Bike Parkour
November 17, 2010 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Bike Parkour from Danny MacAskill
posted by the cuban (54 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy crap.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:11 AM on November 17, 2010


Very beautiful.
posted by ericost at 7:12 AM on November 17, 2010


It's called 'trials.'
posted by box at 7:16 AM on November 17, 2010 [11 favorites]


Danny MacAskill previously on Metafilter.
posted by zsazsa at 7:16 AM on November 17, 2010


Not everything that involves bouncing off a wall is parkour.
posted by ardgedee at 7:33 AM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


How does he do that without blowing out his knees (or the tires, at least)?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:38 AM on November 17, 2010


I do understand how a backflip from the top of a ruin onto the crumbling wall of the next ruin is physically and humanly possible.

I do not understand how anybody would survive failed attempts long enough to make a flawless run, let alone an entire video of such amazing feats.
posted by _Lasar at 7:44 AM on November 17, 2010


I do not understand how anybody would survive failed attempts long enough to make a flawless run, let alone an entire video of such amazing feats.

From the video site, it is clear that the answer is "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine Red Bull."
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:48 AM on November 17, 2010


Beautiful. Whoever is doing his camera work and selecting the shots does a great job.

The single "chug a Red Bull" clip seemed a little out of place, but I guess it's what keeps him on the road doing his thing. Broke up the flow of it a bit for me.

But now I want to go to Scotland.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 7:50 AM on November 17, 2010


God, I could watch MacAskill all day.

How does he do that without blowing out his knees (or the tires, at least)?

The answer to this is maybe kind of multi-part.

The first part is that he's more likely to fuck up his rims doing this, and I have no doubt that he's doing just that, but they don't show him fixing (or replacing) them between locations/shots. In my experience, rims tend to take a much worse beating than the tubes.

That said, it's all in the way he lands it. When you hit the ground on something like that, your whole body is kind of positioned to distribute as much of the impact and weight as you can. He's not just taking it on his knees but also his elbows and whatnot - and by keeping those bent, it becomes a matter of stress on muscles and not on the joints, or at least not as much.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:54 AM on November 17, 2010


Heh, I interviewed Danny last year (I work for the evening paper in Edinburgh).

He'd just broken a collar bone tripping over the kerb.
posted by penguin pie at 8:04 AM on November 17, 2010 [8 favorites]


The most likely explanation for why he doesn't pinch-flat on those obviously low-pressure tires every time he lands on something is that the tire/wheel setup is probably tubeless. They are clincher tires, but with a tougher airtight casing, a sealed rim, and probably some kind of latex-y sealant sloshing around in there.
posted by the painkiller at 8:07 AM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


How does he do that without blowing out his knees (or the tires, at least)?

Also, if you watch the surfaces he's landing on, they're not level. For the bigger drops, he's picking locations where there's a down-slope to land on.

Landing on a down-slope helps to spread out the vertical deceleration. IDK much about BMX, but if you're snowboarding/skiing and you don't clear the casing—ie you land on a horizontal plane—it doesn't take long at all to blow out your knees.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:12 AM on November 17, 2010


The music is a nice change from the usual parkour techno.
posted by orme at 8:14 AM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm no expert, but tubeless tires don't seem to be particularly popular among [bicycle] trials riders. People usually pick tires with very firm sidewalls (for 26" trials bikes, downhill, freeride and dirtjump tires are all popular choices). Some folks like extra-thick downhill-style tubes as well, but they're far from ubiquitous.
posted by box at 8:16 AM on November 17, 2010


Hooray, Edinburgh! I watched Danny MacAskill's last video over and over when I was still working in London, both for the awesome factor and also for the beautiful shots of my hometown. This is a whole other level of awesome. A true athlete.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:16 AM on November 17, 2010


