The first thing that has to happen when you want to know how to jump a mountain bike properly is to become comfortable with your bike. You need to know its weight, balance, and ability to perform when you’re riding it. This will reduce the risks of something unforeseen happening during the jump because the bike performs in an unexpected way.
Once you are confident in your overall familiarity with your mountain bike, here are the steps that you’ll want to follow to create a successful jump.
#1. Get the takeoff right. Once you’ve found a place where you want to jump and you know the conditions you’ll face before the actual liftoff, then you’re ready to get the takeoff right. Start by compressing into the lip of the jump. You’re going to feel some extra force on the front of your tire, with extra weight on the back.
#2. Treat each wheel as a separate entity. The weight is going to feel a little different on both tires, which means they must be treated individually. Make sure your weight is balanced along the center of the frame. Then begin to transfer the weight of stabilization from your hands to your feet. The goal is to have no weight pushing through your front wheel by the time you’re pushing through the lip of the jump.
#3. Release your weight through each wheel. This is the tricky part. Instead of trying to jump the entire mountain bike, what you’re really trying to do is jump each wheel of the bike. You do this by pressing down and then releasing your weight through each tire. You’re not trying to hop. The goal is to create explosive movement, but in an arc pattern instead of straight up and down. You do this by the pushing of your ankles, knees, and elbows.
#4. Get your timing right. How you transfer your weight is the most important part of this process. Try to imagine that there’s a line about halfway up the lip of the jump. This is where you need to switch from your arms to your feet. If you’re too late, then there’s a chance you’ll be flipping over the handlebars. If you’re too early, then you won’t get a whole lot of air.
#5. Now you’re ready to land. If you thought that taking off was tough, then it’s time to consider how to stick the landing. You’ll need to spot your landing as you’re shifting your weight toward the center. Brace the arms and legs for the impact that is about to come. The goal is to land with both wheels touching at the same time. If the rear strikes first, then it causes the front to wash out. Hitting the front first will almost guarantee a dismount.
Knowing how to jump a mountain bike means playing around with your timing, getting your comfort levels up with your bike, and then finding what works best for you. Practice using these tips and you’ll get the hang of it in no time at all.