Professional MTB Rider Hans Rey Shares His Best Mountain Biking Tips and Tricks

Hans Rey is one of the pioneers of MTB freeriding and extreme biking. He has been part of the sport the whole time, all the way back from the humble beginnings of freeriding and extreme biking.

In this interview, Hans Rey shares his story and some of his best mountain biking tips. Tips that will surely benefit every MTB rider out there. Read on to discover Hans Rey’s favorite bike brand and what he thinks are the most common mistakes that young riders make.

MTB Hans Rey
Hans Rey in Iceland. Photo credit: Scott Markewitz

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Hans Rey, I’m a professional mountain biker, originally from Germany. I’have a Swiss and American passport and been living in California for the past 30 years.

I’m a former Trials Biking World Champion, Adventure Biker and I’m considered one of the pioneers of Freeride and Extreme Biking. Biking has been my full time job for my entire adult life, but it’s a lot more work and organization than riding bikes all day long.

MTB Hans Rey
Livigno, Carosello 3000. Photo credit: Markus-Greber

How and why did you get into mountain biking?

I grew up in Emmendingen in the Black Forest in Germany, we had a moto trials club, my friends and I started to imitate the motorcycles with our bicycles around 1978/79. Before we knew it we had a big group of kids in our town, soon we learned about competition in other cities and countries.

Trials Biking is a European Sport, unlike Mountain Bike or BMX. Around 1985/86 an American rider named Kevin Norton competed with us in Europe, he invited me to America, he said there was a new sport called Mountain Biking and they always had Trials Comps – he wanted me to show Americans what real Trials Riding was all about.

After my initial visit in 1987, I never went back, I found immediately some sponsors like GT Bicycles and Swatch. Once in America, I was introduced to real Mountain Biking, Cross Country and Downhill – I was also introduced to one of the original MTB Clubs, the legendary Laguna RADS – they made me a real mountain biker and I ride with this group to this day on a weekly basis.

MTB Hans Rey
Hans Rey in Iceland. Photo credit: Scott Markewitz

Why is mountain biking important for you?

For me Mountain Biking is my life and my lifestyle. I’ve been lucky enough to experience and live almost the entire evolution of the sport. Bikes are so universal and everybody can use a bike to their own preference or riding style, be it to push the limits, explore the world, transportation, fitness, mediation or to get close to nature.

Once I’m on a bike, I can just focus on the task ahead and forget about all of lives worries. It’s all about living/riding in the moment.

MTB Hans Rey
Livigno, Carosello 3000. Photo credit: Markus-Greber

How do you train and become a better mountain biker?

I just ride approximately five days a week, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. I also mix up the different styles of riding, some XC, DH, Freeride, Enduro, Trials or even road biking. Riding with others helps to push one’s limits and to get out of the comfort zone. I know my body and I know how hard I need to push and it’s important to balance the act of training with having fun – that’s how you stay motivated in the long run.

What are the hardest parts of mountain biking?

Every uphill starts from point zero, it’s always hard and one has to constantly ride to keep the level of fitness and confidence. It’s important that a rider knows his/her limits – especially when riding technical terrain or dangerous locations.

Listen to your inner voice and make sure whatever move you are trying to do, that you can visualize it.

MTB Hans Rey
Livigno, Carosello 3000. Photo credit: Markus-Greber

How do you prepare for events and races, and how do you eat and sleep?

I don’t compete anymore, I have done that for 20 years, nowadays I focus on my adventure trips and expeditions. Depending on the trip I will ramp up my training prior, nothing better than going on trips prepared. I do enjoy other sports for cross training or recreation, like moto enduro riding, golf, running, standup paddle boarding, skiing, etc.

I try to have a balanced diet, eat and drink a bit of everything, just not too much (easier said than done). I try to get eight hours of sleep a night, when I travel I stay away from caffeine the first day only, just to let my body clock adjust and to avoid jet lag. I experience around with various supplements, lately I’ve been taking iron and vitamin D, as well as salt tablets and Sports Legs when I do longer rides.

MTB Hans Rey
Photo credit: Carmen Freeman-Rey

How do you handle injuries and recovery?

You gotta be prepared and smart that way you can prevent some injuries, you also need to know your limits. Injuries are part of the game, most important is to understand what happened and why (e.g. when you crashed). If you don’t know why you crashed then it’s time to slow down. Once injured you gotta be smart, give it a proper rest, don’t get impatient or dumb by pushing the body too hard through a major injury (a common mistake for youngsters).

I usually take a third of the doctors recommended healing time off and start easy and slowly with movement and exercise, that way your body doesn’t get too stiff and you don’t loose too much shape. I also do parallel alternative treatments be it homeopathic, acupuncture, electro magnetic treatments, etc.

MTB Hans Rey
Photo credit: Carmen Freeman-Rey

How do you balance normal life with training and competitions?

It’s a balancing act, and often it’s one and the same, but you gotta be able to diversify your life and have other interests, especially when married, you gotta make time for your partner and you gotta be able to leave it all behind from time to time. I’m fortunate enough to be doing my sport professionally to the point where all my income still comes from sponsors. Doing any sport or hobby on a high level takes sacrifices, each of us has to decide themselves where to draw the line.

What mountain bikes do you prefer?

I’ve been riding my entire career on GT Bicycles (31 years!!). I have many different kind of mountain bikes, basically one for every discipline. I usually get all the latest models as soon as they become available, sometimes I help with the development and design and test prototypes in early stages before production. My favorite all round bike is the GT Carbon Force, it’s a 6-inch full suspension mountain bike, I can use these bikes on my rides, adventures or even in bike parks.

MTB Hans Rey
Hans Rey in Iceland. Photo credit: Scott Markewitz

What has been your best sport purchase below $100, what other favorite gear do you have?

In my opinion, the best aftermarket product in mountain biking has been the dropper seat posts, like the Crank Brothers Highline Dropper Post (but they usually costs around $300 – 400).

Clif Bar has been my favorite Trail snack, I prefer the White Chocolate Macadamia Nuts bar variety.

I love the Adidas Terrex products, all the products in the outdoor line are super functional and light weight. Many of their shoes have the sticky Five Ten Stealth rubber soles, great for biking.

I also use iXS protection products such as their Flow knee pads, Trail XC helmet and their thin/longfinger gloves.

What are your best advice people new to mountain biking?

Make sure you have fun, one way is not to set your goals to high. It’s a good feeling to make progress and reach your goal, you can always up the ante. Don’t take it too serious.

MTB Hans Rey
Wheels 4 Life with Hans Rey and Danny MacAskill, Kenya. Photo credit: Martin Bissig

What will the future bring?

Keep on experiencing new levels of our sport, be it from the technological side of things like equipment and materials or be it the way we ride and where we ride. Purpose-Built Flow trails is a huge trend and super fun and beginner friendly (when they are built right and sustainable – like a Flow Country Trail). I also think eBikes will stay, they can be fun and one doesn’t need to retire a normal bike to enjoy some electric power assistance from time to time.

I will also continue to focus on my non-profit charity, “Wheels 4 Life“, we give bicycles to people in need of transportation in Developing Countries.

I will be doing more and more talks and speaking engagements, talking my mountain biking life and adventures and what the sport and travels have taught me.

Follow Hans Rey on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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  1. Nice article. Am looking for a nice riding mountain biking seat. Can you recommend any you prefer?

  2. the best saddles are from they can measure your sit bones custom fit their ergonomic saddles

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