How to jump a mountain bike

Get off the ground – and back down again – safely

Jumping isn’t just for adrenaline junkies – it’s a fundamental skill that every mountain biker can and should learn. And it's not that difficult once you've got the hang of the techniques involved.

In the video below, MTB skills coach Sam from Pedal Progression shows you how it should be done:

Video: how to jump

Step-by-step guide to jumping

Jumping is all about exerting pressure and your ability to control the timing of this pressure through each wheel.

First you need to make sure your pumping is up to scratch. Being able to generate speed without pedaling, by snapping your arms, legs and feet from bent to straight, is crucial to understanding how a bike gets airborne.  

The take-off

Find a jump that you're comfortable with, roll in at a comfortable speed, out of the saddle. Keep your weight central, over both wheels, and lower your chest. Start to compress, and feel the force of the lip against your tyres.

Treat each wheel as separate – deal with the front then the back – not both together. Slowly start to transfer your weight from your hands to your feet – the idea is that by the time the front wheel reaches the lip, there's no weight pushing through it.

Pressing down and then releasing your weight through each wheel when jumping is the same as when you bunnyhop. In this case, the lip of a jump will provide all the lift your wheel will need to follow the trajectory of the jump. This means that jumping is a less explosive movement than a bunnyhop – the idea is to keep your head and core following a smooth arc by using your elbows, knees and ankles do the pushing.

Weight transfer timings

The point at which you transfer your weight from your hands to your feet is very important. Imagine a line just past halfway up the lip of the jump – this is the point at which you need to change from pushing with your arms to pushing fully from your feet.

If you’re still pushing into the lip through your arms when you get to this line, you’ll end up getting bucked forwards and over the bars.

As the jumps get bigger or your bike’s suspension increases – this line moves further back.

The landing

Once you're in the air, you can relax – the hardest part is done. Spot your landing and use your arms and legs to absorb the impact.

Try to land both wheels at the same time. Touching down rear wheel first can cause the front to wash out, and steep front wheel landings could end up with you going over the bars. 

Then all you need to worry about on landing is staying off the brakes.

Jumping tips

  • Start by learning on a tabletop jump, rather than a double, because you’ll have a flat, safe area to land on if you mess up. Don't go too big too soon.
  • If you’re struggling to jump using SPD pedals, try fitting some flats.
  • Play around with your timings too, to find what works best for you.

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