks level like WorldWind said; keep your weight centered on the bike and keep the bike more upright and instead lean your body into the turn (uphill side); and actually steer slightly into the turn as well. The front wheel will try to oversteer (turn in too tight), so you'll need to feather your braking and keep a firm force on the bars to resist this. Start letting off brake pressure as you get in the apex and the rear end should follow around.

    Mind you, I'm no tight-turn expert, but this works for me. The biggest sensation to overcome is the feeling that if you don't lean back, you'll go over the bars.

    EDIT - - Reading WorldWind's tips all the way through again, it looks like I've just said the same thing in a different way. Oh well, hopefully it will all make sense when you try it.

  6. #6
    Neat - w/ ice on the side dalmore's Avatar
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    Thanks guys! Moving my weight forward - or at least not scooting back - helped a lot. I only had one bad switchback yesterday when I clipped a tree on the inside of the turn. Overall, I was pleased since I had not even seen the inside of a switchback before yesterday!

    Once I felt the front wheel start to dig in so I eased back and held the line. Now if I can just figure out a way to work a ride into today's schedule ...

  7. #7
    Senior Member iamthetas's Avatar
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    lose the front braking in a corner, if you need to brake use the rear only but try to lose any speed before entering the turn. as you do these switchbacks more and more you will get a feel for how much speed you need. too fast, into the outer trees. too slow , into the inner trees or the front goes hokie. try to take the inside line , if possible, so you have more room to float out before losing the trail and dont be afraid to put a foot down if needed. I do it all the time( even though I ride clipless) and you can still be ready to accelerate on the back of the turn by using the outer foot to start the pedal stroke while putting the inner foot back on the pedal . my biggest problem in turns is the proper speed whether tight or wide. sandy swithcbacks are my favorite because they are the hardest for me.
    climbing them is a different story, especially if steep.
    for the creation was subjected to futility,not willingly , but because of Him who subjected it in hope...that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:20-29
    the truth may not always be popular but its always true
    http://mysite.verizon.net/vzer3fnu/p...pcomingevents/

  8. #8
    Senior Member iamthetas's Avatar
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    lose the front braking in a corner, if you need to brake use the rear only but try to lose any speed before entering the turn. as you do these switchbacks more and more you will get a feel for how much speed you need. too fast, into the outer trees. too slow , into the inner trees or the front goes hokie. try to take the inside line , if possible, so you have more room to float out before losing the trail and dont be afraid to put a foot down if needed. I do it all the time( even though I ride clipless) and you can still be ready to accelerate on the back of the turn by using the outer foot to start the pedal stroke while putting the inner foot back on the pedal . my biggest problem in turns is the proper speed whether tight or wide. sandy swithcbacks are my favorite because they are the hardest for me.
    climbing them is a different story, especially if steep.
    for the creation was subjected to futility,not willingly , but because of Him who subjected it in hope...that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:20-29
    the truth may not always be popular but its always true
    http://mysite.verizon.net/vzer3fnu/p...pcomingevents/

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