Drop-offs can crop up in the form of rock steps, tree stumps or purpose-built drops and must be rolled down or jumped, with most red-rated trails having a drop or two. Follow our guide to negotiating this trail obstacle and you’ll be hammering down drops in no time.
- How to ride flat turns at maximum speed
- How to air drop offs
- Best mountain bike: the ultimate buyer's guide
With the right technique and a bit of practice you'll get the hang of drop offs in no time. If you're new to them, we recommend building up in height until you're comfortable and confident. If you are unsure or riding slowly, smaller drops can be rolled. Bigger drops and higher speeds require jumping the drops.
Practice is key here, particularly when it comes to jumping the drop. Find a kerb and practice getting your body position just right or your local trail centre might have a skills area with a series of drop offs at various heights which you can get to grips with.
Roll the drop
1. Control your speed
Use both brakes to slow you down to walking pace. Scan the trail ahead to find your exit line. Keep your eye on the edge of the drop and keep the brakes covered.
2. Let the bike roll away from you
As the front wheel rolls off the edge, allow the front of the bike to roll away from you by extending your arms and letting the saddle slide through your legs. Keep your weight back, but there’s no need to sit on the rear tyre.
3. Return to position
As the rear wheel rolls down, let the back end of the bike drop away from you and the saddle come through your legs. Return to position and ride away.
Jump the drop
Apart from being much faster (and more fun) jumping drops is a good technique to get dialled in, as rolling will only work for drops up to a certain height. Try rolling on a bigger drop and you risk catching your chainring or tipping over the bars and face planting. As we mentioned earlier, practice until your technique is consistent on smaller drops, then all you need to do is scale it up!
1. Fully commit
Adjust your speed so that you have enough to comfortably ride off the drop but not so much that you’ll get huge air — you just want to clear the drop rather than pull a big jump. Stay focused on the landing area and your run-out.
2. Lean back
As the front wheel leaves the drop, allow it to drop away from you by extending your arms and letting the saddle slide between your legs. This is a similar movement to rolling off, but less exaggerated.
3. Absorb the landing
Use your arms and legs in addition to your bike’s suspension to absorb the impact of landing. Scrub off a little speed with the brakes if need be.