Like others have said, it's 'bike trials', not parkour. If anything, parkour is 'foot skateboarding'. Can we stop renaming well-established sports after much newer ones? That'd be cool.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:16 AM on November 17, 2010


it's 'bike trials', not parkour

I thought the poster was attempting to prevent a mass of lawyers being attracted to the post by the word "trials", after which we'd all just be discussing the legality of riding across the side of someone's house on your bike.
posted by orme at 8:24 AM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


his top tube is so low because his balls are just that massive
posted by chinston at 8:26 AM on November 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


When his last (amazing) video was posted, I remember reading somewhere that actually he has a lot of knee pain.
posted by chinston at 8:27 AM on November 17, 2010


In all honesty, I think the title's really just copied from Jason Kottke. He did a whole series of posts all named that way.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:28 AM on November 17, 2010


He'd just broken a collar bone tripping over the kerb.

Aha! So he *is* human!
posted by rtha at 8:30 AM on November 17, 2010


Seems to me that Bike Trials or "Bike Parkour" = off road BMX from X Games. Way off road. No?

I mean, that's still pretty cool.

But I also wonder how you would practice this and remain uninjured long enough to perfect a run. Is he just that good? Could be.
posted by hpb2earnest at 8:32 AM on November 17, 2010


Wow, some amazing locations in this video. So far I've seen Dunbar Harbour and Inchmickery Island. It must be pretty amazing for him to ride in some of these locations - I bet it's a fun job being the Red Bull marketer who has to get all the clearances.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:33 AM on November 17, 2010


It's a pretty accurate depiction of the UK's cycling infrastructure.
posted by srboisvert at 8:50 AM on November 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


North Berwick Harbour in there too.
posted by penguin pie at 8:51 AM on November 17, 2010


In related news, Loch Lomond is my new favorite band of the moment. Thanks for introducing me to them!
posted by jbickers at 8:54 AM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do not understand how anybody would survive failed attempts long enough to make a flawless run, let alone an entire video of such amazing feats.


I think the answer to "how does he do that" is really, really complex. Let me explain. I have been riding and racing bikes on and off-road for over twenty years now. I can skid a fixie, trackstand, hop curbs on a roadbike at full speed in a criterium (when necessary to avoid a crash), clean some fairly technical terrain on a 4" travel cross-country bike, and am a pretty decent cyclocross racer.

I have, at most, probably one twentieth the skill this guy does.

The answer is first, talent, and next a near obsessive focus and patience at perfecting each trick, learned over time, and I can tell you that generally it takes YEARS to learn to be this good at something this technical. There are people all over the map in this sport, and you're seeing the pinnacle of accomplishment of one very skilled and focussed individual.

When I was a teenager, I learned (mostly) how to ollie a skateboard, cleanly, over a 6 to 8" obstacle. I stopped when it became clear that I did not have the focus or patience to learn how to do kick flips solidly 100% of the time, let alone learn grinds, wall rides and the various other more advanced skills. I'm simply not that talented. Where for values of "talent"; use variables like: pure balance, agility, patience, the luxury of time and third-party support that it takes to advance to this level.

Had I had all of those things when I was learning how to skate, it's likely I'd have been pimping energy drinks...or most likely not since I'm female and ladies just don't have the established career path in extreme sports (heresy! I know...), for a number of socioeconomic reasons I won't get into here, but a lot of it boils down to being our own worst enemies.

You also can "learn" how to fall. Seriously. As someone who's done equestrian eventing, then skateboarding, and finally bike racing to an advanced degree, all highly dangerous sports, I can tell you that the consequences of surviving a nasty crash are significantly less once you've learned the boneless, catlike reflexes of how to "roll with it", literally.

Not to mention that I can tell you as a one-time very chickenshitted mountain biker who has within the past 3 years, at the hands of a very talented partner advanced vastly beyond my prior skill and comfort level (and in my 40s no less) the last and probably most vital secret:

It takes both courage and conviction. Courage that you have done your homework through progression and that you WILL clean that gap, and the conviction that comes from having made it through unscathed a time or two before.

last but not least: a good editor. you're not seeing the outtakes.
posted by lonefrontranger at 8:56 AM on November 17, 2010 [11 favorites]


Also previous: motorcycle parkour (crazy trials clips).

