How to soar over step ups

Tips for successfully landing step-ups on jumps

If you’re faced by a jump with a landing higher than its take-off, here’s what to do...

1. Approach

You’re going to need more speed than on a tabletop jump of the same length because you’ve got to get up onto the top of the landing. Otherwise, you’ll case it.

Approach stood up, pedals level, head up and knees bent. The key to a successful jump is taking off properly, and that means being in perfect balance and judging your speed and pop so you land smoothly on the downslope.

2. Pop

To get maximum height, you need to pop off the top of the lip. Pump the face of the jump by extending your arms and legs — use mostly your legs for maximum power.

As your front wheel reaches the top of the lip, pull the handlebar towards your hips and keep on pushing down through your feet. By applying pressure through your back wheel all the way up the lip you’ll get maximum air.

3. Level out

When your bike leaves the lip, relax and let it come up and level out underneath you. Don’t pull the bike up in the hope that you’ll go higher, all this will do is put you in a crouched position, which is bad for landing and could unbalance you.

Glance at the landing then get your chin up and look where you’re going.

4. Absorb

Softly push your bike down towards the landing by straightening your arms and legs. Aim to land with both wheels together, and as they touch down absorb the impact by bending your arms and legs.

If you land out of balance the issue is most likely to do with your balance on take off.

Pro tips

Although the bigger landings on step-ups can look scary they’re often super-smooth jumps, which makes them the perfect place to hone your airtime skills and tricks.

Pump for speed: Step-ups usually have a big landing, so pump this for extra speed. Do this by landing in a slightly more crouched position and then push your bike down hard into the downslope.

Style it up: Because the landing is higher you won’t be coming down from a height. This makes step-ups perfect for practising on or trying new tricks. Softer dirt landings are recommended for the latter!

Gap it: If you can consistently clear tabletop jumps then don’t be afraid to try a step-up that has a gap in it. While they look more intimidating, and the stakes are higher, the technique to clear them is exactly the same.

The pencil: The most common mistake with step-ups is leaning back and landing on your back wheel with the front wheel up, AKA ‘the pencil’! Remember to push your front wheel down if you think you’re coming in tail-first.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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