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Transitions on the rear wheel


The pedal hop, in fact a pedal-kick-assisted hop, is what you'll use to hop over a large gap or to land your rear wheel with precision, hopping from one beam to another.

Jump on top of a kick

trials riding tutorials Giacomo Coustellier over wood logs.

Assuming you can lift the front wheel and bounce a couple of times on the rear wheel, you should be ready to focus on pedal hop transitions from one edge to another.

Such transitions combine the power of a pedal kick with the spring action of both your legs and arms. In fact, you should use the whole bike as a cantilever to boost your impulse, pulling yourself on the handlebars to accelerate as you push with your legs and perform the pedal kick. The cantilever effect will work best if you keep your arms stretched.


Understanding the move

trials riding tutorials Carles Diaz pulls over a massive gap.

trials riding tutorials Kenny Belaey aims the rear wheel at the other side.

Balance over the rear wheel, about one foot behind the edge you want to leave. Lower the front wheel slightly and crouch back to get extra torque, this compresses the rear tyre.

Lowering the front wheel also rolls the rear wheel about a foot, which means you should be pressing the rear tyre right onto the edge when you actually kick the pedal.

Pull on the bars and spring up into extension, thrusting your hips forward to stand up on your front foot as you perform the pedal kick.

Unlock the rear brake to finish up your jump impulse with a strong pedal kick, this firm quarter crank turn propels you off the edge, synchronized with the rebound effect of the rear tyre.

As soon as you have given your best kick, pull the bike upward in front of you and tuck your knees up to swing the bike forward. You should end up holding the bike vertically in front of you, ready to touch down with the rear wheel first.

Lock the rear brake again before you touch down. As you land, crouch again on the bike to damp the impact progressively finishing in perfect balance over the rear wheel.


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

Transitions on the rear wheel

trials riding tutorials
1° Balance over the rear wheel, about one foot behind the edge you want to leave.

trials riding tutorials
2° Lower the front wheel slightly and crouch back to get extra torque, this compresses the rear tyre.

trials riding tutorials
3° Pull on the bars and spring up into extension as you unlock the rear brake, thrusting your hips forward.

trials riding tutorials
4° The firm quarter crank turn propels you off the edge, synchronized with the rebound effect of the rear tyre.

trials riding tutorials
5° In the air, pull the bike up in front of you and tuck your knees up to swing the bike forward.

trials riding tutorials
6° Lock the rear brake again before you touch down. As you land, crouch again on the bike to damp the impact progressively.


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


Smoothing things up
At the beginning, it's quite common to bounce back upon landing. This can happen either because you land too short of your target, due to a lack of impulse during your jump extension or because you stand too rigidly when the rear wheel touches down.

Work on being progressive and supple upon landing. To increase your reach over a gap, drop your center of gravity forward before the pedal kick. That will bring your centre of gravity further over the gap, effectively reducing the total gap distance over which you have to surge with the bike.


Adding power to the kick

trials riding tutorials Carles Diaz, right on the edge, arms stretched.

trials riding tutorials Aurelien Fontenoy tucks to cover extra distance.

The combined action of lowering the front wheel and moving your hips forward gives you extra torque and power for the pedal kick. This also compensates for the vertical tilt that results from pulling on the handlebars during the jump.

This will also prevent you from leaning too much on the rear upon landing. You can enhance the rebound effect of the rear tyre with a small hop as you drop your center of gravity, compressing the tyre precisely onto the edge as you lower the front wheel.

Taking off at a slight angle, about 20 degrees from the gap instead of facing it (with your lazy foot facing the gap) allows you to kick-in more power and for longer, until you are in full extension on your front pedal. This will effectively increase your reach and extension potential.


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

More power into the kick

trials riding tutorials
1° Balance over the rear wheel at about 20 degrees from the gap instead of facing it.

trials riding tutorials
2° From a high up position, let suddenly the front wheel drop and regroup so as to perform a compression hop.

trials riding tutorials
3° The rear tyre gets pinched right on the edge, you end up arms fully stretched ready to kick in the pedal.

trials riding tutorials
4° Pull yourself into a jump extension. Taking off at a slight angle allows you to kick-in more power.


Position yourself for the kick

trials riding tutorials Hannes Herrmann tilts the bike vertical for a secure reception.

trials riding tutorials For a longer reach, tuck your knees and pull the bike up.

Now that you can pedal hop, make the most of it. A correct rear wheel position can make all the difference between a face-plant and a nice powerful gap transition.

When you are about to leap from a rock or a wall, a rounded or a flat edge is more forgiving, since the rear wheel will always roll off it nicely.

But when performing a pedal kick from a narrow edge, for example from a pointy rock or a railing, be careful to always position the rear hub right above or beyond the edge (on the gap side), like shown on the pictures (a) and (b).

Never start with your rear hub behind the highest point of the edge (picture c), unless you want to put yourself into desperate crash situations.

