Being able to ride over slippy rocks?

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  • Being able to ride over slippy rocks?
  • mikey74

    Don’t brake.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout

    i’m a bit wary of yet another bad fall,

    This is the likely reason for you falling now.
    Spend out on a days coaching – it really is worth it.


    Relax when riding, reduce tyre pressure slightly to allow more grip, put some armour on knees/elbows until you start getting more confident

    Premier Icon Onzadog

    The less traction you have available, the less ability you have to change speed or direction.

    Pick where to brake, pedal or steer.


    You won’t have much grip on mossy rocks whatever the tyre.

    The best advice I was given was rather than look where you don’t have traction (which will make you focus on the slippy thing, panic, brake and slide) focus where you think you will get grip, stay straight and neutral over the low traction areas and make the most of your braking and turning in the high traction areas (even if the place where you have grip is just a meter or so in between the slippy bits). Focus on the grippy parts, commit and go with the flow through the slippy parts.

    Sounds stupid but a focus on areas of grip rather than areas of impending doom can be a good first step. I’m sure everyone else will have better advice 😀


    Not the tyres. It’s just you 😉

    Try and be straight when you’re going over the rocks. No turning, no braking, no accelerating. If they’re off camber, try and line yourself up so they’re not. And as above, relaxing is almost certainly the best thing you can do, letting the bike slip a little is better than reacting instantly to any movement. Easy to say though I know.

    Just get off and push, easier and less likely to end up with you hurting yourself.


    I’ve been trying some of the above, but on the trail i’m falling off on it’s a downhill one, and braking and slowing along the way isn’t the issue, it’s always the deflection of the front wheel, then the slide of the front wheel across a slippy stone which ends with me on my back. I think the answer might be to just visit trail centres more often during the winter months!

    Premier Icon Northwind

    XC-style mud tyres are generally rubbish at wet/slippery rocks- they’re designed for poking into mud, if they can’t poke into things they do nothing good at all. Something big and sticky would do better.

    Pics of said rocks would be good because what works on one pile of rocks won’t automatically work on the next.


    Come over to Mendip on a Sunday morning, you’ll soon get the hang of slippy then.


    If you can’t be sure you will get traction, and when you risk being knocked off line, the best thing to do, assuming the patch of rocks is short enough, and you are skilled enough, is to completely gap the rocks. i.e. unweight the bike totally before you get to them. If the section is too long, or you speed too low, then you have to just let the bike rattle around underyou, unweighting each end transiently as necessary to help avoid unwanted deflections!

    What DanW said ^^^

    Same goes for most technical stuff really. Look for places to turn or brake, try to straitline the rest, stay loose and let the bike move underneath you..


    I’m really hoping this is as simple as just me using the wrong tyres, but the reality is that try as i might, i always end up falling off on a couple of local trails due to the slippery/mossy rocks that are embedded on the trail all the way along it when there’s been rain recently.

    So is there a knack to this whole thing, if i make it without falling off it tends to be more luck than me, and my confidence tends to get lower the more my front wheel gets deflected, i’m pretty sure that the summer tyres i had fitted before the rain came weren’t the best for this (Maxxis Ignitors and Nevegals), but even some mud tyres (Maxxis Medusa) fail to get any traction, and the same result occurs no matter what pressure i have in the tyres.

    So is there a trick to this, or a really good tyre that isn’t too wide, as i have about 2.1 max on the back, maybe 2.25 at a push, or am i doomed to fall off every time i hit a downhill part of the trails with these rocks, i guess after cracking a rib a month ago (falling due to rocks, onto a big bloody rock) i’m a bit wary of yet another bad fall, so any assistance is good!

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    technique and not using mud tyres on rocks 🙂

    Premier Icon jambalaya

    @argee – we need to see this in order to diagnose it fully, please video yourself falling off a few times in this section then post it up … 😉

    I imagine as soon as your front wheel gets deflected you are going into full freak out mode and braking ? weight in the wrong place ? death like grip on the bars ?

    @candodavid – is that some kind of rural chat up line ?

    Premier Icon tmb467

    Unweight the front wheel – pop it up before you go over and plant it on a grippy bit on the way down

    And keep loose as well. Death grip and fear will have you off in no time


    What rock is it?
    I regularly ride granite type rocks which offer a fairly high level of grip, but I know of a wide chute about a third of a mile long that’s been carved straight of the bedrock which is slate..
    The shute doesn’t really ever dry out and it is as slippery as ice, I cannot for the life of me envisage anyone ever actually clearing it


    No chat up line, we just have limestone on mendip and we get used to slipping pretty much 8 months of the year


    Get off and walk. The funeral takes place today in Penrith of my buddy John Graham, killed when he broke his neck riding over slippery rocks on the Skiddaw circuit a couple of weeks ago.

    Premier Icon bedmaker

    Sounds like you need a 650b tyre.
    Or perhaps a fatbike.
    Wider bars.
    And a thick thin chainring.

    Premier Icon mmannerr

    Unweighting, relaxing and if you have suspension in either end it should be really well set up.

