Pro Secrets - Tight Downhill Switchbacks - Dirt Rider Magazine

One major off-road challenge is the tight downhill turn. Unlike a tight uphill switchback type of turn, you can't wheelie around it-or can you?As a multi-time off-road champion in Australia, Europe and the U.S., Shane Watts has developed techniques to cope with precisely this type of obstacle, and he demonstrated them while conducting one of his Dirt Wise Riding Schools at the Highland Park riding area near Cedartown, Georgia. (To find out more about Wattsy's classes, go to and click on Riding Schools.)Naturally, it's fastest to ride around a turn like this, but if you can't, you can dismount and basically nose-wheelie the bike around the turn, letting gravity work for you.01 If you can, ride around the turn. Approach the turn standing on the pegs, grip the tank with your knees and apply both brakes. If at all possible, enter wide-this will provide the widest turning radius-and weight the outside peg heavily as you ride around the turn. Of course, if there were slick roots in the outside line, it might be best to take the inside.02 If you had to take the inside and found the turn simply too tight to ride around, stop as you get to the turn, putting the front tire in the turn's rut when applicable, and step off to the inside or uphill side.03 In one motion, squeeze the front brake hard, press down and forward on the handlebar and press against the middle or rear of the bike with your thigh or butt. Since you're on a downhill, the front end is already weighted so the rear end will actually lift rather easily. Basically, you're getting the bike to do a nose-wheelie.04 "You just control the bike with your leg as to how far you want to swing that rear tire around," Watts says. After getting the bike around the turn and pointed in the right direction, climb back aboard but, as Watts cautions, "Again, as you go to take off, you weight the outside peg to limit the chance of that rear end sliding out as you apply the power and take off, whether it's on tree roots or slippery soil or just the off-camber effect ."