Videos: Figure eights at five paces

These drills aren’t perfect, but at least they’re posted.

Have at it …

Figure 8 drills are super complex, especially when they’re this tight. It’s all about line choice and smooth transitions. And what a workout!

Front view

Side view

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25 replies
  1. tony says:

    Here’s my entry: your hoodie drawstrings appear to be directly over the cone on each pass, thus acting like a plumb bob, centering you over the apex, no?

  2. Josh L says:

    Thanks for posting this Lee. Seems to me that 5 paces is too close as you are forced to extend your turns well beyond and to the side of the cones. I guess this could be fine if you’re working on flowing from corner to corner, but bad if you’re trying to achieve the shortest path between the two points. The distance between the apexes of the actual figure 8 you ride is probably equivalent to 10 paces. Technically, you could be riding those same figure 8’s with cones spaced anywhere from 10 paces to 1 pace – the location of the cones would just change position along the arcs of your figure 8.

  3. leelikesbikes says:

    1) I could cut a tighter line, but I’d have to slow down. At that speed, with those tires, with that gravel, that was the “natural” line.

    2) I’m a firm believer in late-apex lines. That means coming in wide and deep before you initiate.

    AND: 5 paces is definitely tight!!!

  4. Josh L says:

    I’m wondering if slower and tighter would really be faster in terms of time, but maybe that’s not the point of this drill. Also, if there’s a “natural” line then do the cones even matter anymore? Maybe I’m not understanding the drill, but I would think we should be changing the shape of our line to match the cone spacing, not fitting the cones into the path we want to take. With that in mind I still say 5 paces is too tight to gain any improvement you wouldn’t get from 8 or 10 paces.

    I definitely see the value of late-apex lines and it’s something I’m working on lately (thank you by the way for that) but can you really late-apex a figure 8? You could ride the exact same line and say it’s an early, regular, or late-apex depending on where you place the cones, but still, the shape of the path you ride does not change. I can see how this drill might help you get used to visualizing a late-apex line though. Maybe I should just get out there and start working on it. 🙂

  5. Chris Q says:

    Hey Lee,

    Nice one. I spent the afternoon in a carpark after I read your last post about pumping flat surfaces. I was able to pump laps of the carpark including the slight uphill section. It was awesome to feel the increase in speed, wavelength and rhythm as I got going. Really bloody loud too as I only had 20 psi in the back tyre!

    I couldn’t work out how to pump a figure eight though. Can you post a video of a perpetual motion figure eight? Also, when one is pumping figure eights, is it necessary to back pedal when transitioning from side to side to ensure no sneaky pedal input? could the back pedal become a figure eight worlds standard?

    Get some.

    P.S. Nice work on the twins!

  6. leelikesbikes says:

    > Why backpedal when you can grab half a crank?

    Said like a true racer!

    At the Flat Ground Figure 8 Pump Worlds, though, half-cranks are frowned upon … 🙂

    Chris! I’ll post a video of the pumping eight. I messed around a bit the other day — it certainly wasn’t perpetual motion!!!

  7. Tyler says:

    Here’s my insight for the day….video yourself and see what you really look like, not what you think you look like. I did this today while doing the figure 8 drill and I am depressed. If you need a laugh, would like to see the world’s slowest figure 8 drill, or need to fall asleep in 2 minutes, take a look at this…..
    I did read last week’s post on figure 8’s on dirt (weighting front end)…..I seem to just slip if I try to get more aggressive.

  8. marckt says:


    >> What’s ‘5 paces’ in metric 😉

    3 kilograms

    that’s 12 liters for those of you in the southen hemisphere

  9. Greg says:

    Hi Lee;

    I have to admit that watching you in a video is WAY more effective than reading about it in your book for me. Any plans to include some video with the next edition of the book? At the very least how about a special code or a subscription option, to see the secret stuff on the web?


  10. leelikesbikes says:

    Hey Greg,

    Yeah, video is the way for this stuff. At least until internet holograms take off. 🙂

    MMBSii will not have video. I do that book through a publisher, and all they get is the book. The contract gives them the option to develop a video based on the book, but that would come later.

    I plan to rock a series of ebooks/videos detailing my teaching method. That’s going to be awesome, but it has to wait. MMBSii, Pro BMX Skills, two kids on the way … !!!

  11. Alex says:

    Lee, I noticed your bike is leaned more than 45 degrees in this video. This seems to go against the laws of physics because if you turn that hard, your wheels should slide out. How do you keep your wheels tracking in such tight corners?

  12. leelikesbikes says:

    Great question with a complicated answer.

    – I am NOT turning my bike. I’m leaning it.

    – I let the bars do what they want.

    – That creates the correct edge/geometry for the radius of the turn. In MMBS, see the diagram explaining camber thrust.

    – My position over the bike allows me to correct if (and when) the wheels drift.

    – The whole time, in my head, I’m thinking “braaap!”

  13. Will says:

    So cool! I must have watched these two videos for at least a half hour.

    It’s a bit hard to see with these two angles, but it looks like you’re pivoting your shoulders before your hips entering the right hand turns. As a result, the front tire has to do the work that would otherwise be done by pivoting your upper body into the turn as a whole, as in the left turns. You can hear the difference in the side video.

    Late apexes are cool.

  14. Chris says:

    I tried the non-pedalling figure eights for a few minutes. I thought I was a decent rider: what a reality check!

    On a good note I pumped for an extended period uphill today on the way to the gym using a similar technique to Lee’s flat pumping video (not my usual method). My technique worked but my body parts were burning.

    Just for fun, the other day on my FS bike (Reign, 6″, pro-pedal off, front lockout on) on a flat road, kept my butt on the seat and bobbed my head and upper body to weight the seat at the correct time in each turn and use the rebound of the rear suspension to push the bike along. Not useful for anything but making me smile.

  15. Karmen says:

    Just practiced some figure 8’s for the first time this weekend. Excited about how started to get feel for the flow, bike lean, etc in just 15 minutes. Did a few more in the parking lot after a ride yesterday. Then tonight practiced another 15 minutes and really paid attention to bike lean and pointing my hips where I wanted to go and like you had above to more so let the handlebars go where they want to due to the lean instead of “steering” and again was encouraged to continue to get a better feel for it. It’s amazing how quickly 15 minutes go by just going round and round like that :o)

  16. Jeff says:

    Notice where Lee has his turned. His eyes are always focused on the cones as he goes through the turn. This is also taught in motorcycle safety courses. Thanks for posting Lee, and congrats for the new babies on the way!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] then I discovered MTB coach Lee McCormack‘s blog posts about pumping a flat surface (here, here, and here) where there are lots of pointers and helpful discussion.  He links to a video […]

  2. […] Videos: Figure eights at five paces […]

  3. […] ton of commuting, road training, clinics, pump, jump, slalom and some trail, not to mention lots of figure eights and flat-ground pumping […]

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