Cyclists Descending at Lefthand and Jamestown
Bike Handling - Tips & Advice

11 Tips to Descend Better & Faster

Gain confidence in your descending and make it fun.

Experiencing the thrill of high-speed descents on a bike is truly exhilarating. The significance of cultivating exceptional descending skills cannot be underestimated, given the pivotal role they play in race outcomes. Even for non-racers, it is crucial to know how to descend well for safety. Though it demands time and dedication, the benefits are undoubtedly worth the effort.

1. Trust yourself and your bike. Start by practicing in a safe environment, like an empty parking lot, at lower speeds. Master the basics of cornering before tackling longer, faster, and more challenging descents.

2. Hold your handlebars correctly. Keep you fingers near the brake levers but stay relaxed. Position your hands in the drops with your elbows bent and tucked in. Keep your pedals level when not pedaling, and maintain slightly bent knees, also tucked in.

3. Stay relaxed while descending. Tension in your body can affect bike control and steering, so aim to remain relaxed throughout.

4. Don't try any crazy aero tuck positions. It looks cool and is very fast but it isn't safe, and doesn't allow for much recovery.

5. On steep descents, shift your weight slightly back by sitting back in the saddle. Pedal as long as possible, and only coast when you run out of gears. This helps keep your muscles warm and engaged.

Cyclists riding in Lefthand and Jamestown

6. Look and think ahead...far ahead. Avoid looking just in front of your wheel, as higher speeds requires more reaction time. Concentrate on the exit of each corner for smoother navigation. Keep in mind, your bike will go where you focus your view.

7. Brake late but do so before entering the corner. Use both brakes for effective control.

8. Lean your bike into the turn, not your body. Leaning your bike in the direction of the bend allows for smoother cornering without excessive body movement.

9. Choose a good line: outside-inside-outside. Approach the corner from the outside, as this helps you have better visibility as you process where the apex (center of the turn) is and start looking for the exit.

10. Aim for the apex on the inside for a straighter line and higher speed. Take your line to the outside again at the exit of the corner.

11. Cornering: Brake before the corner pedal position: inside pedal is up - outside pedal is down (it is very important to put pressure on the outside leg/pedal!) going into the turn - push inside hand - keep head and shoulders over the outside foot.

By diligently working on these techniques and gradually building your descending skills, you'll gain confidence and proficiency in tackling fast and challenging descents. Remember, practice makes perfect, so put in the effort to become a master descender!

Climbing and descending go hand in hand. Check out our climbing tips so you can become a better climber.