Aug 15, 2001
I have only had my bike a couple weeks so I am not very experienced, but I had bikes when I was a kid so it is not my first time having one. Anyways, my friends like to go on serious trails with steep hill climbs and steep downhills. In dry conditions, I am fine climbing, but downhills scare the hell out of me. I hit ruts and rocks and dump it like its my job. I just need some technique help. Thank you for your advice.:scream:

Farmer John

T.C.F.<br>(tire changin' fool)
Mar 8, 2000
First things first......RELAX.

Momentum is your friend. Alot of times it is easier to go faster than it is to go slow.
I tend to treat down hills like flat land w/only 50% of my braking power.
Stand up & go - look as far ahead as possible - start your braking a little earlier.
I have also found it to be to my advantage to use the "higher" parts of trail on a steep downhill. I try to stay out of the groove as much as possible. I would rather hit on med-large solid rock than a dozen small loose ones.

Mostly it is just seat time & confidence.
Ride more
Ride better


Jan 27, 2000
A straight-a-way on an angle.


Most downhills are just a straight-a-way on an angle. It's the angle that freaks everybody out. If there is run-out room at the bottom of the hill, then, speed and momentum is your friend, just like Farmer John said.

On hills that are particularly nasty and don't have any run-out room, your front brake is your best friend. Practice using the front brake. The front brake gives you about 90+ % of your stopping power. Try not to lock up the rear brake, but, only feather it to keep the bike stable.

When using the front brake, use only one or two fingers on the lever. This gives you the rest of your fingers to hold on to the grip. If you start to go down, you can release the lever and still be hanging on to the grip.

Just my $.02


Jun 29, 1999
The most important thing for me is to stand up. Sitting while going down long steep hills can be tiring since you are using your arms pushing on the handlebars to keep your seat, and it's hard not to tense up. But the main reason is control. You will have a much better chance of keeping the line you want if you stand. Only sit down if you are completely out of control, ie need to dab. Another 2c :).


Apr 1, 2001
Yeh, everything these guys said, plus: Only look where you want to go; don't look at the ruts-you will go where you look! Also, do all your heavy braking on the smoothe sections, and roll over the rough stuff.


Sponsoring Member
Oct 23, 2000
I rode with a friend who is a Debbie Matthews MX / Offroad instructor as well as a downhill mountain bike racer. I learned a LOT.

New Concept #1: Keep your weight back. Now most people already know this but not how far back. I thought I was okay but she made me stick my butt so far back it felt like I was about to fall off the bike backwards. BIG improvement. Really exaggerate your riding position—if you sit down, you should land on the rear fender.

New Concept #2: Front Brake techniques. Look at your line down the hill and choose where to brake. Keep your fingers on the lever and wait until there is a good place to apply the brake—someplace with good traction. Apply the brake at these places, and when you’re on roots, loose rocks, or any other traction-less place, just ride it out.

Also, stay really loose on the bike. If you’re fighting the handlebars you’re going to fall.


Jan 17, 2001
good posts.......I, too, have been struggling recently on downhills. I will print this out and put it in my backpack to review when I ride next weekend. Thanks!;)

Wild Hare

Aug 9, 2001
I had the good fortune to ride with a guy that rides the West Coast Off-Road Series in the Pro class...his tips were pretty much what everyone else said:

Front Brake to slow
Rear Brake "rudder" but don't leave it locked!

Wheels that are sliding can't be steered..

Wait back and STAND on the down hills... NEVER lock you elbows...leave some flex to absorb impacts.

RELAX!:confused: easier said than done, I KNOW!;)

Look where you want to go.

For climbing the only real thing that changed was "sit as far forward as you can" I was sitting on the gas cap at the end off the morning and it really helped on the steep stuff:eek:


Lifetime Sponsor
Sep 7, 2001
Someone told me that I could sieze my engine going downhill since I'm obviously not brave enough to be on the gas. I periodically give it a little gas, but when I do sometimes when I brake again my glove sticks on the throttle and I end up lunging forward with my heart in my throat. Does this happen to anyone else and 'am I making any sense, duh...

Wild Hare

Aug 9, 2001
Someone told me that I could seize my engine going downhill since I'm obviously not brave enough to be on the gas

"Someone" doesn't know what they are talking about. ;)

Downhilling isn't an harder on an engine than anything long as you are not rrrrevvvvvvvvvvving it's guts out I don't think you're in any more danger of seizing downhilling than any other type of ridding.


Lifetime Sponsor
Nov 7, 2000
She could burn out the muffler bearing or twist up the power band causeing it to bind! ;)


Lifetime Sponsor
Sep 7, 2001
How would I burn out the muffler bearing?
And could you explain twisting up the power band.
thanks for your input, princess

High Lord Gomer

Poked with Sticks
Sep 26, 1999
Originally posted by Wild Hare
"Someone" doesn't know what they are talking about. ;)
You're right, it's just which someone that's not clear. :confused:

You can be more likely to sieze your engine going downhill if you are on a 2 stroke and you are trying to use engine braking to slow you down and you are not giving it any gas. If you are moving with the engine turning at an RPM substantially above idle but you are not giving it any gas, you are also not giving it any oil to lubricate the bottom end bearings.

That holds true whether you are coasting down a hill or wound out in a flat field and merely let off the gas to slow down. On a 2 stroke, use the brakes to slow down, not the engine.

BTW, the joke was about the muffler bearings and powerband, your friend did give you correct advice.
Last edited: