BMX bikes are larger, heavier and more unwieldy than skateboards, which means the tricks you can perform with them are of a very different nature.
In between riding casually and pulling off the most insane tricks around is mastering the more advanced, entryway tricks. These are the moves you’ll need to master before going for the big ones.
The 360 spin is sort of the entryway into advanced BMX tricks. Considering the size and inertia of a BMX bike, a 360 is much more difficult than it would be on a skateboard. It requires impeccable timing; if you rotate too little, you’ll fall over forward, and too much, you’ll fall over backward.
The less air a rider gets when performing a 360, the more impressive it is, considering that he or she has less time to turn the bike around in midair.
The 180 is also a popular BMX trick, but it’s use is a little different: because it stops the rider, who ends up facing backwards, the 360 makes more sense for tricks done in the run of movement.
Many BMX tricks are based on rotation, either of the bike or the rider. The 360 and its cousins, the 540, 720, 900 and 1080, have to do with how the rider spins himself around. The tailwhip, on the other hand, has to do with how he spins his bike.
Because of the way a rider holds onto the handbars in midair, he can keep the bike more or less facing forward while spinning it around under him. In this particular video, the rider does a remarkable thing: he does not only one or two tailwhips, but three, getting his bike to do a 1080 under him while he’s in the air.
This requires both foot and hand strength, tied to the velocity with which you have to spin the bike to get it to complete three full rotations. Also, as if that weren’t enough, he 360s his body while doing the tailwhips.
A decade involves something that barely even seems possible: keeping the bike facing one way while doing a 360 rotation of your own body around the handlebars.
It’s sort of a combination of deft climbing and a fight against inertia, and it’s made even more difficult by the fact that as you move around the bike, there’s nothing to hold it in place; the bike is just soaring through the air, with minimal friction to keep it rooted against your movement.
Guys also do this trick as what’s called a flatland trick, where they don’t get air beforehand, but this video’s version is particularly impressive for how the rider decades and then 360s. To pull that off successfully requires an almost superhuman ability of both control and timing over the bike.
As mentioned, flatland tricks are performed without leaving the ground, which adds an entirely new element of difficulty and challenge to BMX.
Instead of having the time and space of one jump to organize your trick around, all of a sudden there’s no framework for what you’re doing: instead, you can do pretty much anything in any string of combinations, so long as you stay on the bike.
This includes flatland decades, manuals, which involve bringing the bike up, and keeping it up, on its front or back wheel, tiretaps, spins, and other moves.
For these kinds of tricks, riders often use pegs attached to the center of the back wheel of the bike, which they can stand on and utilize for momentum and as a fulcrum for whatever they’re doing with the bike.
Front flip and back flip
The hardest tricks are generally unique combinations of these five tricks and more, but if you’re talking about the hardest isolated moves you can do on a BMX bike, it’s tough to get any more difficult than front and back flips.
A BMX bike is not a flimsy thing, and to manipulate it like this while still keeping it underneath your body — and there for you when you land — is incredibly challenging.
At the same time, while keeping the bike poised beneath you, your calibrations for the strength you’re putting on the bike at first need to be perfect, because otherwise you’ll under- or over-rotate and end up landing on the nose of your bike, the tail, or worse. But if you pull off the flip, it’s about as close as man comes to flying on his own.