intermediate level trials training: rear wheel hop
Like hopping the front wheel, hopping the rear can be tricky to learn. While not needed in the lower grades, it becomes a handy skill in C grade and a requirement in A and B grades. Experienced riders can hop the wheels on twin shock bikes, but generally you will need the light weight and good suspension of a modern trials bike (e.g. 2000 model or later) to successfully hop the rear wheel.
It's common for riders to try to learn this one too early as it looks cool, but you first need to master balancing on your stationary bike for extended periods.
Start learning to hop the rear wheel on a smooth area with the bike facing down the slope.
When beginning, it might pay first to just get used to the rear wheel popping up. Ride downhill slowly, then jump on the pegs to compress the suspension, then apply the front brake, straighten your legs and push your body weight forward (commonly called a "nose wheelie").
To make it even easier, you can use a small obstacle like a rock or log to make rear wheel hopping almost effortless.
You may find it easier at first to just concentrate on hopping up and down in the one spot, and leave hopping to the side for later.
The keys to hopping the rear wheel is balance, compressing your suspension, using your body weight and good timing. Once you get the timing right it is surprising how little effort it takes.
Many riders will also use a small throttle blip and clutch control to make it easier to pop the rear wheel up. Remember to reapply the rear brake though before the rear wheel lands. You'll lose points if the bike rolls backwards in competition.
First compress the front suspension by bending the legs and in effect jumping on the footpegs. As the suspension rebounds, straighten your legs and move your body weight forward. Timing is critical, the most common mistake is to rush things and straighten your legs before the suspension has full compressed. The second mistake is not pushing your body weight toward the front of the bike - all these things need to come together to get that rear wheel up!
Once you are used to popping the rear wheel up by applying the front brake moving down a slope, try it with the bike stationary.
To turn the bike, turn the handlebars in the direction you want to hop the rear wheel, and lean your body weight in that direction when you straighten your legs.
At first, you will probably find yourself losing balance when the rear wheel lands, but don't worry about this - the balance will come with practice.
When learning, it's best to move in a series of small hops. But as you become more skilled, you will find it quite easy to hop the rear wheel through 90 degrees or more.
Your suspension is critical to hopping the rear wheel easily, so it may pay to ensure your suspension is set up correctly for your body weight and style of riding.
Hop the rear wheel with the engine off so it is harder to balance. Try hopping in a complete circle.
You'll probably have a favorite direction, remember to practice the other direction as well! Once you have mastered this on smooth ground, try in rough terrain or facing uphill
Try hopping the rear wheel over obstacles in the way like a small rock.
A video will be posted shortly along with our other trials training videos here.
Copyright B. Morris 2014
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