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Technique video: 6 simple ways to get faster round hairpins

Here’s our guide to handling the switchbacks quickly and safely

If you’re riding in the mountains this summer you need to get your hairpin technique dialled. Here's the essentials, fully explained in the video above.

1 Hands on the drops

This is your most stable riding position. Getting in the drops moves your weight down and puts your hands in the most powerful position or braking.

2 Brake before the corner 

Do your braking before you turn. You might occasionally misjudge the corner or find a hairpin that’s so steep and/or narrow that you can’t get around (or can’t get around without going onto the wrong side of the road) without braking in the corner too. They do exist. In these situations your braking needs to be as smooth and as light as possible.

Pyractif 2013 - Day Two -  Peyresourde Descent Corner (Photo - P Diprose)

3 Change gear

Before you reach the corner, shift into the gear you’ll need when you exit.

4 Inner pedal at 12 o’clock

Have your inner pedal high to avoid grounding, and push your weight onto the outside pedal.

5 Wide, apex, wide

Go wide before the hairpin, cut into the apex, and then go wide again as you exit. This allows you to carry more speed through the corner. 

Clearly, you have to be very careful when altering your position in the road and we’re not suggesting that you head onto the wrong side of the road unless you know it’s safe and permissible. 

6 Spot your exit

Look where you want to go.

These are just the basics. For more detail read our feature: 11 tips for better cornering.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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