The tailwhip is a trick that can haunt riders for years.Some people try the trick 1,000 times, and for some reason, it just won’t work out. A lot of pros went through this same process, so we got some tips from Morgan Wade and Gary Young to help you get tailwhips back under your feet.


Was there a point when tailwhips haunted you?
Yes, for the first two years I was trying them they were terrible. I never even got close. Once or twice I’d get my leg over the frame and then I’d rack myself {laughs}.

What was it that you finally figured out?
You know what? I had a little game going with myself and I told a few people about it. It was in 2000, and it was the first year I was going to go to Woodward. Maybe six months before I went I told people that I was going to pull a tailwhip before I got to camp. Then when we were on our way up to Woodward we drove through Ohio, so we stopped at Chenga. It was the day before I went to camp and I still hadn’t pulled one, so I was like, “I’ve got to pull it!” I tried it over the box at Chenga, and something happened and I finally pulled it.

Was there any technique that you figured out that day that you didn’t know before?
I think it just has to do with making your arms follow the whole way around. Tailwhips are all in your arms; usually when I do them now I don’t even kick them, really. If it’s a box jump, I’ll just take my feet off and then use my arms to whip it around… It’s kind of an experience thing. Once you try it for a long time, all of a sudden you start getting comfortable with it. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that makes you land it, but once you do it for a while, you get to where you don’t have to worry about catching pedals because it’s just second nature.

Were you ever a top-tube-lander?
Oh my, yes. That was the worst thing ever. To all of those kids out there trying tailwhips: If you land top tube, scratch it right then and there {laughs}. I caught top tube for the first year and a half; it took me that long to figure out how to stop.

If the back end is coming around slow now, do you ever think about going to the top tube?
I’ll crash before I go to top tube {laughs}. No, obviously I’d rather not crash, but if I catch top tube, I won’t consider it a pulled tailwhip, and I’ll have to do it again.

When you do tailwhips one-handed, do you kick the bike then, or is it still all arms?
You do the same thing as a normal tailwhip, but halfway around I hang on with my right hand and stiffen my wrist up really hard. Then I just take my other hand off and I pull it around with one hand.

If you could go back in time and give yourself one tip about tailwhips when you were struggling with it, what would it be?
I’d probably tell myself not to be scared to go to the pedals {laughs}.

Does this look like a guy who struggled with tailwhips for over a year?  credit: Mark Losey


Did you first learn tailwhips on a box jump?
I learned them over a dirt jump first.

Tabletop or doubles?

So it was full-commitment from the get go?
Sort of. I pulled a tailwhip one day over a pair of doubles, and then four years later I pulled another one out of a fly-out.

What happened during those four years in between? Were you still trying them?
Yeah, I just got worked {laughs}.

Did that trick haunt you for a while?
Yeah, it sucked. That trick is the devil. It lets you get just close enough so you’re like, “All right, it’s so close. I’ll try it again.” And then you’re on your neck {laughs}.

<After you pulled the one four years later, did it seem like you had them at that point?
Yeah, that’s when I was like, “Oh, here we go. Now I’m learning how to do them.”

What was it that you figured out?
I think it was to stay over the bars more. I don’t really know how to explain it, but how I had my weight was different, and that made a big difference to getting on the pedals.

Once you had them down on jumps, how long was it before you started trying them on street or wedges?
Not very long. I was more comfortable with downside-tailwhips, so doing them on wedges and things like that came pretty quickly because they came around a little bit faster. For a downside-whip the bike only has to spin 270, but for a topside it has to go the full 360.

When you first did it on a wedge hip or whatever, was it a flailing mess, or did it make sense?
I think I tried it as a joke at first and I got pretty close, so I was like, “Oh crap. Maybe if I really commit I could do it.” Then a couple of tries later I had it done.

During your learning process, was the top tube ever involved in your landings?
The one eight years ago, but never after that.

How different is a bunnyhop-tailwhip-drop-in different than a regular tailwhip? Is it a completely different trick?
For that kind you just go off of muscle memory, I think. You don’t even have to think about it too much unless it’s off a big drop-off. Over a jump you ‘re like, “Kick, turn, pull…” You think the whole process. But if you’re just doing it into a box jump landing, it just happens {laughs}.

Morgan says he does a no-footer and then it’s all arms over jumps, but you do it differently?
Yeah, his are crazy, right? On his, he floats up above it and the bike just does a tailwhip…

So for you, a kick is the way to go?
Yeah, someone a long time ago told me that if you pretend that your arms are ridiculously big, it makes tailwhips easier… It’s a little bit of both arms and legs. Even if you don’t have big arms, just pretend that you do {laughs}.

If you could go back and give yourself some advice when you were struggling with the trick, what would you tell yourself?
Just keep trying and eventually you won’t get wrecked {laughs}. One day it just clicked and I understood what to do. That’s seems to be how most tricks are.

Here Gary spins a dirt quarterpipe whip while not even thinking about the top tube.  credit: Ryan Fudger