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The trackstand in bike trials

In biketrial, the trackstand is the invisible technique that gives trials riders their stability when concentrating for a move. The whole purpose of the trackstand is to secure yourself in a stable position so that you can look around, breath, or rest your arms, while staying on the bike even in the middle of a zone.

trials riding tutorials Vincent Hermance lodges his front wheel into a recess.

There is the free trackstand before zone entry, and the locked trackstand with the front wheel pushing against an obstacle in the zone.
As you progress in trials riding, the trackstand will become your default mode, securing stability and preparing for the next big move. The whole balancing act relies on adjusting your center of gravity (moving your waist) on one side of the bike, while you lean the bike onto the other side in a counter-balance measure.

trials riding tutorials Move your hips away from the bar turn.

It is usually easier to hold a trackstand position with your good foot forward, leaning over your driving pedal while turning your bars on the side of your bad foot.

So find out what is your most comfortable foot forward, by pedaling up a slope and letting the bike stop. Your foot forward when you stop should be your natural foot forward (also for pedal kicks etc..)

trials riding tutorials Practise riding up a slight slope.

If you lose balance on the side you turned the bars, turn the bars a bit more towards the slope, leaning the front wheel more into the slope while shifting your weight in the opposite direction. If you lose balance on the side of your driving foot, try to lean more over the bike, tucking your knees over the frame.

Practise by riding up a slight slope, if you release your driving foot progressively, the bike will force its way backwards, turning the cranks backwards too. Try to play with this, going up or down as you put more or less pressure on the good pedal. This exercise is easier on a medium gear ratio.

Click on any step below and use the scroll-wheel to move through the animation.

Feel the pressure on the pedals - in a slope

trials riding tutorials
1° Ride up a slope very slowly at an approximate angle of 45°, reduce your pace until the bike actually stops, then lock the front wheel.

trials riding tutorials
2° Turn the bars up against the slope and keep some pressure on your strong foot to stop the bike from going backwards.

trials riding tutorials
3° Lean well over the handlebars and shift your hips away from the front wheel, realigning your body to face the front wheel direction.

trials riding tutorials
4° If you lose balance on the inside of the turn, then turn more, leaning the bike a bit more into the slope, pushing yourself away from the frame.

trials riding tutorials
5° If you lose balance on the opposite side of the turn, then straighten the bars and readjust your centre of gravity to lean nearer the top tube, tucking your knees over it.

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6° Once you have stopped the off-balance movement to a standstill, try to find a comfortable middle position where you don't have to stretch or tuck too much.

Biketrial video Watch all the slow-motion video clips for this move Biketrial video

Try both sides
Without a slope, you will have to use the brakes to a full stop, then decide a direction in which to turn the bars. If you turn the handlebars to the left, lean on the right side of the top tube (this is usually the easiest trackstand position for riders with the right foot forward).

With both brakes locked, you'll realise that you have two solid points of contact with the ground. Then you must constantly adjust your position to find the perfect balance over the line between these two points of contact.
The more you turn the bars, the more movement you have to counter-balance and lean on the other side (the front tyre contact on the ground moves as you roll the wheel, even when the brakes are locked).

Balancing on sloppy terrain

trials riding tutorials Lean up against the slope to secure some support.

trials riding tutorials Don't face down the slope, the front wheel rolls too easily.

With practise, you'll be able to maintain a trackstand turning the bars in any direction, change your front foot, and even change from one trackstand position to the opposite in order to get the best angle and support from the ground.

As a preference, if you are balancing onto a sloppy obstacle, always try to balance across the slope, with your bars turned up against the slope. This gives you the most support when leaning over the front wheel. The other side offer nearly no support (the front tyre rolls down too easily and you can't stretch enough to counter balance properly).

Locking the front wheel against an obstacle

trials riding tutorials Abel Mustieles locked into a trackstand.

You can lock your bike with three contact points, two with the tyres on the ground, and one more higher up on the front tire against the obstacle. In this position, you can maintain a trackstand even out of balance.

This is a very stable position and very useful to relax a bit and look around. Move your body around and see how much stability this technique gives you. The key to lock completely the bike into that trackstand is to secure three solid points of contact, so any irregularities in a zone can do the trick.

trials riding tutorials Hannes Herrmann locked into a trackstand.

For example, you can lodge the front wheel into a pot-hole with the bars turned (that will stop it rolling neat) and just lock the brakes. With a bit of practise, this also works if you face completely the obstacle, pushing against it to lock the bike vertically (using the friction of the front tyre). Then you still need to tune a bit your balance sideways and find a position that is perfectly aligned vertically with the bike.

Click on any step below and use the scroll-wheel to move through the animation.

Locking the front wheel against an obstacle

trials riding tutorials
1° Ride towards the obstacle at an angle of about 45 degrees or less, with your lazy foot on the side of the obstacle.

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2° As you approach, turn the bars to face the obstacle with the front wheel and touch it with the front tyre.

