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!
They’ve helped build my confidence and competence!
Coming from a triathlon background I had spent most of my time on the road, though I did have a...
Coming from a triathlon background I had spent most of my time on the road, though I did have a few seasons of cyclocross under my belt. I was a novice mountain biker with just enough confidence to get myself into trouble on the trails. I started by attending the free Tuesday night mountain bike workouts at Balboa Park, led by Coach Richard. While these are primarily geared toward building fitness, we learned some skills tips and I met some cool folks. Since then I've taken the intermediate and advanced skills clinics, as well as raced a couple times. Coaches Richard and Kris are great at instruction, which is not easy. Most great riders cannot teach others to do the same, but these two are exceptional at it. They've helped build my confidence and competence. In fact they have taken time during weekday and weekend rides to help give me pointers! I joined Team Ninja to train and race with this fun crew and would highly advise you check them out! ~Henry H.
All in all, you couldn’t get more for your money than this clinic.
This clinic was PERFECT for me…as a very experienced roadie but pure beginner on MTBs, Richard’s instruction was clear, detailed,...
This clinic was PERFECT for me…as a very experienced roadie but pure beginner on MTBs, Richard’s instruction was clear, detailed, and specific, so that I could start to get the feel of how to work effectively on trails instead of asphalt. Jeff (a former elite cyclocross racer) also joined us and added some solid hints and comments. All in all, you couldn’t get more for your money than this clinic. ~ Mike Sofen
I highly recommend their skills camps, and plan on attending more …
I've been a recreational mountain bike rider for a few years, and have been riding on single track, but never...
I've been a recreational mountain bike rider for a few years, and have been riding on single track, but never had any formal training. I just finished the weekend skills course in Irvine, CA with Richard, Randy and Daniel as the instructors. They are excellent instructors breaking every fundamental skill down, demonstrating the skill and then evaluating your practice runs with constructive criticism before applying the skills on the trails. Even though I have been riding single track for a few years, I quickly found out that I have been doing many things if not everything wrong, which means the people I ride with are doing it wrong too. Richard, Randy and Daniel are very patient and professional encouraging every student no matter what the age or gender (our class had males and females from late 20s to late 50s). They went over everything from bike set up, basic position, turning, high speed cornering, wheels lifts to you name it. If you have a desire to improve your skill then Ninja Mountain Bike Performance are the team to go to! I highly recommend their skills camps, and plan on attending more of their camps in the future. ~Kyle Kimm
Just finished the Intermediate/Advanced course. I had previously taken the Beginning course about a year ago. I was not disappointed....
Just finished the Intermediate/Advanced course. I had previously taken the Beginning course about a year ago. I was not disappointed. The preparation and lesson planning is great. Instructors seem to be everywhere providing input and excellent advice. Both groups had a wide range of skilled riders, but the team made everyone welcome and everyone learned important new skills. This training makes everyday more fun on my bike. DAY 2: Just rode one of my "regular" morning workout routes. 2 PR's - and I thought I was just cruising. I was making no effort to ride fast... just smooth like I was taught. ~Peter O.
….and I thought I already knew how to corner (ha, ha!)!
Congrats to Richard, Hannah, Bernadette, Cory, Shana and company for a great clinic covering many skills, all practical, in a...
Congrats to Richard, Hannah, Bernadette, Cory, Shana and company for a great clinic covering many skills, all practical, in a great environment for learning . Your professionalism, skill and experience in teaching, choice of terrain to teach in, and enthusiasm all made this a totally worthwhile experience. I would do it again and again as you never stop learning. ....and I thought I already knew how to corner (ha, ha!)! ~James Crawford
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.