As you kick in your front pedal, part of your effort is transferred to the rear wheel into a torque (a rotating force perpendicular to the radius of your wheel). To simplify, if we were to consider only the rotating wheel (not your whole impulse on the rock), its reaction force (blue arrow) will propel you off the edge.


Rear wheel position before the kick

trials riding video
The rear hub is right above the highest point of the edge, the wheel will provide the maximum torque horizontally, for an optimum gap distance. There is no vertical reaction, all your energy goes into the horizontal move.

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The rear hub is a bit beyond the edge on the gap side, the rear wheel rolls down and this drags the bike down while you try to tuck for the gap crossing. The downward reaction (red arrow) is lost energy and makes your jump ineficient.

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The rear hub is behind the peak of the edge, the wheel can get stuck behind when you kick. The vertical reaction upwards (red arrow) will flick the rear wheel up (face-plant guaranteed in most cases, this is no fun!)


Plan a: best case scenario
In the optimum case (picture a), the rear hub is positioned at the vertical right above the edge, this ensures the most kick back from the edge with a reaction force that is completely horizontal. From the kick alone, there is no vertical reaction and you will perform the longest jump.

Plan b: less than optimum
If you kick in the pedal while the hub is already standing beyond the highest point (picture b), then the reaction to the wheel torque (the force that reacts from your kick into the wheel) can be decomposed into a horizontal (green arrow) and a vertical (red arrow) components. In this case, the vertical component represents energy that is wasted downwards, that could have been used instead to propel yourself across the gap.

Instead, it pushes your rear wheel down and makes it more difficult to lift the bike up. Now, this would be the right approach for drop-gaps. You can play on this roll-down effect to kick your rear wheel directly towards your targeted landing spot if it is situated lower.

Plan c: definitely scary
If you still kick the pedal when the rear hub is positioned behind the highest point of the edge (picture c), the reaction to the wheel torque (blue arrow) will be decomposed into a vertical force upward (red arrow) and a horizontal reaction (green arrow).

That would be ok if you kept your weight behind or above the rear hub, maybe for a small re-adjustment hop to get right on top of the crest. But if you kick too hard and lurch forward over a gap, the upward reaction will flick the rear wheel up and tilt the bike down as you shift your weight forward.

This is a sure way to plunge over the bars. Effectively, it is as if the rear wheel was stuck behind a small step, and that could be the start of a face-plant.


Adjustment and pre-load hop when lowering the front wheel
Typically, when you are in perfect balance on the back wheel, on a rail or a pointy edge, the front wheel is fairly high up. Now, when you lower the front wheel before the kick, this rolls the rear wheel down by about a foot (with the hub coming behind the edge).

That's why in most cases, the compression hop before the kick is also a repositioning hop, bringing the rear wheel back again in a good position right before the kick.

If you want to avoid a re-adjustment hop, then start in balance with the rear hub just a bit behind the edge, so that when you lower the front wheel you end up with the hub exactly at the vertical to the edge (picture a), ready for the perfect kick. Try to focus on this and you'll notice a huge difference in your kicks.



The drop gap
The gap drop is a combination of the rear drop-off technique with a firm pedal hop that sends you flying off the edge, across whatever gap there may be, to a lower obstacle. The higher is the drop from take-off to landing, the more distance you will be able to cover across the gap that separates the two obstacles.


Tune your horizontal momentum

trials riding tutorials Andrei Burton aims his rear wheel at the railing for a firm stop.

trials riding tutorials Fully stretched for better reach with the rear wheel.

This technique will come as a natural variation of your pedal hop practise down small kerbs. Remember that when performing a gap drop, you don't need to kick the pedal with as much energy as you would to cross a horizontal gap.

Across large gaps, you may build quite a lot of horizontal momentum when launching the pedal hop, which means that you should really swing the rear wheel in front of you before it touches down.

Tilting the bike more vertical will help you stop the horizontal motion more efficiently when you finally land the rear wheel on your target.

If you realize in mid-air that your pedal kick was too weak, you can cover up a few extra inches of gap distance by tucking more before landing (delaying touchdown). But after this cheat, you will have less flexibility to absorb the impact. The trade-off here is a harsh landing in place of a complete failure.


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

The drop gap

trials riding tutorials
1° Balancing on the rear wheel, use a few hops to adjust your rear tyre right onto the edge of the obstacle.

trials riding tutorials
2° Brakes fully locked, lower your front wheel to the horizontal while crouching on the bike.

trials riding tutorials
3° Pull on the bars and spring into extension. Unlock the rear brake and tune your pedal kick to the gap distance and height.

trials riding tutorials
4° Pull the bike up in front of you so you can aim your rear wheel at your target landing spot and cover extra distance.

trials riding tutorials
5° Control the rear wheel position beneath you by pulling on the handlebars, stretch your legs to place the rear wheel with precision.

trials riding tutorials
6° Upon landing, lock the rear wheel to secure your position and crouch progressively to end up with your bum over the rear hub.


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


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