The M80 kickflip, invented by Matt Barden in 1978, could be described today as an “old school kickflip sex change revert”. Only it isn’t that. It’s an M80, and it feels great to do. This is the “basic” version; you can also turn them in the other direction or start by rolling backwards. Note that I do my kickflips with my back foot; if you do them with your front foot, this version will be a bit more difficult to do.
There’s a couple of requirements before you begin. First, make sure you can do a kickflip smoothly – the original one, not the ollie one. You need to be able to do one rolling at a decent speed to do an M80 well. Because you’re landing to a 180 pivot, you’ll also need to be able to do endovers well before you get started on this one.
Just like with a regular kickflip, you want to start in the middle of the board with both feet facing forwards. An M80 kickflip is a bit more picky, though; you need to hook with your back foot, and you can’t have one foot even slightly in front of the other. That cross I’ve photoshopped on my board’s nose will be explained in a second.
I want to start the M80 kickflip by rolling at a decent speed. If you go too slowly, you’ll struggle to do the endover cleanly when you land. I compress at the knees, ready for the jump, and stare at an imaginary cross in the centre of the nose – this will keep my shoulders facing forward and help me get my back foot into the right place when I catch the board.
As I take off, the M80 kickflip looks very similar to a regular one, but I’m still staring at the nose. I’m not going to explain the mechanics of the flip – that’s already been covered on this site. Just get a clean kickflip, and try not to turn into it too soon – you want the board to be flipping before you start turning at the hips.
Here’s where things start to differ. My shoulders are still facing forward, but I’m beginning to twist at the hips as I hover above the board. I’m not going to think about the front foot – I just have to worry about getting my back foot onto the nose.
As I bring my back foot forward, note that the board is still flipping straight, and hasn’t moved off its original alignment. You really don’t want to half-and-half these. The goal is a perfectly straight flip; if the board is spinning slightly by this point, your original foot placement is off.
I’m never sure if I’m doing this bit by sight or purely by timing, but as the board finishes its flip, I start extending my back foot down to the point I’ve been staring at since before I began. If I’ve moved my hips enough, my front foot will be in the right place to catch the tail behind me. I can’t see that, so I don’t think about it. I have to just trust it’ll be there.
As soon as my feet connect, I start to let my hips unwind back to a more natural position. As you can see in this frame, the catch is very straight-legged on my back foot, and it’s the bend in my front leg which controls the angle of the board at this point. My body has to stay upright and straight, so I can’t rely on that to balance; if my upper body isn’t centred above the wheels, I’ll spin out and fall off.
Finally, my hips and feet have come back into alignment. It’s easy to get lazy on these sometimes and fall short of a complete 180º turn once the tension in the hips has gone; I’ve got to keep pushing that front leg round until it gets past my front shoulder.
As I get through the pivot, I can start relaxing the back leg. This is important for two reasons: not only does this help soak up some of the shock caused by landing entirely on one end of the board, but it’ll help smooth out the roll away from the trick.
Now I’ve finished bringing the board round and can start putting the nose down. Notice here how my shoulders are still facing forwards; pushing my front leg back to the front has twisted me up again. It looks almost like I could be doing a spacewalk at this point…
I find it very hard nowadays to not roll away from these with my arms in this position – I look like I’m doing a little bow. I think it’s because my arms swing the opposite way to my legs as I bring the board around to help me balance.
There’s a lot that can go wrong with the M80 kickflip, and while a lot of the issues are similar to the regular kickflip, there’s a few extra issues to pay attention to.
If the board is rotating: your feet aren’t starting out in the right position. They need to be perfectly balanced, side-by-side. Most people end up spinning the board backside (clockwise for a regular footer); if this is happening, your hooked back foot is too far back, and needs moving towards the nose. You might even want to have your back foot slightly in front of your front one if you still can’t stop it rotating.
If you’re landing in front of the board: a lot of people lunge forwards, thinking that’s a good thing to do because they’re aiming for the nose. That’s a big mistake. There’s a lot of forwards movement in this trick, but you don’t want to actually jump forwards during the takeoff; it’s a combination of the rolling speed you started with and the 180º turn you finish with which creates that movement. Jump straight upwards and slightly to the side.
If the 180 seems like a lot of work, or seems erratic: check your starting position on the board. I was teaching these to Felix Jonsson in Paderborn, and he was starting with both feet together, but really far back on the board. His logic was that it makes it easier to see the catch, but the problem is that it puts your body and centre of balance too far behind the front trucks. Try to stay in the centre of your board as you start these.
If the board is landing upside down: because you’re turning into the flip on an M80 kickflip, some people end up kicking the board harder than they would for a regular kickflip. Worse, some people will turn the foot into the flip, and end up toe-poking the board from underneath. Flip just like a normal kickflip, and try to avoid turning your hips too much until you’re already on the way up.
If you’re finding it hard to get a clean takeoff: tighten your trucks. You don’t have to lock your kingpin nut way down, but a super-floppy setup will be really uncomfortable and make learning this trick far more effort than it needs to be. You also risk wheelbite catching the board to pivot if your trucks are too loose, and that’s not a fun way to slam.