How to jump a mountain bike | Video and step-by-step guide on how to get airborne on two wheels

Get off the ground and back down again safely

Orange Alpine Evo LE enduro mountain bike

So you want to learn to jump on your mountain bike? You’ve come to the right place.

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Jumping isn’t just for adrenaline junkies – it’s a fundamental skill that every mountain biker can and should learn.

It may seem daunting at first, but once you’ve got the hang of the technique, you’ll be looking to boost every feature on the trail.

In this video, MTB skills coach Sam from Pedal Progression shows you how it should be done.

We have also put together a step-by-step guide on how to jump a mountain bike, with advice from MBUK‘s chief sender and all-round rad rider, Will Soffe.

How to jump a mountain bike – a step-by-step walkthrough

Jumping skills can be implemented on any trail, helping you maintain speed by clearing obstacles.
Mick Kirkman / SRAM

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 pedalling, by snapping your arms, legs and feet from bent to straight, is crucial to understanding how a bike gets airborne.

If you have never taken off from a lip before, it’s important you find a jump you’re comfortable with.

Tabletop jumps feature dirt connecting the take-off to the landing.
Russell Burton

Will says: “Always start on tabletops, as they will give you the maximum amount of room for error in terms of coming up short (aka casing) on the top of the landing ramp.”

It’s best to avoid doubles until you’ve mastered the technique and understand the speed needed to clear them.

Learning to jump is best with flat pedals, because using clipless pedals not only make bailing more difficult, it can also foster bad habits – such as using the pedals to bring the rear of the bike up.

The take-off

Forcing your bike into the take-off will compress the suspension, causing it to spring back when you leave the lip.
Ian Lean

Find a jump you’re comfortable with and then roll into it at a comfortable speed out of the saddle.

Assume the attack position by standing up, pedals level, knees and elbows straight with your weight central, over both wheels.

Start to compress and feel the force of the lip against your tyres.

Treat each wheel as a separate entity – dealing with the front and then the back – not both together.

Pulling up at the lip will cause an extra boost that will make you jump further.
Ian Lean

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.

Staying relaxed and looking ahead will keep you controlled through the air, avoiding the dreaded ‘dead sailor’ position.
Ian Lean

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 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 to 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.

Make sure you aren’t still pushing into the lip once you get to this line.

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.

Will says: “Don’t choose a jump that is too steep to begin with, as this puts more pressure on you and the bike, and means your timings have to be that much more precise.”

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

The landing

Landing both wheels at the same time reduces the chance of going over the bars or looping out.
Ian Lean

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.

Staying off the brakes will keep the bike stable while transitioning off the landing.
Ian Lean

Try to land both wheels at the same time.

Touching down the rear wheel first can cause the front to wash out, while steep front-wheel landings can end up with you going over the bars.

“Maintaining strong legs and a pedals-flat position is key to dealing with the g-force generated in landing,” says Will.

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