Anyone can jump a bike. Ride fast up to a steep lip and you’ll get air_whether you want to or not. Coming down without crashing is the hard part. Whether you’re riding off a curb or launching off the biggest bump on a favorite trail, landing is the most important part of jumping. To get there the right way, you have to start off properly. If you don’t already know how to jump your bike, be prepared. You will crash a few times while trying to learn, and you could get hurt_perhaps badly. If you are still determined to try to learn, we’ve got some tips from longtime MBA wrecking crew star Toby Henderson.
FIRST THINGS FIRST “Make sure the bike is set up right,” advises Toby. “The seat should be lower than normal, and you want the bike in a medium gear. If the bike is in too low a gear, you’ll be spinning the pedals too fast and your weight will be lurching from side to side, making it hard to get set up for the jump early enough.”
CHOOSE YOUR POISON “Ideally, you want to start on a small jump in a grassy lot. You don’t want to try learning to jump on pavement. If there are no dirt mounds available, you can make a small jump with a board and something to prop up one end.”
COAST TO TAKE-OFF “Sprint and stop pedaling well before the jump. I usually tap the brakes before the jump to get the bike to the right speed. You never want to pedal all the way up to the takeoff. If you do, your body will be off balance when you leave the jump. Try to stop pedaling at least ten feet before the jump.”
RISE AND BE READY “Never sit on your seat when you jump. It will buck you right off. You want to be out of the saddle with your knees and arms bent. Know where you want to land and stick it. I can’t stress that enough. You have to focus on where you want to land. I can bunnyhop ten kids at once, but I can’t go nearly as far without the kids there. The key is picking the place where you want to land.”
TAIL FIRST LANDING “Ninety per cent of the time, you want to land on your back wheel first. One exception might be when you’re landing on a downhill slope. Use your knees and elbows for suspension to absorb the shock of the landing.”
WHEN GOOD JUMPS GO BAD “When things go bad on a jump, you know it as soon as you take off. It seems like every time I get in trouble on a jump it’s because of the takeoff. I don’t think it’s a good idea to bail off the bike. Usually, it’s better to try to ride it out. If you do jump off in the air, you better start running like the Flintstones when you land.”
ADDING STYLE “Don’t add style if you’re going to throw off your landing,” Toby warns. “Cross-ups are done for a reason. You’re always kind of compensating. You get style on a jump by hitting it at an angle, then compensating.”
HOW TO DO A TABLETOP “Turn as you go off the lip,” Toby advises. If you turn to the right, your back wheel goes to the left. Turn the bars to the left and you’ve got a tabletop. Turn the bars back to the right and land. You don’t go off a jump straight and throw in a tabletop. It all starts with the takeoff.”
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