In the air he turns into a 360 degree spin, whipping the deck of his scooter, spinning the bars, and at the peak of his jump, whipping his deck again before he hits the concrete.
At the skate park skateboarders, rollerbladers and bikers share the ramps with scooter riders. Scooter riders follow the other skate park goers by performing tricks on different surfaces like ramps, half pipes, and stairs.
Nathan Grant, 22, is a scooter rider for 11 years now and has competed in eight competitions.
One of the most complicated tricks Grant has executed is the “360 tailwhip to barspin to tailwhip”.
“It’s essentially four tricks at the same time because my body is turning 360 degrees the whole time, while doing a tailwhip then a barspin and then a tailwhip again,” said Grant.
For this trick to be executed well, Grant needs height and speed. He uses a ramp four to five feet high giving him enough air to pull off the trick.
At the peak of his jump if he’s not facing backwards, he knows he didn’t jump high enough.
As he approaches the lip (top) of the ramp, he crouches his knees flicking his deck (base of scooter) into the tailwhip while simultaneously pulling his bars (handlebars) to his left to rotate them into the barspin.
He catches the first tailwhip and grabs his bars at the peak of his jump. As his jump is pulled down by gravity he knows he has to use both feet to propel the last tailwhip before hitting the concrete.
No trick is easy. “It’s muscle memory. I would try to ride for at least an hour a day. Even outside in the driveway,” said Grant. “It derives from practice. I mean any repetitive motion that your body completes.”
It’s also important to understand the parts of a scooter. For Grant the two most essential parts to understanding tricks are the deck and bars “because they’re the two most active parts on the scooter,” he said.
The bars extend from where the hands grab to the compression clamp, a thicker piece of metal near the wheel, making a T-shape. The deck is the base of the scooter not including the wheels or brake. The wheels are important, but understanding the bars and deck help execute tricks.
In most tricks the scooter rider needs to rotate the deck or bars. Sometimes, such as the “360 tailwhip to barspin to tailwhip” trick, it involves rotating the whole body.
Some tricks don’t use the deck or bars.
One in particular is called the “Front scooter flip”.
Just as the name says, he flips the scooter over his shoulder and lands back o the deck.
As he approaches the small kicker (small ramp), he aligns his toes on the edge of the deck pointing away from his body – that’s the side he’ll flip the scooter on. As he approaches the lip, he pulls back on his handlebars with both hands but then releases his right hand giving his left wrist a good flick.
Releasing his hands at the right time allows him to properly get the scooter revolving around his shoulder. On one attempt, the scooter struck his elbow. “I haven’t done that in years!” he said shocked at the red welt forming on his elbow.
Following the first flick of his left wrist, as the scooter flips forwards Grant snaps the left wrist bringing it into the full 360 degrees. He grabs the bars with his right hand again and watches as the deck approaches his feet.
He lands and scooters off.