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3° Lock the brakes, you can now rest the front wheel against the obstacle and lean the bike on the same side to maintain pressure and gain full support.

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4° When you want to leave the locked position, simply turn the front wheel away from its contact point on the obstacle and ride away.

Compression trackstand

trials riding tutorials Just balancing right

trials riding tutorials A compression trackstand
wedged between two rocks.

By applying more pressure onto the front pedal, you'll secure more friction from the front tyre and more grip onto any obstacle. With a bit of practise, you can lock a trackstand even facing completely the obstacle, pushing the front tyre against it to lock the bike vertically, generating more friction while holding the handlebars straight.

This variant of the trackstand is useful if you need to maintain your balance with each wheel resting against different sloppy obstacles. The pressure and grip come naturally as the bike rests in compression between the two obstacles. You can increase the front tyre friction by leaning a bit more over the front wheel.

Fight for your balance

trials riding tutorials Stretch your leg for counter-balance.

trials riding tutorials If you are too much off balance,
extend a leg to have more effect

While riding a zone, you won't always find your favourite trackstand position (actually, the whole trials riding game is about riding along awkward tracks and not loosing balance). If the usual corrections of bar turn and weight shifting over the top tube don't work anymore (because of an awkward position of the bike), you'll be loosing balance for real.

In some situations you may not be able to turn the handlebar at all, and you must rely on finding the correct body position (shifting your weight around). If you fall on the side you were leaning off the bike, then tuck over the top tube as much as you can to stop the move, and come back to a more natural position when you are in balance again.

If you are loosing balance on the same side as you turned the handlebar, then extend your leg on the outside for a better counter-balance effect. Don't give up too quickly. If that's not enough... then... tough luck...

You should do your best to bail out as safely as you can. On any plain track, you can use correction hops and move your wheels around until you find the best grip or position for balance. Riding along a narrow path forces you to keep both wheels aligned.

Following narrow lines

trials riding tutorials Focus on the front wheel, lean forward

trials riding tutorials Ryan Leech, the master of balance
(photo by Derek Vanderkooy)

When following narrow lines such as rails or beams, you can't rely so much on turning the bars for balance adjustments. Your main option is to adjust your weight over the bike, in line with the beam you are riding on. Same if you bridge the bike over a gap, with each wheel positioned on narrow spots.

Avoid large weight-shiftings that are more likely to throw you off balance. Use your knees to fine tune your weight distribution. If you need more effect, extend one leg. Keep your center of gravity over the line and you'll be fine. Try to focus on the front wheel and the next 2 meters in front of you, the rear wheel will follow.

With the front wheel up against an obstacle.

trials riding tutorials Try to balance between two rocks.

Try to balance with the front wheel lifted onto some kerb. To maintain balance in that position, you'll have to lean much more over the stem and put more pressure vertically on the front wheel (to stop it from moving sideways). Once you found your balance, keep your cool and plan your next move (that the Zen part of trials).

Rolling backwards
This little trick always makes people assume that there is no freewheel on the bike you ride, and that the chain can drive the rear wheel both ways like on a fixed gear bike.

It is purely visual. But rolling backwards is very useful to reposition yourself quickly on a slick surface, away from the obstacle onto which you were resting the front wheel for example. This is a direct variation of the trackstand as it could be learnt in a mild slope.

This is much less demanding than hopping around. Try this in a slope first, from a trackstand position, unlocking the brakes and progressively releasing pressure from your front foot. The bike forces its way backwards down the slope, turning the cranks backwards too.

Riding slowly backwards, try to maintain the bike straight and balance sideways. Adjust your balance by turning the bars on the side you fall. Ride backwards in a smooth snake pattern if that helps, every turn is an opportunity to adjust your balance.

Click on any step below and use the scroll-wheel to move through the animation.

Rolling backwards

trials riding tutorials
1° With the brakes locked, lean forward over the bars to prepare for a quick and firm pushup. Then straighten the front wheel and push back on the bar.

trials riding tutorials
2° Unlock the brakes and soften your feet on the pedals, backpedal in tune to let the cranks turn. Ride slowly backwards and try to maintain the bike straight.

trials riding tutorials
3° Ride backwards in a smooth snake pattern if that helps, every turn is an opportunity to adjust your balance.

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4° Use your hips and lean on one side or the other of the top tube to balance as you roll back.

Biketrial video Watch all the slow-motion video clips for this move Biketrial video

Follow the cranks
Just try to follow the cranks' movement in a back-pedalling motion, let the cranks drive your feet and use the brakes if you think this is going too fast. Once you manage to pedal backwards down a slope, try this on a flat surface.

Going backwards with a push-up
Find a comfortable trackstand position on a flat surface and apply both brakes to secure a good grip. Lean forward over the bars to prepare for a quick push up, then straighten the front wheel and push back on the bars with the brakes still locked so that you can thrust yourself backwards.

trials riding tutorials
Follow some lines

trials riding tutorials
Kenny balancing on wood logs with a compression trackstand

trials riding tutorials
Use counter-balance if need be.


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