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Video: The Basics of Cornering with Christina Chappetta - Berms & Flat Corners

Oct 20, 2020
by Pinkbike Originals  

Tips, tricks and practice drills for cornering with Christina Chappetta.


  • 69 6
 I Think its a mistake to drop your outsidepedal too early or in too many corners. I used to do that a lot but actually keeping the pedals level ads way more power and stability to your system. If you watch DH- Worldcups, the best riders only drop their outside foot in long sketchy corners which can not be pushed or pumped.
  • 26 2
 Yeah I definitely agree with this and believe it is often over emphasized in corning videos to always drop your outside foot. I was surprised Christina didn't mention anything about foot position. I think you should only drop your outside foot when you really need traction, such as a flat loose corner. And even then I pretty much never drop it all the way. A good grippy berm you should have your pedals level. A big reason being is dropping one will create more leverage and force your bike to stand up, when you really want it to be leaned over as much as you can in order to get on the side knobs and carry speed through the corner. One unrelated thing though, I really liked how she said to take things slow and over emphasize your technique, this is super important in learning pretty much anything.
  • 14 1
 Check out Fluid Ride instructions on the YouTube he goes through the footwork during cornering.
  • 8 10
 @Ty927: Yup, I think dropping that outside foot is a noob tip, and while not incorrect, isn't the best way through the corner. I don't remember where I learned this (probably on PB, maybe a Bryn Atkinson video?) but when I started working on switching the front foot for L and R corners, and keeping them level, it felt like it immediately boosted my speed. Could almost imagine my feet like a gas pedal, bringing them more level made me go faster. What you said about 'forcing the bike to stand up' makes sense in that way, something about being 'higher' or closer to the virtual center of the corner.
(disclaimer - didn't watch video, straight to comments, my fail)
  • 17 1
 I'll disagree in that, I see lots of experienced mtb'ers that never put down the outside foot and that whole "bike-body separation" idea is weak with them. After decades of riding. Too much outside-foot down to me is one hell of a good problem. Teaching a newbie that you push the bike over and keep the body upright, that's a lesson that will take you far.
  • 5 3
 It's the when and why that matters, so dropping that outside foot to increase pressure on the inside edge of the tire at the cost of losing balance and being less in control if you do need to rebalance. It's not all that different from skiing, over commit to one edge and you can lose control, but it's faster if it works.
  • 9 2
 @Adamrideshisbike: Agreed. You need to be able to do both, and also corner with either foot forward when keeping them level. A top-20 EWS rider has coached me recently, his opinion is foot down is better, so I'll go with that!

