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Braking in Corners: the 2-1-None Method for Steep MTB Turns

Steep MTB corner Brice Shirbach
Brice Shirbach entering a steep corner and utilizing the 2-1-None Method

The 2-1-None Braking Technique for Cornering in MTB

Braking in corners requires precise control and technique to enter with control and exit with speed. One effective technique to optimize your cornering is the 2-1-None braking method.

Recommendations for braking in corners vary wildly. Many claim that all braking should be completed before you enter the corner. This makes sense in some ways because you have less traction once you start leaning the bike, so getting all the braking done early can help you brake and corner with more control.

Unfortunately braking before corners doesn’t work when the trail is steep because gravity forces you to pick up speed as soon as you release the brakes. If you gain too much speed you have to brake again late in the corner and then you lose all your exit speed.

For faster run times, late-braking and tighter braking zones let you spend more time going fast. As part of this, we agree with the many coaches who teach that it’s ok to brake through corners to control your speed - you could even brake all the way through them if that’s what helps you maintain control.

One method that can assist you with braking through corners is the 2-1-None braking method. The 2-1-None method allows you to carry speed and brake hard before the turn, but also assists in your control as you exit the turn. If done right, you can have a fast and controlled entry to the corner and a speedy exit - the perfect recipe for optimal flow!

Listen to Rohan and Matt discuss the 2-1-None Method in this episode of Demystifying MTB!

Understanding the 2-1-None Braking Method

The 2-1-None technique involves a strategic application of brakes while cornering on a mountain bike, specifically utilizing both brakes, then only the rear brake, and eventually releasing both brakes as needed. Here’s how it works as you approach the corner:

Two Brakes (2): Initially, apply both the front and rear brakes to control your speed and approach the corner.

Rear Brake Only (1): Once you have achieved a controllable speed, transition to using only the rear brake for controlled speed management.

None (None): Gradually release the rear brake, allowing you to maintain traction and glide smoothly through the corner.

Berms in Rotorua EvS
2-1-None works great on fast berms with little support. PC New Zealand Mountain Biking

Applying the 2-1-None Braking Method in Corners

Here are 8 simple steps for you to try and perfect the 2-1-None braking Method on your local trails. Track your progress as you try 2-1-None by using your phone to record yourself or timing different trails with different techniques.

1. Anticipate the Corner

Before reaching the corner, assess the trail ahead. Understand the sharpness of the turn and plan your approach accordingly.

2. Braking Zone

Identify a suitable braking zone before the corner. This is where you'll initiate the first step of the technique.

3. Two Brakes (2)

As you enter the braking zone, apply both brakes firmly to slow down and set the pace for the corner.

4. Rear Brake Only (1)

As you approach the apex of the corner, transition to using only the rear brake. Modulate the rear brake to maintain a suitable speed. Not that the location of transition will vary depending on the terrain.

5. Release the Brakes (None)

As you navigate through the corner, release the rear brake gradually to allow your tires to maintain traction and provide a smoother exit from the corner.

6. Body Positioning and Cornering

Maintain a balanced and neutral body position as you enter and exit the corner. Lean into the turn and steer the bike smoothly using your body weight and appropriate technique.

7. Accelerate Out of the Corner

Once you've successfully navigated the corner, accelerate gradually to regain speed and flow back into your ride. If you'res till going downhill try working the trail by pumping instead of adding too many sprints.

8. Try it Again

Experiment with your braking zones. If you’re going for speed, initiate braking later and transition to the rear brake earlier. It takes practice to find the right mix of 2-1-None for each corner in every condition and this varies for every skill level.

Mat Woodall on a fast corner in rotorua
Practice makes perfect!

Advantages of the 2-1-None Method

Controlled Speed Management

Utilizing both brakes initially followed by the rear brake alone allows precise control over your speed, crucial for safe cornering.

Improved Traction and Stability

Transitioning to the rear brake as you approach the corner's apex allows for greater traction and stability, enabling a smoother transition through the turn.

Enhanced Cornering Efficiency

By skillfully adjusting your braking technique, you can carry momentum through the corner efficiently, ultimately improving your overall FlowScore

analyzing mtb cornering with brakeace
Analyzing braking with the BrakeAce to compare different braking methods. PC New Zealand Mountain Biking

2-1-None Braking Analysis with BrakeAce

We can test different braking methods and their effectiveness using BrakeAce. The FlowScore can be used to compare the overall braking based on how hard and how long, with respect to how much speed you took away.

Below are three different braking techniques and some of the associated braking data.

The trail was a wide gravel downhill that transitioned to a flat gravel trail. There was a set starting point for each run and no pedaling was allowed. The same approximate line was used for each method.

Here is some of the data.

2-1-None Braking Method example data

2-1-None Braking Method example data brakeace
2-1-None Braking Method example data

This is a classic 2-1-None corner. You can see in the graph that both brakes were initiated at nearly the same time. Peak braking power of 1,074 watts occurred just before releasing the front brake.

This brake event was 1.6 seconds, had a FlowScore of 0.9 and was classified as a Stab. Brake Balance was 70% rear and 30% front. Max speed after the exit was 20kph.

Braking data through a corner
2-1-None Braking Method example data at 10 Hz

Above is a screenshot from the same 2-1-None corner, which shows the first point at which only the rear brake was used (it’s the first reddish dot by the arrow). The dots show braking at 10x/second.

Early braking in corners example data

early braking in corner might not be the best for mtb
Sometimes you pick up too much speed when you brake too early

Here’s an example of early braking. I thought I had enough control to carry on through the corner, but I picked up speed after the apex and needed to brake again.

Total brake time was 2.7s with a FlowScore of 1.0. Both events were classified as Light. Maybe I could have just braked harder? Brake balance was 56/44 r/f. Max speed was up to 20kph at the exit, but dropped as low as 17kph between braking events.

Late braking in corners example data

Late braking in MTB corners
Late braking in MTB corners

This is how an expert rider might normally try to brake, but of course it’s ctrail and skills dependent. If this corner was steep the whole way, the 2-1-None method may have been more appropriate. But since it was a flat corner, using both brakes worked well.

On this corner, this strategy had the best FlowScore at 0.6, with 1.3 s of braking and 52/48 r/f split. Exit speed was also the highest at up to 23kph.


In summary there are many methods for braking in corners on your local MTB trails. It's important to experiment and find the best method for your conditions, gradient and of course your skill level. The 2-1-None Method may be your key to better riding, so it's worth experimenting!

Practicing your cornering is key to becoming a better rider. Feedback on your ride is paramount to streamline your path to becoming a better rider. Anything from a camera on the side of the trail to coaches with real braking data can help you on your path.

1 Comment

Andy S
Andy S
7 days ago

Listened to this on your great podcast and have put it to test and can see a huge improvement already so thanks :-)

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