October 01, 2006
The first several parts of this series on functional bike maneuvers will be directed toward anyone looking to improve their technical riding and will not be discipline-specific. Later installments will present strategies for improving riding performance for those already skilled on a bicycle.
In this series we will be looking at functional skills drawn from primarily from mountain biking, bicycle trials, and BMX freestyle. For our purposes, we’ll consider only the skills that help you navigate your environment smoothly and efficiently or that allow you to ride terrain that you otherwise couldn't. Hopping over a log or jumping down a set of stairs would be considered functional; doing a 360-degree spin in the process wouldn't. (This doesn't discount the value of learning skills such as a 360, as pushing your level of technical skill development will only improve your overall ability as a cyclist.
However, the 360 is not needed to clear the stairs, so it would be outside the scope of these articles.) Since this series won't be riding-style specific, we’ll be looking at functional skills that can be done on almost any kind of bike. Moves that require BMX bikes with axle pegs or trials bikes with bashguards won't be considered here. Basically, we will be borrowing the useful skills from across a range of biking styles.
My riding background is primarily in BMX, though I have competed in trials riding and done some mountain biking as well. My specialty has always been BMX flatland or ground riding. It is possibly the least functional of all the riding disciplines, but it does allow you to develop a very high level of balance and bike control.