How to jump trail obstacles confidently

Sometimes the best way around a trail feature is to go straight over it

Don't avoid that trail feature, clear it with confidence and style. Here are some steps and tips for riding over obstacles rather than around them.

1. Approach

Approach... then pull up
Approach... then pull up

As you approach the feature, spot your take-off and landing. You’ll know whether you’ve got enough speed to clear the obstacle, so now is the time to commit! If you decide to bail, make sure you scrub off enough speed to avoid piling into whatever it was you were planning to jump!

2. Pull up

The type of take-off will determine how hard you need to hoick on the bars for maximum lift. If it’s a ramped take-off, treat the jump like a normal double, but if there’s nothing to kick the wheels up off, such as when clearing a tree stump, then you’ll have to use more of a bunnyhop technique.

3. Flight time

Flight Time... now brace brace!
Flight Time... now brace brace!

Relax in the air and level your bike out. This is the moment to enjoy as the clatter from your chain stops.

4. Brace, brace!

Assuming you spotted your landing earlier, before taking off, you should know where you want to touch down. As you come in for landing, extend your arms and brace your legs to absorb the impact.

5. Landing pad

Landing pad
Landing pad

Now that you’ve hit the ground, wheels first, you should be looking up and ahead and focusing on the next section of trail, and the jump should be just a distant memory!

Top tips

1. Stepping up your game

Don’t expect to jump like Evel Knievel right away — you’ll want to up your game in steps.

Pick a single jump that you’re used to hitting and place a rock or small branch on the ground after it. Practice jumping over it and clearing it, slowly extending the distance you need to clear. Before long you’ll be jumping further than you imagined.

2. Transferring the skills

You’ll want to take this newfound skill to the trails to help you ride faster, smoother lines.

Normally, there’ll be sections of trail that you can double, clearing a hole, some roots, rocks or other gnarliness. Once you’ve mastered and identified where and what the best things are to gap, you’ll notice you’ll be riding much smoother and quicker.

3. Suck it up!

Now that you’re riding faster and hitting lines harder with your new skills, it may be worth considering setting up your bike to tackle bigger hits, by increasing your fork and shock’s compression damping and slowing the rebound down.

If you’ve got firm suspension you can use that to help you pop off lips and obstacles.

Alex has been riding bikes since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. He first raced back in 2003, winning the Juvenile category on a sketchy hard tail Planet X bike. Alex lived in the Alps for seven years so isn't shy of a climb or two and loves getting out in his bike in all weather. His favorite thing to ride is steep loamy tracks with loads of opportunities to slam the bike into turns and really give it some frame bending welly! He's broken his fair share of frames, so any bike between his knees is going to get a right seeing to.
  • Discipline: DH, Enduro, XC, BMX, Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Epic descents covered in the world's finest loam and hero dirt
  • Current Bikes: Nukeproof Mega 275 / Giant Anthem Advanced 275 1 / LeMond Reno / Deluxe Pro 2 BMX
  • Dream Bike: Giant ATX 1 DH (1999 model)
  • Beer of Choice: Teetotal
  • Location: Bristol, UK

Related Articles

Back to top