Why learn to pump?

Pumping is the most important bike handling skills. Knowing how to pump, will allow you to generate speed in sections of trail where you cannot pedal, and it is also a prerequisite for other skills such as learning how to jump and corner

How it works

Technically speaking pumping is the act of generating speed by shifting your body weight in sync with the trail features. The idea is to make yourself as light as possible on the inclines and as heavy as possible on the downslopes, similar to jumping on a trampoline

Pumping is broken up into two parts
Generating speed: happens on the declines. You do this by getting tall before the decline, and then making yourself heavy on the downslope.
Maintaining speed: happens on the incline. You do this by getting low and preloading before the incline, and then exploding upwards and making yourself as light as possible on the upslope.

How to Practice using a roller 

The first part of pumping a roller is maintaining speed by getting light .

  1. As you approach the roller, Preload by lowering your chest and bending your knees
  2. Before you reach the incline push into the ground and explode upwards 

The second part of pumping a roller is generating speed by getting heavy.

  1. As your front wheel approaches the peak, initiate the push by dropping your chest 
  2. When your front wheel reaches the decline apply downwards pressure on your handlebars. 
  3. Once your rear wheel has reached the decline, shift your weight back slightly and apply downwards pressure driving with your legs 

Depending on the terrain and your speed, you will sometimes have to use slightly different techniques. In most cases you want to generate speed mainly using your legs, however rollers with tight spacing may require you to pump with your arms.

The most important part about pumping is timing. And as long as you are able to get heavy and the downslopes and light on the upslopes you should find this skill to come easily. If you’re still having issues pumping, try lowering your saddle, and locking out your suspension.

At slower speeds, you may find it easier to generate speed using your upper body, and practically leaning on your bar.

At faster speeds focus on generating speed with your legs. You will find, the faster you go, the less you rely on your arms. 

Common Mistakes

remaining too stiff and not shifting their body weight around enough
not keeping their feet level while pumping
trying to pedal while pumping

Final Thoughts

If you don’t get this right away don’t get discouraged. The hardest part about pumping, is getting the timing right, which comes practice. But, once you have mastered pumping, you will never be able look at the trail the same way again. 


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