    That said, I’m planning to get off and walk most of the scary places this year, have found out that I don’t have any confidence in the wet & slippy 11 months after breakin my leg.

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    Maybe find a section of ‘low consequence’ rocks – somewhere that if you fall off there’s lots of soft stuff to fall on – and practice the same bit again and again.

    Learn what works and what doesn’t.

    There’s places with wet roots around here where I *know* that I’m going to have traction issues or stall the bike and fall off. Every time I get near them I tense up, slow down and generally do everything I can to ensure that I struggle to get over them. This winter I’ve decided to take my own advice and practice on them a bit to remove ‘the fear’.

    Premier Icon dmorts

    If it’s downhill and not a sharp corner, maybe a bit of speed and air/unweighting front wheel would help to get over the rocks onto an area with more traction. You maybe going too slow, seriously

    Also do you ride on your own or others? If it’s at a proper trail centre then others will most likely have got over it ok*, can anyone show you what they do?

    *it would probably have been removed otherwise

    Premier Icon tomaso

    A big chunk is in your head! If you are wary and not relaxed it is going to be ending in failure.

    Lots of good advice above but relaxing will make a real difference.

    From an equipment perspective some qr forks suffer more deflection than others and this may be part of the issue. Maxle type forks make a big difference. And try a big Maxxis super tacky up front and see if the combination of new rubber and shiny bits will be enough to overcome the phycological waryness :mrgreen:


    It *could* be the tyres…

    Up until 6 months ago, I’d have said purely rider. But:-

    I used to be able to clear the steep bit of Cavedale in the Peaks (perpetually wet, loose limestone) with no problem whatsoever on High Rollers. Then I changed to Conti Rubber Queen BCs and I’ve crashed on it every time I’ve tried it since. I’m constantly playing catch-the-front-wheel and the direction it slides is dictating my line choice not me! (The RQs are brilliant everywhere else)

    After about 8 stacks down there, I’ll admit I’m starting to get a mental block about it. I need to go back with a HRs on and prove it *is* the tyres, not me being a plonker…


    Another thing to add is that “an area of grip” can still be on the slippy rock or roots/ whatever. I wouldn’t be put off if the slippy rock/ root section is long and you can see some nice cushy loam to start regaining control in. A “grippy area” might be where the rock stops being smooth and gets a bit rougher or could be a small channel between rocks which will catch your wheel and stop the side to side slip. It’s the same with roots where you might have to accept you will inevitably slip side to side but do so on your terms knowing there is a rock/ root running parallel to you which will catch your slip. Looking ahead and ready the trail while staying relaxed is the challenge, and as others have said, speed can often help.

    Practice, confidence, faith and buying compensatory shiny bits for your bike are key 😀


    Great thread and well done to the OP for starting it – loads of good tips for a something that I’ve got a mental block with too


    buying compensatory shiny bits for your bike

    Finally, some advice I can actually put into practice.

    Presumably: E = N * S
    E = Ease of rock crossing
    N = Number of new bits added to bike
    S = Average shininess of new bits


    Phew Globalti – that’s awful


    If you can’t simply unweight and miss the rocks with your front wheel, then the following is the next best option – assuming it is worth the risk etc.

    Attitude-wise, focus on the next grippy bit – the bit you need to get to.

    Technique-wise, try to be central on the bike (in fore and aft terms), but as low and ‘wide’ as possible (elbows out, knees flexed and ‘out’, heels nicely flexed, centre of gravity as low as poss without risking cracking your face or chin on the bars). Also make sure your speed is set before you get onto the rock and you have done all the turning you can.

    Obviously the fore-aft thing depends on how steep the section is, but if you go for a ‘maximum amount of possible movement from this position’ starting set-up, then you should be able to soak up more ‘unwanted’ bike movement.

    Failing this, get off and walk – yes, there really is no shame in it – we’re not all Danny Hart.


    I think i’ll give it a go with the unweighting of the front wheel for the rock garden bits, i’m not too bothered about falling off, but its just that nagging doubt that i can’t do this type of descent is annoying, hence why i keep trying, and falling off. I’ve been mountain biking for 17 years without an issue like this, and racking my brains to work out if that’s down to never coming into contact with this type of slippy stones, or sheer luck!

    I might get a new front tyre as well, might be a bit late in the year for a high roller, might try a Maxxis ADvantage.


    I think the answer might be to just visit trail centres more often during the winter months!

    Not sure how this helps as all the rocky sections i have ever seen are somewhat santiised and designed to be ridden

    Good advice above and as some note when its slippy you will slip but try and do it on your terms.
    If you cannot there is no shame in walking IMHO – there are sections I will never even attempt tbh as I just lack the skill/nerve to do it I will never clean Dollywaggon for example

    [quoteglobalti – MemberGet off and walk. The funeral takes place today in Penrith of my buddy John Graham, killed when he broke his neck riding over slippery rocks on the Skiddaw circuit a couple of weeks ago.POSTED 10 HOURS AGO # REPORT-POST[/quote]

    I read about that accident the other day, not good, really sorry that this was a friend of yours.

    Premier Icon jambalaya

    @globalti – I’m very sorry to hear this, terrible.

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