Everyone in mountain biking, whether they’re into racing or not, wants to go faster!
Mountain bikers can use these 13 tips and tricks to maximise the performance and speed of their Mountain bike.
1 Tire selection
One of the first places I’d check to see if I could go faster while mountain biking is my tyres. Specifically, your tyres’ tread.
Wider tyres with a more aggressive tread are found on mountain bikes than on road and hybrid bikes. Despite the fact that this tread is extremely beneficial for enhancing your traction, too much tread could be slowing you down.
Many newcomers to mountain biking start out with aggressive tyres in order to get the most out of their first rides. In order to learn new skills without fear of sliding out, they use aggressive tyres that help them build their confidence.
But once they’ve passed the beginner stages and are squeezing every ounce of speed from their tyres, it may be time for a more gentle tread. Just remember that a smaller tyre does not necessitate one with less tread.
In order to maintain a stable ground contact, you’ll need to maintain that width.
Consider tyres with smaller, closer-spaced knobs for your vehicle. Large square knobs that are widely space are common in aggressive tyre treads.
Traction is maximize, but speed is reduced to an extreme degree with this style of design. The increased friction, i.e. rolling resistance, with the ground is what causes this.
There is clearly a fine line between treading too lightly and treading too heavily. Although traction is still important, it is also important to allow for more efficient rolling.
Because cross-country riding is becoming more popular, an XC-oriented tyre with less rolling resistance will be ideal for you. You may find what you’re looking for in these tyre recommendations I put together for you.
2 Optimize your tire pressure
When it comes to riding efficiently, there’s no escaping the importance of proper tyre pressure. Tire pressure affects how much contact the tyre has with the ground, just like tread does.
Reduced air pressure leads to greater surface contact and, therefore, more contact. Having a tyre that isn’t properly inflated causes it to spread out, resulting in a larger area of the tyre that touches the ground. Despite the fact that this can help you gain traction, it may also slow you down. Once again, we’re dealing with the dreaded problem of increased rolling resistance.
Make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure before every ride. You can check the sidewall of your tyre to see what the recommended pressure is if you’re unsure. There is usually a recommend pressure listed there by the manufacturer.
Remember that the manufacturer’s recommended pressure is merely a guideline. To find out which tyre pressure is best for you, you should still experiment with a few variations. The type of trail you ride, your weight, and your riding style all have an impact on the tyre pressure you should be using. ”
A good starting point is between 25 and 35 psi. To get the perfect pressure, experiment with pressures as small as one psi at a time. Although it may not seem like much, these small pressure changes can make a big difference.
You should always have a good mini or floor pump on hand to make sure your tyres are properly inflated before every ride. If you’re in the market for a new pump or simply want to replace your old one, I’ve got some suggestions for you.
3 Switch to a tubeless setup
Finally, here’s one last piece of advice on how to get the most out of your tyres in terms of speed! Even though they’ve become increasingly popular in recent years, tubeless mountain bike tyres aren’t universally adopted at this time. Because they’re missing out on the pleasure of having to repair fewer flats, this is unfortunate.
Even though it isn’t the only speed-related reason to make the switch, it is still a good one
Tubeless tyre setups are less likely to result in flats, and they also allow you to ride faster. Having the tube removed from the tyre allows it to rotate more easily because of its lighter weight. As a result of this reduced rotational resistance, you can accelerate more quickly in preparation for a climb, bank, etc…
Even if only one flat is lost, I think the switch is worthwhile. However, if you want to go faster and haven’t switched to tubeless tyres yet, now is the perfect time to do so.
4 Replace your flat pedals with clipless ones
If you’ve been riding mountain bikes for a while, you’ll already know this one! However, if you’re new to mountain biking, you may still be riding with flat pedals. Unless you’ve been riding on the road, most newbies are apprehensive about clipping into their bikes.
A more powerful and consistent stroke can be achieved with clipless pedals. The faster you go, the more power you have. The efficiency of the stroke may not be as important for downhillers because there is less pedalling, but it still has value in terms of foot security.
Using clipless pedals prevents your foot from slipping or popping off the pedal. As a result, you’ll be better able to maintain your balance and apply the necessary amount of power to the pedals. Smooth, fast lines are easier to achieve when you have complete control of your bike. According to the Navy SEALs, “smooth is fast” is a partial adage.
