“I have been riding for a while now but never mastered the tail whip, could you please post a step-by-step guide to help me out?”
That’s a question we received in the TWMX inbox from Ryan, yet another faithful TWMX.com reader. To help out Ryan — and anyone else reading this Tuesday Tip — we’ve turned to one of the best whip artists out there, Kevin Windham. A few months ago Garth sat down with K-Dub at his palatial estate in Mississippi to discuss a number of things, including how to whip it like a pro.
So without further ado, Kevin Windham explains why the whip is much more than just a stylish trick…
WHIPPING IS FASTER
“Back in the day, riders used to whip it just to showboat at the end of a good race, but these days, we scrub the jumps more for speed than anything. I think freestylers and racers alike have an incredible level of respect for a good, solid whip, though, because it’s a beautiful thing to look at.
“In racing, when you whip your bike, you stay a lot lower and you get back down on the ground faster, and the quicker you get to the ground, the quicker you can get back on the gas. You definitely have to hit jumps faster than normal when whipping, because you lose a lot of kick off of the lip, so to make up for having less air, you have to go faster in order to clear the jump.
“Not only do you stay lower in the air, but whipping is also a great way to reposition yourself on the track. Most of the time when we’re whipping or scrubbing, our line points completely off the track. If you know how to throw your bike sideways once airborne, you can control both where you leave the ground and where you land.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LEAN
“As I leave the face, I’d say that it’s definitely more of a lean than a turn. I prefer to be standing up on my whips, but you can do them sitting down. I lean way back, and the direction of the bike is pointed towards the side of the jump rather than the landing. The front wheel is angling away, towards the side of the bike that will be most upward in the whip.
IN THE AIR
“The turn I make on the face of the jump is not so much from handlebar input as it is a lower body movement that happens as my bike is leaning up the face, sideways. If I’ve done the lean correctly and have left the lip as I should, everything just kind of falls into place. It’s here where the gyro effect kicks in, and when it does, it is very important to be able to feel that breaking point in the whip and know when to bring it back. Through both a little bit of upper body strength and the gyroscopic effect of the wheels spinning, the bike has a tendency to get back to straight on its own.
LET IT FLOW
“I never actually feel my upper body pulling the bike over; it’s more of a fluid, clean motion that’s done by moving the handlebars, leaning, and getting that gyro effect. Whipping is not a technique that requires much muscle mass, because when you’re weightless like that, it’s pretty easy to get the bike back where you want it.
BRINGING IT BACK
“Twisting the throttle and getting back on the gas hard while you begin to straighten out is a great way to bring your bike back to straight. At the end of a whip, the bike has a tendency to land nose-first, so you definitely want to get your body as close to the attack position as possible to soak up and brace for the landing. It’s just something that takes a lot of practice to get right. After a while, you just start to feel the correct motion of doing it, and it will all make sense.
WHAT TO WHIP IT ON
“Whips are possible on just about every kind of jump, but learning them on tabletops are best, because there is nothing you have to worry about clearing. Jump faces with long transitiions are also helpful when learning; smaller, quicker transitions are harder.
NOT JUST FOR FUN
“Don’t let anyone tell you that learning how to whip your bike sideways is a waste of time. I think that anything you can do to learn your machine better and how it reacts in the air, what body positions make it do what, and so on, is all beneficial to racing. To this day, I think I’ve learned more about how my bike handles and reacts to things through play riding than I have at a racetrack.