Commonly, the only reason for riding BMX is to perform tricks. Whether it's park, dirt, street or flatland, all riders have the ambition to level up their riding by learning new tricks and new styles.
The problem is that so many BMX tricks need a huge commitment. To even attempt some tricks it often feels like you're putting yourself in significant danger. It's no wonder that such a huge percentage of new riders stay stuck at the same level for such a long time.
Fears of Committing to BMX Tricks
How to Commit to Bike Tricks
There is no singular way to help every rider to get better at committing to tricks. Just like nearly every other sport, there's no way of learning things quickly to get an edge on your competition. The thing that makes biking a little worse is that there's a risk of injury when trying a backflip but you don't have to worry about much when trying a new football skill. While there are a few techniques to help you commit to tricks and go for them more, you can't skip the hard work and the crashes, it makes you appreciate every trick much more.
Often it just takes a tiny bit of success before you're away and getting crazy good at some super hard tricks. To begin with, you need to have a look further down this article and pick a trick you're going to dedicate yourself to first. This trick will need to be suitable for your riding style but also fit your skill level so you have a reasonable chance of committing to it and learning it. When learning a new trick you need to dedicate a lot of your riding time to this specific trick. Get yourself into the groove of this trick but don't give up if it takes more than a couple of days to get it right.
It may sound stupid but in order to better your skill level and learn a new trick you really just need to send it. It's no good to sit next to a ramp thinking about doing the trick. You'll vastly overestimate the dangers and end up not even trying the trick.
Tricks For Your Skill Level and Committing to Them
If you're struggling to learn a specific trick and get over that hump of being brave enough to commit to it then the list below is great for you. This isn't a list of all the BMX tricks but it gives a good idea of some of the best BMX tricks to learn for your skill level. You won't need to learn every trick on each one of these sections in order to progress to the next, sometimes you'll feel more confident with a certain trick meaning you can go ahead and learn a more advanced trick. For example, I learnt a Can Can before I could do anything resembling a good Air or crankflip.
Bunny Hop 180 BMX Bike Tricks
The bunnyhop 180 is one of the first BMX stunts most people try to learn when starting to ride. The basic movement is the same needed for a lot of further tricks making it a brilliant, easy one for your first trick getting into the sport.
If you fear to go for the 180 then it's all about small amounts of progression. Initially, you need to learn to bunny hop, which isn't too hard. After you can hop reasonably comfortably you need to figure out which is the best rotation for you to spin. The spin rotation is pretty much entirely your preference. Personally, I spin to the right since I ride with my front foot forward.
Once you have your bunny hop and rotation sorted you can start with the trick itself. Begin by riding at a steady speed on some flat ground. If you're really struggling with the trick then a slight incline like the flat section of a kerb. Next, you need to slightly swerve the opposite way to the way you're going to spin, this will give you a bit more rotation speed when you eventually hop. When your turn gets back towards your original line you need to start to pull up the front of your bike while also twisting your body. Beginning to twist your head and look behind you will also help your rotation.
When you start to come off the ground you need to start twisting your body more. Slightly lean forwards with your spin and push the knee opposite to your rotation against your top tube.
When you're finding it hard to get enough spin to start rolling back into a fakie you need to build up the amount of spin you're doing. As well as beginning with a smaller rotation you can help yourself by doing a faster swerve before leaving the ground.
360 Spin and 180 Pivot
The 360 is a lot like the 180 just a little scarier. The movement is exactly the same for both tricks but as you can probably guess, the 360 just needs much more power. When you do your pre-jump swerve you will need to turn further and much faster.
Having a small bump like a piece of wood or torn up concrete that will help you get a small bit of effortless height will be very useful when you're first learning.
To build up to a 360 BMX spin you need to start with a 180 pivot. This will result in you spinning the bike a full 360 degrees but the last 180 will be a pivot on the rear wheel. To begin you need to repeatedly practice doing a 180, landing on the back wheel. Lean back and you'll start doing the pivot automatically but it's good to get a feel of how the trick will feel at first. Doing this more and more will get you comfortable with the speed and rotation of the trick while making you feel much safer about building up to it.
How to Drop Into a Quarter Pipe
Not everyone would call a drop in a trick but it's essential if you're ever going to be riding in a park. There are a few good reasons to learn to drop in at a skatepark. Firstly is that it looks good and is a good lesson in keeping control of your bike in different situations. Just rolling over the edge of a ramp will get boring and feel amateurish after a while but if you're doing a nice hop over the edge you'll look much more professional.
Secondly is to reduce the risk of falling off. If you ride a mountain bike or have a BMX chainring of more than about 32 teeth then you're probably going to catch it on the coping on the way over the edge. This catch can very easily throw people off their balance and on a high quarter pipe this can result in a nasty fall.
Lastly, you will be able to get and carry a lot more speed in a small area. Sometimes parks have ramps that are hard to access with speed without going down a quarter pipe. Being able to ride up to the edge of a quarter pipe and confidently hop into it will give you much better momentum and speed for a ramp that might only be a few metres away.
I know the worried feeling you can get before trying to ride over the edge of a quarter pipe, especially one bigger than you've ever ridden before. Rolling over will always feel safer but in reality, it's not. When learning to hop into the ramp you should do it on a ramp you feel comfortable with. The perfect ramp will be one that you've used many times before, with a lot of room and one that will allow enough clearance if you have to roll in without a hop.