@optimumnotmaximum: Level is the convention and most popular thing for coaches to teach, but see above... outside foot down is not wrong and shouldn't be discouraged. You should be able to use both techniques.
  • 10 1
 It is, specifically, a "basic cornering" video. Dropping the outside foot in berms isn't something you'd suggest to an experience rider, but for a beginner it isn't bad advice, it's the easiest way to get as much weight in the right place, and lean the bike over, since I doubt they'll be pushing through berms at that stage. Plus they won't be going that fast to need to.
  • 41 1
 Thanks for noticing! I purposely did not go into much depth on that bc some people really overemphasize the feet and tell you one way is better than the other. I think it's much more to do with turning your whole body and using the bars in the correct way. The feet will come in time and are a focus for much more advanced riding.
  • 17 1
 @Adamrideshisbike: The title picture is a great example of just that! My feet are nearly level, the bike is leant over and the body is nearly upright. The faster you go, the quicker the movements are so unless we watch dh racing in slow-mo, most folks won't notice the little tiny movements that are made to keep traction. Loris Vergier's Maribor runs were perfect examples of bike body separation as he let the bike dance beneath him while maintaining a strong upright position on the bike.
  • 4 3
 @nurseben: That's absolutely wrong. Outside foot down encourages stability and the ability to put the inside foot down to catch yourself (see Sam Hill), even riders that usually use level pedals put the outside foot down in corners they expect to drift through.
  • 1 1
 I find that dropping the outside foot on flat corners makes it easier to get bike body separation and lean the bike over while still keeping my center of gravity above the contact patch on the tires. I feel like this instinct comes at a cost of being able to push through with both feet through the corner, so IDK.
  • 2 0
 For a long time I was not very good at cornering. But over the last years I think I improved a lot by following faster riders. Recently friends even told me that they learnt cornering from following me. But I drop the outside foot a lot. This year former Austrian World Cup rider Markus Pekoll started a "Bike School" . Friends and I thought it's never too late to learn something new - so we booked a course. And that was the one main thing he told me: I should not drop the foot too early and not in every corner if it is not necessary. Still working on that.
But when I overcook a corner and my front wheel starts to wash out I think it's much more predictable if I have lent my bike into the corner and my weight is over the bike. Because then I'm still over the bike, there is still weight on the tire and I'm more on the side knobs. At least that's what I think.
  • 3 0
 @christinachappetta: and a beautiful chicken wing on your left arm. I thought the video was great.
  • 2 0
 @christinachappetta what size dropper do you run?
  • 1 0
 Does anyone else do this thing where they back ratchet the inside leg (so your foot is near/below the chainstay) at the end of the corner to finish it off? You can do it from the top if you’re outside foot is down, or from the bottom if feet are level.
  • 1 0
 I remember some of the old school training vids (Barel) recommended dropping the outside leg and then when I did some coaching training needing to adjust how I was riding as PMBIA was recommending keeping the pedals level. I wasn't a leg dropper but had a friend from a road background and it was a hard habit to change. I remember the argument was level pedals for mountain biking allowed for more stability to deal with changing terrain and to better pump or adjust to trail features or power shifts. I agree- from some road biking and gravel touring on flat roads I do at times drop the outside to hold a loose corner. That said, I think the comment "drop the outside leg" is a bad training position to have as the real key is less in the position of the leg and more in how you are weighting your body and placing your hips. The better advice IMO is learn how to move your hips and press through your feet to pressure the inside or outside- which you can still adjust with level pedals. That said- I really like how you kept the tutorial simple and covered the basics @christinachappetta - nicely done... however despite being a top notch video it's still only my second favorite only because it doesn't have groin lasers! (
  • 48 2
 Watch Sam Hill videos
  • 7 0
 "Just copy Sam Hill!"
  • 22 1
 @mtb-jon: id rather paste it
  • 1 0
 @barbarosza: Cut him some slack
  • 2 0
 @MOBrules: These Sam Hill videos are all about control, see?
  • 1 0
 Like this one? kidding. That last corner, at that speed would have been a ridiculous feet to pull off. Still one of the craziest runs ever and most shocking conclusions to it. Love watching Sam ride and though there is no point comparing, Bruni is a current DHer who also just fully commits and has that raw athleticism and talent to pull it off also. On the other end of the spectrum, for pure technical precision Minnaar is amazing to watch. He almost makes the track look easier because of how on point his positioning and subtle his movements are....which is also why Claudio commentating Minnaar has always been so annoying as he always over critiqued him and claimed he was slow because of how smooth he looked IMO.
  • 1 0
 @TheLoamDeranger: Agree and disagree, l watched the videos to control veering off the trail.
  • 45 4
 The best tip someone told me was to pretend that the outside edge of the corner has a bunch of floating bells along it and then try and ring each bell with with your bum.
  • 1 0
 I like this tip. Gets you to not only turn your hips but counter steer and keep the weight over the contact patch of the tire. Great tip dude!
  • 19 1
 or a laserbeam in your bellybutton which should always point at the exit of the turn
  • 12 24
flag DirkMcClerkin (Oct 20, 2020 at 11:43) (Below Threshold)
 @highpivotc*nt: Classy username you picked Facepalm
  • 35 5
 @DirkMcClerkin: chill, it translates to swell fellow in Australian
  • 9 0
 This is a great analogy and I've heard a "farting" around the berm hahaha kids, hell everyone, enjoys that one. I like to sing to myself "head, shoulders, knees and toes!"
  • 6 30
flag mobiller (Oct 20, 2020 at 14:14) (Below Threshold)
 @Mntneer: I call BS on that specifically being a phrase. Other places it's definitely hateful and misogynistic though.
  • 12 11
 @mobiller: sure, it doesn’t just mean swell fellow. It can mean dozens of positive things. I think that it’s an unacceptable word, but I’m not going to push my world view on an entire continent that uses the word as a term of endearment. Kind of like how you probably wouldn’t tell a black American who uses the N word that they can’t use it because of its racist connotations.
  • 7 5
 @Mntneer: That's a c*ntish explanation.
  • 8 5
 @DirkMcClerkin: you’re obviously a misogynist since you’re not Australian and you throw that nasty word around like that
  • 2 0
 Swinging your butt out, or pointing your belly button into the corner is good advice for sure. One thing that I almost never see mentioned though is WHY this is helpful. I think it helps a few things to happen:
- Seems to me like the bike naturally tends to lean better for some reason, almost like it wants to lean itself when I do it
- Gives you more range of motion with your upper body, esp. if the front wheel drifts at all, it really helps
- You don't have to twist your neck as much in order to look around the corner
- When you do this, you tend to point your inside knee inside, and that gives you much more freakin' space for you to lean your trail bike before the seat limits your movement due to hitting your thigh. For me this is huge on my trail bike, when you corner with your pedals fairly level (which I try to do) but don't matter at all on the DJ with the seat so low!
  • 6 3
 @Mntneer: Auzzie term of endearment "he's a sic c*nt"

