Jumping is one of the most complicated technical resources of the mountain bike to execute. Still, at the same time, it is a technique that is necessary to learn and have it to overcome certain situations. It can be very useful to overcome obstacles or other irregularities in the terrain quickly and effectively.
Although sometimes it is wrong to consider jumping as an aesthetic eccentricity or facing the gallery, the truth is that jumping correctly is a technical resource of mountain biking that you have to master if you want to have a good handling of your bike in all kinds of situations.
Through a jump, you can save terrain cuts, cuts, sudden changes in elevation, or obstacles such as rocks and logs. All of them are obstacles that you can find in any mountain bike route, not only in enduro sections. On a flat forest track, for example, you may find an unexpected pothole or sinkhole. Even on asphalt too.
So, we give you some very practical tips so that you can safely face these obstacles or jumps with the wheels off the ground. Therefore, in this article, we will not talk about impossible downhill jumps, bike parks, or pump tracks but about how to perform the jump technique with your bike in conventional routes and situations.
The four basic steps to jump correctly with your mountain bike
Taking the wheels off the ground and lifting yourself into the air to avoid obstacles and uneven terrain is not an isolated technique but a set of them. To learn to jump correctly, we recommend you perform the following steps:
1. Keep arms and legs bent
The posture on the bike at the time of the jump is crucial to perform it safely. Take a firm grip on the handlebars, slightly bend your elbows and knees, and slightly roll your body back toward the rear axle. In this way, you will shift your weight and your center of gravity.
2. Moderate speed
The jump always begins 3 to 5 seconds before reaching the obstacle. In this previous zone, in addition to putting step one into practice, you have to maintain a moderate but constant speed that does not make your bike or your balance lose control due to inertia. Always touch the rear brake before reaching the jump and forget about using the front brake. Keep in mind that what it is about is to perform the jump at an adequate and constant speed, not to do it at the maximum possible speed.
3. Control vertical momentum
At the moment of rising from the ground, propel yourself with your bike in a moderate way, upwards, using your arms and legs as if they were springs. A small push will be enough for the bike to rise aided by inertia or by the slope of the terrain itself.
Never stop just as the bike hits the ground
4. Balances the wheels when falling to the ground
This small impulse will allow you to balance the inclination of both wheels so that the reception of the jump (the moment in which you will fall to the ground again) is done with both touching the ground at the same time, which will avoid imbalances or that the bike is thrown forward.
Help yourself with your bent arms and legs to cushion the impact, and then begin to brake to adjust your speed or stop if necessary. Never stop during or right at the reception moment.
Types of jumps depending on the obstacle
These four steps that we have seen before are the general steps in executing any jump with a bicycle. But faced with certain obstacles, there are variations of one or more of them to adapt to each situation. We explain how to jump over the most frequent obstacles on a mountain bike route.
Bunny Hop, the multipurpose mountain bike jump
The Bunny Hop or ‘rabbit jump’ is a very recurrent type of jump in this sport that allows you to safely overcome obstacles without slowing down your pace or speed. It is about lifting the bicycle from the ground with the force of your own body, without the help of a ramp. In other words, a high jump but riding a bike.
It is very useful to overcome sinkholes, trunks or roots, and similar elements in the middle of a road. Its execution technique implies a greater body impulse when lifting the bike, since you will not have any external help to propel yourself.
The Bunny Hop will allow you to jump over bumps or other small obstacles without missing a beat.
The jump involves a first lift of the front wheel, followed by the rear wheel to keep the bike in the air and overcome obstacles. The reception must be done at the same time with both wheels.
Natural ramp jump
On many occasions, you will run into some abrupt undulation of the terrain in the form of a ramp, the fastest and most effective way to overcome it will be with a jump. For this, it will be necessary to resort more than ever to the four basic steps at the beginning, moderating the force of the impulse at the moment of the jump.
At the time of reception it is very likely that it is not flat. In this case, it is advisable to use the body to adapt the fall of the wheels to the slope of the road, throw it slightly forward and thus fall with both at the same time. Don’t lean too far over the front wheel. In case of imbalance, it is safer to land first with the back than with the front.
Jump cuts or drops
Finally, you have to stop at one of the most difficult and scary steps or obstacles on a mountain bike route. These are the cuts or drops, sudden cuts of the path that generate a vertical fall until the continuation of the path itself.
The jumping technique at this point is a bit different than conventional jumping or bunny hop. Here it counts more to have maximum confidence; to moderate the speed and the momentum of the jump should be almost testimonial. Dropping down and balancing the bike at the same time for a simultaneous reception of both wheels is the secret of a good cut jump.
In this practical Bikecheck video you can learn several tricks to lose your fear of cuts and jump them with confidence and ease:
Final tip: practice in safe environments
The jumping technique is not easy to master and, as we have seen, there are several types of obstacles or ramps that require some variations in technique. The best way to learn and get used to jumping is to do it with simple obstacles to start with: low bumps and ramps and simple cuts with flat landings.
Little by little you can cheer yourself up with routes that include jumps of greater difficulty. If for any reason you do not see yourself capable or confident of doing it well in time, examine the state of the jump or cut for a few minutes, its reception and visualize the line. This will make you see the situation clearer and build your confidence to get through the obstacle.
We also recommend doing technical sessions or routes with jumps accompanied by a more experienced biker. This will be able to mark the speed and line, worrying only about adopting the appropriate posture to perform them in a controlled and safe way.