However, if you do decide to make the switch, you shouldn’t just throw away your flat pedals. It’s still a good idea to ride with them a few times a week to improve your riding skills. Flats force you to find the best position for your foot because they are not physically connected to the bike. So, they’re definitely worth saving.
With that being said, there are some incredibly light clipless pedals on the market today. You might be able to get a lighter pedal and lose some weight at the same time if you do this. You can learn more about the lightest mountain bike pedals on the market by reading this article I wrote.
5 Lubricate your drivetrain
For the sake of continuity, I’m going to focus on the drivetrain now that I’ve covered the fundamentals. “Runs like a well-oiled machine,” as the saying goes. It’s here for a reason, after all!
It will run more efficiently if the drivetrain is well lubricated. Because they reduce friction, lubricants make it easier for parts to move past one another. This means that every ounce of energy saved from friction can be used to propel you further down the road.
As a bonus, you’ll also be saving the drivetrain some wear and tear by allowing it to run more smoothly. Friction is the nemesis of your drivetrain’s performance and lifespan. To keep everything running smoothly, make sure your chain, chainring, rear cassette, and derailleurs are all well lubricated.
Use a lubricant that is appropriate for your riding conditions when lubricating your drivetrain. Make sure to use a wet lubricant in wet conditions, as it will last longer and perform better. Make sure to use dry lubricants in dry conditions.
When compared to wet lubes, dry lubes are less likely to accumulate gunk and thus improve the performance of the drivetrain. Take a look at my recommendations for a dry and wet lube if you don’t already have one.
Drip Bottle of Tri-Flow Superior Lubricant
Products from Tri-Flow Cleansing, protecting, and lubricating in a triple action to increase your performance is the goal of Get You Movin’. Moisture, corrosion, and metal-to-metal friction are your enemies on the road, trail, or track, and this formula helps you defeat them with advanced ingredients and ideal application methods.
Bicycle Chain Lubricant by Finish Line
As a result of the synthetic wax-like film that is created when Finish Line’s Dry Lube is applied wet, the chain does not accumulate too much dirt, grime or dust. Dry Lube from Finish Line features Teflon fluoropolymer, which reduces pedalling resistance and keeps your bike dry for up to 100 miles.
Avoid over-oiling your bicycle. You can have too much lubrication, and that’s a bad thing. You don’t want it dangling from your brakes and other parts.
6 Replace your chain
Because of lubrication, you may notice that your chain is a little loose. If you don’t already have a chain checker tool, you can easily tell if you have a broken chain. The following is a link to a great one that I highly recommend.)
When the parts of the chain wear out, the chain stretches. This is an expected result of regular use. If your bike’s rear cassette has eleven or more sprockets, you’ll need to replace the chain once it has stretched 0.5 percent. Ten-speed and lower bikes don’t need to change gears until the tyre has stretched 0.75 percent.
For two reasons, a chain that is too long will slow you down. If you drop a chain, you’ll have to stop and fix it every time. This is a waste of time and effort if speed and efficiency are important considerations for you.
Additionally, a chain that is too long does not transfer power to the wheels as effectively as a shorter chain. In order to get the rear wheel moving, you’ll need your legs to take up some of that slack from the stretch. While this may seem insignificant, we’re talking about making small tweaks to the bike in order to increase its speed and efficiency. It’s clear that neglecting this area will cost you dearly in the long run.
However, chains are a low-cost mountain bike part. It’s not only a joy to ride on a new chain, but it also protects the rest of your drivetrain. Because these parts can be more expensive, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to replacing your chain altogether.
7 Optimize your shifting
Your derailleurs and cable tension should be properly adjusted to ensure smooth shifting with a newly cleaned and well-oiled chain. The use of single front chainrings on many modern mountain bikes means that many of us only have to deal with the rear derailleur.
Even if you have a front derailleur, it always seems like the rear derailleur is more prone to becoming misaligned.
In order to get the most out of a bike, it must be able to shift smoothly. As a result, you won’t have to worry as much about a chain falling off your bike because it can easily shift gears in the middle of the ride.
To begin adjusting the derailleur, turn the H and L limit screws until they are no longer tight. The abbreviations “H” and “L” stand for “high” and “low,” respectively. As a result, the derailleurs’ travel is adjusted near the highest gear by the H limit screw, whereas the L limit screw is used to adjust the travel toward the lowest gear.
