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Who does not like doing tricks on their bikes? Every cyclist at some point in the cycling journey thinks about learning tricks they can perform on their bikes. Some of riders it might be fun, for others for serious and technical riding.

From my experience, although most of these start as fun, it ends up being very profitable in the rides I go on. These rides being commuting, where free hands, trackstands, bunny hops prove to be real handy, or in trails where bunny hops, drifting, stoppie can be life savings.

But, honestly I don't believe that learning tricks is a unavoidable part of being a cyclist. I have seen cyclists capable of pumping non-stop uphill for hours. They barely use any tricks and go beyond core cycling with sprints, body positions and pedalling techniques. For a hobby cyclist like me, knowing some tricks is not even comparable to their skills.

I practice a lot, I commute, I go on endurance drills and all of these rides will pay off eventually. But I am wondering if I should spend time learning and practising tricks as well.

Basically, the question is How important is it to learn tricks to be a good rider?

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closed as not constructive by Gary.Ray Jul 22 '12 at 20:11

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I've never done stunts, and the only one I've ever considered was jumping up and grabbing the grille of the truck that was running a red light and barreling down on me. (It stopped within about a foot of me, thankfully.) –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 14 '12 at 14:13
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What do you mean by "good"? Does your definition include being able to do tricks? –  Jefromi Jul 14 '12 at 21:39
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@Starx: No offense, but I did. It's unclear what your actual goals as a cyclist are. If all you care about is straight-up road biking, very little matters beyond physical performance, unless you call drinking water while riding without hands a trick. If you're doing some intense mountain biking, it's a different story. The fact that the current top answer summarizes itself as "Learning to dominate a bicycle is as important as you feel it is." pretty clearly shows how answerable your question is in its current form. –  Jefromi Jul 15 '12 at 6:12
    
@Jefromi, My goal does not seem to be related in anyway from my side for this question, and all your other concerns are mentioned in the question. –  Starx Jul 15 '12 at 6:28
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I'm not sure if you quite understood me. There are many kinds of riding; for some of them tricks are a fundamental part, and for others they're not particularly relevant. Whether tricks are important depends on what kind of "good rider" you're asking about being, unless your real question is "do mountain biking experts think the winner of the Tour de France is a good rider." –  Jefromi Jul 15 '12 at 14:24
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4 Answers 4

In my opinion, what defines a master is how much he dominates its craft. If we consider riding bike as a craft or tool. A true master is one that, at any level of skill, is always below his limit.

Just as an example, let's consider a professor, a math professor. If he only knows what he teaches his students, and cannot go out the beaten path, he's everyday working in the limit, and has not any "reserve" in case a student appears with an atypical question or problem. In the other hand, a professor who has a deep, philosophical knowledge of math, and know the why's and how's of it, he's always working in a "comfort zone", no student would catch it by surprise.

A musician who studied all his scales up and down, thousands of times during all his life, can perform solos at lightning speed, and even if he gets nervous or makes a mistake, he can gracefully recover and the audience will barely notice. Now a novice, if he gets lost during an intricate musical part, will not know what to do and fail.

Now riding bikes requires physical knowledge more than theoretical one, and these can only be learnt by continuous, repetitive, deliberate practice.

If one rides in traffic, or down a trail, and is too close to his limit, anything unexpected can be too much. He's always one step from being caught by surprise. But if he has a broad repertoire of "movements" he can apply on the bike, a wide "menu" of courses of action is always ready to be put in practice.

I have spent my youth doig XC mountainbiking, and now I'm mostly a commuter, night-rider, and take some roads during weekends. I cannot count the times when the former XC skills helped me avoid dodging cars and motorcycles, jumped over potholes, even going UP some short stairs, and properly reducing speed before hitting something accidentaly (sometimes a fellow rider). And, although my riding style cannot be described as "subtle", have not had any serious fall in years (although they were relatively common in trails, years ago).

To answer directly your question: Learning to dominate a bicycle is as important as you feel it is.

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Answer is quite good, and you do make a valid point. But I want to know more :) –  Starx Jul 14 '12 at 14:54
    
But one musician might be good at rapid-fire trilling, a second good at sight-reading, a third good at improvising. There are all types of excellence. And there are a lot of musicians who get enjoyment from the activity even though they could not be called "excellent" at all. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 14 '12 at 22:25
    
This leads to the most important question : How do you know your limit? Unless you have exceeded it, you do not and cannot. –  mattnz Jul 14 '12 at 23:55
    
@DanielRHicks: A master musician will be at least competent at all skills, even if he is only truly specialized in one area. I get your point, but I think it would be better expressed as "A master of one instrument (discipline) is not automatically a master in all disciplines. In cycling, a great racer may not be able to ride a half pipe. Does that make him less a master of his discipline. –  zenbike Jul 15 '12 at 6:56
    
But there are some excellent musicians who can't even read music. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 15 '12 at 18:34
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I regard it as a safety aspect. Simple things like riding without hands on the handlebars, jumping small objects, track-stands all help with balance and help you avoid problems in tight spaces amongst traffic.

