What is a Crank Flip?
Cranks flips are a popular trick that originated in BMX, but crank flips can also be done on a mountain bike. They are one of my favorite tricks to spice ride up. A crank flip is when you flick the cranks backward, so they do a full rotation, before catching them with your feet. In a lot of ways, it's similar to a kickflip on a skateboard, and for that reason, cranks flips are often referred to as kickflips. Crank flips are usually done while jumping, but they can also be used to spice up other tricks like endos and wheelies.
How to Crank Flip
In a crank flip each foot has a specific job.
Contrary to popular belief the back foot only plays a very small role in the crank flip. The front foot is responsible for 95% of the movement. Including the throwing and catching the of crank flip motion. The back foot on the other hand is responsible for setting the cranks in a position that makes it easier for the front foot to flick the crank flip.
Crank Flip Steps
- The back foot initiates the movement by back pedaling 1/8th of a rotation
- This places the front crank a the 1 O'clock position
- This makes makes flipping the crank flip much easier
- Point your front foot, and flick the cranks backwards
- this flicking motion is primarily done with the ankle and lower leg
- When the pedal leaves the foot, place it back to your normal riding position
- The goal is the intercept and catch the crank flip as it comes around
- When the front foot makes contact with the pedal, you can place back foot the back pedal.
How to Learn Crank Flips
You can practice the crank flip motion by leaning your back foot on the ground and flicking and catching the cranks a few times. Practice the crank flip motion until it become natural.
Once you can do that, practice the crank flip while seated on your bike. I would actually suggest raising your seat, as that will put you into a better position to practice the crank flip. BMX riders might scoff at this idea but it actually works. You can either practice the crank flip while rolling around or while leaning up against a wall or tree. Practice the crank flip over and over until you can throw and catch the crank flip without looking
Once the crank flip movement is ingrained into muscle memory. We can now practice doing it on a small jump or a roller. If you have the luxury I would recommend learning this part with a full suspension bike. Let’s just say it makes the landing a bit more comfortable if you miss the pedals. Another thing I do while in the air is to pinch my seat with my legs just in case I don’t cleanly catch the pedals.
Crank Flip Complications.
If you're learning to crank flip on a mountain bike with a derailleur, be sure you can spin your cranks back freely without the chain derailling. Also, be sure to use one of the gears in the center of your cassette when you crank flip. This makes the chain line straighter and reduces friction. If you can't rotate your cranks backward easily, this may be a sign that there is a mechanical problem with your bike.
Often riders will try to crankflip by kicking their back foot downward. As I mentioned earlier, the crankflip is 95% done with your front foot. The back foot's job is to place the front crank in a better position for the front foot to flick the cranks.
Sometimes flicking the crankflip too early can be a problem. You wait to flick the crank flip when the front pedal is at 1 O'clock position.
The hardest part about a crank flip, in my opinion, is committing to catchin the pedals. There's no easy way to get around it. You may want to use shin pads to help keep your mind at ease, but you really just got to commit to it.
Crank Flip Final Thoughts
Crank flips are a super fun trick that will definitely turn some heads and add a style to your ride. If you are going to learn how to crank flip while in the air, you should be very comfortable with jumping. For that reason I don not recommend learning crank flips if you are not at least an intermediate level rider. With that being said, you can use crank flips anywhere. I like to crank flip while doing endos, wheelies and even bunny hops. Just use you creative freedom to see what you can come up with.
Thanks for playing bikes with me today, see you soon!
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