Mountain bike jumping is a technique used to launch your mountain bike off a ramp. Often times, as you ride the mountain bike trails, you will encounter mounds of dirt shaped like ramps. Being able to perform a jump is a good way of improving your speed and clearing obstacles. That said, it is important to ensure you stay safe while practicing. Here are some of the things to take note as a beginner in mountain bike jumping!
First, make sure you have the necessary safety equipment on hand. This includes a proper helmet for mountain biking and a first aid kit. In the event of a fall, you need to make sure that your head is well-protected and you have bandages and ointments to treat scratches and bruises.
Moreover, check your bike’s condition to see that everything is in place. A mountain bike jump can impose severe loads on your bike’s frame, and any damage could cause more harm than during a normal ride. Be sure to have your bike fixed if you spot any issue.
Before taking the jump, practice on a regular biking trail to warm yourself up. Make sure your body is relatively fit as jumping could be very strenuous. If you are not used to mountain bike jumping, try lowering your bike saddle by a couple of inches. This is to prevent hitting yourself in the crotch area during a jump. Once you’re more experienced and know how to stay in control, you could raise your seat again.
Planning a Jump
Find a ramp that you can practice on. You must be able to visualize a route to the ramp and imagine landing smoothly after the ramp. If you spot many obstacles, such as rocks and tree stumps, do not attempt to jump on this ramp. It is better to find a ramp with a gentle slope and that is not too high. This will give you a safe space to practice.
Mountain Bike Jumping Technique
To begin with, cycle at a constant, medium speed towards your target ramp. When your front wheel reaches the lip of the ramp, stop pedaling and do a compress. Use your hands to push down on the handlebars, which will transfer the force to your front suspension. Lean just a little forward, but take care not to lean farther than the handlebar. By this time your bottom should be slightly above the seat- do not seat back down until you have landed safely.
As your hind wheel reaches the lip of the ramp, you should “explode”. This comes just after the compressing move, and refers to the action of standing up straight while pulling the front of your bike upwards. Notice your weight shifting- first from your hands to your feet, then to your hind wheel. Make sure that your feet stay on the pedals, and your hands hold on to the handlebars throughout the move.
Once you have launched yourself off the ramp, enjoy the airborne stage. If you did not jump successfully, go back and practice the move again.
If you manage to get airborne, you should quickly return to the neutral position. Your knees and elbows must be bent, and your bottom should be just over the saddle.
Before landing, keep your bike straight and wheels roughly level. If the wheels are imbalanced, try shifting your weight to adjust. Aim to land your bike on both wheels at the same time, as this would cushion much of the shock and prevent you from losing balance.
As you land, push your bike downwards into the ground for more grip. Also, keep your arms and legs loose for added suspension. Do not brake immediately after a jump, as it may cause you to flip head-over-handlebars. Keep rolling for some distance, then apply your brakes lightly.
This video by Blake from GMBN will give you a good overview of the process:
How to Jump a Mountain Bike with Flat Pedals
The basic technique for jumping a mountain bike with flat pedals is the same as that for any other pedal type (see above). In fact, flat pedals are great for perfecting your technique, as you would not be relying on cleats to control your rear wheel’s position. During a jump, you should position your feet such that the flat pedal’s axle is slightly behind the ball of your foot. This would require practice, especially if you are using a new bike or new pedals.
MTB Jumping Mistakes
There are a number of common mistakes you could make while doing an MTB jump.
Firstly, jumping too early is normal when you’re excited and eager to get over it. This will mean getting less air, as you would have missed out on the final stretch of the ramp’s slope.
Next, some bikers pull too hard on the handlebars, which could be very dangerous as your front wheel would be pointed upwards. On the other hand, some people use too much of their leg muscles, bringing up the back wheel while pointing the front wheel downwards. This results in a dive.
Moreover, the “dead sailor” or stiffening up mid-air could cause you to pull in one direction. This would give you a very messy landing as you go sideways.
Finally, some bikers may stretch too far backwards while exploding at the lip of the ramp.
Mountain bike jumping is a useful technique to learn and master. If you have been doing mountain biking for a while but have yet to try jumping, this is one area you should consider in order to enhance your riding experiences. However, make sure that you perform safety checks prior to practicing jumping. It is also recommended that you practice with a coach or someone who’s experienced in MTB jumping, as they would be able to point out your mistakes.