Shallow vs. steep jumps

Hey Lee.
I’m trying to learn to jump. Some jumps are just hard to figure out.
E.G. One wide jump that has two different jump face. One side has a shallow take off. Right next to it is a steeper take off. I have no problem on the shallow take off. I have problems on the steeper take off. My FS bike seems to lose a lot of energy on the steeper side. Is the technique different for various types of jumps?

The more you click, the more I can post. Lee Likes Groceries dot com!

Yeah Jimmy, you are stumbling into some cool stuff!

Basic jumping technique on a basic jump.

I’m working on an ebook about building and riding jumps, but briefly:

The core technique is the same for all jumps. Stay balanced in your pedals. Load into the face of the jump. Unload as you reach the end of the lip. Stay loose and balanced in the air. Extend into the landing. Absorb any impact.

Shallow jumps are indeed easier than steep ones:

1. Shallow jumps send you on a flatter trajectory, which means your bike stays pretty level. You can just kind of hang on dead sailor style and still survive. Steep jumps send your bike on a steeper arc. They force you to be loose and balanced.

2. Steep jumps change your bike’s direction much more abruptly. The steep jump generates greater downforce into the lip — and much more “pop” when you take off. This greater downforce compresses your suspension quite a bit. If you’re static on your bike, your suspension either absorbs that energy or bucks you into oblivion. Sounds like you’ve been lucky.

This applies to all jumps, and especially steep ones:

If you have suspension, purposefully try to bottom your bike into the lip. Really cram it in there, like you’re trying to get max lift off a diving board. Time your compression with the full length of the lip. This gives you more control and more pop.

Have fun, and take it one step at a time.

— Lee

Also read:

Jumping: Big rider with suspension

Pumping with suspension

Controlling mid-air rotation

4 replies
  1. Chris says:

    Jimmy, this may not be the case, but anyway…

    Sometimes jumps are built wrong or are wrong for your bike. The steeper the lip, the more transition is needed. Note that many jumps are built for BMXs which have a shorter wheelbase and smaller wheels and CAN take that steep lip with a fast transition. Your FS MTB just wants to ‘G’ out. If other guys are doing it on FS MTBs though, you should be right.

    Also, keep in mind that a steeper lip means a steeper trajectory on landing so be prepared to have to suck up the landing more. Good jumps have a landing that is almost as steep as the lip. Ballistically, one landing can never be PERFECT for two different lips. You will get more pump from one than the other.

    And when you see the Trail Boss there, ask if you can help dig/maintain.

  2. Chay says:

    Hi Lee, when I preload and pop at the lip of the jump, I was sent flying to the left. Does it mean, I was pulling too hard on my handle bar with my right arm?
    Should I be using my legs to pop rather than my arms?

  3. Dave Perry says:

    I have never posted but have been reading your site for a while now, this one just kinda caught my eye. I work with a lot of kids (I have a jump park in my side yard, literally) and this to the left trojectory happens all the time. I have found it usually associated with “dead floating” in the air. This is when there is no body weight being input to the bike (arms and legs fully extended at max height, and sometime associated with body flying higher than bike) and both the bike and the body begin to fall from max lift at the same rate. It usually (for some weird reason) results in a bike “falling” slightly front first and leaned to the left. To combat this I usually teach the kids to fully compress the suspension early in the takeoff, pop the lip, suck the bike up into their body slightly and then when max altitude is achieved you have plenty of leg and arm reach to properly adjust the bikes angles as you descend. It’s hard to understand but with time you will get a feel for it, but it’s amazing how a little push at the feet or a little pull on the bars can put you into a full blown layout, or wipeout.

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