I remain astounded.
posted by quin at 9:30 AM on November 17, 2010


I spent 10+ years doing bmx freestyle stuff and grew up with guys that competed in x games events and went on to start their own major label bike companies. The secret is mostly just practice, practice, practice to this.

There is certainly some innate talent that some riders have, and having the sheer guts to try something new the first time is important, as well as needing to know how to fall (I've never broken a bone in my body despite crashing hard hundreds of times). But honestly, I was pretty amazed by the lower risk world of flatland freestyle and how just about anyone could become a superstar if they put in the work. I saw guys go from the beginner class to the pro class in a couple short years by simply spending 6+ hrs a day practicing their art.

Some of MacAskill's stuff is big and ballsy jumping without much room for error, but a lot of the g-turns (when he's rolling backwards on his front tire only) and the zillions of front wheel 360 drop-ins (used to be my favorite street trick too) are the kinds of things that become second nature after you've done them 10,000 times before. Then imagine that over the last 10-15 years of riding he started doing stuff off curbs (4" high) then progressed to 1 foot drops, then 2 feet, until eventually he just got used to dropping off the roof of a small building to the ground 8 feet below.
posted by mathowie at 9:49 AM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I hope he makes a bit of money out of this. He clearly puts the work in.
posted by DanCall at 9:58 AM on November 17, 2010


When MacAskill came up on MeFi before it was referred to as bike parkour. This seems like the kind of mistake that represents a complete lack of curiosity about the thing you supposedly find fascinating. It's annoying as hell, and not just because trials riding was around long before parkour became hot.
posted by OmieWise at 10:02 AM on November 17, 2010


As mentioned, here is more info
posted by arveale at 10:09 AM on November 17, 2010


I agree it is "trials" and BMX.
posted by butcher at 10:37 AM on November 17, 2010


Not everything that involves bouncing off a wall is parkour.
posted by ardgedee at 3:33 PM on November 17


Aye lad; when I were at school I called it bullying.
posted by Decani at 10:53 AM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't want to come off pedantic and jerky, but it's not really BMX either. Broadly speaking, BMX is dirt-track racing--the racing is the point. In trials (and, often, freeride mtb), the point is clearing the obstacles without putting a foot down. In freestyle (and dirt-jump, and park riding), the tricks are the point.

The bikes are relatively similar, some of the techniques are similar, and many people who do one kind of riding also do one or more of the others. But they're not the same.
posted by box at 10:53 AM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is splitting hairs box but what MacAskill is doing is basically just the "street riding" form of BMX and/or mtb free ride. Looks like he rides a dirt jump 26" wheeled bike, but it's set up like a bmx bike (true trials bikes often have no seat).
posted by mathowie at 11:05 AM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


a lot of the g-turns (when he's rolling backwards on his front tire only) and the zillions of front wheel 360 drop-ins (used to be my favorite street trick too) are the kinds of things that become second nature after you've done them 10,000 times before.

quoted for emphasis.

Another thing I failed to mention is my pet theory I like to call The Bellcurve of Skill At Extreme Sport. On a bellcurve labelled "skill at riding a bike", someone with skills such as mine would, were I being generous, be a datapoint lodged solidly in the fat part of the middle.

The bald fact of the matter is that the skill of someone like MacAskill is an outlier way, way, way out on the skinny tail end of the right hand tip. And to do that, you have to not only have some innate skill to begin with, but you also have to have a wealth of time, and even more importantly, what is (to me, at least) this... I don't know how to describe it any other way than that it's a practically autistic level of sheer bloodyminded patience at repetitively trying (and failing) any given trick over and over and over and over and over and over and over and OVER again until you make it the first time... then trying it maybe twenty or thirty dozen times over AGAIN until you know you can make it clean 100 times out of 100, then ramping up the level of difficulty and trying it again and again and again and again...

so yeah. patience, obsession and six hours a day of practising and the mental fortitude to put up with a damn lot of failure and bruises. I know I don't have it. But some do.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:54 AM on November 17, 2010


I'm just in fucking awe of Danny and what he does on a bike. He's a national treasure. We should give him medals and keys to cities and stuff.
posted by jiroczech at 11:55 AM on November 17, 2010


Yeah, more terminology outrage, but parkour, bike trials, and BMX are not about tricks like the X-Games.