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If your concern is safety, riding in tight spaces amongst traffic sounds like a bad idea to begin with. –  Jefromi Jul 14 '12 at 21:51
    
Agreed with the commenter - no hands, bunny hop and track stand are probably the (only) must-have tricks for any "serious" cyclist. Thing is, one normally acquires them in the process of becoming this serious cyclist, regardless whether one specially practices them or not. –  ttarchala Jul 15 '12 at 10:10
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@Jefromi - why is riding in tight spaces amongst traffic inherently unsafe? People ride amongst dense traffic all around the world every day, and typically, it's not what kills them. Tight spaces can be actually safer than an open road, because in tight spaces everybody rides slower and is more watchful. –  ttarchala Jul 15 '12 at 10:12
    
@Jefromi - I would say you don't really have a choice with tight spaces. If you want to commute by bike in a city it inherently dangerous and full of tight spaces. –  icc97 Jul 15 '12 at 10:52
    
@ttarchala I agree with you, they're probably not the biggest problem - junctions in fast moving traffic are a bigger issue. So I would say that balance is probably more important, e.g. being able to recover from hitting pot holes and knocks from wing mirrors. –  icc97 Jul 15 '12 at 10:53
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In my opinion this thread is a lot of elitist carp. There are plenty of perfectly competent bike commuters and tourists, eg, who can't do a track stand or a bunny hop, and many road bikes do not have the steering geometry for "no hands" riding.

It's nice if you can do all this stuff, but to imply that a cyclist is incompetent (and should by implication stay off the road) if they can't is pompous and arrogant.

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A valid point, but I think the overall idea as been discussed is that it "doesn't hurt" to learn some tricks if one would, and by doing so there would most probably be some benefit. From how I see, no one implied that riders who don' do tricks or stunts are lesser ones. But that can be re-interpreted, of course. –  heltonbiker Jul 15 '12 at 18:52
    
Re-reading my question, I think I could have myself implied that it is necessary to do tricks to be a "master biker". It was not my intention to segregate riders that don't do tricks. My answer considers mastery of tricks more in the context of what the OP states, and he seems to value tricks and stunts somehow. From my understanding, any other non-acrobatic riding style have a lot of subtleties, and being able do dominate those subtletis is what makes an experient rider perform better than novice ones. –  heltonbiker Jul 15 '12 at 18:59
    
@heltonbiker, I enjoy doing tricks, but what I am asking is, that comparing to how much time I spend practising other skills like sprint, pedalling techniques etc, Should I allocate equal time of practising tricks too? How important is this part for cyclist to be a better rider? It so sad as per the downvotes that no one has been able to understand. –  Starx Jul 17 '12 at 2:06
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In my line of riding, it was imperative that you knew more tricks than your competition, or at least knew how to do them better than the other guy. So yes, in my case you MUST learn tricks to be a "GOOD" rider. After reading about pumping uphill for hours, I am going to take a stab in the dark and assume that you are not a competitor in the X-Games though.

If you ride trails, learn to bunny-hop to get over logs. Even road riders should be able to at least jump a curb's height for emergencies (I got squeezed between a bus and a snowbank in Japan and my ability to hop a curb saved me). Endos/stoppies are fun to do and teaches you front-end balance, but not required (can't remember the last time an endo saved me on the trails). Skids, rear-wheel hops, track-stands, everything else you can think of will all help teach you fundamentals of bike handling, but other than a bunny hop, I can't think of anytime any of my tricks helped other than to show off for some girls. enter image description here

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Mastering endos can avoid you to keep squeezing your front brake lever when you are about to go over the bars. It took some time for me to learn that I should LET GO the front brake and regain some speed when things got too scary (rear wheel already in the air and such). –  heltonbiker Jul 17 '12 at 13:00
    
good point! I watched a guy on a road bike with full matching spandex and helmet coming down the hill by the Golden Gate Bridge gift shop as 2 old ladies stepped in front of him. He endoed and stalled for a second but couldnt hold it and because he was clipped into his shoes he went face first into the road with his bike piling on top of him. Endo mastery can be useful ;-) –  BillyNair Jul 18 '12 at 1:40
    
Yeah, in this case he should have let the whole handlebar go, and put his hands on ground before the face. Ouch! –  heltonbiker Jul 18 '12 at 3:25
    
Definitely Agree with the endo comments above. Just think in the point, where you reach to an unexpected turn. And If not for endo... you will go down the hill ;) –  Starx Jul 20 '12 at 4:08
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