Want to progress your riding? Master your wheels lifts!
All types of wheel 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!
Watch these slow-mo examples of instructor Richard puting the step-by-step bunny hop progression together.
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!
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!
I would encourage anyone of any ability to take a class with these guys.
I recently attended one of the Intermediate/Advanced Efficiency and Flow clinics. Even though I have been riding for many years...
I recently attended one of the Intermediate/Advanced Efficiency and Flow clinics. Even though I have been riding for many years I learned a lot from this clinic. The techniques covered ranged from reviewing basic skills such as basic body position to practicing more advanced techniques like switchbacks, bunny hops, and cornering. I was able to recognize, get instruction, and practice some skills where I was weak and instantly improve them. Even skills I thought I was pretty good at I was able to pick up useful tips. I also realized that deliberate skills practice is not something I incorporate into my riding, but now that I understand what I should be doing I will make sure to add this in! After taking the course my comfort on the bike has improved and I am more aware of my body position and movement of the bike. I would encourage anyone of any ability to take a class with these guys. The instructors are knowledgeable and easy to work with. There is a lot of one on one help and they will make sure you understand the skills being taught and are able to perform them successfully. Plus the clinic was lots of fun! I highly recommend and hope to work with these guys again soon. ~ Michelle A.
The course was very fluid, engaging, and I would highly recommend it.
I took the intermediate/advanced course in Balboa Park after having ridden for just over 2 years on my own. It...
I took the intermediate/advanced course in Balboa Park after having ridden for just over 2 years on my own. It covered a wide breadth of skills, some of which I already felt aquatinted with and others I had little to no experience with. I found all of the material useful. I was able to improve skills I already had and was able to learn new skills. I also feel confident leaving the course that the instructors have provided all of the information for me to practice and improve outside of the course setting. The environment of Balboa Park was perfect for learning and sessioning the skills covered. The instructors were friendly, fun, and attentive to all of the participants. They spent more or less time on certain skills based on how the entire group was grasping them. They also gave individualized attention to participants that required more help with technique. The course was very fluid, engaging, and I would highly recommend it. ~Alexandra Rose Brysiewicz
Taken the 3 day Skills Camp out in Mulberry Gap GA. Outstanding weekend. We had a small group of about...
Taken the 3 day Skills Camp out in Mulberry Gap GA. Outstanding weekend. We had a small group of about 8 people with 3 Ninja Pro's. Richard and the instructors were attentive and always helpful. The course had you work on your base fundamentals, advanced skills, along with bike setup,maintenance, nutrition ,This was a very comprehensive course. After learning the skills, we'd hit the trails and the training didn't stop. Instructors would get to a technical portion of a trail and have us all stop and they would show us how to use the skills we just learned. Everyone learned at their own pace. So no one felt pressured to keep up with others. Having fun was always top priority. Arriving back home, I was practicing all the skills i've learned like an excited little kid with a new bike. I hope to take this course again when they come back to this side of the country -- it was well worth it! ~Vic D.
Enrolling in the Intermediate/Advanced clinic was the best thing I’ve ever done to improve my speed and ability on the bike.
Hands down, enrolling in the Intermediate/Advanced clinic was the best thing I've ever done to improve my speed and ability...
Hands down, enrolling in the Intermediate/Advanced clinic was the best thing I've ever done to improve my speed and ability on the bike. I am so much faster on singletrack and through technical sections/jumps that even if people are more fit than me, I still keep up with them (and kind of love watching them do a lot more work than they need to). Richard and Kris are fantastic and break things down in a way that makes sense and is manageable. By the end of my first clinic, I was jumping off ledges and power climbing up sections that I couldn't drive a car up. You could buy a $5,000 carbon bike and do 10,000 ft rides every day, but you will get the best return on any investment you make in your riding by attending a Ninja Skills Clinic. ~ Regina J.
We are a group of passionate, dirt-loving, community oriented, world class mountain bike skills instructors committed to helping you reach your personal riding goals through clinics and camps. We are excited to work with riders of all ability levels and share the joy (STOKE) of mountain biking.