|Professional Tweaks, Tips & Reviews By "AJ" Picarello
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Trials and street maneuvers sometimes involve landing backwards, forcing the rider to complete the trick by rolling backwards. Appropriately named “Rollback”, coasting on your bicycle backwards is a trick in itself and a trick taken for granted. It can be difficult to learn and it’s a must have, in your bag of tricks.
Learning tricks with no help other than a picture or video is frustrating. I had this crazed desire to learn all the tricks I viewed in the “zines” and I killed myself physically and mentally attempting them. Curse you RL and Bob the “OZ" Osbourne. My “How To” articles are written to help riders learn the basics, and give you the tools to begin your journey.
Wear pads and a helmet for protection, the learning curve can be painful. Tips from the experts give you basic knowledge that will point you in the right direction. You are one hundred percent responsible for your own stupidity.
Do not panic and crush the rear brake when rolling backwards. Squeezing the rear brake with bone crushing force, traveling backward, will flip you on your head faster than Charlie Sheen scores model material.
How to do the Rollback: That’s controlling your bike while rolling back while facing the direction you would when you ride forwards. To witness a rider doing a rollback sort of looks like you’re watching a video rewind. This trick is easier to learn with a coaster/foot brake, but luckily rollbacks are doable with freewheels. Freewheel riders must rotate the cranks backward as you’re rolling back so that the pedals do not kick back at you and smack your shins.
Practice rollbacks in a safe location since you can not see where you’re going. A dead end street, straight as possible, with the slightest downhill grade is your best bet. Mastering rollbacks is still a daunting task even in pristine conditions. Cars will sneak up on you, steering in the right direction can be an issue and it’s easy to reach uncontrollable speed. Take care of yourself and remember that it’s hard to run away or tumble from a crash when falling backwards.
I’d like to say that a rollback is simply just coasting on your bike backwards. Unfortunately, as you’ll notice on you first attempt, there’s a bit more to it. Besides not being able to see where you’re going, you can not pedal to propel yourself (unless you’re riding a fixed gear bike) and normally you do not steer your bike from the rear wheel while sitting over the front wheel facing backwards. Learning rollbacks is like learning how to ride a bike all over again.
START HERE to skip the BS and get right to the good stuff! Get moving backwards from endoing (if you do not know how to do an endo, learn an endo first before attempting rollbacks). Soon as your rear wheel touches the ground begin freewheeling, spinning your cranks backward. Coaster brake riders keep your pedals level to the ground and try not to engage the hub forwards or backwards. Stay in the coaster brakes neutral zone.
Keep your body upright. Your will correct your balance and stay upright by steering the handlebar in the right direction and shifting your body weight around, just as you do while coasting forwards. Fast sudden corrections will keep you upright and may look twitchy at first. Keep your butt on the seat and make sure your seat is raised high enough to spin the crank backwards easily while sitting. It is possible to roll back standing up, but it is harder to learn. Start with sit down rollbacks then practice stand ups.
Imagine you’re handlebars are a walking stick. You begin to fall to the right, turn your bars to the right. This jerky movement will keep you upright, but will get you moving in not so straight a line. Adjusting your body on the saddle toward the left will help prevent the bike from falling right, but most of your control will come from steering the handlebars. If you find yourself falling left, lean your body to the right and steer left. Use your walking stick, the handlebar, to prop you back up by turning them slightly to the left. This is actually the same motion you use when coasting forwards. Your brain will need to be trained to comprehend riding backwards. You could compare this sensation with learning to back up a car/truck with a trailer in tow.
You can practice rollbacks with your feet off the pedals, but you’ll look like a kook and you’ll try and use the weight of your legs for balance. Save yourself the embarrassment and learn rollbacks feet on the pedals.
After you get the feel for rollbacks, try to 180 out. You can steer your 180 out or lift the front wheel and rotate out on the rear wheel. I feel the steer out looks better while dragging the front wheel. Eventually you’ll have the skills to 180 into a high speed rollback! 180 into a rollback either by bunny hopping into a 180 or throwing the rear wheel 180 with your front wheel on the ground. The bunny hop into a 180 may be easier, but the 180, kick out style, front wheel down looks better. Practicing a 180 is abusive to the rear wheel so bring your truing tool along for the ride. Eventually you’ll find the sweet spot and not bash your wheel at all.
Too much time practicing in one day is detrimental. Give yourself a breather and come back another day, especially if you’re fighting yourself. You’re not going to learn rollbacks in a day, probably not in a week. Go at it for 45 minutes a day. Come back tomorrow with a clear head and licked wounds.
A message to American kids who are practicing rollbacks rather than studying Math and Science. You should be aware that our country is in a quiet crisis. We have fallen behind other countries when it comes to educating our youth. In today’s world, competition for jobs, especially jobs involving science and technology, is fierce and will be even more so when you graduate. Study hard and be brilliant for the good of yourself and your country.
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