Words: Jared Rando
Photos: Nick Waygood

How to do a No Hander

The No Hander is a staple trick in mountain biking and has been around for ever and a day. Whilst it looks spectacular and difficult, the reality is that once you have the basic principles down, it is actually a fairly easy trick to pull off. It’s definitely an advanced skill though so before you try it you want to be really confident at jumping and controlling your bike in the air. 

The mental barrier of the trick comes from the simple fact that it is totally unintuitive - why the hell would you take your hands of the bars when you’re jumping! It becomes even more of a challenge when you try it for the first time and your bike simply drops away from underneath you, and you never ever want to try it again.

There is one key part to the trick, and that is to pinch the seat with your knees before you take your hands off the bars. This stops the bike from dropping away from underneath you and allows you to safely get your hands off the bars. If you’re old enough you’ll remember a time when the dirt and street BMX guys ran their seat high and used huge seats. This made it super easy to pinch the seat for tricks like no handers and bar spins and the same trend carried across to dirt jump mountain bikes in the early noughties. Once you get the pinch down it becomes a whole lot easier to master. Here are some tips to get it done.

Step 1 – Find the right jump and pop it

The perfect jump to learn this on (or any trick for that matter) is a step up where you can get a good amount of pop and hang time in the air. The reason for this is that it’s much easier with the bike coming up from underneath you as this helps with the pinch and the bike naturally falling away. On a step down, it actually becomes a much harder trick as the bike falls away. You know those no handers Kyle Strait does at Rampage? That’s super gnarly… Find a suitable jump, get comfortable on it, begin to pop it and work on landing super softly before you attempt the trick. The soft landing will help with getting your hands back on the bars.

Step 2 – Work on the pinch and progression

Practice pinching your seat with your knees before you try taking your hands off. The harder you can pinch the better. Take plenty of runs just pinching and getting a feel for it. It does change how your bike handles in the air as it kind of locks it in place once you have the pinch down. Focus on the landing after you pinch and still landing smoothly and softly. A rock solid pinch is the key to this trick – if you miss the pinch don’t even try to take your hands off! Once you get confident start off by taking one hand off, then both just a little and progressing from there. Once you have the confidence the bike isn’t going to drop away you’ll find it really helps your progression.

Step 3 – Get comfortable as you progress

It’s much easier and natural to keep your hands low. As you progress work on getting your hands further back and your position a little more upright. At the beginning keep your front wheel up but as you get more confident you can bring your front wheel lower and our hands higher up for ultimate style points. For full Kyle Strait style extension you’ll need a pretty big jump though…

Step 4 – Work on your extension

Once you are comfortable in the air you can begin to work on your extension. Try to get as upright as possible and dip your front wheel as you get more confident. Clapping behind your back is a great goal as it’s actually a bit easier than getting your arms straight back and has your hands a little closer to the bars.

Step 5 – Land as smoothly as possible

Throughout your time practicing and learning, really focus on soft and smooth landings. This really helps when things go a little wrong, you don’t get a hand back on the bars or you miss altogether. This is also where a step up jump is great as you naturally land a little softer as you aren’t coming down from as high. Remember to stay smooth, pinch hard and progress slowly as you gain confidence for this one. And most importantly, have fun! 

Want to learn more skills?

Learn how to ride inside lines 

Learn how to ride off-camber corners