Foot out, flat out
We see it so often in videos of the top riders but riding loose can be a scary prospect for those of us unfamiliar with the feeling of being on the limit of control. Here are a few small steps you can take to help build your confidence so that when the rear wheel does begin to slide, you stay relaxed:
Throwing your foot out on the entry to a corner allows you to dab more quickly than if you kept it on the pedal. Sometimes it can actually induce a slide as weight is thrown forward.
Rear tyre pressure
Letting air out will make the back end want to slide around corners. Try around 20psi to start with (be careful with tubeless set-ups — they may burp) and ride around a dirt/gravel car park.
Carve a few turns; as you corner harder you will feel the tyre roll and the wheel slide. Build confidence, then take it out on the trail. Grip will be less predictable, sharpening your reactions.
Avoid with your front wheel, but allow your back wheel to hit roots, thus initiating a slide. Grip will return to the back wheel as it digs into the dirt, but your bike will have already made much of the turn. Plus it looks cool.
Flats offer a freedom that’s crucial to promoting confidence. You can dab your foot in an instant, which is often enough to stop a slide becoming a crash.
Getting your seat out of the way lets you move around the bike and respond to changes
in grip more easily.