Master Seven Road and Mountain Bike Tricks
We asked our test editors to reveal their favorite cycling tricks. Some require skill and some require guts, and some require a penchant for idiocy. Half will save you time, the other half are just a waste of time. Point is, there’s something here for everyone, whether you’re a beginner, a show-off, even the class clown. Pick your fave—then learn it, know it, live it.
Difficulty: 5 (it takes guts)
Dazzle Your Buds: This trick tells the world, “I know how to handle this bucking alloy bull”
How It’s Done: Build up speed, then shift your weight back and gently feather the front brake, lifting the rear wheel upward. Let your body weight roll forward as the back end lifts. The key is control: Too much brake and you pile-drive yourself, too little and you just slow down. Don’t lock up the front wheel; let it keep rolling. Done perfectly, you’ll stop just as your weight reaches the balance point. Hold for a second, and enjoy the cheers.
Difficulty: 2-4 (depending on the hill)
Dazzle Your Buds: While your friends push, you jump back on and pedal up, up and away.
How It’s Done: Shift 1-3 gears harder than when you stopped. Position your bike for the best traction and line. Clip in your strong foot with the crank at 2 o’clock. If possible, place your unclipped foot on a rock or log so you can sit on the saddle. Bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the stem, so you’re in position. Then, in one motion, push off with your free foot, push down with the clipped-in foot and sit in the saddle. Build momentum, then clip in your free foot. If the front end lifts, shift up a gear, lower your chest and slide forward on the saddle. If you spin out, shift to a harder gear, lift your chest and slide back on the saddle.
Difficulty: 2 (staying centered is key)
Dazzle Your Buds: Fool your road-ride group into thinking you hit asphalt. You’re so funny!
How It’s Done: Drift to the back and let a bike-length gap open. For control, put your hands in the drops, or, on a flat bar, centered on your grips. Clip out with your dominant foot and drop your clipped-in foot to 6 o’clock. Then rest the thigh that belongs to the clipped-in foot on the top tube and, while keeping your bike centered, lightly scrape the cleat on your clipped-out foot along the pavement. It sounds exactly like a bike hitting the tarmac. Be sure to smile like a jackass when your friends look back.
Difficulty: 3 (requires multi-tasking and male parts)
Dazzle Your Buds: Pee without braking, and they’ll proclaim you ready for a Grand Tour.
How It’s Done: On a slight downhill or with a (good) friend pushing you, drop your left crankarm to 6 o’clock and pivot your hips to the left, for a clear shot over your shoe. Hold onto the center of the bar with your right hand; with your left, roll down your shorts, relax and have at it, keeping an eye out for road obstacles.
Difficulty: 1-3 (easy to pop, hard to roll)
Dazzle Your Buds: Feel like a kid when you pop one; look like an old pro when you roll along on one wheel.
How It’s done: Find a slight incline; the resistance will help keep your front wheel up. Use flat pedals for easy escape, or don’t clip in. Pedal in a low or medium gear, then push down on one crank while pulling up on your handlebar. Slide back on the saddle so your weight is over the rear wheel. You’re up. Once that’s easy, pop up and keep pedaling, using your rear brake for control.
Difficulty: 3.5 (it’s all in the lift)
Dazzle Your Buds: Be a hero as you clear debris with a quick flick.
How It’s Done: This trick works best on baseball- to softball-sized rocks and pine cones. Ride to one side of the object, as close to it as possible without touching it. Just as the part of the front tyre in contact with the trail passes the object, slightly unweight the front end of your bike and flick the handlebar toward the object, in one smooth motion. Lift too much and the wheel rolls over the target; lift too little and you’ll end up in the bushes as the front tyre grabs and darts to the side. Just right, and the tyre’s rotation will fling the object up and to the side. Note: Pine cones and rocks can rip tire sidewalls. Bottles and trash? Flick ‘em for fun, but pick them up off the trail afterward.
Difficulty: 4 (requires balance, unless you have a cape)
Dazzle your Buds: Liven up the road portion of any ride with this goofy stunt.
How It’s Done: Drift behind the pack on a non-technical descent. Scoot your butt off the back of the seat until your stomach and/or chest are on it. Unclip from the pedals, supporting your weight on your chest, and lift your legs out behind you until you’re flying like the Man of Steel. Your more-aero position should shoot you past the pack. The return to Clark Kent status is much harder. Bring your feet back to the pedals; don’t clip in, just stand up and scoot your butt forward. Being laid out compromises balance, so be sure the descent isn’t technical. To stop, brake carefully until you can put your feet down.