Mountain Biking Technique: How to Jump. There’s no way around it: jumps are just plain fun. In this REI Expert Advice video, downhill mountain bike champion and certified instructor Kat Sweet, discusses the four parts of jumping: the approach, the takeoff, the air, and the landing. Check out REI’s selection of mountain bikes at rei.com/c/mountain-bikes
I'm Kat Sweet, a professional coach, jumper, downhiller, and I live and breathe mountain biking. There's no way around it, jumps are awesome. Once you've been riding for a while, you could start hitting small table tops to get comfortable in the air. All of the skills you have for manuals and bunny hops will come in handy, so dial those in first. Also make sure you're wearing protective gear, especially your helmet, and keep your seat lowered and out of the way. You can talk about jumps in 4 parts: the approach, the takeoff, the air, and the landing.
On approach, come in standing tall, and finish any peddling or braking at least 5 feet before the ramp, so you're ready and focused. The key to the takeoff is pumping. That means you're going to press your weight into the bike through your feet. Pump just before the trail ramps up, so you accelerate into the jump.
You want to be standing back up all the way up the ramp, so once you're at the top, you're at full extension. You want to reach full extension just as your back wheel hits the lip of the jump. If you're too early or too late, you'll waste your energy and probably come up a bit short. Keep on practicing on a small tabletop with a nice, easy landing until you nail the timing.
Once you're in the air, allow the bike to come up into you following the arch of the jump. Breathe, relax, and look ahead. If you stay loose, your bike will stay balanced, your landing will be smoother, and you will be able to adjust the bike underneath you. Find your line and pay special attention to the angle of the slope.
Two key things to remember for the landing are to match your tires to the slope, and to get ready to absorb the impact. As you come down, you need to make sure the tires are going to hit at the same time. If you come down with too much weight on either wheel, you could end up going over the bars or losing control. As you're maneuvering the bike to match the slope, you're also preparing to suck up the impact of the landing, just like a shock. Extend the bike away from your body to meet the ground, then compress as you land to absorb the energy. As always, make sure to look ahead down the trail. You don't want to land a perfect jump and forget there's another one just ahead.
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