Riding analysis: On Track with Curtis Keene S2E2


Have you seen the most recent video in Curtis’ Red Bull enduro series?

Toward the beginning there is a shot of him coming out of a corner and lifting the front as he accelerates out. Braaap!

Is there a functional purpose to this?
Is he just that hard on the pedals?
Is it merely an artifact of pumping the exit of the corner?
….or is it just a “style” thing?



It’s good to hear from you. We had some great times “back in the day” riding with Curtis and traveling to races together.

S2E2 might be the best video in the series, at least from a storytelling standpoint:

At 0:22 I think the answer is all of the above.

Functional purpose?

In a beautifully violent sprint, a la a BMX pro exploding out of the gate, the hips drive forward while the hands anchor backward. Lifting the front wheel isn’t the goal; it’s the result of massive tension between the hands and feet.

Coach Greg Romero nails a start in the book Pro BMX Skills.

At 0:22 Curtis is definitely multiplying force between his hands and feet.

Hard on the pedals?

Yes. When Curtis pedals, it’s an act of God. Last year I asked him about his peak sprint power. As I recall, he’s pulling around 2,200 watts.

That kind of power, by the way, would suffice in a AA Pro BMX gate.

A result of pumping the corner?

At the highest level, the hip drive you use to crush the s— out of a corner can also be used to sprint (or hop) out of the corner. I teach this total integration to advanced riders.

Just before the wheel comes up, Curtis snaps the end of the corner by applying some downforce. This can a good way to officially end the “I’m turning …” part of the corner and begin the “I’m sprinting …” part of the straight. In this case, the snap happens a bit too late to really help the turn.

Or is is just a matter of style?

In my opinion, there’s some of this too.

Notice how Curtis leans back and pulls on the bars right before he begins his sprint. This is part of his style — and the result looks cool. But I don’t think it serves a functional purpose. When you launch a sprint from the back seat, you lose control and power compared with sprinting while balanced on your feet. (I learned this from Coach Greg Romero while writing the book Pro BMX Skills.)

Fun happens at the intersection of challenge and ability. The good news is we can all master the fundamentals more deeply. For pros like Curtis, improved skills lead to more victories and higher earnings. For the rest of, improved skills are safer — and they make riding more fun.

Go Curtis!


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5 replies
  1. Sven says:

    In my unprofessional opinion I agree with you. I think this lifting of the front is mainly for the show’s sake as it comes relatively late in the corner, when cornering itself is already done (as you state). If it was a side effect of hard cornering it would be initiated right after sharply “snapping” out of the corner (hope the meaning in my words is comprehensible), which is what I have observed when practicing serious Cornering on the trail.

    By the way, Curtis Keene ftw! Always keen(e) to see updates on his facebook page and watch the next episode of his On Track-series 😉 would love to meet this guy in person and do some (for me blatantly depressing) laps with him…which seems more than unlikely living here in the middle of Germany and at best being able to go to the alps for one or two weeks each year.

  2. Sven says:

    Haha, fantastic one, had a big grin from one ear to the other when reading it, thumbs up! Aren’t these the moments we all train for?
    Another point why I’d like to Ride with a guy like Curtis or that Lee McCormack 😉 it would for sure be unbelievable beneficial for my riding!

  3. ChrisQ says:

    Read a funny story in an English MTB magazine once, back in the Nico days.

    Some kid walks up to Steve Peat in a bar or somewhere, says to him “Do you power wheelie out of corners?”. Peaty says, yeah, I guess I do sometimes”. Kid says “Well that’s why you are number 2!”.


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