When people do really big jumps on a bicycle or motorcycle, they'll swing the tail of the bike way out to the side once they've taken off. Then it rotates back under them by the time they land.

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Do they do this just because it looks cool? Or do they have to do it for stability reasons?

EDIT: After hunting up a bicycle image of this effect, it's clear that it's a trick.


  • 3
    It's pretty hard to do it and needs much of training. So yes, it looks cool.
    – Alexander
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 17:21
  • Cool pic BSO but a bike would have been better.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 19:25
  • Can you please add another pic, on a bike? Cause i have the impression the answers imply you are asking about a tabletop (which is in the pic you show now), while I actually think you're asking about this typical move dirtjumpers do where the tail goes only slightly to the left or right and which is completely different from a tabletop
    – stijn
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 13:26
  • @stijn added bicycle pic
    – BSO rider
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 10:17
  • well yes that's a proper tabletop
    – stijn
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 12:09

3 Answers 3


Its definitely not for stability, its a trick called "Table top". The flatter they look in the air the higher score.

  • I know this is late, but on the BMX bike image, that is a table top. The dirt bike is doing something called a 'motowhip.' For a table, you need to be parallel with your bars turned, if you're just parallel, it's a motowhip. BMX riders use it to get over spines easier because it can transfer the weight on steep transitions. MX riders use them to lower resistance to soar a little farther and faster, but it is also in it's most basic form considered a trick. Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 15:03

It's a trick -- it looks good on camera and would count for points accordant with degree-of-difficulty and "sticking the landing" at an adjudicated comp. The bike and rider become effectively parallel with their upright-riding stance; as opposed to perpendicular when in contact with the ground.

It's also a marketing cliche in biking. Like an "ollie" or a "kick-flip" on a skateboard - landing this grants credibility and implies talent, courage, maybe stupidity ... depends on the actual vs. perceived talent level.

To be clear - cuz looks cool.

  • 1
    Sometimes you need to do something while in the air otherwise you may "dead sailor" the jump. Why not style it out?
    – Rider_X
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 21:45
  • Maybe I'm just weird, but it kind of creeps me out... maybe I'm too busy worrying about what would happen if the bike didn't return to the proper position before landing and all the extra effort required to reach this unnecessary position to "enjoy" it.
    – Michael
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 16:06
  1. This is called a whip, a tabletop is a type of jump design referring to the shape of the jump. 2.It is not just a trick. This is a technique to make the bike stay lower and jump out farther.
  2. This is possible due to the gyroscopic effect that the spinning wheels create
  3. Although there are competitions and there are photos used in marketing, typically points are not awarded and is a skill used for adjusting the bike's trajectory.
  • 1
    "table top" is also the name of BMX/dirt jump trick in addition to referring to non-gap jumps. The second photo shows a dirt jumper performing a table top over a step-up gap jump.
    – Paul H
    Commented Dec 15, 2022 at 14:14

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