How To: The basics of jumping your mountain bike

Make riding more safe — and fun — with these tips and tricks

How To Tech
The best way to learn this skill is to approach it with confidence. Photo courtesy of Art's Cyclery

The best way to learn this skill is to approach it with confidence (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy of Art’s Cyclery

Editor’s Note: This article is courtesy of the team at Art’s Cyclery. The original post can be found here.

The best way to learn how to jump on your mountain bike is to approach it with confidence, and proper protection will help provide that confidence. So before you start down the path of future freeride superstar, be sure to get the protection you need to continue the learning process when you are out practicing (and for most of us, inevitably crashing). Depending on how big the jump is and your skill level coming in, a full face helmet, neck brace, knee guards, elbow guards, and upper body protection are all a good idea.

Now that you’re padded up and ready to ride, check out this video to start learning the basics of jumping your mountain bike.

When starting out, set your suspension to rebound a click or two slower than normal. This will help with the learning process by preventing the dreaded buck. A slower rebound setting will also help to tame a rough landing.

As you approach the jump take an attack position on the bike with your arms and legs flexed. At the base of the jump, called the transition, weight your pedals and load the bike. At the lip of the bike, smoothly unload all your weight off the bike and transfer your energy from the ground to the air. Keep your weight centered between the wheels.

Once in the air it is important to keep your arms and legs loose. Don’t tense up, or you will tilt off axis and land crooked and off balance. The bike needs to be able to float underneath you so that it can naturally straighten out, even if it left the lip of the jump slightly off axis.

After you’ve passed the apex of your airtime, relax your arms to allow the front wheel to drop and meet the landing while extending your legs slightly to prepare to absorb the landing. As you touch down, focus your center of gravity on your pedals to avoid putting too much weight on your handlebars and front wheel. Use your legs to absorb the landing.

Visualizing yourself using these techniques and completing a successful jump can really help with the learning process. Keep practicing on small jumps and remember that jumping is a skill that requires finesse. It’s all about subtle, controlled movements, and this takes time to develop. But it’s worth it. You’ll be safer on the trail and have a lot more fun.

About the author: Arts Cyclery

This article was originally published on the Art's Cyclery Blog. Art's Cyclery is dedicated to offering free expert advice, how-to videos, and in-depth product reviews on to help riders make an educated decision when selecting cycling gear.

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  • Rudi says:

    “Pull up on your handlebars”. This is a dangerous technique for jumping as cannot guarantee the same amount of force is being in each arm which leads to twisting of the handlebars and losing your shape. I used to jump like this and it did lead to some nasty crashes. Proper training taught me that weighting and unweighting through your pedals is the only way for successful jumps. The handlebars will naturally move up when this technique is used.

  • Munter says:

    My jumping improved enormously once I learned not to pull up on the handlebars.

  • Luís Neto says:

    Thumbs up!!

  • josh says:

    The emphasis should not be on pulling up, but the weighting of the pedals. In the slow mo you see the rider weight his pedals, thus pushing his weight back and countering the action of his slight pull on the handlebars…This pushes the butt back and keeps you in a balanced mid air position. If you just pull up your weight will shift forward causing you to nose dive. The nose dive is the biggest problem beginners have. Dont focus on pulling up at the beginning, focus on pushing away slightly – and pressing with your pedals. After you get a bit better you can pull up slightly, or tap a bit of rear brake to improve the landing transition. If you focus on pulling up at first you will crash, like everybody else says here

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