Seven skills and tricks you can learn at home

From basic technique to advanced fun, dial in the skills that will help you on the trail

April 20th, 2020 by | Posted in MTB | Tags: ,

What do you do when trails are closed or you can’t get out to ride your bike? Why not practice skills and tricks that will help you when you get back out on the trails?

While mountain biking is all about adventure and getting “out there,” you don’t actually need much space to learn many of the basic skills. Whether it’s in your back yard or, for some of these, in your living room, here’s seven skills and tricks you can learn without much physical space.

Curbs

If you have a yard or even just curb near your place, you can learn to get up and over obstacles on the trail without touching your wheels. Learning how to do this will make your riding smoother, help you clean new trail features, and keep your rims from damage – especially the back wheel. Start slow – practice lifting your front wheel and back wheel up over the curb until you can do that without hitting either tire. Then build speed until you can do this at trail speed. Once you have that, the next step is bunny hops, or bigger obstacles.

Bunny hop

Bunny hops are one of the most useful skills on the trail. They’re also one of the most common for riders to struggle with, or to have poor technique. This is especially true for riders that learned to jump on clipless pedal, instead of flats, and pull up on the pedals to get off the ground. While not wrong, this technique does limit how high you can jump.

Throwing a pair of flat pedals – even a cheap old pair – and taking the time to learn to bunny hop without relying on your cleats will pay off when you get back on the trail. It’s easier to learn while rolling, but if you’re crunched for space and can track stand, you can do this in your garage or apartment.

track stand

Track standing is an infinitely useful skill and requires zero space to learn. Even if you don’t have a yard and can’t go outside. This is one you can practice in your living room, without destroying the house.

Bonus round: Try balance while sitting down. With one hand, or no hands. How about one foot? There are so many variations. Then sign up for Instagram and #trackstandchallenge.

Wheelie

Don’t listen to me on this one. Trials master Ryan Leech is offering his online 30-day wheelie course free right now, though, and you should definitely listen to him. He’s really good at doing, and teaching wheelies. If you need proof, go watch his segment from The Collective.

Manual

This is another one that remains elusive, despite years of trying. But it is one you can start practicing with minimal space using this manual-box. It is relatively simple to make at home. While it isn’t quite the same as a moving bike, it is a safer way to learn where the balance point is when riding on just the back wheel. While using the back brake will keep you from going over backward, you can connect an old tube or bungee cord to the front wheel for extra security.

Drops

Drops on trails can be one of the more intimidating trail features. But you can start learning the technique for this more advanced move in a low-risk way close to home. All you need is a curb, or similar 4-6″ surface you can roll off of like a deck. Use the skills you learned with wheelies and manuals (though you don’t have to have either move mastered to try these – all you need is to be able to unweight your front wheel) and apply them to this simulated trail feature! The goal is to consistently land smoothly, softly, with both wheels touching the ground at the same time. Learning in a low-risk setting keeps you safe if the front wheel does drop.

Opposite foot forward

Got all of them down? Try them with the opposite foot forward. It’s way harder. But, it is very useful when you need to react to the unexpected on trail, and don’t have time to switch to your normal stance. Plus, balanced muscle development is good for your body.