How To Ride Berms? Berms are artificial corners found on almost all mountain bike trails. Riding in the berms can seem easy because the banked turns offer your bike’s tires enough traction and support. But in a real sense, it requires some skills to make the turns successfully, a reason why you need to keep practicing.
You need to know how to enter and leave the berms. Go for a high line as you enter the berm and leave on a low line. Don’t brake while in the beam, as it will increase your chances of losing control. Also, determine how much you’ll lean on your bike while turning.
If you want to learn more about how to ride berms and the tricks that will see you ride the berms without challenges, this guide will prove helpful as we’ll delve deeper into this.
Understanding A Berm
A berm is an artificial corner in mountain trails that is banked to give riders enough support and maintain the right flow. Berms vary in size and steepness as some are longer and slopy while others are steep and short.
Some trails also have natural banked corners which serve as berms and are challenging to ride on as these trails’ surfaces are not consistent. Usually, you can find a small berm that is for gentle curves on tracks some are up to 180 degrees.
Tips On How to Ride Berms Better
Riding berms tends to be much easier than on a flat corner. This is because the berms provide your bike’s tires with enough support and traction. If you want to ride on the berm at high speed, it’s best to make smooth turns.
To succeed while riding on the berms, focus on;
1. Know How to Enter and Leave the Berm
To ride on the berms successfully, you first need to understand how to approach them. This means you should enter the berm at a high point at a wider angle. Then leave at a low line at a tighter angle. But you shouldn’t go too low as there are small rocks and debris in this area, interfering with your ride or speed.
However, there are instances where you can enter a corner at a low line. When doing this, you need to avoid flying over the top of the turn. This happens because the low line berm will push you higher.
2. Figure Out What the End Looks Like Before Reaching It
You also need to figure out what the berms line you’ll be riding on looks like before reaching there. Remember, some trails have several berms interconnected, requiring you to act fast to choose the right line.
You should, in this instance, be very alert and have the end of the line before you make a turn. You need to keep your head up, looking at the arc throughout the ride, to achieve this.
Figuring the end in your mind should be regardless of the line you’re riding on. Doing this will enable you to ride on banked corners at high speed.
3. Avoid Applying Brakes While Riding in The Berm
You should also avoid using the brakes when on the berms as it can make you lose control and fall from the bike. It’s best not to brake as you enter the berm and after reaching it. This is because you’ll require enough speed to make the turn.
It’s advisable to use the brakes to slow down as you approach the berm, then let your momentum take you through to the exit.
4. Lean On the Bike the Right Way
Another thing you need to bear in mind while riding in a berm is how to lean on the bike and how fast you ride. How much you’ll lean on the bike will depend on how steep the corner is. Your body position will depend on the kind of berm you’re riding on.
Long Fast Berms
If you’re riding on longer or faster berms, you should make small changes to your default attack position. You should lean the bike towards the berm with about 60-70% of your weight over the front wheel to improve stability. Your arms should also hold stronger, and your elbows remain out.
As you are aware, a steep berm will offer your bike tires better traction and support allowing you to ride at a faster speed while leaning over.
Short Tight Berm
When riding on this berm, enter with high speed while your hips turn before reaching the turn. Your bike should also be leaning towards the arc to help improve your bike’s traction and make you ready for any slips.
Alternatively, you can push your heels down towards the center of the turn, enabling the tires to move in a dirty trail. This will allow you to get more stable as your bike’s grip increases.
However, if the berm is a gentle one, you should opt for leaning your bike into the turn. You should also know how to lean your body to create a balance when you do this. But ensure your leaning makes a supportive body posture that will allow you to have better control as you ride on the berms. Let your hands create enough pressure on the front wheel by slightly bending your elbows.
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5. Choose Your Line
Every berm has its shape and size, which you should be ready to tackle as you ride. However, it’s advisable to use a high line when entering the berm to reduce the number of turns you should make. Also, be ready to tackle the long and steep berms that don’t offer you much line choice. Some lines also have holes, roots, or rocks, which you should know how to avoid.
If the berm has enough support throughout the corner, consider making shallow and smooth turning curves. Your confidence and speed will increase with time, enabling you to go to higher and steeper berms without fear.
6. Be Ready for The Exit
After visualizing how the exit looks, you need to prepare how to handle what lies ahead of the berm. Be ready to reposition your weight from the handlebars into attack position while maintaining level pedals.
Things You Should Do Right When Riding Berms to Reduce the Problems You’ll Encounter
Most riders experience various problems when riding berms. For example, when cycling on a dirty berm, you’re prone to slip and fall. Your bike will lose traction in some instances, making you drop and get forearm and leg injuries.
Additionally, you might find your bike making a 180 degrees turn, forcing you to re-align the front end and the wheel. All these can be frustrating and make you contemplate stopping this adventurous fun.
However, these are things you can change and enjoy riding in the berms, plus have it as your favorite cycling spot. You can opt to ride on a 2/3 up the berm line and avoid being close to the edge. If you feel you’re riding next to the edge, it’s better to control the rear brake towards the berm’s center.
The other best way to avoid these problems include;
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Be Keen with Your Bike’s Suspension Settings
Sometimes you could fall when riding on the berms because of wrong suspension settings. To avoid that, pay much attention to it. Avoid having your bike on a soft back end, as it will make it sink, unloading the front.
Also, don’t have your suspension settings on the high rebound, as it will keep your bike’s front packed. Your bike will also not follow the line well as it should. On the other hand, if you have the suspension setting on a bit of rebound, it will make the bike’s front jump up and down as it unloads.
Lean Into the Turn and Avoid Making Turns
Most new riders tend to make the mistake of controlling the handlebars excessively when on the berms. This is not ideal for tackling this area and reaching your destination successfully. Instead, have your bike leaning towards the center of the berm radius while leaning towards the turn. When doing this, ensure your outside feet stay down to create balance.
Also, distribute some weight forward and have your hand inside the turn down to balance better. Don’t forget to position your knees pointing at the center of the turn. Avoid sitting at the furthest end or leaning back while entering the banked corner.
Have Your Bike’s Pedal Level While Riding in The Berm
If you want to improve your stability while in the berms, it’s advisable to keep your bike’s pedals leveled. Doing this will prevent you from falling and getting injuries. Some people prefer using flat platform bike pedals when riding on the berms. However, the clipless pedals will also work well, especially if you know when and how to clip out.
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Bottom Line about Ride Berms
As more people are venturing into riding berms, you shouldn’t remain behind. Take your time and learn how to ride berms successfully and have fun outdoors. However, you need to be keen as mastering these tricks isn’t easy.
You need to practice regularly to know how to ride berms fast and smoothly. Learn how to choose the right line and visualize how you’ll tackle it before reaching there. Also, avoid braking in the berms. Instead, lean into the turn to enable you to turn around the corner at high speed. And as this guide has elaborated, avoid getting into common mistakes like slipping and falling by having the bike’s suspension in the right setting.