Master the Art of Riding Technical Skinny Features Today

Riding Technical Skinny Features
Table of Contents

Mountain biking is an exciting adventure sport that requires a unique set of skills to conquer technical trails. One of the most challenging features that riders encounter is the “skinnies.” These narrow and technical trails require riders to navigate with precision and control.

Mastering the art of riding technical skinny features is crucial to becoming a confident and skilled mountain biker. With proper techniques and practice, riders can learn how to ride these features safely and effectively.

Key Takeaways:

  • Technical skinny features are challenging yet exciting trails that require precision and control.
  • Mastering riding skinnies is crucial for becoming a confident and skilled mountain biker.
  • Proper techniques and practice can help riders ride these features safely and effectively.

What are Technical Skinny Features?

As a mountain biker, you may have heard the term “technical trail features” or “skinnies” thrown around. These features can range from rock rolls to ladder bridges, and they are notorious for challenging a rider’s skills and balance.

So, what exactly are technical skinny features? In essence, they are narrow trail sections that require precise navigation and control. Rock rolls, for example, are sections of trail that require a rider to roll over boulders or rocks in a smooth motion, while ladder bridges feature a narrow pathway made up of wooden slats.

Skinnies are a unique type of technical trail feature that require a rider to balance on a narrow structure, like a log or a skinny piece of wood. These features can be particularly challenging because they require a rider to maintain balance while navigating a narrow line through rough terrain.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, it’s important to understand what technical trail features are and how to ride them successfully. With the right techniques and practice, you can master these obstacles and take your mountain biking skills to the next level.

Body Position and Balance

As I mentioned earlier, maintaining balance while riding technical skinny features is crucial. Achieving a neutral position on the bike is key to staying balanced and in control. Here are a few tips:

  • Keep your weight centered over the bike’s bottom bracket
  • Relax your upper body and avoid tensing your arms and grip
  • Keep your pedals level to distribute your weight evenly

Proper body position will help you anticipate obstacles and react quickly to changes in terrain. As you approach a technical feature, maintain a centered position with your elbows and knees slightly bent. This allows you to absorb bumps and adjust your weight distribution accordingly.

Remember to stay loose and relaxed on the bike, allowing your body to move with the terrain. Focusing on maintaining balance and a neutral position will give you the confidence to tackle any technical feature you encounter.

Mastering the Front Wheel

One of the most crucial aspects of riding technical skinny features is mastering the front wheel. Choosing the right line and making small movements are the keys to navigating these features effectively.

The first step is to identify the best line to take. Look for the smoothest path with the least obstacles. Try to keep your front wheel as straight as possible while navigating the feature. Make small movements with your handlebars and lean your body slightly to maintain balance.

It’s essential to keep your weight forward on the bike to prevent the front wheel from popping up. This requires a neutral body position with your hips centered over the saddle and your elbows slightly bent. Don’t grip the handlebars too tightly, and keep your focus on the feature in front of you.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Start with simple features and gradually work your way up to more challenging ones. With time and experience, you will develop the skills to master technical skinny features.

Controlling the Rear Wheel

When riding technical skinny features, controlling the rear wheel is just as important as controlling the front wheel. You need to maintain balance and choose the right line to navigate these features successfully.

One technique for controlling the rear wheel is to keep your body weight centered over it. This helps to distribute your weight evenly and maintain balance. It also allows you to adjust the angle and position of your bike as needed.

Another important aspect is selecting the right line. Look ahead and anticipate the best line to take on the skinny feature. It’s important to maintain a steady pace and keep your pedals level.

Balance is key when controlling the rear wheel. If you feel yourself losing balance, try to shift your weight forward or back to correct it. Remember, even the most experienced riders fall from time to time. Trust your skills and stay focused on the trail ahead.

Optimizing your Bike Setup

Having the right bike setup is crucial when it comes to riding technical skinny features. Here are some tips to help you optimize your ride:

  • Flat pedals: Using flat pedals can help you maintain better control and feel more connected to your bike. I recommend trying them out if you haven’t already.
  • Seat post height: You want to find the perfect seat height to ensure your body is in the right position to maintain balance. Adjust your seat post accordingly before hitting the trail.
  • Dropper post: A dropper post can make all the difference when riding technical features. It allows you to quickly adjust your seat height from a high pedaling position to a low and centered position for better control when descending.