Let the fact you know you can roll into the ramp if needed calm you down a bit and then begin your ride at an angle toward the coping. Quite a steep angle is important when dropping in, you can do it straight on but when you angle your run you will be able to do a much easier hop with a bit of a turn and you'll be away.
When you get to the edge you need to just start by doing a regular bunny hop. When you pull up, turn slightly into the ramp then pull up your back wheel too. Pull your back wheel much higher than normal, the steeper you point your bike when going into the ramp, the smoother it will feel. Your body and bike will automatically do the extra slight twist needed and you'll ride into the ramp straight, smooth and with lots of speed.
How To Drop In | BMX For Beginners
Air on a Quarter Pipe Tutorial
An air is another thing that many riders don't think should be considered a real trick. Whether you think it should or shouldn't be considered a trick, being able to air a quarter or half pipe is important if you want to take your park riding to the next level.
BMX riders often don't ride with brakes [link to brakes] and so riding at a steep quarter pipe at speed can seem pretty scary. In reality though, being able to use your speed effectively on a quarter pipe and rise high above the coping can look great, open up doorways to masses of new tricks and also give you the necessary speed to do other tricks on small cramped skateparks.
I have always struggled with doing this trick to any decent standard. Many times after getting up the courage to ride straight at a ramp and allow both my wheels to release off the coping I'd smash my back wheel on the top of the ramp and end up falling off. It's the main problem with doing an air. Since you're going above the ramp itself while also spinning 180 degrees it becomes very hard to keep your bike in a good position to land with both wheels at the right angle for the ramp.
There aren't too many tricks for this trick. It's pretty much a matter of persistence and progression. Find a small half pipe so you can continuously ride on each side. Then you can drop in and start to get the feeling of riding to the top of each side of the ramp. Once you can do this, start doing small hops at the top of each side. Progress this into letting your front wheel hit the coping and then using that to hop you the 180 degrees needed. Next, you just need to slowly wait longer and longer before jumping and spinning your bike. Within no time you'll be letting your back wheel fly straight over the coping and you'll be doing huge styling airs on all types of ramps.
Crankflip on a BMX Bike
A crankflip, for those who don't know, is a bunny hop where you release your feet from your pedals and spin the cranks 360 degrees. The scariest bit about doing a crankflip on a BMX is the worry of missing your pedal and it smashing you in the shin. I would suggest buying some padded socks from TSG.
When learning to crankflip on a BMX bike you need to find your favourite flat piece of concrete. A nice skatepark or car park will work great. A flat section of the kerb can also be useful to give you a little bump hop.
When riding along, start with your front foot slightly higher than normal, with your toe pointing downwards. Doing this will make it much easier to push your pedals backwards hard. Do a bunny hop and at the top of your jump let your feet come off. Before totally losing connection to your bike push your front pedal backwards and spin your cranks fast. When coming back down you need to try and land back on your pedals before hitting the ground.
The only real way to learn and practice committing to a crankflip is to initially do it without a jump. This will give you the comfort you need and accuracy of landing back on your pedals. Next, you need to do the trick by just pulling up your front wheel and finally pull harder and do a regular bunny hop first.
How to Crankflip on BMX - Basic BMX Tricks
How to Barspin BMX
Nearly every BMX rider looks to learn the barspin after a few months of riding. For some it comes easily but for most it's a tough battle to get the confidence to throw the bars. Read the above article to learn the clever ways people build themselves up to being able to throw and catch the bars perfectly in every situation.
Can Can and Nac Nac
This is the first trick that needs to be performed over a ramp. A Can Can is where you kick your foot over the top tube of your bike and a Nac Nac is where you bring one leg over the back of your bike, almost like you're getting off in mid-air.
I wouldn't say one trick is vastly easier than the other to learn first but personally, I learnt the CanCan first.
When first learning the can-can you need to get familiar with either doing an air or jumping over a box. You need to get a pretty good amount of air to give you enough time to pull the trick off.
Start your learning process by just taking one foot off, I like to take off my non-dominant foot. It's not too hard to land a normal box jump with one foot off your pedals so this part should be fairly easy to commit to. Slowly take your foot off for longer and longer until you can do it easily and land well every time.
Next, go over the jump as you would normally but aim to kick the bike grip on the opposite side of your bike. Having your hand to aim for makes it much easier to do the trick the same every time. From this stage onwards you need to just commit to the can can more and more until you're at a stage where you're looking good.
Doing a nac nac is nearly the same when learning. Start with the one foot. If needed you can then move onto learning a Grizzly. This is where you kick your back foot far backwards while pointing your bike upwards. Doing this helps you learn to get your feet back on your pedals after having your feet behind you.
After your grizzly is on lockdown you need to start progressively moving your leg over your back wheel. After a lot of practice, you want to be able to get totally over your frame while whipping your bike out to the side.
How to No Foot Can Can BMX
Truckdriver. 360 Barspin
Truckdrivers are a pretty advanced trick that many people build up to after learning to barspin, 180 and barspin 180. A truck driver is where you spin a full 360 degrees while also spinning your bars. This trick is typically performed on a quarter pipe or a flyout but with practice, you can definitely do it on flat ground.
This trick is obviously split into two essential tricks that you need to learn independently. Once you've picked the flyout or ramp you want to learn on try to progress your barspin and 360 skills individually. Putting both the tricks together isn't too hard once you have each one on lockdown.
When learning to 360 you need to be positioning yourself on your bike as you would when doing a barspin. This means leaning backwards slightly, gripping your seat with your knees and straightening your arms.
How to Truckdriver on BMX
Interactive BMX Track Map