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Pushing yourself to improve is one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of mountain biking - there’s no better feeling than cleaning a new technical feature or taking your speed to the next level. With this in mind, we reached out to longtime professional mountain biker and coach Simon Lawton with Fluidride to get some mountain biking tips to help you improve your skills and have more fun out there on the trails. 

Mountain Biking With Style - How To Tabletop, Whip & Scrub

Looking to take your jumping skills to the next level? Add in some easy tricks to not only up your style, but also to help you ride faster and smoother. Mountain bike tricks like whips, scrubs, and tabletops show off your control in the air and look great in photos, but they also serve functional purposes in riding. Follow along and you’ll have the style flowing in no time. Looking to dial in your jumping basics? Check out our guide to hitting jumps on a mountain bike.

Counter Directional Steering - How to Tabletop on a Mountain Bike

Counter directional steering in the air can be a super helpful skill as riders progress to more advanced jump lines which require turning in the air. This helps to carry speed throughout a trail. In this sequence, Fludride shredder Taylor Dunn starts turning his bars to the left in order to set him up for a landing into an immediate right-hand turn.

The secondary benefit of this skill is the opportunity to exaggerate it and bring it into a cross up and eventually into a tabletop. Notice Taylor is getting some nice looking style here, in addition to getting his bike ready to turn right. With this skill, we turn in the opposite direction of the upcoming turn on our way up in flight - and turn back into the direction we want to go as we descend.

Taylor has great style, but for him, this move helps him keep his speed up on race runs as well. Notice that Taylor’s shoulders are starting to move in the direction of the upcoming turn. If you watch talented riders ride, you will notice that they throw ‘Table Tops’ off jumps which land into a turn. Rarely will you see this ‘trick’ if you are watching a rider jump on a trail that continues in a straight line.

In this image, Taylor is starting to steer back into the upcoming direction of the trail. Notice where he’s looking - where he wants to go!

Back on the ground and ready to rip the turn which is only about a dozen feet behind the landing.

Boom! Into the next corner with speed. By bringing some counter directional steering into your jumping, and you will be able to access trails that were not possible without this skill. Start with very small movements, and work your way up. The most important element in doing this successfully is relaxing your upper body. This should not be a physical feeling move.

How to Scrub a Jump on a Mountain Bike

Scrubbing jumps is a great way to stay low and fast over a jump - letting the energy of the jump blow off to the side. It’s also the right way to start working on your whips, since a whip originally came from a scrub. Bubba Stewart, the godfather of the scrub, used them to stay low while racing motocross. Pretty soon he turned the ‘Bubba Scrub’ into what riders were calling a ‘Scrub Whip’. Since that time, many have forgotten the root of the whip and are trying to make a trick move with the whip without first mastering the scrub. Whips, as they were originally brought into being, should be done by learning to scrub first. You don’t have to be able to do a massive scrub to do a whip, but there should be some of the action in the movement. Here Fluidride boss Taylor Dunn sets up for a basic scrub.

You can see in this image that Taylor is about to make a left-hand turn as he gets into the air. The action of moving his bars will happen pretty quickly at this moment. This turning of the bars will serve to blow energy off the right-hand side of the trail.

Notice how much more bar turn Taylor has than in the last image. It’s this ‘deflection of energy’ which is going to allow Taylor to stay low off this jump while moving faster than natural ‘trail speed’.

With the back wheel on the lip of the jump, Taylor moves further into his scrub. Notice his bent legs as the back wheel engages the lip. This is a ‘passive stance’ which will allow any energy not blown off with the scrub to travel into the riders’ body. Notice that what Taylor is doing has a particular style to it. Most ‘style’ came from humble functional beginnings. Bringing this idea into your riding will make it smooth, fast, AND stylish. Start with the roots and take it from there!

With a bit more wind up, Taylor will be able to bring this scrub into a whip. Even with his modest scrub, notice that the back end is moving around the front of the bike, into a mini whip.

With his front wheel down and his rear wheel out the side, Taylor will still get a straight landing. This is because he’s kept his body and line of vision facing forward throughout the move he’s created.

How to Whip on a Mountain Bike

A whip is one of the most simple and most stylish tricks you can do on a mountain bike. With the scrub as your foundation, you can build into a full whip. We’ll break down each step below, but here are the basics:

  1. Carve into the jump, winding up your body to get the bike sideways in the air
  2. Stay centered with your head and shoulders
  3. Allow the bike to come around sideways - keeping eyes forward
  4. Let your core unwind, bringing the bike back straight for the landing

On these bigger and wider jumps, Taylor demonstrates perfectly how a whip should look. Here Taylor starts to turn left off this sender. This will blow the energy of his fork off the right-hand side of the trail, keeping him low, and also allowing a wind up for a sweet whip.

Here we really see Taylor starting to carve the bike up the face of the jump. As he has turned left, his forks energy has released the right. Taylor is starting to wind his body up to get the bike sideways in the air.

With the rear wheel just releasing off the lip, Taylor is now well into setting up his whip. Notice that Taylor’s head and shoulders will more or less stay centered and not rotate. This allows him to wind up his core, which will bring the bike back for a straight landing.

The back wheel is now further to the right than the front. Taylor is still looking forward.

Here Taylor lets the back wheel move around the front. His whole bike is nearly visible from the rear.

Here is the apex of the full whip. Notice that Taylor is continuing to look forward with both his vision AND his shoulders. His core is now wound up in a way that will bring the bike back for a straight landing.

Almost there!

With such a big whip, the bike has just had time to straighten out before landing. We’ll see that in the next frame.

Touchdown. Dialed for more fun on the next jump!

Simon Lawton is the founder and owner of Seattle based Fluidride, and the creator of The Fluidride Method. Simon has been teaching riders for over 20 years. He raced pro Downhill and Enduro for 15 years. During his racing career, Simon amassed over 50 pro podium finishes at regional events, and two Medals (Silver and Bronze) at the UCI Masters World Downhill Championships. Simon created The Fluidride Method by watching the world’s best riders, and mimicking their movements on the bike to sharpen his own skills. He then created terms and vocabulary based on these movements to help transform the riding of his students. Simon has taught in a dozen countries on three continents, teaching over 1,000 riders per year in person. His teachings reach many more via his free online content and 3 feature-length films which are currently on iTunes. Simon’s latest venture, soon to be launched, is SNAPMTB, an online learning platform created to reach and benefit riders around the world.

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