How to master a "twitchy" bike

Forums Mountain Bike Forum How to master a "twitchy" bike


This topic contains 9 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  IwantmyMTB1999 2 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #217402

    I recently splurged and bought myself a new Salsa Woodsmoke, thanks to the degenerate that stole my Jamis. The woodsmoke is a really unique bike in that it has one of the shortest chainstays on the market for ultimate nimbleness and shredability (Salsa’s words)! I’ve only been mtb-ing for 2 years and less than 1 year with extreme obsession and interest and I chose this bike partly to push myself and elevate my skills quicker. But just from riding it, I cant quite pick up on how to increase my handling and control of the bike.

    Can anyone offer any riding tips or skills to practice that can help me gain more confidence on this type of bike?

    long time reader, first time poster!

  • #217422

    How and when is the bike twitchy? Where on your rides would you like it perform better?

    • #217484

      I borrowed the term twitchy to describe the bike because that’s a common reaction to such a bike with a short chainstay. I cant say that ive identified a characteristic imbalance while riding. But I also don’t know what to look for or how that would feel to be honest.

      Anyways, I’d like to perform better on berms, turns and serpentines. I want to be able to really flick the bike around keep up speed. I love seeing those guys that drift the back tire on turns

  • #217486

    There are lots of youtube videos on how to corner.  Skills by phil has a good one about dropping and loading the outside pedal.      I’d master the basics before trying to drift the rear wheel out.   That is generally not faster anyways – just looks cooler.

  • #217489

    The skills you speak of are more about body position and weight distribution than bike design. Having short chainstays actually makes it easier to “throw” a bike around. As mentioned above, there are tons of videos on this.

  • #217502

    There’s no magic trick for your problem. As mentioned above, work on turning skills and weight distribution. “Mastering mountain bike skills” book is worth every penny spent and will help you better then any video.

    I have a similar feeling when switching from trail bike with slacker head tube to CX hardtail. Steering is much faster and bike is way more responsive on twisty trails. After a ride or two I’m getting used to it again and “twitchy” feeling goes away.

    So, ride your bike more. 🙂

  • #217505

    Twitchy is a term that typically refers to the handling of the bike at the bars. Things that would make a bike twitchy would be a steep headtube angle, narrow bars, short top tube, etc.

    Many bikes now are moving towards longer front ends, slacker headtubes, and wide bars, most often paired with short chainstays. The Salsa Woodsmoke is a perfect example of this trend. Those short chainstays are intended to keep the bike nimble through the corners. The downside to short chainstays is less stability at high speeds. If you’re really pinning it down a hellaciously chunky section, then you might say the bike felt less controlled or uncomposed. However, that’s only at the very top speed – most of us don’t get to spend a ton of time at that limit. Therefore stubby chainstays are worth the trade off.

    If you want to one day drift through berms, first learn how to ride them properly. There are thousands of skill videos on YouTube that cover this and just about every other topic. As mentioned, Skills with Phil is good, so is the stuff from GMBN. The Mastering Mountain Bike Skills is a great book too, although as a visual learner, I find the videos more helpful.

  • #217530

    I agree with the above advice. I feel that my bike is quite twitchy since it has a bogus suntour front suspension. The best tactics that I can relay:

    1. When taking banked turns or even simple weaving through trails, transfer weight to the outside pedal.

    2. try to focus your weight on your pedals, don’t sit, don’t over-weight yourself into your bars, stay light and let the bike undulate over the terrain while transferring as little as possible into your core. use your limbs as shock absorbers.

    3. remember that it usually doesn’t matter where your body ends up leaning around the bike as long as your bike holds the path you intend. Look at your target path, line up your tires, throw your body around the bike as needed to hold that line.

    4. head up and plan ahead, it’s easier to prepare for terrain when you’ve known it’s coming for a longer time.

    5. Find your limits. It’s healthy to crash a few times under controlled conditions just to find out where your limits are on descents, hard braking, speedy turns.

    6. Finesse will happen naturally. For example, don’t practice rear skidding drift style turns, that stuff will start to happen as needed. Keep to the basics and before you know it, YOUR basics will suddenly be quite a bit more slick than where you started.

    I’m no pro, but from one intermediate to another… hope this helps.

  • #217535

    Mostly good advice @variableconditions

    I strongly disagree with your third point though. Body positioning is EXTREMELY important for developing proper cornering technique. In most cases you want to be leaning the bike more than your body.

    Also, there is a difference between skidding and drifting. Anyone can skid by grabbing a fistful of rear brake. Drifting happens when you break traction because you’re hauling copious amounts of ass.

  • #217556

    Wahhhh, but I want to run before I learn how to walk!.. kiddin. thanks for the advice guys, I love this sport and want so badly to get pretty good at it. I suppose the main trail I ride most often has limited room for improving these particular skills since its mostly techy cross country type riding, but I can’t argue the need to ride more.



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