MID LEVEL TRIALS TRAINING: USING A KICKER
This cross training information is subject to our disclaimer here.
A kicker is an object used in trials to launch a bike through the air, either on to or over large obstacles. It can be incredible to see how high or far an experienced trials rider can jump their bikes from using a small rock!
The kicker can be a small rock, log, bank of dirt or bump. Ideally it should be firmly seated so that it won’t roll and deflect your front wheel, and also stay in place so that your rear tire can use it as well.
To start with, your kicker should be about as far from the object as its height. But with practice, you can place a kicker further away to cover more distance, or place it closer to an obstacle to get more height.
As you approach the kicker, get your speed right – going slower will get more elevation, faster will be lower but cover more distance. You need to jump down on the footpegs to compress the suspension. The front forks should be fully compressed just as you hit kicker. As the front wheel comes up, apply the throttle and de-weight the bike (e.g. push hard against the footpegs) into a wheelie as the rear wheel hits the kicker.
Keep the throttle on until the rear wheel has hit the kicker too. With good timing and technique, this should have the bike clearing the obstacle ahead, or landing you a fair way up so you can ride over it.
DOUBLE BLIP OR ZAP FOR EXTRA LIFT
There are two techniques if you need extra lift or distance from a small kicker.
You can use the double blip to do a small wheelie and land your front wheel just before the kicker. This provides even more downward force to store more energy in the compressed suspension. You will need to be able to accurately place your front wheel to get this right!
That gets the suspension working harder for you. What about the engine? With the zap, you drop the clutch for extra acceleration so that there is extra energy stored in the flywheel. You will probably want to cover the rear brake for this one as the bike could flip if you overdo it. One handy aspect of having a kicker is that if you sense the bike may flip you can back off the throttle just before the rear wheel hits the kicker, which should bring the front down again.
Once you have got the basics right, you can start tweaking your technique. For example, if you are trying to clear a ditch or log, you will want the front wheel to be coming down while you are in mid-air so that the rear wheel keeps coming up and is more likely to clear. This can be achieved by not pulling as hard on the bars as the front wheel leaves the kicker, backing off the throttle just before the rear wheel leaves the kicker and moving your body weight forward while in mid-air.
Alternatively, if there is no way you are going to clear a very high obstacle you may do the exact opposite – pull very hard on the bar as the front wheel leaves the kicker, keep the throttle on all the way and keep your body weight to the rear. This will have the bike threatening to flip in mid-air, but when the rear wheel hits the obstacle it provides a lot of momentum to get over the obstacle as it forces the front wheel down. This is definitely an advanced technique and can be seen in our Splats video.
Make sure you are freshly showered if you pull this one off, as adoring girls will be throwing themselves at you (and probably some male riders too).
Copyright B. Morris 2014