Mountain Bike stunts and tricks are growing in popularity with kids today, and if you are keen to learn, read on! The first priority is to master the tricks; from the bunny hop, to the very cool laid-back manuals to the hair-raising looking wheelie-drops; all of these are relatively easy to master and can be made ‘bigger’ to make them more extreme and to form the basis of even better stunts.
The bunny-hop consists of using your leg strength and the balance of your bike to ‘jump’ as a single entity, so useful for clearing small obstacles without stopping the flow of your ride.
The manual is leaning back, balancing your weight over your back wheel and riding with your front wheel in the air – masters can control this so precisely they can go as far as they wish in this pose.
Wheelie drops are great fun, but can also go hideously wrong. Start small and jump flights of only a few steps to start, taking care to pay attention to the feel of your cycle and the balance.
The endo turn is used for effect, or to get yourself out of a tight space – squeeze the front brake, hover your weight over the front wheel, then rotate your hips to swivel the cycle into the correct direction – very slick when performed neatly.
Drop-offs are exactly what they sound like; they are performed by dropping off one level to another some fair distance below. This must never be done without confidence, start small and build up your skills and confidence; a lot of the skills involved here need to be learned, getting a feel for the bicycle’s balance and using your body to maintain that level while falling, then landing evenly and accelerating out of the drop. Done properly it can appear to defy the laws of physics!
The Front Wheel Touch Up
The front-wheel touch up is another that looks harder than it is, again finesse and practise will be your friend here: raise yourself on the back wheel, as if performing a manual, place the front wheel onto the higher level that you wish to go on to; apply the front brake and lift the back of the bike with your legs while leaning your weight smoothly onto the front wheel, and away. The top level can get higher and higher as you progress, but the motion of raising yourself becomes progressively more explosive in order to reach the necessary heights.
Practise skinnies as much as you can, trying to master these on the go is practically impossible, choose a nice straight pavement edging, the narrower the better and cycle along as quickly as you can – as your speed increases you can try an even narrower edge or even a raised one. Before you know it you will be flying along the narrowest path without flinching.
The Stair Manual
The Stair Manual is similar to the manual, but is performed going down a flight of stairs so great control is required to keep the bicycle and your weight evenly distributed. Judicious use of the back brake is required to avoid the bike from squirming out from under you and spilling you onto the steps in an ignominious heap. Be sure to start small, on a flight of just two or three steps so any accidents will not have too serious consequences.
Take sensible safety precautions, be considerate of others and above all have fun out there!
Jenny Sampson is a wrote this guest column on behalf of Sealskinz.com. Visit our site for some the world’s most technologically advanced, all weather cycling gloves.