Parkour is about efficiency of movement. Bike Trials is about getting from point A to B in a set amount of time without putting a foot down. BMX is about finishing first. None award points to spins, backflips, or any flashy moves.
posted by meowzilla at 11:56 AM on November 17, 2010


Amazing stunts and lovely production values. Although I would have ended it with the backflip off the castle wall instead of the backflip off the tiny hut.
posted by dgaicun at 12:21 PM on November 17, 2010


How do his pedals and crank work? At time it seems like he has a freewheel, but at other times it seems like he is pedaling backwards/fixed.
posted by Mid at 12:39 PM on November 17, 2010


unlike BMX his bike has no PEGS
posted by arveale at 12:56 PM on November 17, 2010


mathowie wrote:
Looks like he rides a dirt jump 26" wheeled bike, but it's set up like a bmx bike (true trials bikes often have no seat).

Trials bikes have been historically divided into two classes - "mod bikes", which are small wheeled, no seat, single gear etc and stock bikes, which are 26" wheeled, have a seat and must have six working gears. More recently, the rise of the 'street trials' discipline has seen a new class of 24" bikes, often with only one gear and long cables to permit barspins and the like. Wikipedia has a nice rundown.

Macaskill looks to be riding a street trials bike. Somewhat sketchy details here.
posted by tim_in_oz at 2:00 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


meh

I'll be impressed when he does it on a recumbent.
posted by found missing at 2:44 PM on November 17, 2010


Street rider Chase Hawk and old-school trials legend Hans Rey, among others, have filmed segments where they do some pretty insane stuff on regular old random bikes.
posted by box at 3:01 PM on November 17, 2010


In the Q&A, Danny says it's a 24"er, not 26.
posted by gen at 3:32 PM on November 17, 2010


Ooh, yeah, that shouldn't be happening. Here, give me a second...
universe# noclip off
Should be fixed now, sorry about that.
posted by ZsigE at 3:43 PM on November 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


How does he do that without blowing out his knees (or the tires, at least)?

They had a guy doing this on the show Timewarp, and after filming the stuff with the high-speed cameras they gave him a bike that they had purchased for a couple hundred dollars. The guy tried to drop off something and the bike just buckled... so you need the right bike, too.
posted by Huck500 at 3:57 PM on November 17, 2010


How do his pedals and crank work? At time it seems like he has a freewheel, but at other times it seems like he is pedaling backwards/fixed.

It's just a normal freewheel. If you roll backwards with a freewheel the pedals turn backwards. That is, the back wheel is turning the pedals, the pedals aren't turning the back wheel.
posted by markr at 5:21 PM on November 17, 2010


Mind: blown.
posted by bardic at 7:11 PM on November 17, 2010


Nothing to add other than I wish the original video was still available with the original soundtrack. Which music executive* thought it was a good idea to take down a You Tube video - with incredible bike riding skills on display, and pretty decent production values to boot - which had been watched over 20 million times?

I'd never heard of Band of Horses before I saw Macaskill the first time. Turns out I'm not much of a fan, but the first thirty seconds of Funeral still gives me goosebumps, 'cause the footage of him riding along the top of the fence was that damn good.

*I have no idea whether Band of Horses were responsbile for the video being removed, but I can't think of a reason why anybody else would have wanted to take it down.
posted by puffmoike at 6:36 AM on November 18, 2010


Ignore that.

I just found it. Spent twenty minutes trying to find it a month ago without success, but here it is.

Apologies to all music executives. You really do cop the rough end of the stick.
posted by puffmoike at 6:38 AM on November 18, 2010


Aw. I miss Scotland.
posted by schmod at 10:37 AM on November 22, 2010


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