Want to progress your riding? Master your wheels lifts! Front wheel lifts, rear wheel lifts, level lifts, manuals, pedal wheelies, stoppies and bunny hops – can all help you take your riding to the next level.
Today we are going to focus in on the mother of all wheel lifts, The Bunny Hop. The Bunny Hop goes beyond being a cool trick to master; it’s incredibly practical on the trail. Use bunny hops to clear roots and logs, hoist yourself up onto a tall ledge or hop over a pesky mud puddle.
When learning to bunny hop, start small and build up. Practice with smaller obstacles on grass before working your way up to large features and bigger terrain. Remember, like most mountain biking skills, these things really do take lots of practice so be patient with yourself (and your bike).
Here are our 9 steps to mastering The Bunny Hop:
Ride at a jogging pace, or a bit faster. You want to go fast enough to provide momentum, but not so fast that you can’t control the bike. Start in a ‘high’-ready position (standing neutral) above the saddle.
A quick explosive compression into your feet and hands will help bring the bike up in the air. Don’t be shy on the compression – really give it an OOMPH!
3. Going Up
Utilizing the momentum from your compression, rise up with your bike while bringing your handlebars up towards your chest.
As soon as your front wheel reaches the desired height (i.e.; over the obstacle), push your handlebars down and forward while shifting your weight forward.
If you are wondering, “but HOW do I make sure I get that clearance?!” here are a few key things to consider:
If your timing allows (i.e.; you aren’t going to plow into the obstacle), the bigger your compression/explosion and the more you allow your weight to shift back with straight arms, the higher you’ll be able to get the front wheel. Giving yourself just an extra millisecond of hanging back on the bike will give that front wheel time to get even higher.
If your timing does NOT allow (i.e. you are riding towards a log at full speed with limited time to react), start your bunny hop and give your bars a little extra tug up towards your chest at the end to give yourself plenty of height to clear the obstacle. While we often discourage tugging on your bars in mountain biking, this is one of those practical moments where you sometimes just need that extra pull.
5. Let The Back Wheel Rise
As your front wheel comes back down to the ground, let your back wheel float up. This entire movement is focused on the front of the bike. Contrary to what you might read in other articles or (think you) see in videos, you don’t actually need to lift the back wheel up.
6. First Things First
Land with your front wheel first. To ensure this happens, really push the front of the bike down. Pick your landing spot and push your front wheel down on it like you mean it!
7. Soft As A Feather
Soak up the landing with your arms and legs, keep it smooth and quite. Stay off those brakes and roll out!
8. Ready For Anything
Get back in your ready position, eyes forward, and head on down the trail.
9. Put it All Together + Practice!
Put it all together and practice, practice, practice!
Are there other tips that have helped you master the bunny hop? What questions do you have about bunny hops? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!