6 Brilliant Bike Tricks To Progress Your Riding

Learn some handy skills and show off to your bike mates at the same time!

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reviewed by Rory McAllister
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If your climbing prowess or trail-taming skills don’t seem to impress your riding buddies, then maybe it’s time to start adding some bike tricks to your cycling repertoire.

Whilst some of these tricks are just for showing off, most of them are also extremely useful and excellent tools to have in your cycling arsenal for both road and mountain biking, and I make use of them myself all the time.

All these bike tricks will require some practice to perfect so make sure you find a nice quiet slice of road, away from cars and people – and always wear a helmet!

If (like me) you spend a lot of time waiting in non-descript car parks waiting for your mates to show up for the Sunday morning ride, instead of cursing their lateness, use the time to work on your bike tricks and bike handling skills.

Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will be adding these tricks to your everyday cycling!

Legendary stunt cyclist Danny MacAskill wheelies on a wall in California.
Legendary stunt cyclist Danny MacAskill wheelies on a wall in California. © Dave Mackison/Red Bull Content Pool

1. Bunny Hop

This is one of those tricks for bikes that not only looks cool, but could also potentially save you and your bike one day.

The bunny hop is easy to learn, but hard to master, especially at speed. The only thing harder than mastering the bunny hop is trying to explain the technique to pull it off.

To start, there are a couple of different types of bunny hop; the American method where your front wheel leaves the ground first, and the English version where both front and rear wheels leave the ground at the same time.

The “English” Bunny Hop

The English method is much easier to achieve on a road bike when you are clipped in to the pedals.

Here’s Peter Sagan with a textbook demonstration at the Tour de France a few years ago:

High risk. Low reward. Lovely.

On a road bike, approach at a steady speed, around 10 mph (much slower than our friend Peter in the video above), with your pedals level, knees bent, and bum off the saddle slightly.

With your body coiled like a spring, pop smoothly upwards, bringing the bike with you. Your feet should lift the rear wheel and as you pull the handlebars, your front wheel should also come up.

Keep the front wheel straight and the knees bent for the landing to absorb the shock.

The “American” Bunny Hop

The American version of the bunny hop, favored by mountain bikers, traces a rainbow through the air with the front wheel coming up first and then scooping the back wheel by shifting your body weight forward in the jump.

It also takes a bit of practice to get the feel of it. It helps to pre-load the suspension just before the jump to give you some extra spring.

2. Track Stand

The track stand is a bike trick that allows you to stand stationary on the bike without moving.

It gets its name, unsurprisingly, from the riders on the fixed-gear track bikes balancing on the velodrome when they come to a stop, but it should be considered a vital skill for any rider, especially road cyclists.

This is one to pull out of your back pocket when you come to a standstill in traffic at a red light, and don’t want to unclip to avoid the shame of not being able to clip back into your pedal as a line of cars snarl behind you.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

The trick to performing a rock-steady track stand is to try to practice on an incline, just like the riders on the velodrome use the steep banks of the pine tracks.

Practice somewhere quiet, away from traffic and you might want to swap the clipless pedals for flats so you can escape in a hurry.

Approach perpendicular to the incline and as you slow down, just before coming to a stop, turn your front wheel into the hill.

Stand up in the pedals, with your cranks level with the ground, and find the sweet spot where you can push against the hill with a little power on the pedals and let the hill push you back slightly.

Keep your head up and fix your eyes on an object in the distance. If you look down, especially at your front wheel, you are going to lose your balance.

As you get better and better at the track stand you will even be able to pull it off seamlessly at every traffic light, even to the point of being able to do it sitting down.

3. One Handy/No Handy

Matteo Jorgensen celebrates winning a race by riding no-hands, one of the easiest bike tricks you can learn.
© A.S.O./Oman Cycling Association/Pauline Ballet

Not only is this a cool trick that will help you to eat and drink on the go but it is an essential skill to master if you plan to cycle in traffic or with other riders.

Riding with one hand is an essential cycling skill that allows you to signal properly in traffic so that drivers know exactly what you are planning to do.

If you can’t ride confidently with only one hand on the bars yet, keep practicing it before you start cycling on the road.

If you are riding in a group, such as the traditional Sunday café ride, being able to use one hand to point out any potholes or other dangers on the road to those following you is guaranteed to make you friends in the bunch too.

It is one of the easiest skills to master.