It’s important to find the right setup that works for you and your riding style. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different gear and make adjustments as needed to optimize your ride.

Building Confidence and Skill

As I’ve mentioned before, riding technical skinny features can be quite challenging, and it’s normal to feel nervous and apprehensive about tackling these trail obstacles. However, with practice and determination, you can build your confidence and skill level and become a more capable rider.

  1. Start small and work your way up. If you’re new to riding technical features, it’s essential to start with features that are within your skill level. Practice on smaller skinnies or rock rolls until you feel comfortable before moving on to more advanced terrain. Gradually increasing the level of difficulty will help you build confidence without overwhelming you.
  2. Focus on fundamental skills. As I’ve discussed in previous sections, proper body position, balance, and line selection are essential when riding technical features. These fundamental skills are the building blocks for mastering more complex features, so it’s crucial to practice and perfect them before attempting more challenging trails.
  3. Visualize success. Visualization is a powerful tool that can help you overcome fear and build confidence. Before attempting a technical feature, take some time to visualize yourself riding it successfully. Imagine yourself maintaining balance, keeping a neutral position, and navigating the feature with ease. This mental rehearsal can help you feel more confident and relaxed when you’re on the trail.
  4. Practice, practice, practice. The best way to build confidence and skill is through practice. Dedicate time to riding technical features regularly, and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Pushing your limits is how you’ll improve and become a better rider.

Remember, building confidence and skill takes time and patience. Be kind to yourself and celebrate small victories along the way. With a little bit of practice and perseverance, you’ll soon be riding technical skinny features like a pro!

Overcoming Common Challenges

When riding technical skinny features, there are common challenges that most riders face. These can include rock gardens and rock faces, which can be particularly tricky to navigate at higher speeds. However, with the right techniques and mindset, these challenges can be overcome.

One of the keys to successfully navigating rock gardens is to maintain momentum. Slow and cautious movements can actually make it harder to stay on your bike. Instead, keep your pedals level and your weight slightly forward as you approach the garden. Keep your eyes focused on the line you want to take and use your body to absorb any bumps or obstacles.

When it comes to rock faces, speed can be an issue. It can be tempting to slow down as you approach the face, but this can actually make it harder to maintain control. To overcome this challenge, focus on maintaining your speed and keeping your weight evenly distributed between your front and rear wheels. As you approach the face, make small adjustments to your body position to maintain your balance.

Tips for Riding Skinnies Successfully

When it comes to riding skinnies, maintaining momentum is key. To do this, pedal smoothly and avoid sudden movements that can throw off your balance. Position your pedals so that they are level with the ground to help maintain control. Staying connected to the ground is also important, so keep your weight centered over your bike as much as possible.

Another useful technique for riding skinnies is to use your peripheral vision to stay aware of your surroundings. Look ahead to the end of the feature, but keep an eye on your front wheel to make sure it stays on course. At the same time, be aware of any obstacles or changes in terrain that may affect your balance.

As you ride a skinny, make small adjustments to your body position and bike as needed. This could mean shifting your weight slightly, adjusting your speed or even changing your line. The key is to stay focused and aware, and to make the necessary adjustments in a controlled, deliberate way.

Expanding your Skills on Technical Trails

While mastering technical skinny features is a great accomplishment, it’s important for riders to expand their skills on technical trails beyond just skinnies. These trails offer additional challenges such as banked turns that can test a rider’s abilities.

When approaching a banked turn, it’s important to maintain a proper speed and lean into the turn to maintain control. Keep your eyes ahead to anticipate the turn and adjust your body position accordingly.

It can be helpful to practice on smaller banked turns first before attempting larger ones. With practice, you can gradually increase your speed and confidence in navigating these turns.

Technical trails may also include features such as drops and jumps. It’s important to approach these features with caution and always assess the risk before attempting them. Gradually progress to larger drops and jumps as your skills and confidence improve.

