How To Ride Roots On a Mountain Bike | MTB Skills

How To Ride Roots On a Mountain Bike

Are you struggling to ride roots on a mountain bike? Don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone. Most mountain bikers find roots a challenge, especially when wet. Even seasoned professional downhill mountain bike racers can find roots a challenge at times.

The key to riding roots effortlessly is to learn a few simple principles and build confidence. As with most skills, riding roots takes practice and time to learn. The key to riding roots is not just about having the skills but more importantly riding with confidence.

Remember: always wear a helmet and protective gear when riding a mountain bike. Often falling is a natural part of progression on a mountain bike, so be prepared with the right gear, so you can keep on riding even if you fall.


TIP 1 

Start in the attack position, and look ahead! 

Starting in the attack position will help keep you maintain stability on the bike. Try to remain centered on the bike, and don’t make any sharp movements. 

 Also, remember to look ahead, this will help you plan for the roots.


Speed is your friend!

When riding roots it is important to have enough momentum to carry you through the root section without the need for touching your brakes. This will also help prevent you from sliding. Find an easy section of roots and start slowly, and gradually increase your speed until you feel yourself skimming through the roots without sliding too much.


Avoid braking on roots! 

Braking on roots can cause the wheels to quickly side from underneath you and possibly result in a crash.

Instead, try to look for gaps in between the roots and try to do your braking on patches of dirt. 


Try to Square off the roots (Avoid off-camber roots) 

If you must ride over roots without hoping or unweighting the bike, try to avoid riding over horizontal/off-camber roots, these roots are almost guaranteed to make your wheels slide. Instead, try to pick a line through the roots where your front wheel is less likely to touch any off-camber roots.


Stay relaxed if the wheels start to slide!

If the wheels start to slide on the roots it’s important you don’t pull on the breaks – as this will almost certainly make you crash. Instead, try to deeply focus on where you want to be after the roots. Remember, most of the time your bike follows where you are looking. 


Bunnyhop, or avoid the roots if possible! 

When riding roots especially when wet, it’s often better to try to ride them without touching the roots. If there are only a few roots, try and lift the front wheel over them, or if you can bunny hop over them. 

However, if the section of trail is covered with roots, you’ll need to try to ‘unweight’ the bike, by pushing the bike into the ground before the roots and then letting the bike spring up while riding over the roots, allowing the bike to skim over the top of the roots. This technique works better with a full-suspension bike, however, you can unweight a hardtail too. 


Correct trye pressure!

Making sure your tyres are at the correct pressure will make riding roots much easier, especially for wet roots. If your tyres are too hard they will have no grip on the roots and just slide off straight away. If your tyres are too soft you might struggle to carry speed across longer root sections. If you are riding in the wet, and the rail is full of roots, then you may benefit by dropping a couple of PSI to help improve grip on roots. If you are unsure about what tyre pressure to run try our mountain bike trye pressure calculator – This can be a good starting point.  

How To Ride Roots

HOW TO Riding Roots Questions And Answers

How do you ride slippery roots?

When riding slippery roots you need to be light on the bike, avoid braking if possible. Try your best to hit the roots square with some speed, and try to do your braking on any patches of dirt between the roots. Also, ensure your tyre pressure is not too high, this will help you gain grip.

Where do you look when riding roots on a mountain bike?

When riding roots it’s important to look at least 10-15ft ahead. This will help you pick the best line, and position your body in the correct position for any obstacles that lay ahead. If you see any areas of grippy dirt ahead, stay focused on that area, if the bike should start to slide you can often regain control on these safe zones.

Check out some of our other tutorials:

Here is a good post from Redbull on how to ride roots

Peter Ballin

Pedro is the primary writer on the site. He’s raced downhill and enduro at a high level, spannered at mountain bike world cups, and also written a book called Mountain Bike Maintenance. He’s appeared in both print & online major media publications across the Uk, France, and Japan (and even appeared on French Television). He’s made his living from bikes in various forms, from mountain bike guiding in France and Spain, Trail building in New Zealand and Canada, and working as a bike mechanic in the French Alps for many years. Pedro loves a good adventure and is often settling random challenges like riding down Mount Fuji, swimming across Lake Geneva, and hitchhiking across America.