Learning to jump a mountain bike is the best and most liberating feeling in the world (I may be a bit biassed). Jumping opens up a whole new world of opportunities on the trail and makes riding more enjoyable. The day you learn to jump is the day you go from being a passenger on the bike to the conductor.
Jumping the combination or two skills
Pumping generating speed without pedaling
Bunny Hop jumping into the air on flat ground.
Before you learn how to how to jump a bike, you should be able and have a clear understanding on how to pump. Knowing how to bunny hop is not required. Jumping a bike using a ramp is easier than bunny hopping on flat ground.
How it works
Similar to the American bunny hop video there are 3 movements that get you into the air: the pop, The scoop, and the shove. The movements for jumping are the same, but this time, you have an incline assisting you into the air. Another way to look at it is that jumping is the extension of pumping, but this time, you’re leveraging the bike to help assist into the air.
- Preload before the incline by crouching down, and lowering your chest.
- As your front wheel starts going up the incline, shift your weight backwards over your pedals.
- When your back wheel reaches the base of the incline explode upward
- Keep applying backwards pressure on your bars guiding your front wheel into the air.
- As you back wheel goes up the incline, continue to explode upwards and stand tall, while rowing the bars into your lap.
Things to take note of: Think of your bike as a lever, the backwards pressure on the bars combined with driving through your legs, rotates the bike vertically and drives the back wheel into the ground. This motion combined with pumping will help propel you into the air. The quicker and more explosive this movement is the higher you will jump. The biggest takeaway should be that you want to apply downward pressure on your back wheel in order to propel you upwards
When your back wheel leaves the lip, curl your toes around your pedal and scoop upwards absorbing your legs into up your body
Side note: When jumping the scoop, is less meaning than it when you bunny hop. The take off if what kicks your back wheel upwards.
While you’re scooping shove your bike front of you to help level your bike off.and let your body relax to get ready for the landing.
Side note: The combination between scooping a shoving your bike should level your bike off. If you ever hear somebody say "level off", in this context that's what they mean.
Also different jumps require a different techniques. The more height you want, the more the movements will resemble an american bunny hop.
Bike set up
Low Seat Use a bike with an aggressive geometry that will allow you to lower your seat. The more range of movement you have the better. Also, a low seat will help prevent going over the bars if you get bucked.
Platform Pedals You shouldn’t be lifting the bike with your feet. The take off will propel you wheel into the air. Your feet are there to help guide your bike and control it.
Wide Bars Wide bars will give you better stability, and they are less susceptible to turning unexpectedly when you land.
Short Stem A short stem will shift your weight further back and will lessen the chances of going over the bars when landing.
Safe ways to learn how to Jump
There is no perfect way you can learn how to jump, but keeping safety in mind it is a good idea to limit your chances of getting hurt. Most crashes happen while landing, so it’s a good idea to practice jumping where you only have to focus on getting into the air. I recommend learning to jump on either a bank or with a small homemade ramp.
Using a homemade ramp
A ramp will help you get used to mellow transitions and practice landing with both wheels at the same time. When starting out, you won’t necessarily have to use the pop/scoop/shove to catch air. As long as you keep your weight over your bottom bracket and have light hands you should be able to get airborne. If you want to jump higher, that’s when you will need to apply the pop scoop and shove.
Using A bank
Will help get you use to a steep transition/take off and will more closely resemble the features in a bike park. To ride the bike you will need to use a pumping technique, but to catch air and jump over an object you will need to use the pop/scoop/shove.
Once you get used to a transition take what you've learned to a real jump. BMX, pump tracks, skills areas are great places to start as they usually have table tops with mellow transitions. Table tops are great because If you don’t clear the jump, there is little consequence.
Side note: Beware of wind! Jumping on a windy day can be very dangerous, especially with cross winds. It can throw you off balance and cause you to crash.
Problem Yanking the bike upwards (similar to the English bunny hop)
Solution You should not have to pull your back wheel up with your legs. The incline will kick it upwards, your legs are only there to guide it.
Problem: Getting bucked nose heavy
Solution 1 Counteract that by slowing down your rebound and also adding a few click of compression.
Solution 2 Focus on shoving your bike out in front of you and getting your but behind your seat.
Problem Front wheel is very high (Aka Dead Sailor)
Solution Relax your legs and arms. Keep your arms in front of you and your legs bent.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I jump my 29er, 27.5, 26, 20, 18, 12-inch bike?
Yes you can jump with any kind of bike, but different bikes may make it easier to jump than others
Can I learn to jump with a full suspension mountain bike?
Absolutely the technique is going to be very similar, but you will need to preload more to compensate for the suspension.
Can I learn to jump with a full suspension mountain bike?
Yes, it should actually be easier since you don’t have to compensate for suspension.
Do I need to be clipped in to jump my bike?
No, I’m using flat pedals in the video. Using clips can actually teach bad technique.
I very am short, can I jump a mountain bike?
Yes, you can learn to jump, smaller bikes may be easier to learn on than others.
As with anything, practice is by far the most important factor to learning how to jump your bike or any skill for that matter. It does not matter how many mountain bike video tutorials you watch, or MTB skill articles you read, you need to practice these movements over and over. The purpose of my Skills with Phil videos is to help illustrate the key mountain bike concepts so when you go out practice jumping you know what to look for. I would also recommend that you video yourself attempting how to jump and analyzing your body movements. If you’re struggling to learn, knowing what you’re doing wrong is the-the first step to solving the problem.
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