in the naming above.. he's saying he (the c*nt') like's high pivots and maybe be a dick about it too (optional) and probably rides a druid ** checked, does ride a druid which is like a yeti rider over here... like choose a wheel size, etc...
  • 2 1
 @MrZ32: can confirm, live in NSW
  • 22 2
 I just love all the Chappetta content. She seems like the perfect ride bud. Good info, great presenter, quality content.
  • 5 0
 Cheers! I do love a good shred session!
  • 12 0
 Thanks, Christina and team - nice vid. Would love to hear more about footwork and foot pressure. This is rarely addressed in most of the cornering videos I find online. Simon Lawton touches briefly on it in his cornering videos - I think there's a lot there that could be explored.
  • 2 0
 100% agree!
  • 2 0
 I feel as though the pedal/foot pressure is an outcome you need to manage due to other "bigger" movements you need to corner efficiently.
  • 7 0
 For sure! We'll touch on that in pt 2 of corners! I thought it was a bit too advanced to throw into this particular video. But seems to be a hot topic.
  • 1 0
 hand/arms too!
  • 2 0
 @christinachappetta: I agree with you in the too advanced. It's easy to overwhelm students with too much information. I really appreciated your basic approach to cornering. Too often the folks I coach want too many things to fill their head in cornering. Slowly building and progressing is the way to go.. that way naturally questions come up on body position, angulation and pressure control... no rush to conquer something you can't master : )
  • 11 0
 I don't think you can over emphasize looking ahead of where you are going, so often I catch myself watching the ground in front of me (particularly first run when getting my eye in). Looking up to where your exit is or beyond is a small game changing thing you can do.
  • 7 0
 100% eyes up!!! We all tell this to ourselves every trail ride ever. The faster you're going, the further you need to look.
  • 11 2
 To regurgitate some pro tips:
- Body position is everything. So many people fail because they are too far back on the back (its what we do when scared). I say shoot for your face over the front tire a bit and then you'll actually end up in the right.

- Get your damn elbows UP...not back or down etc. It helps with body positioning. Christina here showed it great. Critical. So many people mess this up (me included). This might be one of the most critical tips for a rider learning because its a sneaky way of solving a zillion different problems. Ex-pro freeride coach teaches this so simply for everything it seems.

- Go ride the dang pumptrack, preferably on a DJ/BMX...those bikes force you to ride in an aggressive position. A single lap on a nice pumptrack will have as many turns as a longer MTB trail with berms. You'll easily get 20x the amount of berms in a single good session. Transformational for anyone.

- I saw a coach tell Jesse Malemed (and other pros) to ensure you are weighted on the outside arm. This was cool and I've never heard that. Its likely a good indicator of good technique. A whistler coach similarly instructed to pull up on the outer arm rather than lean into the inside arm. Those two are seriously good tips but I never seem to see anyone talk about them in regular videos. When I weight my inside arm, I don't have nearly as much control and my balance point seems to be "Falling in" rather than neutral and ready.
  • 4 0
 Pull up on outside arm, weight outside arm seems... opposite.

