This flashy maneuver has several names; getting sideways, the clicker, cross ups, tail whips and pancaking it. Not only is it a flashy kind of show off move but it does have some benefits in motocross and any pro rider should be at least somewhat good at the whip. There are three main reasons for this;
1. When you have a turn at the landing of a jump you can set up for the turn by whipping it sideways in the air.
2. If you happen to get sideways in the air by accident you will know how to react to it.
3. A form of this technique of whipping it can actually cause you to stay lower over a jump and makeup time.
How is the basic whip executed? Before you begin to practice doing the whip find a smooth faced jump with no ruts on the face. The whip can be performed even when there are some small ruts in the face of the jump but it is much easier to do without ruts. Make sure it’s a safe jump (like a tabletop) but has enough hang time to get it sideways and pull it back straight for the landing. Approach the jump at an angle so you can turn the bike off the jump and still hit your intended landing target. As your coming into the jump lean your body (mostly your hips) off the inside of the bike a little. This would be to the side that you are leaning. Just as the bike begins to rebound continue leaning it over and as it starts to rebound let the back end come out to the side. As it leaves the jump you can pull it over more by the handlebars and by leaning more off to the inside or you can straighten it up or let it stay the same. Right after that instant make sure you find the center of balance with your body movement. Then at the top arch of your jump start to reverse the movement that you executed upon takeoff. This will give you enough time to straighten it up for the landing. There is also a gyro effect that helps give you control. The spinning force of all the moving parts on the bike cause this helpful effect; the wheels, crank, clutch and even the piston and rod. The faster these objects are spinning the more gyro effect you have. This gyro effect is more noticeable on bigger bikes like; 250s and 450s because the moving parts are bigger and heaver than 65s, 85s and 125s. That’s why the difference in pounds between say a 250 and 450 may not be very much but the 450 feels a lot heaver when you ride it because of its gyro effect.
When you take off a jump doing a whip make sure you find the center of balance as soon as possible because if you don’t you will be out of control and may come in for a crash landing.
When you have a jump in a corner and/or you have to turn right after the landing of the jump you should set up for the landing as you take off the jump. This way as you land you have already started your turn.
The same technique is used that was just explained, you’re doing the basic whip to the direction you want to turn. Therefore your approach, flight and landing are much faster.
A form of this whip technique has become very popular since James Bubba Stewart has shown such jaw dropping style with it, so much so that fans are calling it The Bubba Scrub. The Bubba Scrub saves time on certain jumps by getting you back on the ground faster. Depending on the jump this technique can be very close to the whip or quite a bit different. Where it is quite a bit different is when the take off part of the jump is more rounded and you have to slow down as you go off it. What you are doing here is actually sliding the front and rear tires off the jump. When you want to slow down a lot you can also drag the rear brake off the jump. This will not only slow you down even more it will also help the rear wheel to slide off the jump. These techniques allow you to carry more speed throughout the jump; on the approach, the take off, the air time and the landing. Of course, it also keeps your flight path lower. Put all that together and you just saved some serious milliseconds over a jump. It also looks pretty cool and if you can do it well enough who knows; you just might create a new name of your own.
Let’s take a look at the laws of physics as they apply to these techniques. When the bike goes off a jump in the normal upright position the compression is greater then if it went off the jump leaned over and then the rebound is especially greater as the bike rebounds and pushes the bike straight up into the air. This effect is so strong that it can be helped by the rider’s weight and timing as he bounces into the footpegs with his body weight as the bike compresses and then jumps out of the footpegs as the bike rebounds, therefore giving him more height the distance. But of course you don’t want this effect when trying to stay low. So when you do a whip or better yet a Bubba Scrub off a jump the rebound force is dissipated out to the side instead of straight up through the bike.
Here’s a word of caution to consider. Start out with slight wipes and increase gradually over a period of weeks, even months as you gain control, experience and confidence. Why, one good example was with the young enthusiastic Stephen Elvin when the now owner of Motocross Heaven in Parris California first came to the US from Sweden. It was in 1991 and we were all staying at Jeremy McGrath’s parent’s house in Suncity California. Jeremy had been teaching Stephen how to do a whip for about the past week and all of a sudden Stephen got it one morning. He wanted me and just about everyone to watch him perform his new found skill on Jeremy’s Supercross track. He was so pumped he went to the big hill jumps in Temecula that evening with Eric Carter (one of Jeremy’s friends) to try his whips out with some big air time. Well about an hour after dark that evening Eric brought Stephen back to Jeremy’s parent’s house. Stephan was just about incoherent so we rushed him off to the nearest hospital. He had a broken shoulder, three broken ribs, a punched lung and a bunch of over injuries that I can’t quit remember. The doctor still talks about Stephen to this day because he says it was a miracle that he lived. The doctor said that if he would have arrived 10 minutes later he wouldn’t have made it. No one saw how Stephen crashed. Eric and he were the only two riders riding there in the Temecula hills that evening and they were not riding together. After about an hour of searching Eric finally found Stephan all waded up after a huge jump in the bottom of a big G-out. I’m pretty sure Stephan was practicing his new found whip through some big air when his low experience technique came up and bit him almost claiming his life. Stephan still has aches and pains from those injuries. I’m not telling you this to scare you but to make you aware that you always have to respect that bike and gain control, experience and confidence at a slow consistent rate and not get in a rush. It takes a lot of dedication over a long period of time to really get good at this sport and that includes at doing whips.
Work hard and ride smart,
Professional Motocross Trainer
If you liked this tip and you're serious about improving your motocross jumping skills, you may be interested in my Absorbing, Scrubbing and Whipping Techniques DVD. Or one of our three Instant Access Video On Demand subscriptions.