Find someone quiet to practice and try to relax your upper body as much as possible. If you are too tense then there is a tendency to overcorrect with the one hand left on the bars.

With enough practice riding one-handed will become second nature and you can then take the next natural step to riding with no hands.

This is handy for eating food mid-ride, zipping up jackets, and so on. So, not exactly essential, but handy nonetheless.

It is also the only acceptable way to celebrate crossing the line first in a race, whether that is a stage of the Tour de France or the local sprint to the next road sign. (Just make sure the race is actually finished, unlike Adam Toupalik in the video below.)

Start by lifting your hands off the bars by just a few centimeters so that you can easily grab hold again if you start to lose balance. I also find it easier if I shift into a big gear and pedal slowly, rather than just freewheeling.

When you feel comfortable riding with no hands in a straight line, start to practice maneuvering by slightly turning your hips in the direction you want to go.

4. Skidding/Drifting

A mountain biker drifts on a muddy descent.
© Paris Gore/Red Bull Content Pool

Yes, we know that tires are not cheap, but some of these tricks for bikes will take you back to those skidding-filled days as a child when you could ride without a care in the world.

And as fun as it is to skid, there is a genuine usefulness to the skill, especially if you are riding on gravel or in slippery winter conditions.

Sometimes you might not even mean to skid as you go through a sweeping corner, so it is important to know how to handle it to keep control if you find you’ve come into a corner too hot and start to skid the rear wheel – just check out this save from Tom Pidcock below!

The key to skidding lies in using your rear brake to lock the rear wheel.

Start by practicing skidding in a straight line on a loose road surface. As you cycle along at a moderate speed, jam on the back brake and lock the wheel. You should glide forward with the back wheel skidding along the road before eventually coming to a stop.

Once you have a feel for how to lock the back wheel, experiment by gently shifting your weight in the skid. This will allow you to turn in the skid and get a feel for what it is like to be in a corner when the rear wheel suddenly locks.

5. Riding Slowly

Every kid learning to ride their bike very quickly figures out that bikes are more stable when going faster.

So why would you want to practice riding slowly at a walking pace?

It is a great skill to have in your back pocket when commuting in heavy traffic through the city, allowing you to keep moving forward without having to constantly stop, unclip your pedals, and put your feet down.

Like a lot of the tricks for bikes here, riding slowly just requires a lot of practice to get a feel for the physics at lower speeds. A good tip is to find a painted line and try to stay on it going as slowly as you can.

It will have the added benefit of honing your bike handling skills and will be a useful addition to your soon-to-be mastery of the track stand.

6. Wheelie

Full disclosure time.

I have been riding a bike most of my life and, despite hours upon hours of practice, I cannot perform anything close to a wheelie. I have accepted that it is something that I will never learn – but that doesn’t mean that you can’t pull it off!

Are they useful? No.

Are they cool? Absolutely.

Peter Sagan might have won three road world championships on the trot but a lot of cycling fans will simply remember him for his impromptu wheelies up sinuous alpine mountain passes to the unadulterated joy of the fans at the side of the road.

Every man and his dog love this trick.

Start by finding a road with a slight incline as this will help initially to keep the front wheel lifted.

Pick a medium gear and then push down on one pedal whilst lifting the front wheel off the ground by pulling back on the bars at the same time.

Once the front wheel is airborne, shift your weight back to the saddle so that it is closer to the rear wheel.

When you have mastered getting the front wheel up, keep pedaling and use the rear brake, gently, to control the wheelie.

It might be best to swap your clipless pedals for flats when practicing this trick as you will need to get your feet down fast as you master the technique.

Maybe one day I will be able to pull off a sick wheelie but for now, I can only glance on jealously at those with more prowess.

Just don’t be one of those fools who pull wheelies in traffic!

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David rediscovered his love of two wheels and Lycra on an epic yet rainy multi-day cycle across Scotland's Western Isles. The experience led him to write a book about the adventure, "The Pull of the Bike", and David hasn't looked back since. Something of an expert in balancing cycling and running with family life, David can usually be found battling the North Sea winds and rolling hills of Aberdeenshire, but sometimes gets to experience cycling without leg warmers in the mountains of Europe. David mistakenly thought that his background in aero-mechanical engineering would give him access to marginal gains. Instead it gave him an inflated and dangerous sense of being able to fix things on the bike.

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