Cycling - Knowledge

Mountain Biking: Experience the Thrill of Railing MTB Berm

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As you explore your passion of mountain biking, you will be tempted to learn new techniques that add thrill to your experience. One such technique is to ride a MTB berm. Do you remember going to a circus as a kid? If so, then you must have surely witnessed the act ‘Circle of death’. This involved a cylindrical metallic structure and a motorcyclist would literally drive on the walls inside it. Berms are quite similar to this experience. If you are on the quest to fulfill your thrill, then take your mountain bike and start practising the ride on berm. But, first, read this and prep yourself for the exhilarating ride!

What is a Berm?

A banked turn on biking trails and landscapes is a perfect berm definition. You can also define berm as the turn which has a sufficiently raised edge that allows the biker to take the bike off ground and move over the edge. They are a great source of the thrill to the mountain biker; hence, an MTB berm is an integral part of man-made biking trails. The raised banks of berms give a great support and traction to the biker and if your body and bike position is ideal, a berm will also lend you speed. You will learn how to ride berms on a dirt bike with regular practice and dedication.

If you have the right practice and the right speed at the time of passing MTB berms, you will figure out how to rail a berm MTB without much difficulty. However, the key is to practice and practice again on an MTB berm trail. The basic principle lies in the speed and positioning, which will drive the bike on the berm with so much force that it will continue to move on the berm without any trouble. Now that you know what is a berm, let us see how to master this technique.

MTB berm
Berm a challenging feat in mountain trails (source)

Steps to Rail MTB Berm

After knowing about the berm definition, let’s get straight into the three major steps to rail MTB berm. 

STEP 1: Observe the Berm Before Railing it

Really, this is the very obvious first step. Take a good look at the berm- its arc, its angle and its height. Steep berms allow the biker to lean more. Also, try to spot the grooves on the berm that have been made by other bikers. The chances of railing a berm on these grooves is higher. With clear observation of the berm ahead, you will know how to corner on a mountain bike.

STEP 2: Get Your Body in Position

Once you have studied the fine details of the berm, it is time to position yourself on the bike. For this, you have to stand on the pedals with knees bent a bit, arms bent so that the elbows are up. Never make the mistake of taking your eyes off the berm. You will be able to coordinate body movement with your bike movement over the berm with regular practice. This step will require a lot of trials that enable you to learn how to ride technical mountain bike trails. Once your body positioning is correct, the rest of the steps are easy.

STEP 3: Aim at the Exit

Once you have taken the plunge, keep the focus on the exit. Do not look anywhere else. This will automatically allow you to rail your bike on the MTB berm. As you do this, you should keep the outside elbow upwards. This means that if you are taking a left berm, your right elbow should be up and outwards, and vice-versa for a right berm. You can stabilize the bike by putting more weight on the outward pedal. This simple trick will make your bike firmly pass on the berm.

7 Essential Tips to Remember while Railing MTB Berm

The technical part of railing a berm is explained above, but there is something that you must never forget when attempting to rail a berm.

Tip #1

Choosing the right line is as important for railing a berm as water is for fish. If you enter the berm high, you can exit it lower, almost at ground level. This is the ideal scenario. In contrast, if you enter the berm lower, chances are high that the berm, with all your speed, will push you higher up and literally throw you off.

Tip #2

It is all about speed. If you are not fast enough, your bike will not be able to raise itself on the edges high enough, and you will stay at ground level. If you are trying to rail the berm higher, you should keep going faster until you reach the desired height.

Tip #3

The thrill can be increased much more if you keep trying with more speed. Simple tricks like leaning forward and getting lower on the bike will give you more thrust when you start cornering the berm. With these points in mind, you will know how to make sharp turns on a mountain bike.

Tip #4

Another very important point to remember while railing a berm is that there should be no braking midway. You should absolutely make sure that your speed and body positioning will not require any alterations as you enter the berm. Braking in the middle of the berm with all that speed and leaning will most likely throw you off.

Tip #5

Different berms will require leaning to different degrees. For this reason, you should practice on trails which have a varied MTB berm construction.This will allow you to be prepared for berms of different steepness and height. In case that your bike is not stable on the berm and slides on it, extend your leg as an outrigger to lend stability to the bike as it rails the MTB berm.

Tip #6

When you encounter bumps on the berms, it is advisable not to brake. Let the bike ride past the bumps freely. It is more likely that a bike with that speed and traction on the banked turn will not be affected by such bumps unless they are too big.

Tip #7

If you find that there are successive berms (S-berms) in the trail, it is advisable to approach the first one with slower than normal speed. This is because railing the first berm will add to your speed. If you are already at a high speed, then you will approach the second berm with an even higher speed.

MTB Berm
Be smart and agile while riding on a berm (source)

Master the Advanced Form of Berms - Wall Rides

Wall rides are more advanced forms of berms and are scarier to look at. Nevertheless, they are very popular among mountain bikers for the sheer thrill they provide. The basic principles for railing through wall rides remain the same as berms. However, the following things should be kept in mind.

- Approach Angle is Critical

The most common angle of approaching a wall ride is the 10-o'clock or 2-o'clock angle. The angle that is wider or narrower than these often result in failed attempts. Make sure your saddle height is low so that your body has a low impact from any fall.

- Stay Positive Throughout

The mindset of the biker should always be positive. This increases the likelihood of successfully railing a wall ride. If you don’t believe you can do it, you probably will never do it.

- Carving on the Wall Ride

Approach angle is critical to rail a wall ride, yes. But equally important is to decide how high do you want to go on the wall. Carving your way is important. 

- Landing in Style

Ever observed how a cat jumps from a height? It extends its arms and legs to allow the body to absorb the impact of landing. This is, in fact, a good way to land from a wall ride. You must master the landing technique to avoid falling over debris. Practice will make you perfect in landing smoothly.

wall ride
Taking mountain biking to next level- wall ride (source)

Conclusion

The thrill of railing MTB berms is unmatched. As you practice and perfect this technique, you will find yourself drawn towards wall rides. With the basics in place, you will be able to successfully corner sharp turns and berms on your biking trails. Make sure to be prepared for any situation while riding on a berm and yes, do practice quite enough to ride like a pro.

Riding on a berm is super challenging and not for faint hearts, so if you have it in you, then go ahead and explore the wilderness of mountain biking! Let us know your experiences. All the best!

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