Double frontflip on a mountain bike
The frontflip has been one of the most dangerous, challenging tricks in mountain biking for many years now, with even the majority of top riders yet to master it.
The frontflip has been one of the most dangerous, challenging tricks in freeride mountain biking for many years now, with even the majority of top riders yet to master it. It's such an unnatural movement. Unlike a backflip, it feels as thought everything's working against you. Add in the fact that you can't see where you're going and are upside down and it really isn't a trick for the faint-hearted!
Without blowing my own trumpet too much, I'm one of the few riders to have cracked the frontflip and bring it out in contests. Only on special occasions mind - it's not something Sam do for fun every day at the trails!
Inevitably, as soon as Sam dialled in a single frontflip, all he wanted to do was try a double. And after landing his first double backflip on dirt a couple of months ago he knew he'd caught double or nothing fever.
Placing the bet
So the challenge was set - he didn't even know if a double fronflip was possible on a mountain bike. To find out, Sam Reynolds would need a huge foam pit to practice into - way bigger than any seen before. A freestyle motocross (FMX) one would be perfect. Fortunately he had a friend with just such a thing. Alvaro Dal Farra is an ex-pro FMX rider whose career ended two years ago after a mid-air collision. He was kind enough to let him take over his park for a few days. Another problem to overcome was that there would be no roll-in - even piston legs of steel couldn't propel him to the speeds required to pull off such a move over a 12m gap. Masters of Dirt shows solved this problem years ago though, with a water-ski handle attached to the back of a dirt bike. It's not easy or fun but it would mean he'd have the extra speed to go as big as he needed.
Rising the stakes
Early one frosty winter morning, the sleepy Italian town of Belluno was woken by Alvaro warming up hit KTM 250 and him and Georg Fechter (Mr Masters of Dirt) drifting the van into his freestyle park. On the first run into the pit he flew so far he almost cleared the whole thing! The moto tow-in was working well then. It was time to start trying some tricks off the big gap. First off, all the usual moves came out of the bag - double tailwhips, backflip tailwhips... They were all refreshingly easy thanks to the extra airtime to tow-in gave him. He knew what was next. He's frontflipped 11m moto ramps in Masters of Dirt shows, so he was pretty confided but just wanted to try one before sending a double. On the long mellow ramp, frontflips are relatively simple - you just tap the break as your front wheel leaves the ramp, straighten your legs, bend your arms and tuck your head down to look between your legs for the landing. The first go was brilliant so it was time to try a double. It all happened so fast, he will break it down into five steps...
- He started by playing through the movement in his head at the start of the run-in. If you can't work out a trick in your head first then you should never try it in real life.
- Clamping the bike with his knees and sitting on the saddle he accelerated up the run-in, holding on tight to the tow handle until he thought he had enough speed. Then he let go and stood up in time to hit the ramp.
- At the bottom of the ramp his weight was as far back as possible. He had bent legs and straight arms, almost as if he was doing a manual, but the front wheel never left the ground.
- As his front wheel hit the top of the ramp everything started to get fairly intense. Pulling the break like crazy he straightened his legs, bent his arms and threw his weight forward as hard as he could. This started the rotation but then he tucked up into as small a ball as possible and it really started to spin round fast.
- Hold on tight! The G-force was crazy and he couldn't see anything. It had to be done by feel, so when he seemed to be coming round again the second flip he straightened his arms and legs to slow down the rotation and land. Right first time! He could hardly believe it. The crane lifted his bike and an ecstatic his back onto the grass and he sprinted straight to the start for another go. Brilliant again!
Just as he was thinking he'd got the trick dialled it all went horribly wrong. His next attempt ended in what would have been a pretty life-changing crash if it were on dirt. Next try, same again. Throughout the day he could only perfect one or two more, with the majority ending up being under-rotated of flinging he from the bike. It wasn't the confidence boost he came to the foam pit for, and after a long and frustrating day he decided not to try the double frontflip to dirt. He gave it a good go into the pit though, and with a steeper ramp next time he think he can get them more consistent.
The next day they still went back to the park for some fun and photos riding the 12m jump they'd built. It turned out to be pretty insane! He just did the single frontflip on dirt this time, but is was a pretty big one. And he is still proud of that double frontflip into the foam pit.