Jumping a mountain bike is just plain fun. It’s also an excellent skill to master for mountain and off-road biking because jumping allows you to manage more difficult trails and handle a wider range of terrain.
Learning how to jump a mountain bike takes practice and patience, but it’s well worth it for the enjoyment and satisfaction you will earn. Read on to learn how to jump a mountain bike
Prepping a Mountain Bike for Jumping
Before you start jumping your bike, there are several ways to adjust your mountain bike and equip yourself to make jumping easier. Later you can undo these modifications, but they are helpful when starting out.
Lower the Saddle
Having a lower saddle allows the bike to move more freely beneath you. It will enable you to more easily absorb landings with your body.
It reduces the chances that your body will impact the seat when you land, hurt, or throwing you from the bike.
Use Platform Pedals
Platform pedals force you to learn to jump without using clips to lift the bike. They also allow you to easily free yourself from the bike if you lose control.
Stiffen the Suspension
Stiffer suspension helps you get a bit more lift off the lip of a jump.
Increase Your Tire PSI
Having a little more air in your tires helps you get more speed into a jump and keeps your tires on the rim if you land a bit off-center.
It’s almost inevitable that you will sometimes crash when learning to jump. In addition to a helmet, wear knee and elbow pads. Mountain bike gloves will improve your grip and also protect your hands from the occasional impact.
How to Jump a Mountain Bike
Part 1: Master the Manual
Learning how to manual is crucial for initiating a jump and is a great place to start. When you manual, you lift the front wheel off the ground while rolling on the rear wheel. It’s different from a wheelie because you don’t pedal during a manual.
To learn to manual, there are three steps:
- Preload.Push your weight down into the bike to preload the suspension and gain some rebounding energy, placing your body low over the seat.
- Punch. Quickly push your arms and feet forward while pulling your body weight backward. Keep your arms locked straight, using your weight rather than your arms to pull up the front wheel.
- Balance.Hold the wheel upward with your balance, keeping your weight low and back. Keep a finger on the brakes, so you can drop the front wheel when you feel like you are losing balance.
Part 2: Learn the Bunny Hop
Bunny hops get both of the bike wheels off the ground at once and are great practice for full jumps. To learn to bunny hop:
- Work on one wheel at a time.Use the manual preload and punch techniques to get the front wheel off the ground, using your weight to get the front wheel up.
- Spring forward.When you have your weight down and back in the manual position, quickly spring up and a little bit forward. Shifting your weight quickly will bring the rear wheel off the ground.
- Practice. Practice bunny hops by drawing a line on the ground and hopping over it. Once you are sure you have cleared the line, use a stick instead.
Part 3: The Jump
Once you know how to manual and bunny hop, you have all the necessary skills you need to jump a mountain bike. Here are the steps of learning to jump.
- Preload. Press your body weight down into the bike, accelerating into the jump. Keep your chest up to leave room for the bike to move.
- Spring up. As the front wheel leaves the ground at the lip, extend your legs so that they are fully extended as your back wheel hits the lip. This takes practice because you want the full impact of your spring to hit just when your rear wheel hits the lip; too soon, and you lose rebound energy, too late, and there is no ground for the wheels to push off of.
During the Jump
- Stay loose. Keep your body relaxed in the air so that the bike remains aligned and balanced beneath you. Stay above the bike, leaving room for the bike to rise beneath you on impact.
- Look ahead. Look at the angle of the landing slope, and note any obstacles or challenges ahead. Match your tires to the angle of the landing slope.
- Impact. You want both tires to hit the ground simultaneously, with a balanced impact on both wheels at once, so you can control the landing.
- Extend your body. If you stayed relaxed in the air, your arms and legs are extended when you land, so they absorb the impact and allow the bike to move beneath you. If you are too low over the bike, you can lose control on impact.
- Point the front wheel where you want to go. Even if you land a bit crooked, as long as the front wheel is aimed correctly, the rest of the bike will follow.
- Look ahead. Be mindful of what’s next on the trail; there may be another obstacle immediately ahead of you.
Following these steps lets you master the beginning skills that will make eventual jumping easier and more intuitive. It takes patience and persistence, but you can learn to jump a mountain bike and enjoy this advanced skill.