One of the key skills on a bike is the ability to stay centred. A centred stance means having the centre of mass of the body as close to the centre of the bike. The ability to maintain this balanced position fore-aft and laterally is key to performance on a bicycle.
One can see in the photo above that the second rider (right) is has a less centred stance than the first rider (left). The first rider’s centre of mass is far closer to the centre of the bike than the second rider’s is. It is a common mistake seen in riders of all levels and means that one has to work harder to maintain pressure or force on the front wheel (tyre). Work on maintaining a centred stance for better riding.
This “sitting back” is normally coupled with “hanging” off the bars which further reduces the pressure on the front tyre leading to reduced grip, further compounding the problem created with a less centred stance. If you have ever washed out the front wheel going into a turn it is probably due the combined effects of these two technique errors.
Maintaining one’s weight over the centre of the bike when cornering is also important and this photo of a friend (@liveliferidebikes), on her bike, is a good example of the separation and angulation required to gain maximum traction through a turn. It is another example of maintaining a centred stance, in this case laterally.
The flatter the turn is the more important it is to get this technique and timing correct. Berms make is easier to turn without angulation which is why most riders can maintain a higher speed, with less effort, through a bermed corner than they can through a flat (flatter) corner. Most riders also prefer to turn, and maintain a higher speed, in one direction over the other.
Work out what you are doing correctly and transfer that feeling into the weaker areas of your riding in order to become a more balanced rider. Remember that a centred stance leads to greater traction which means greater safety and speed (depending on which one meets your hierarchy of needs!).
If you want to learn more about this or get some free feedback look at http://www.trailtips.ca/ and download the app. Share your photo or footage and they will provide some feedback. Use the app to develop your trail skills.