Trials riding isn’t just about tricks, according to bike-handling wizard Chris Akrigg

Chris Akrigg has transferred his trials skills to almost every type of bicycle imaginable

Chris Akrigg has transferred his trials skills to almost every type of bicycle imaginable

Trials riding isn’t just about tricks — some of those skills are crucial on singletrack too. We turned to the best in the business, Chris Akrigg, for his advice on the best transferable techniques.

Braking bad

On tarmac a rolling endo is only possible with perfect front brake control, and manuals are much easier with rear brake balance. On singletrack, good brake control means you can find all the grip there is without locking up. Get used to putting the power on and off momentarily — keeping control in mud and down steep trail sections relies on delicate brake feathering
especially at the front, and just like ABS in your car, tickling the back brake will stop it from skidding and keep you pointing forwards down the trail.

Shift that weight

Trials riders never stand still on the bike — they’re forever climbing almost off the side or hanging off the back. Use this technique on the trails to stay in control: the main bulk of rider weight or centre of gravity is in the lower torso, so thrusting your hips forwards or backwards makes the bike react quickest to physical inputs. Shifting your mass off the back or around the bike keeps you safe off drops, down steep chutes and across off-camber trails.

Balance is everything

Balance is controlled from your feet, which means flats are the way to go in trials — clipless pedals don’t allow the tiny, constant adjustments that kept you centred. Apply this logic to trail riding too, and use big pedals with loads of platform area to press against and shift body weight from. Tilting feet (and even toes) allows the pedal edges to be used as leverage to help the bike lean and put pressure into the ground for extra grip.
A trackstand helps hone this technique and teach a lot about front-to-rear balance that will help in everyday riding.