How to Ride a Drop, 9 Important Steps

You’re smoking down some sweet single track and right as you nail that last high-speed corner you see you friends seemingly float down a steep drop.  You choose the b-line and cruise around this wall of mystery and then have to hammer like mad to catch up with your friends … sound familiar?

Safely riding off a drop is a mountain-biking skill that will instantly open up new lines and allow you to have more fun than ever on your bike. With a bit of knowledge and some practice, you will be the one filling the new riders with envy as you gracefully and confidently ride off the drops.

1. Scout the drop. Take note of the condition of the drop, the steepness and roughness of the landing, and what the terrain would be like if you overshoot or undershoot the landing.

2. Roll up to the drop at a reasonably fast speed. If you are going too slow your front wheel will dive as soon as it rolls off the edge and toss you over the bars. Too fast and you might overshoot the landing.

3. Get into your ready position when two seconds away from the edge of the drop.

  • Center your weight over your pedals and keep your hands light.
  • Bend your knees slightly.
  • Keep your arms bent and relaxed.
  • Relax your grip on the handlebars.
  • Get your chest low – you want you upper body to be almost horizontal.
  • Look at the landing.

4. Unweight the front wheel as it reaches the edge by pushing your hips back (think manual) and lightly lifting up on the handlebar. The slower you are going the further back you must have your weight to keep your front wheel from diving while the rear wheel is still on the ramp.

5. Keep your front wheel level with the take-off until the back wheel leaves the ramp.

6. Re-center your weight right after the rear wheel leaves the drop so as you can match your bike to the angle of landing.

7. Extend your legs and prepare to soften the impact as you near the landing.

8. Absorb the landing by using your legs as suspension.

9. Have fun by exploring new lines and finding things to drop from!

About Ninja Skills Guru

The Guru’s #1 passion is taking bike skills and breaking them down into tangible, progressive steps. Is there a skill you just can’t master? A maneuver you don’t understand? A fear you can’t seem to get past? Turn to the Guru! The Ninja Skills Guru has spent years riding bikes and carefully breaking down riding skills into easy digestible steps so you can tackle the trail with confidence. Yup, the guru is that friend who doesn’t talk about anything but bikes!

7 Thoughts on “How to Ride a Drop, 9 Important Steps

  1. Pingback: How to ride a drop, 9 steps | TEAM NINJA

  2. Gman086 on July 12, 2017 at 12:51 pm said:

    #6 is flat out dead WRONG and could end up injuring someone reading this nonsense! If you keep your butt that far back after dropping you WILL land rear wheel first, slamming the front wheel down and into the cartwheel of shame. The PROPER way is to re-center your weight right after the rear wheel leaves the drop so as you can match your bike to the angle of landing (in many cases you will even need to be quite far forward and pushing on the bars if landing to steep transition).

    • Thank you for your comment! Upon review of the original steps we had outlined above, we agree the post needed a correction. You’re right, keeping your weight back after the wheels leave the drop would be potentially hazardous.

      Honestly, I think we just missed a step during the edit of this post. The orginal post was unclear at best. We’re grateful for your comment, and have updated the steps as per your suggestion.

      PS, let us know if you have any interest in being an instructor — you clearly have a great passion (and understanding) for mountain bikes. ..and, we’re guessing you shred too. ?

    • Mike Adler on December 28, 2017 at 8:20 am said:

      I couldn’t agree more with Gman086. Looks like you changed your post but still not correct. Manualing off a drop is an advanced progression that should never be taught until your student has an understanding and a grasp of the manual.
      Sorry don’t mean to troll you but some of you other posts are also questionable. Just looking at your photos I’m detecting errors in body and ankle position. And in a couple your students head is down( meaning probably their eyes as well). Sorry one other thing. Looks like in some photos your instuctors are riding clipless pedals? WTF

      • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Mike. We’d love to get some clarification / comments from you regarding how you think a drop should be ridden for a non-advanced rider. In our article, we’re not suggesting the rider manuals off the drop, just that they move their weight (hips) back as they reach the end of the drop to arrest the front wheel from falling. It’s a similar move to the manual (but not a manual), note why we said ‘think manual’.

        Also, we would love to hear your thoughts as to why an instructor shouldn’t ride clipless pedals. We encourage our students to ride whatever equipment they have at our skills events. While we recommend flats for learning most skills learning, many of our students come from an XC or Endurance background.

        Wouldn’t you agree it’s important that riders with clipless pedals know how to corner, ride drops, jumps, etc. as well? Most of our instructors are comfortable with both pedal types and are equipped to speak to the nuances of each.

  3. About that location in pictures 2 and 5 near the top of Noble Canyon…that carsonite sign in picture 5 says to stay off. And electric bikes on Noble?

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment this post.

      You bring up a couple good points — 1st off, I was there the day those photos were taken and did not see a sign that said ‘stay off’. Are you sure it says that? I recall that being the trail maker for Penny Pines, but I could be wrong. I’ll double check the next time I’m out there.

      Regardless, we NEVER deliberately ride off trail — we are very grateful to be able to ride and teach on such great trails in the first place and would never doing anything to jeopardize that privilege.

      2nd about the Ebike. Up until that skills event, we had never had an Ebike at one of our camps. Since that weekend, I’ve reached out to a couple Park Ranger friends to find out the rules regarding them. The consensus in SoCal parks is that they’re motorized and thus not legal. Considering we teach in SoCal a lot, we’ve adopted the same stance. Unless a park permits them, they are no longer accepted at our events.

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