Remember to always ride within your comfort level and avoid pushing yourself too far too fast. Expanding your skills on technical trails requires patience, determination, and practice.

Exploring Local Trails and Trail Builders

As a mountain biker, I know firsthand the importance of local trails and the people who build and maintain them. Most riders have a favorite trail or route that they return to time and time again, and it’s often the work of dedicated trail builders that makes those routes possible.

When we ride our bikes, we’re not just experiencing nature and getting exercise; we’re also participating in a larger community of like-minded individuals who share a passion for the sport.

This is why it’s so important to support local trail builders and organizations. These individuals and groups put in countless hours of hard work to create and maintain trails that we all enjoy. Without their efforts, we wouldn’t have access to the amazing riding opportunities that we do.

If you’re looking to get more involved in your local mountain biking community, consider volunteering with a trail building organization. Not only will you be doing your part to help maintain and improve your favorite trails, but you’ll also have the opportunity to connect with other riders who share your passion.

And if you’re not sure where to start, ask around at your local bike shop or check out local mountain biking organizations online. Many of these groups hold regular trail building events that are open to the public, so it’s easy to get involved.

So next time you’re out on the trails, take a moment to appreciate the work that went into creating them. And if you’re looking to give back to the community that has given you so much, consider volunteering with a trail building organization. You won’t regret it!


In conclusion, riding technical skinny features is a challenge that requires skill, practice, and determination. As riders, we should embrace this challenge and strive to master these features.

Remember to focus on your body position and balance, and master the front and rear wheel techniques. Optimizing your bike setup and gradually challenging yourself will help build confidence and skill.

Don’t be discouraged by common challenges, such as rock gardens and rock faces. With the right techniques and tips, riders can maintain control at higher speeds.

And don’t forget to expand your skills on technical trails beyond skinny features. There are additional challenges out there, such as banked turns, waiting for you to conquer.

Finally, let us appreciate and support our local mountain biking community, the trail builders who make these features possible. Go out there and enjoy riding on the trails. Let’s be better riders and conquer the trails together.


Q: What are technical skinny features?

A: Technical skinny features refer to narrow trail features in mountain biking, such as rock rolls and ladder bridges. These features require riders to navigate carefully and maintain balance.

Q: Why is body position and balance important when riding technical skinny features?

A: Body position and balance are crucial for successfully riding technical skinny features. Maintaining balance and achieving a neutral position allows riders to navigate these features with confidence and control.

Q: How can I master controlling the rear wheel when riding technical skinny features?

A: To control the rear wheel when riding technical skinny features, focus on maintaining balance and selecting the right line. Keep your weight centered over the bike and adjust your body position as needed.

Q: What tips can you provide for optimizing my bike setup for riding technical skinny features?

A: Optimizing your bike setup for technical skinny features can include using flat pedals for better foot placement and adjusting your seat post height for optimal balance. Consider investing in a dropper post for improved maneuverability.

Q: How can I build confidence and skill for riding technical skinny features?

A: Building confidence and skill on technical skinny features takes practice and gradually challenging yourself. Start with easier features and gradually progress to more difficult ones as you build confidence and improve your skills.

Q: What are some common challenges when riding technical skinny features and how can I overcome them?

A: Common challenges when riding technical skinny features include navigating rock gardens and rock faces. To overcome these challenges, focus on maintaining control, selecting the right line, and practicing at higher speeds.

Q: Do you have any specific tips for riding skinnies successfully?

A: Yes! When riding skinnies, try to maintain momentum by pedaling smoothly and keeping your weight evenly distributed. Keep your eyes focused on the ground ahead to stay connected and anticipate any changes or obstacles.

Q: How can I expand my skills on technical trails beyond skinny features?

A: To expand your skills on technical trails, challenge yourself with additional obstacles such as banked turns. Practice proper body position, braking techniques, and line selection to improve your overall riding ability.

Q: Why is it important to explore local trails and support trail builders?

A: Exploring local trails allows you to appreciate the work of trail builders who create technical features for riders. Supporting your local mountain biking community helps maintain and improve trail conditions for the enjoyment of all riders.

About The Author

daniel in queenstown with mountain bike

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