MTB Cornering and foot position

Sorry. My mistake then. I read it that you said you took every turn with your left foot forward, regardless of direction. Keep practicing. It becomes natural with time and you won’t even think about it.

This conversation could get broken down into sub categories:

  • Flat corners
  • Bermed corners
  • Tech corners
  • Switch backs

Optimal technique would be different in each scenario.

Kinda crazy to even attempt explaining MTB cornering technique when there are good teachers with good videos:


That’s not the same as switching though!
What Sam Hill and a select few others are able to do, is ride just as well ‘goofy’ (comparable to snowboard, skate board etc).

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Yeah, I’m no pro. Just a guy trying to help the OP who misunderstood his question. To be honest, now that I do understand, I can’t wrap my head around doing every turn with the same foot forward but then dropping different feet, but I’ve been riding a long time and it’s just instinctual for me to lead with different feet.

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The whole Cathro series was excellent IMO.


Just riding with my right foot forward feels so foreign to me. It is like trying to throw a ball with with my non-dominant hand. I spent 75% of the time today riding with my right foot forward just to get use to the feel and then tried to setup every turn with the correct foot forward, so left forward for left turns and right forward for right turns. This definitely didn’t feel natural and took a lot of thought to make it happen. I will have to continue working on this.

The last 25% of the time I just rode and found that leading with my left foot is programmed into my subconscious and will take a lot of work to update.

Just for clarification, I am only talking about turns where you want/need to drop the outside foot. I understand there are a lot of differences in turns and some turns you can just rail through with level pedals. The turns that I am working on are the long flat or off camber turns. But I am going to watch the above video and see what I can learn from it.

Thanks everyone. All information is helpful.

I watched the above video a few times (great video) and noticed that Ben seems to always lead with his left foot into both left and right turns. Not a lot of right turns in the video but there are a couple. He leads with his left foot just like he would a left turn, but then pedals forward to drop it as needed or leaves it level when not needed.

Seems like I am overthinking this a little.

  • Welcome to life at the TR Forum :stuck_out_tongue:

Seriously though, I do think you were over doing it. Just need to roll that foot forward vs rearward depending on the turn direction. Nothing more than a skill to practice.

Conversely, as a bike trials rider, we actually would do dedicated “wrong foot forward” drills when training. We need to be able to ride and hop with even our bad foot leading, because there is not always a space or time to get that half-pedal in to get “comfortable” As such, I have employed that alternate foot forward at times in my MTB riding and racing. It’s absolutely not necessary, but it is a skill that may have a marginal gain aspect for some specific rider or instances.

But ignoring that bunny trail, just spend some time working on that forward roll to get that foot down as you need. Won’t take forever, and you will be nailing turns with good foot down, no matter which direction it rolled to the bottom.

I think most of the best riders in the world do it Ben’s way but it’s not the only way. I prefer to lead with the foot that corresponds to the turn direction so that I can drop my back/outside foot by varying degrees (I don’t always want it level, nor do I always want it straight down). Much harder to get it where I want if that foot is forward to begin with.

I agree with you completely. My engineer brain tells me this is the correct approach. My right foot being forward on a mountain bike tells me otherwise. Funny how that little bit of a change can make me feel uncomfortable or awkward.

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Definitely a skill that needs some practice. Now that I understand that I am not doing it completely wrong, then I can focus more on what I am doing and what I am comfortable with and fine tune it a little.

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Unless it’s a flat corner, if you’re standing on your pedals then stay horizontal through corners, don’t drop the outside foot. Watch EWS and DH racers, they don’t generally drop their outside foot except in some circumstances (wide flat corners). If you’re standing on your pedals and not seated, then you will see increased pressure/traction through pedals by keeping your feet level and squatting through corners — dropping the outside foot unweights the inside foot and reduces pressure. Watch the pros (including the Ben Cathro vid already posted) and you’ll see the feet are horizontal in most situations

I have a question for you. Are you looking far enough forward before thinking what your feet are doing? If not, stop all foot position related drills and just get used to looking forward. You will be amazed at how much your body just learns to turn when you do this…

If looking ahead is not an issue, ignore this message.

Great video. Got to say I’m in Ben’s camp on this. The three most important things:

  • line choice
  • braking
  • weight distribution

When I’m cornering I spend 90%+ of my time thinking about these. Not much on foot placement, other than avoid pedal strikes, and outside pedal down on loose sweeping turns.


Very good point. Looking ahead and not right in front of the bike always helps and is something I always try to improve upon.

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I did some skills training on cornering last summer, both on flat gravel for leaning the bike etc. and on trails, especially focus on fast corners with very little time between them. I found that on those kinds of corners, there is no time to switch which foot is forward and getting the outside foot down and so one. I was much faster when focusing on changing weight distribution and leaning the bike and doing that as fast as possible.

Very much like the corners in this video: The Privateer: Cornering With Bryn Atkinson & The Final Workout Before EWS Whistler - Pinkbike

There is movement in the feet, but I believe that movement is in order to move and weight the bike, and not the actual goal, as such. And in those kinds of fast corners, there is no time. And of course, very few people corner like Bryn Atkinson…

Are you taking about at 2:05? Because he’s absolutely using his feet in the way we’re recommending.

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