MTB Guide: Basic Mountain Bike Skills You Need

Often when we see strong mountain bikers, they make it look so effortless and easy. While we seem to struggle for every breath, they look like they are not even trying while spinning upon the hills.

Not many people know but, it’s not about having the fanciest bike and the coolest bike clothes – all you need are simple fundamentals that even a complete beginner can understand.

Beneath the surface, the whole thing is built on a few simple guidelines that can actually apply to everyone. No matter if you are a first-time rider or a professional one, there are skills that you need to gain and continue to work on. By focusing on these skills, you will become a stronger rider everyday.

Ready-to-go body position

First things first. Having your body in a ready-to-go position is the most crucial thing you should do. Wondering how you should do that? Here’s a short list:

Stand up (let your but be off the seat)

Having this posture allows you to react and anticipate anything that can happen on the trail. Anytime we’re not pedalling, this position is our baseline.

Bend. Bend.

Bending our elbows and knees makes the riding faster and smoother. Just like standing up, by bending our elbows and knees, we get better bike-body separation. This way, the bike can move and react to terrain on the trail, without every tiny bump jostling our body.

Look up

Looking up helps us to read the trail and prepare for every obstacle there might be. It helps us focus on what we’re going to do, instead of paying attention to what we are currently doing. The best way to help yourself look up, is by simply adjusting the visor of your bike helmet up and out of the way.

Level the pedals

Leveling the pedals puts us in a stronger position on the mountain bike. Having one foot forward, and one back gives us a bigger platform to balance on if the trail gets rough, instead of having one foot up and one down.

Have your finger on the brakes

A trail is an unexpected place and that is why we should always have at least our small finger on the brake. By simply touching it, it allows us to make instantaneous small corrections instead of reaching out to the brakes and panicking.

Learn how to climb

Climbing the hills is surely one of the most challenging mountain bike skills you’ll have to learn. First of all, you need to focus on having a good body position and follow a certain rhythm. You want to be in an easy gear so you can keep a steady, smooth rhythm without even standing up. Second, you’ll need to push your chest forward. Push your upper body forward and bend your elbows to keep weight and traction on the front tire, while keeping your butt on the seat to maintain traction. Put on your mountain bike shorts that will keep you from sliding off the saddle.

It’s all about the downhill!

Every time you are approaching a downhill, make sure you’re in that ready position, cover your brakes, bend your knees and elbows, and level the pedals.

Stay centered on the bike and use your brakes, make sure you’re slowing down without skidding.


Oh my, the magical skill that everyone is always trying to improve at. So, what should you focus on?

  • Stand up and have your ready-to-go position
  • Be in a dynamic stance so you can react through the corner
  • Brake before the corner, now while you are in it

You might wonder, why focus on skills?

Most people are not born talented at the things they love to do. Learning and improving at those things is what draws them to their desired activities. After some practice, a period of failure, and adaptation you’ll eventually grow some confidence. Is there a better feeling than that?

Theory is different from practice, and the best way to learn new skills is by joining us on our Ohrid Two Day Tour