Tips from that Melamed/Blueprint Athlete clinic: "Heels down, weight on outside (bent) hand. Steer with outside elbow. Rotate hips.
Angle the bike before hitting the turn.
Flat turns legs straight, heels down (ready position). Stay in ready position most of the time."

But trying it on the the trail, it mostly gets lost in translation.
  • 4 0
 All great tips! I did touch on weighting the outside arm and relaxing the inside arm a bit. But definitely, for me, pointing the outside elbow helped so much to commit to the lean. I still find my wonky right shoulder not so happy at times, but we're working through breaking down that barrier.
  • 3 0
 @50percentsure: right??! That's why I over exaggerate when practicing so when it comes to trail time I feel less awkward trying something new. It depends a bit too on where you're using these techniques. 15+ minute race runs where you don't want to waste any energy (might stand up taller and more relaxed) vs 3 min dh runs where you can handle a little extra squat time and pressure on the pedals. I notice my body position changes over a long day of enduro racing.
  • 1 0
 @christinachappetta: This is great and you make it look easy. What's the trick around pointing your outside elbow? I like how you encourage exaggerated movements, underrated tip there I think. Any tips to avoid sore feet on DH runs? Seems like an odd thing but it happens to me. Maybe I'm just white knuckling my feet and wearing them down. Thanks
  • 1 0
 @svinyard you’re bang on about the pump track.

Whenever I can get there for a session on my DJ I find my cornering on my next couple trail rides is vastly better. Later, when I notice I’m not leaning or pressuring as much as I should I head back to the pump track to remind myself what works.
  • 1 0
 I've been trying to weight my outside hand/arm since watching that Blueprint Athletic clinic video. It works really well to help push the side knobs into the dirt to maximize traction. I can kinda do it when my outside foot is down or when turning left and so my back foot, my right foot, is on the outside. But turning right with my left foot forward is too "crunched up" and I feel like I have to shift my weight precariously forward to get my hand weight on the bar. Any ideas on what I'm doing wrong?
  • 1 0
 @AwkwardFormerRoadie: yeah think of it as pushing the inside handlebar away instead. Your weight will end up where it needs to be but thinking of it differently will probably help. I also ride left foot forward and don't experience the problem you describe, but I think of pushing my inside arm away instead (which means I have very little weight on it, and all the weight is effectively on my outside arm), and think about keeping my weight on the outside of the bike as a whole. You could also watch this:
  • 9 1
 Something I've found to be helpful is asking myself, "what would happen right now if my front wheel lost traction?" as I'm riding. If my answer is "I'd hit the deck" I'll adjust my center of gravity for the next turns. If the answer is "I'd slide in a controlled manner" I know I'm doing things right.

Also with modern slack bikes, focusing on leaning the front wheel rather than turning it, and keeping bar pressure as neutral as possible so I don't oversteer if I lose traction, really helps. Most of my corner crashes are from losing a little traction, oversteering, and then washing out or going over the bars sideways when the tire grabs.
  • 8 0
 I used to think like that too, but after watching paul the punters cornering video with Kasper Wooley i pretty much think for the next level you need to steer with the frontwheel quite a bit and let it catch, at least in tight corners. The video is a bit confusing at first but really insightful if you watch the whole thing.
  • 3 0
 When I'm riding, I try to think about riding... and the trail... Seems to help me keep focus and not overthink the terrain causing lapses in judgement and delayed responses.
  • 2 0
 @optimumnotmaximum: It was quite confusing hahah but I definitely still learned a thing or two from young Kasper
  • 8 0
 Cheers, easier to digest the information than previous cornering videos. Looking forward to expanded tips in part 2.

Joel from Blueprint Athlete Development's tips ("Cornering Cone Drills with Finn Iles", and NSMB's "Cure Your 2006 Posture") were hard to translate on the trail for the layman. Heels down legs straight...wait, what?

