Big jumps on DH courses


What is the max height for a jump on a DH course???? It seems to me that alot of grassroot DH courses are becoming more freeride than DH, I like to pin it, and would like to build my courses more like WC courses.



Oh golly, I don’t think there’s a max height.

I’ve seen faces that are 6-8 feet tall. Huge tabletops. But that’s at very high speed, with a low launch angle (maybe 15-20 degrees). A jump like that will send you faaaarrrrrr …

If you’re hauling ass, a 3-foot lip with a low angle and nice, smooth transition — and a long downhill landing — will get the job done. Avoid gaps, and have the rider follow the arc of the ground.

Here’s a biggie, Elliott Hoover style. It doesn’t look bad to come up short, but it is …

A very big jump

The 2003 Mont-Saint-Anne World Cup course had a HUGE jump at the finish. There was an eight- or nine-foot lip, then a 30-foot gap, then a 25-foot table, then a long backside. Freestyle MXers had been using the landing for their tricks, and downhill racer Curtis Keene says their metal ramps weren’t much farther away than the dirt lip.

To get back side you had to fly 55 feet. “You had to brake check, because the lip threw you weird,” says Keene. “That’s what happened to Johnny Waddell [he crashed hard and was in a coma for 26 days].

“You came through thee or four sweepers — you were really moving — and it was, how big of balls do you got? … Braaap! Oh gee, here we go.”

If you build something big, make sure you build it well. And give racers a go-around. I don’t have to tell you how dangerous big jumps can be.


— Lee

12 replies
  1. John Marks says:

    Thanks for the quick response!!!!! Awsome as usual!!!!! I am the race director for a local Dh race here in WI, yeah, I know it is kinda flat here so we do what we can. The courses are shorter but we still have some steeps and areas to pin it. I have been working with some other directors in the neighboring states to start a series next season but we have differing oppinions on course design. what do you think makes the best type of DH course???

  2. leelikesbikes says:

    Whoa, now that’s good question. I love it all, except big jumps. I love jumping, but I feel it’s super risky when a course forces you to go bigger than feels comfortable.

    I think the best courses have a mix of fast and slow, open and tight, smooth and rough, natural and manmade. The Durango DH was awesome.

  3. miffed says:

    I agree about following the curve of the jump with the curve of the flight. Cause if its not a WC standard track then all kind of kids will be riding it, and yes its fun to do stupid jumps but there are some people who wont carry the speed or have the confidence to go huge over a gap. So let it be as inclussive as possible without spoiling the fun,

    BTW Lee there is a great shot in a dirt mag, guess it was about 3 editions ago of a guy falling short on a gap jump, Kinda like your photo but with a better exposure on the landing, ill try and find it and scan it and send it cause i think its a better illustration, can i just mail it to your email?

  4. leelikesbikes says:

    I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve asked one, and the answer appears to be yes.

    Any time you purposefully change terrain or allow it to be changed, you asume a higher risk than if the terrain is left natural. Perfect example: dirt jumps. If a city knows they exist, yet they don’t take steps to assure their safety, the city can be held liable.

  5. cpmwm says:

    While on the size of things what is the average and biggest size drops on pro wc and national courses?

  6. Reed says:

    big jumps on DH courses are not a bad thing they seperate classes and riders in classes, not to mention how fun they are.

  7. John Marks says:

    While jumping is fun, at DH speeds I think they need to be reasonable. Dh racing should test your skills as a racer not a hucker! That is what Red Bull is for.

  8. Lindsay says:

    * How would you insure safety??? or at least limit liability??? *

    Check with IMBA. They helped us [ Belleview, FL] sort out our liability exposure. Now we have more radical features than ever, but access is controlled with signage and gates.

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