A beginner’s dictionary of MTB slopestyle tricks
There's a lot of confusing jargon used on the MTB slopestyle scene – read our quick and simple guide so you can stop pretending to know what everyone's talking about!
You see riders flying through the air, spinning their bikes and bodies in multiple directions, and hear the commentators at the Crankworx World Tour slopestyle events excitedly shouting, “look at that Backflip Double Barspin to Tuck No Hander!” or “that’s a world-first Cash Roll Tailwhip!” – and you have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.
We get it! Well, things are about to change… here's your explanation to what some of the most important tricks are and what is involved in their execution.
A Backflip in slopestyle is like any other backflip, but with a bike. The rider throws bike and body backwards in a full rotation until facing the original direction again.
Cam Zink's Red Bull Rampage backflip
A Barspin is pretty much what it sounds like – a spin of the bars. The rider throws the handlebars a full rotation (360º) before catching them again. This can be done one, two, three, four or even five times. Emil Johansson is one athlete known for his Barspin combinations.
A bit like the dance move, but done on a bike. A Can-Can is when the rider takes one foot off the pedal and kicks the leg over the top tube. Brandon Semenuk is the king of the One-Footed Can. This trick's usually used in combination with other tricks, including Backflips.
This trick, made famous on mountain bikes by Nicolai Rogatkin, is almost as hard to grasp as it is to explain, but basically it is doing a 180 to Backflip to 180.
A Cork is an off-axis rotation. The rider and bike rotates a full 360º but instead of doing it straight backwards, forwards or to the side, they do it off-axis. This can of course be done with more spins than one. Brandon Semenuk is famous for his stylish Cork 720s and Nicolai Rogatkin did a world-first Cork 1440 on a mountain bike at Red Bull District Ride in 2017.
Nicholi Rogatkin's winning run at District Ride
Like a Backflip but forwards. The ride throws bike and body forwards in a full rotation until facing the original direction again.
Tom Van Steenbergen frontflip
Doing a trick 'opposite' means just that; the rider does a trick in the opposite direction to what they're comfortable with. For example, the rider spins the bike to the left, rather than to the right when doing a Tailwhip.
The Opposite 360
A trick where the rider removes both feet and stretches out behind the bike, preferably until the body is straight and parallel to the ground, to imitate Superman’s flying technique. This one is used a lot less in slopestyle competition these days, but Szymon Godziek, 'The Extension Man', likes to use them in his runs.
A trick where the rider kicks the back-end of the bike in a full rotation around the handlebars. This can be done multiple times, and would then be called a Double, or Triple Tailwhip.
A Tsunami Backflip is a little bit like a flowy Superman, but done in combination with a Backflip, in a motion that resembles a wave – or tsunami if you like. The rider does half a Backflip and while they let the bike continue the rotation, they remove their feet from the pedals and stretch out, before continuing the rotation back to facing the right way up.
Szymon Godziek Tsunami Frontflip
While we're on the topic of nature-resembling tricks – this one's very birdlike. The rider tucks the handlebars into their lap, leaning into the bike so that the shoulders are slightly over the bars, and then letting go of both arms – reaching out as far as possible.
For an X-Up the rider turns the handlebars 180º before turning them back straight again, without ever letting go of the bars. This lesser-seen trick comes from BMX, so you'll see the likes of Ryan Nyquist – who comes from a successful BMX background – throwing them down during contest runs.
The name really gives this one away; the rider does a full 360º rotation to one side.
See Cam Zink's Best Trick-Winning Rampage 360 Drop
Turn the bars like you're doing a whip and then take your front foot of the pedal and push it behind the rear wheel whilst in the air.
Basically, with this trick you try to get the bike as flat as possible in the air, like a table. The rider brings the bike to one side of their body by turning the bars and angling it towards the stomach/shoulder, whilst bending the knees.
This trick is often referred to as a 720 Frontflip or off-axis 1080 Spin. Nicholi Rogatkin became the first to land this trick back in 2016. It's as mental and mind-blowing as it sounds.
Nicholi Rogatkin's winning run
The Unturndown is kind of like a table, but, well, completely different. You still want to get the bike as flat as possible to your body, but you do it by angling the bike and turning the handlebars to the opposite side (compared to a table), and you push your front foot forward and keep both legs straight whilst doing it.
A rider grabs the seat with one hand and turns the bars through 90° while leaning back.