When the high-speed fun isn’t high-octane enough for you anymore, you have to unleash your inner daredevil.
You have to be able to take some calculated risks and have even more fun than you had before.
You need to know how to jump a mountain bike, and your mountain biking experience will never be the same. It’s like taking the next step, a leap of faith, if you will, into your mountain biking journey. We’re going to show you how to do that right now.
Are Mountain Bikes Good for Jumping?
They are. Well, one type is better than others, but in general mountain bikes are definitely good for jumping.
The primary reason is because you have better shocks with more stabilization than other bicycle types, so even when you land off of these killer jumps, you’re not feeling the impact the same way that you would from another bicycle type.
That’s a good thing, but the shocks aren’t the only part of a mountain bike that you should be thinking about. Seat height, material and how it vibrates, and how it feels personally to you will all factor into how you jump with your mountain bike.
Basically, it’s different for everyone, but you still want the essentials to be in place so you don’t go bum over tea kettle when you try to jump.
Step-by-Step Guide for Jumping on a Mountain Bike
Jumping on a mountain bike is pretty straightforward when you put it in a step-by-step fashion like we’ve done below.
Apply this mindset to any jump you make, and keep some safety precautions in mind that we’ve added towards the end of this guide before you start launching yourself (and a 31 lb aluminum frame) several feet into the air.
1. Line Up Your Jump
Going into a situation or area blind isn’t a good idea by any stretch of the imagination. You need to spot your jump, know what’s in front of it, to the sides of it, how high it is, and test the ground to make sure it’s not going to crumble on you.
Line up your jump so that you know where you’re going to land. This sounds cheesy, but visualize it. Designate where you intend to land and what you expect to do while you’re in the air, go through the motions, and then you can kick off and actually start to make it happen.
2. Down to Earth
As you approach the speed you need to go off of the jump, you actually have to stand up on your pedals and use your arms to apply pressure down on the bike. Use your body weight here, and stop pedaling a few seconds before the jump so you’re stable while you go off of it.
As you’re applying that pressure down, you should also begin to lower your body so that the weight is going near the front of the bicycle. This is called pre-loading most of the time in mountain biking terms. Do this just as you’re about to go off the jump.
3. Top Lip
As your tires begin to go up the lip of the jump, you have to shift your weight. Keep in mind that the length of the jump (distance from lip raise to being in the air) matters here, so read the situation accordingly. Longer jumps may require you to wait until you’re halfway up the lip to actually begin shifting your weight.
Once you feel the top lip, lean backwards and shift weight onto your legs, or rather onto your pedals. As you do this, you’re going to feel the bike’s reaction. You don’t want to do this with such force that it causes a stutter or for you to go backwards on the bike.
As your back tire begins to go up the lip the same way your front tire did, it’s your time to shine. You’re going to explode upwards, standing up on your bike and pulling the handlebars up into the air while you stabilize the momentum of the bike.
From here, you’re going to guide your bike through the air. When you stand up, your weight will now be evenly distributed and no longer pressing the bike down into the ground. You’re letting the momentum carry you while your body weight travels through the air with it, not against it.
Back tires hit the lip, you explode up and pull the bike with you. You’ll go into the air and begin to guide those handlebars, and this is where you really get a sense of how your bike is going to behave going off of jumps.
Did you shift your weight properly? Did you feel that explosion when the back tire went up the lip? Evaluate your jump. If possible, set up a GoPro or your smartphone on a tripod to capture the jump and watch it in 0.25x playback speed.
If your phone doesn’t offer that, you can upload it to YouTube and keep it private so you can utilize the YouTube video player to drop that speed to 0.25x.
Take a detailed, well-oriented look at how you handled that jump. Did you do everything we said to do on this guide? Did you catch the right amount of air? What happened? Assess and obsess: find the right way to hit that jump flawlessly so you can get more air, farther distance, and a high-octane experience all around.
Additional Tips to Keep in Mind
These are just some last-minute tips we have to share before hopping into the safety side of things. Try to keep these in mind.
- Don’t go off jumps with variables such as backpacks or baggy clothes with pockets that are filled up/containing items, otherwise you can seriously soften the momentum of your jump.
- Applying breaks at the end of your jump, as in when it lips up, will actually cause you to go over the handlebars or have the back of the bicycle come up and make you flip over. Either way, you have to be purposeful when you apply all that momentum.
- Try doing tricks at a good mid-point during your mountain biking. Jumps should be saved for just after a warm up, but before you start to wind down for the day/night from all the extreme miles you trekked throughout the day. You want clarity, focus, and razor-sharp responses when you’re doing something dangerous like this.
Think of Safety Before All Else
Seriously, be smart with this. You can make some intense, sick jumps that make you look like a literal mountain biking God. That’s okay; there’s plenty of room for all that. Just don’t go into a situation blindly.
- Know Your Trail: Just like we mentioned when talking about lining up your jump, you need to know the trail that you’re launching yourself off of. Don’t do this in unfamiliar spots. If it’s a new area to you, that’s okay, just inspect everything around you first before you decide to propel your body through the air.
- Distribute Weight Properly: When it’s time to push your weight down and forward, do so. When it’s time to lean back and put most of it on the pedals, make sure you actually shift your weight properly. This is the hardest part to master when it comes to jumping your bike, and as long as your stabilization and speed are good, it’s actually about 90% of the entire jump.
- Sleep the Night Before: Sleep contributes to your dexterity, balance, decision-making skills and physical capabilities far more than anyone really thinks that it does. It’s quite remarkable just what sleep does for the body. At a certain level of sleep, or lack thereof, rather, you’re actually equivalent to a drunk driver in terms of your reaction speed and ability to control your motor functions. Seriously; sleep well before you go jumping with your mountain bike, and if you don’t sleep well, then seriously skip out on using the bike at all.
- Hydrate (Muscle Control): Your muscles require nutrition and hydration to stay in perfect working order. If you want them to function and help you, you need to provide them with adequate water. That, and this list of nutrition for cyclists that will come in handy as well. Have a water bottle handy!
It’s Like BMX’s Filthier Cousin
It’s a thrill like no other, and if you’re keen on your movement, you’ll be able to land fantastic jumps like you were born to do so.
We’ve given you what you need to know, but this can’t account for practice. Find a safe and gradual way to practice jumping your mountain bike, and before long you’ll be the beast of the mountains, crushing (or hopping over) every trail you encounter.