Love Finn Iles, but Christina breaking it down instead is more relatable.
  • 3 0
 hahaha prime example of everyone doing it a tiny bit differently. Knowing Finn, I can kinda understand what he means...most of the time... but it can be very technical and confusing terrain that's for sure!
  • 10 0
 This is one of the best cornering videos I have seen since I became a PMBI coach. It's an extremely difficult subject to cover.
  • 7 0
 Low-look-lean, easy as that.... I like this. I also think the hip hinge mobility is crucial, comes more naturally to some than others, I'm really just parroting what I've learned from bikejames James Wilson here. Doing things like the "shrimp" and stick windmill exercises to create that hip hinge/ rotational force / as well as the mobility to micro adjust while at speed... people who are already ripped or seasoned riders don't think twice about this
  • 1 0
 @RobertGrainier - re "shrimp", is that the normal shrimp movement, or some other variation?
  • 14 3
 The "flat" corners depicted in the video are actually small berms lol.
  • 3 0
 Needs more off-camber corners with roots.
  • 5 0
 @tonit91: need crappier trails
  • 2 0
 Needs dust and marbles over hardpack off-camber.
  • 11 0
 Christina is looking strong af
  • 7 1
 For me, this video was a little short on detail, but the presentation is great and I'd love to see PinkBike throw it's considerable talents into a really good set of technique videos.

I've been working on my flat cornering recently and I've found this Kyle and April one has some really great info and pointers of the physics of what's going on. The tip of pushing down on the inside grip to drive the bike over in flat corners (or up onto the berm in bermed corners) is worth watching the video for alone:
  • 3 0
 Thanks for the feedback! It's tricky to make a full-length tutorial video but it's something we can dig deeper into. I've watched a few of Kyle's videos and always pick up a tip or 2 from him. But let's be honest...10-15 minutes of my voice is a bit much. We'll have a pt 2 coming up soon!
  • 6 0
 What about corners that are falling away with some slimy roots and rocks in them? Thank the gods for surviving? Riding non mountain bike specific trails these are pretty common. And fun in a dangerous sort of way.
  • 4 0
 I found that for stuff like this or some single tracks full of loose rocks and hardly any grip best is to maintain strong body position and at the same time be little bit loose on the bike to let it find the grip.
  • 5 0
 Great question! Definitely say a little prayer before entering those hahaha but we will cover some more technical corners soon.
  • 2 1
 I try to keep the front lite. And carve the rear through the mess. It doesn’t always workout the best.! @jankesdh:
  • 1 1
 @chileconqueso: another thing that I did notice is if your tyres got a proper gap between shoulder knobs and centre ones before you'll lean on them they'll feel pretty vague therefor stopping you fully committing on a corner that you don't feel comfortable to begin with. Them DH22 I've got now are similar to Mary but lack that channel and feel way more consistent letting you focus on the task ahead. Best thing you can do really is to session both left and right corner of the type you struggle with and you'll see improvements.
  • 3 1
 Just cut through the woods to avoid those corners.
  • 1 0
 Sometimes you end up in the woods anyway! @skelldify:
  • 6 0
 All you need to do is grab a massive handful of rear brake and skid around the corner, then grab a beer. What’s there to learn?
  • 3 0
 Thanks for the clear explaining, whet it was my time to learn I can't find corner so clear, only roots and rocks in trail very exposed and narrow. Now I'll be happy to corner in this way one day.
  • 2 0
 I’m always slightly puzzled by the bike/body separation thing. I see pros doing it on flat corners, but then look at someone like Sam Hill and he’s often not doing it at all, even on corners with nothing to push against (there’s a good video of this on YouTube where a rider compared a slow mo of him and Sam Hill on the same S bend in an Enduro race - Sam leans almost fully with the bike - no separation at all, even though the corner has very little support.)

Similarly, at the recent World Cup races, most riders are leaning with the bike on the berms - they might swivel the hips a little, but their inside and outside arms are at the same angle.

The other thing that I don’t understand is that the cornering forces are the same, and operating in the same direction whether you lean the bike more, the same or less than the body. I’m sure someone with a physics background can explain this better than I, but as I understand it, the forces are all operating the same, they’re just comprised of more body and less bike if you lean both together and more bike and less body if you lean the bike more. So, in effect, leaning the bike more than the body means you have to lean the bike further than you would if leaning both together at the same angle. So I’m not sure why I’ve is better than the other.

  • 1 0
 I think part of this is the era in which Sam Hill learned to ride. There is a good video where they compare Peety and I think Loic on cornering. Peety mentioned that when he started racing the tracks (and bikes) were not as finished so they did their braking before the corner then went through the corner at speed. When watching Peety you will see he is riding the berm with the bike. Loic rides through then executes a quick turn. Very different styles. Also, very talented athletes get a way with stuff us normal folks will never be able to get away with. I like the Fluidride style and since I have focused on weighting the outside pedal (not necessarily dropping) my corning has improved. I took a two day class with Kyle Strait, he said weight the outside pedal, keep elbows up and flex the hips. Oh, and look through the corner.
  • 1 1
 @mudcrud: I don't think it's just the older guys I've been noticing this in edits as well. Maybe there's more than one way to hit a corner, maybe the guys who don't look like they are doing it are just more subtle about it, but the concept of the separation movement is still there
  • 2 0
 Best way I can put it there are 2 points That look like this: o——o. Like a big barbell. First o is the rider (center of gravity) and is on top and weighs more. The 2nd o is your tire contact patch with the ground. Now the barbell is traveling around a corner...if the top heavy o keeps tilting to the side, eventually instead of pushing down on the bottom o it will be pushing it sideways....that’s when you washout. Now mix in tires, psi, suspension etc to influence that relationship.
  • 1 0
 Sam is a cornering God and his technique is his own almost impossible to be copied by mere mortals. Berms and flat corners are totally different animals however. A flat corner with a rut in it is technically a berm as you have support. Best videos on both subjects I've seen are by Emily &
  • 3 0
 What watch is that? @Christinachappetta been looking for a good one so I can record my rides without my phone and also as a daily Wear
  • 5 0
 I've got the Garmin Fenix 6s. It's on the smaller side so I wear it all the time without discomfort and records everything! I love it mostly for riding bc I don't have to pull my phone out to see who texts, calls, emails... it's like I'm always "working" :-)
  • 1 0
 I recently started riding motorcycles again so i'm rusty, and one of the best riding tips I saw in a video was to: 1) turn my head so that my chin is pointed where I want to go, 2) turn my upper body in the direction I want to go, and 3 ) lean/tip the bike in for a turn. I decided to try this out on my mountain bike too and holy hell if it didn't make cornering feel a ton smoother. It seems my form has gotten lazy on the mtb and this was just what I needed to keep progressing and up my corner speed.
  • 5 1
 Perfection is knowing when to accept imperfection.
  • 4 0
 There is no better teacher - maximum concentration!
  • 5 0
 Good job Christina!
  • 3 0
 I like how Brendan Fairclough explains dropping the foot versus keeping them level.
  • 4 0
 Kyle Warner, best bike tutorials on the internets. That is all.
  • 2 0
 coaching is rad as ever but I want to ask what is this filmed with? is it a GoPro on a gimble? the beautifully shot autumn colours and crispness makes me want to ride more
  • 5 2
 Looking good Christina! Smile
  • 3 6
 The simpest of simps Wink
  • 2 2
 @murfio: 39yo and calling people "simps"... good lord
  • 5 3
 @murfio: You already played the simp card. You do it all the time, every time anyone compliments someone female. You're obviously a 13 y/o wanker living in your mum's basement, and I can tell you it's wearing thin and she's starting to hate you, her own son... Anyways, thanks for the opportunity to embarrass you once again!. Smile
  • 3 0
 Cornering is like skiing, same hip and knee movements.
  • 2 0
 I was always told "Practice makes Progress".
By the way, awesome video!
  • 2 0
 I heard 'Practice makes permanent' as an argument to 'practice makes perfect'. I was taught a maximum of three failed attempts and then quit, otherwise you are only teaching yourself how to fail.
  • 1 0
 Maybe it's just me but one of the best way to learn to corner better is to learn to do wall rides.
  • 2 0
 This is a cornering video? I couldn't keep my eyes off that new Slash!
  • 1 0
 Thanks! Never had to do these weird body positions on a 26. I just lean on the bars like I moto, namaste!
  • 2 0
  • 2 0
 I suck at corners.
  • 1 0
 like going straight but more sideways
  • 1 0
 what about the how to shralp?
  • 1 0
 Excellent content.
  • 1 3
 pedaling increases traction...even in corners Best with huge sunnglasses and 810mm steers Yeaaa i am so End Uroooo
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