Jumping is a skill that will serve you well and make riding more fun, whether it’s to clear a gap or simply hop over a root. Who better than BMX and 4X racer Jill Kintner to provide an expert breakdown on how to get air.
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The move basically starts with good timing of a bunnyhop and progresses from there the faster you go. Start small and work your way up — sound fundamentals are key.
Jumping is all about gauging your speed, timing and getting set before the lip.
Get your feet level, in a neutral position, and look up where you want to go.
The compression at the base of the jump will give you an explosive linear movement to pop (jump) from.
As you go up the face of the jump your weight will transfer from your arms to your feet, which will give you the force to pre-load with your legs, and make your front wheel light as you hit the top of the lip.
Your heels should be slightly down through the take-off until you’re airborne.
In the air, think about readjusting your balance and spotting the landing.
Because the angle of your bike is changing (like you’re riding a rainbow), your weight needs to shift slightly forward to level it.
To do this, shift your hips forward and raise your heels a little.
4. Nose down
As the bike starts to go down, your arms will pull you forward slightly.
Angle your toes down to bring the bike into your body and shift your weight over the front a touch to get the nose pointing down and make both wheels match the slope of the landing.
You need to continually adjust your body position to match the natural arc of a jump.
When you land with both wheels at the same time, your body acts like secondary suspension to absorb the impact equally through your arms and legs.
Be strong in your core, eyes up, and ride out of there like a champ!
Try these tips from Jill to improve your technique — and save yourself if you get out of shape!
1. Flat pedal skills
“Start on flat pedals and a hardtail if possible. Skills days at jump parks will develop good timing and control, and are fun. We used to build little kickers and see how far we could go, getting faster and going further each time, learning how to pop and absorb the flat landing. The key is to start really small and build up.”
2. Go slow
“See how slow you can go and still clear a jump. BMX tracks are a good place to practice this, as the jumps are mellow and safe. Try starting closer to the jump or come in from a turn — it’s a fun challenge. I surprised myself with what was possible, and learned how to boost, rather than only using speed to clear jumps.”
3. Back brake tap
“This is a good trick to know if you ever get in trouble with the front end too high on a jump. Pulling the rear brake in the air creates a force that brings the front end back down. Moto riders do it all the time. I’ve had to use this on steeper jumps when I’ve got out of shape and felt like I might loop out on the landing.”
Check out more of Jill's advice and get those skills and tricks nailed: