Ninja Mountain Bike Performance - Skills Clinics, MTB Jump Ramps and Bike Stands

Oh, the dreaded skinny. Wait, what is a “skinny”? A skinny is typically referring to a thin or narrow feature you can ride, most often made of wood, either planks or log(s). Skinnies come in all different shapes and sizes!

For many riders, the thought of getting those fat mountain bike tires rolling in a straight line down a log or thin plank gets the heart pounding.  Fear not!  Follow these 6 tips and you’ll be conquering skinnies in no time.

1. Eyes up

Keep your eyes up and looking ahead. Arguably the #1 secret to riding that skinny from start to finish is looking where you want to go.  Keep your head up and eyes forward, looking straight ahead towards the end of the skinny.  Remember, your bike goes where your eyes look.  If you look at the drop-off to the right, chances are you and your bike will follow.

2. Get Out of The Saddle

Get out of your saddle.  This will allow you to use side to side movements to keep yourself centered and balanced over the skinny.

3. Bail Before You Fail

If you do have to bail, do it with purpose! If you feel yourself losing your line, the last thing you want to do is try to put a foot down.  If the skinny you are attempting is elevated, putting a foot down will likely result in a sideways tumble and nasty ol’ hip bruise.  Instead, use those slow speed transition skills to tell your front wheel exactly where you want it to go.  Make sure your landing is clear and explode your handlebars down and forward.  Keep your head up, look ahead, and roll off.

To ensure you know what to do in case you find yourself wandering off the skinny, practice safely bailing off a skinny! This will help you gain confidence and will improve your ability to envision yourself making it down the skinny (one less thing to worry about!).

4. Start With Low Consequence

Start with something of low consequence.  Learning how to ride in a straight line while leaning the bike is critical to riding a skinny successfully.  A painted line in a parking lot is perfect for this!  A long curb is also a great place to start, or lay a 2×6 in the grass and practice riding down it.  As you progress, build up to longer, higher exposure skinnies.

You may also find that simply getting comfortable standing on your pedals and moving around will help you with your skinnies skills! To get gain some confidence with leaning your bike from side to side, practice bike-body separation on flat ground. 

5. Stay Positive

As with most things in mountain biking, you need to be able to envision yourself riding the feature.  Whether you think you can or think you can’t ride something… you’re right.  Replacing negative thoughts with positive self talk can go a long way for helping you take your riding to the next level.

6. Practice, Practice, Practice

As with most mountain bike skills, the more you practice riding skinnies, the better you’ll get at them!  This skill in particular will help you progress as an over-all rider as it teaches you how to be very specific with your line choice.

— We’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and questions … Please comment below!

3 Responses

  1. All good points! I’d add that practicing track stands is a good skill for when it’s time for Skinnies. This way you can come to a full stop if you need to, correct your steering and continue on. Practice Practice Practice is absolutely correct!

  2. Aargh! I just can’t ride these #@&$ things. As a mountain bike coach to a bunch of beginners, I need to master this skill. I’ve built one in my backyard. Zero for 263.

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