How to Bunny Hop, Step-by-Step Guide

The Wheel Lift Family is comprised of all sorts of maneuvers; front wheel lifts, rear wheel lifts, level lifts, manuals, pedal wheelies, stoppies and of course, the queen of them all, 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!

1. Approach

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.

2. Compression

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.

4. Clearance

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 It 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.

 

Let’s Go To The Film

Take a few minutes to watch coach Richard demonstrate the Bunny Hop in these slow-mo videos.

9. Practice!

As with any mountain bike skill, bunny hops take time and practice.   Start small and work your way up!

We’d love your comments, tips that have worked for you, and questions — comment below!

About

Richard La China is a Professional Mountain Bike racer, USAC Certified Cycling Coach and a IMBA Certified Mountain Bike Skills Instructor who coaches beginner to pro cyclist. Currently working with mountain bike XC, Endurance and Enduro racers and other competitive and non-competitive mountain bike riders seeking to become their best.

One Thought on “How to Bunny Hop, Step-by-Step Guide

  1. falllinemaniac on June 5, 2018 at 11:24 am said:

    Thanks,
    In the good old days of 26″ wheels and clicked in pedals bunnyhops were stupid easy with the ability to lift the feet and the bike.

    Now on a modern steed with flats, this is a good way to put a knee into the rear tire (I have a scar from this). I have been working on a proper bunnyhop.

    The main driver for amplitude is in your step 3 involving thrusting the hips forward more than bringing the bars towards the chest.

    Your instructions appear to be more of a punch technique that I can perform easier than a full hip thrust. Those require far more core strength to explode forward than my fat old body can effectively muster. This looks similar but is much different when installing into muscle memory.

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