The rear derailleur hanger must not have been bent in a previous crash before you begin adjusting the limit screws. The derailleur should be able to hang vertically if the hanger is properly aligned. If the derailleur is out of position, it will be much more difficult to get the alignment correct using the limit screws.
After adjusting the limit screws, you’ll need to adjust the cable tension using the barrel adjusters. Faster gear changes are made possible by a chain with the proper tension. During shifts, if the chain has trouble moving up and down, you’ll know something is wrong.
It’s time to tighten the barrel adjuster if the chain isn’t moving upwards. Once it can jump smoothly upwards, begin using half-turns. There is too much tension in the chain, and it needs to be loosened if it won’t move down during shifts.
If you’ve never done this before, I’d recommend checking out the Park Tool video below. It takes you through the entire process step-by-step.
8 Swap out your cassette
If your cassette is worn out, no amount of new chain or fine-tuning will make a difference in your bike’s performance. A mountain bike cassette typically lasts for 1,000 miles per rider.
Depending on your riding style, you might get more or less. In general, a cassette should last two to three chains before it needs to be replaced on a bike.
When the teeth of the sprockets begin to resemble shark fins, you know that the cassette is worn. You’ll see one of the edges worn inward toward the middle instead of a perfectly symmetrical triangle.
Only the most frequently use gears may be worn, and not all of the sprockets. The reason for this is that we spend so much time in them, and as a result, they suffer more damage. In some cases, it may be more cost-effective and time-effective to replace the cassette as a whole rather than just those two sprockets.
This worn-looking appearance can be avoided if the teeth don’t. To replace a cassette if it appears to be worn, you can refer to my article on how to do so.
9 Align your brakes
It’s time to look at your brakes now that the rest of the drivetrain has been sanitised. It’s not hard to see why breaks are so important. Keep you from going over the edge of the mountain with their help! In the end, you don’t want them stifling your progress.
Make sure your brakes aren’t rubbing when they’re not in use. Disc brakes are now standard equipment on the vast majority of mountain bikes. A slight bend in the brake rotor can cause it to rub against the pads even when the brakes aren’t engaged. In some cases, the sound of the rotor disc rubbing is enough to tell you that it is.
Watching the rotor and calliper in some cases necessitates an in-depth examination of both. Give the wheel a spin and look down at the calliper while the rear wheel is elevated. Even the tiniest bend will cause the rotor to wobble slightly as it spins. While a small amount of bend is acceptable, it becomes a problem when the rotor begins to rub on the brake pads.
Brake discs can be bent back into place using disc brake tools like a wrench, a disc brake tool, or even your hands if they’re rubbing against the brake pads. Instead of trying to fix everything at once, make small adjustments here and there. The rotor may even need to be replace if it is in such bad shape.
Check to see if the callipers are centred after you’ve fixed a bent rotor or determined that it isn’t a source of the problem. The calliper should have an equal amount of space on both sides of the rotor when viewed from the bottom. The rubbing could be cause by the calliper being pushed to one side.
10 Tune your suspension
When it comes to choosing the right suspension for your vehicle, you have to consider both comfort and performance. Suspension settings that are too soft will suck up energy and slow down the vehicle’s performance.
Overly difficult ones, on the other hand, may cause you to become disoriented and unable to maintain a proper line. It’s all about finding the right balance.
The suspension on high-end bikes comes with a wide range of options, so I’ll focus on the settings that are universally applicable. Starting with the front suspension on all mountain bikes is a logical place to begin the discussion.
Adjusting the fork
Take your mountain bike, a shock pump, and all of your usual riding gear out into the woods to begin the fork adjustment process. The fork’s sag is the first thing you’ll need to get right.
Start by lowering the 0-ring on the fork, then get on your bike and pedal away. Balanced attack position: Carefully stand up on the pedals. Make sure you don’t bounce or pump the handlebars while doing this. Carefully lean back and bring the bike to a halt before you get out of the saddle.
Find out how far it has travelled by inspecting the o-ring on the fork. Forks with 25% sag are a good starting point. For some forks, this sag percentage can be measure by looking at the markings, while for others, you’ll need a tape measure or to use your eyes.
Add additional air to your shock pump to increase its resistance if your sag was more than 25%. Bleed out some air if it only travelled about 25 percent of the distance you expected. Repeat the test after pumping the handlebars several times to redistribute air inside the shock. You can improve your fork’s “spring rate” here.
The fork’s progression is the second most important component. This is a gauge of the amount of force you can exert on the bike to further compress the fork.
Ride slowly over a flat area while standing in the pedals to see how the fork is progressing. Test the force’s travel by bouncing and pushing down as hard as you can. 80-90 percent is a good goal to aim for.
If you’ve pushed the suspension to its limit, you may need volume spacers. You may need to remove volume spacers if the range of travel does not meet expectations.
The rebound dampening is the final piece of the puzzle to put together. This may sound complicate, but all it really measures is how quickly the fork returns to its original position after being compressed. A bouncy ride can be cause by a fork with a slow return rate.
If you’re standing next to the bike, you can quickly set the rebound by loading the handlebars and causing the fork to compress by about a third. As soon as you let go of the handlebars, the bike will quickly rise in the air.
The point at which the wheel almost lifts off the ground is the ideal amount of rebound.
Adjusting the rear suspension
Start by setting the rear suspension’s sag on bikes with rear suspension, such as “soft tail” models.
As a first step, lower your seat all the way to the floor. Place the rubber o-ring as close to the shock as possible. Gently lower your body weight into the seat. In order to keep your weight on the bike, raise your feet for a brief period of time. Put your feet back on the floor and stand up slowly.
The o-ring will have been partially pushed down the tube as a result of the compression. It’s ideal if it’s been compressed by 30%. The sag of some suspensions can be easily determine thanks to markings on the tube.
Assuming that the ring is at least one-third of the way down the barrel, you can make an eyeball estimate. With a tape measure, you can get the exact distance and percentage.
In order to increase the resistance of your sag, you’ll need to add air using a shock pump if it’s more than 30% in size. A small amount of air needs to be release if the distance travelled is less than 30%. Re-test the sag until you get it right using the previous method.
To determine how far along the shock is, repeat the bounce test that was perform on the front suspension. It should be able to travel at least 90% of the distance.
If you were able to bottom out the shock, you might want to add volume spacers to it; if not, you might want to take them out.
Let’s check the shock’s rebound dampening last but not least. Lie back in your seat and take a small plunge (curb height is plenty). The right amount of dampening will cause the bike to slightly overshoot its sag line. Think of this as a little overcompensation so that it returns to a more natural state.
A final bouncing ride test should be perform after your rear suspension has been fully configure to ensure that the return rates of the front and rear suspensions are equal. Having a slightly faster front fork is fine, but the rear shock cannot be slower.
11 Perfect your saddle position
Adjusting your saddle height and position can have a significant impact on how efficiently you pedal. A few centimetres may seem insignificant, but they can make a huge difference. When your leg is completely straight, your heel should just be able to touch the pedal when the pedal is in the down position.
At the bottom of your pedal stroke, you should be able to feel a slight bend in your knee because of this. It’s still important to set the proper height of your mountain bike seat, even if you use dropper posts to quickly lower your seat for big descents.
Additionally, the angle of the saddle and the distance from the rider’s back to the seat are critical. However, I go into greater detail in my article on how to improve the comfort of your seat.
12 Clean your bike ya filthy animal!
After all this time tweaking and replacing your mountain bike components, there is one glaring omission. To get the most out of your bike, you must thoroughly clean it!
During rides, sludge, gunk, and grime will accumulate in every nook and cranny of your motorcycle. And lubrication isn’t going to stop them from stealing your speed. For more information, see my post on how to deep clean your bike after a ride.
Use some hot water and soap to get rid of the most stubborn stains. It’s common for a bike’s drivetrain to be the most disorganised component.
To get it back up and running smoothly, give it a good scrub with brushes and perhaps a degreaser. All of these components are included in this category.
If this is your first time cleaning a mountain bike chain, check out my dedicated article on the subject.
13 Create a more aerodynamic profile
There’s only one thing left to do once you have a clean and fully optimised bike! Improve your profile’s aerodynamics. You can speed up your runs by reducing your wind resistance by donning more form-fitting clothing. There’s a good reason why road racers always wear custom-made gear.
To achieve a more tucked position, you may want to lower your handlebars and narrow your grip. You’ll be able to ride as efficiently as possible with this.
To reduce wind resistance and weight, consider omitting any unnecessary components from the bike. Water bottle holders, pouches, and lights are just a few examples.
If you want to ride Mountain Bike faster then these are the best 13 tips that you should follow. You must try each and every tip and see how it works for you. I hope this post helped you to improve your speed.