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'm a road Triathlete that lucked into a XTERRA World Championship slot via the lottery last year. Being a road...
I'm a road Triathlete that lucked into a XTERRA World Championship slot via the lottery last year. Being a road triathlete, I had very little experience and no technical skills on a mountain bike. I took the Ninja beginner and then intermediate classes almost back to back. Richard is a great teacher, and taught the sequential skills that matter most. He does a great job of "breaking things down" with the what and the why, and illustrates the information well with his demonstrations, all the while, delivering it with a sense of humor and enthusiasm. Richard's instruction helped me successfully get through a very technical course in Maui without major injury! Yea, thank you Richard!!. Whether a complete beginner or an advanced rider, I promise you can take a lot away from his classes.... and, let's be honest ...Who doesn't want to be a Ninja! ~ Ray S.
Team Eastlake Cycling Team thank you for your time, energy and expertise…
I’ve been coaching road & track riding for years. Got into mtn bike riding because of the terrain near our...
I’ve been coaching road & track riding for years. Got into mtn bike riding because of the terrain near our home AND my daughters like to ride in the dirt. Took classes through the high school league to be more acquainted with the fundamentals skills and acquire more knowledge of the NICA league rules. Coach La China and staff broke down the skills for our team riders in a fun and engaging process. Team Eastlake Cycling Team thank you for your time, energy and expertise to bring our riders to a new level of confidence. ~Ron G.
I really enjoyed the Intermediate/Advanced clinic with Aaron in Palmer Park, Colorado Springs. Aaron made sure that every skill was...
I really enjoyed the Intermediate/Advanced clinic with Aaron in Palmer Park, Colorado Springs. Aaron made sure that every skill was practiced thoroughly. He was paying attention to every move and detail and was very patient. My riding has definitely improved since than and I have been practicing the skills a lot on single track. The best advice I received - visualize yourself doing it! I definitely recommend this class to bikers of all levels. ~Yana Brown
I consider myself a strong intermediate MTB rider; I love highly technical downhill single track trails. A friend suggested I...
I consider myself a strong intermediate MTB rider; I love highly technical downhill single track trails. A friend suggested I take a multi-day skills clinic to help get to the next level. After a brief search I found that Ninja Bike Skills 3 day skills clinic up in Big Bear CA. If you have never taken a class then the old adage "you don't know what you don't know" probably holds true; it did with me. While it the clinic started off simple, the skills taught build on one-another to ensure you have solid foundation basics needed to safely leverage the higher skill stuff taught at the back end of the class. Richard and Aaron brought two great perspectives as one is a XC/Edurance/Enduro rider and the other is dedicated to gravity downhill. The teaching style was simple and actionable. All the Ninja instructors are very knowledgeable and very passionate about MTB which is infectious and make the class fun. I would highly recommend to any level riders who have never had any instruction in MTB skills. Plus if you take the class at a place like Snow Summit Big Bear, you get to ride amazing trails!! ~Greg A.
Woohoo! As good as it gets is appropriate! Richard is not only a great rider, he is a great teacher!...
Woohoo! As good as it gets is appropriate! Richard is not only a great rider, he is a great teacher! I would encourage everyone to stay away from the mind trap that buying a more expensive mountain bike is what you need to ride better. Spend the money on lessons instead, and I know you will be happier (and safer) in the long run. I can't say enough positive things about the Bike Skills clinics. ~ Chris G.
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.