Controlling mid-air rotation

A reader wants to avoid endos and loop-outs when he jumps his bike. That sounds like a good idea; here’s how.

Hi Lee.

I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate your book; it has helped my riding immensely. I was hoping to get some tips from you regarding having better control of my fore-aft rotation — or sudden correction of — while jumping. I consider myself to be an intermediate jumper with progressing skills. I pretty much stick to tables, hips, etc. so I can work it up little at a time without much penalty of coming up short.

I’ve had several close calls and one nasty crash from over-rotating. I do know that complete relaxation is key and have found that out for myself — along with adjusting for all of the variables of different types of jumps. I’m 38 years old and don’t feel the need to clear huge road gaps or bust out fancy tricks in the air, but I would like to be able to consistently jump moderate doubles with flow and some style.

Thanks for all you’ve done for the sport and I look forward to your response.


Hey Aaron.

Thanks for your note. The key here, as with most riding techniques, is body position.

Me on a training jump at The Fix. At apogee I’m balanced on my pedals and as tiny as possible — as if I’m sucking up a huge roller.

I’m going to guess you jump with straight arms and legs, and that you keep them that way until you land. That’s fine if everything’s perfect: pitch, yaw, timing, etc. But if anything is off, you’re screwed. With your limbs extended you can’t make corrections. If you take off leaning to the left, you land that way. If you take off nose-heavy, you land that way. Not cool!

Approach the lip in a neutral position, with all your weight in your feet. Using your legs, press into the lip to load your bike. This is like jumping off a diving board.

As soon as you take off, let your bike rise into your body. In mid-air you’ll be super low on your bike, with your arms and legs bent. See the above photo. It’s an exaggeration, but do you see what I’m talking about?

From here, you can easily adjust the attitude of your bike.

– Nose too high: Extend your arms.

– Nose too low: Extend your legs.

– Time to land: Extend your arms then your legs.

Jumping is dynamic. Don’t hold any one position for more than an instant. Spring up, get small, then extend for landing. As long as you stay loose, this gives you great flight control. This is huge: STAY BALANCED ON YOUR FEET, and let your bike rotate under you.

Check out the flowy-flow in this photo series.

11 replies
  1. Carl Boddy says:

    Fantastic – this is what Lee’s site is all about ! Great skills Q&A’s – it’s unique !

    Aaron – I’m 40 and on the same page as you (but I do fancy going as big as possible!!!!!) !!! I got the book studied the jump technique and at last I got air. Probably the same standard as you – have cleared about 15ft but less distance on gaps, where you need a bit more nerve !!!

    I found that as I started to go bigger and wound up the entry speed – without realising, the fear of the increased approach speed was making me lean forward a bit as I hit the face of the jump, which made me come up short and find myself falling over the bars in the air !

    So to me, where Lee says keep your weight neutral and on your feet on approach, sounds easy but unfortunately isn’t!!!! I still make that mistake now and then – but it is the key to a smooth jump I found. The very best help was getting someone to video my jumps so I could analyse them afterwards – that is unbelievably useful – you find yourself watching over and over, thinking about it and learning whilst you’re sat on your PC!!!!

    Also – the point Lee makes about letting the bike rise into your body after the jump – when you actually achieve that ‘tuck’ the feeling of stability is amazing – I’m still working on getting that consistent!!!!

    Anyone got any ideas why I sometimes float off the pedals mid-air when I really dial up the speed and/or size of the jump/lip ??????????????????????????????????????


    Livin’ it ! CARL

  2. leelikesbikes says:

    Hi Carl. Thanks for the kind words.

    I have an idea:

    When you take off, your legs are a bit too stiff. You aren’t letting the bike float up to you. It goes up, it hits your relatively inert feet then it rebounds. This is THE key to riding with flats: Keep your feet moving with the pedals.


  3. FMJeff says:

    I had a similar problem with jumping (landing) and found this stuff works on a moto also. I think the thing that I rember most was Lee saying, “allow your landing gear to come up when you take off and put it down as you land”. Worked to keep me from being so static in the air and having those scary landings and at my age I only have so many of those left.
    Thanks Lee!


  4. WaveDude says:

    One other suggestion. Try adding a little style to your jump. A simple turnbar is enough. It puts you in control of the bike rather than just hanging on for the ride. Also, with the bars tweaked a little you can push and pull on them to adjust your attitude in the air. Try it. With the bars straight the only thing you can do is roll your wrists and you don’t have much leverage on the bike. Now turn the bars and push/pull on them–you’ve got way more leverage.

  5. ZaskarOH says:

    What would be the ideal size jump for practicing this? Length, height, slope, etc….

    Got the book. Great stuff!

  6. leelikesbikes says:

    From the book:

    Lip: 2-3 feet tall, with a 1-to-3 height-length ratio. landing should be longer and more gradual.

    Top: A table about 6-8 feet long. You want your whole bike to fit.

  7. Hank says:

    Wow this is great – I am 35 and trying to improve my jumping as well – it is good to hear of other people not in thier early twenties trying to get “new school”.

    My question is regarding using your brakes while in the air: I heard you can drop your front or rear wheel using your front or rear break in the air. Is this correct? if so, what are the physics behind it?

  8. David says:

    How about when there’s a huge lip (like the big new wall on A-Line)? Is it the same there? Full speed, preload, jump, etc etc….

    Fyi: I loved the book so much I bought it for all my buddies.

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