Turn my bunny hops into rabbit hops

I have your book and it greatly helped last year. I think the biggest thing is that I can go into a situation knowing what to do so I stay loose.

Anyways since its winter I figured I would work on some basic skills. For bunny hops I used to just weight the whole bike and make it hop. After your book I weight the front tire maybe a half second before the rear and have noticed an increase in height. Should I actually be busting into an actual manual or wheelie then weight the rear for the jump. If I try to do this my front tire violently slams down.


ps because of your book a few friends started calling me a crazy rider. But they’re the ones who seem to wipe out more often. Thanks a lot.

Hey Nate,

Yes, you should begin your bunny hop with a manual.

– Start neutral.

– Pre-load forward.

– Rock back onto your rear wheel. Wait for the wheel to become loaded, then

– Explode upward by pushing down on your pedals. Magnify this effect by pulling the bars to your hips. This levers the rear wheel into the ground for more down-force — and more up-force.

– Suck the bike upward over the obstacle.

– Extend for landing.

Check out this 2.6MB video of Zach Lewis. His timing and form are basically perfect. And his pink wrist band … just precious.

Click the image for hot video action. Go frame by frame and watch Zach’s range of motion and timing.

The manual-hop is a 1-2 move. The timing depends on your speed. At low speed it’s like manual … hop. At high speed it’s more like manualhop!

If your front tire is slamming down, you’re either pushing with your arms, bringing your body forward, or both.

Try keeping your arms straight and landing on the back of the bike, like Curtis Keene does in this sequence (and Zach does in the video).

From Mastering Mountain Bike Skills. Click for big.

Oh yeah.

— Lee

9 replies
  1. zach says:

    It’s all about being light on the feet & hands. Relax, be lazy and let the bike do most of the work. Let the inertia that the bike has made through the wheels do the work for you. Let the bike come to you and you just try to stay above it. Good training tip; Jump up as high as you can on your feet and land as softly as possible this will train your body to create the correct movement that you should have on the bike. Hope this helps.

  2. Chay says:

    I have always trying to suck up the bike without much loading on the rear wheel, and using clip in pedal trick me into doing that too.
    Not until now I understand that a bunny hop require to push down on the rear wheel then rebound on the rear tire to spring up in the air. But easier said then done! Thanks dudes!

  3. Tom says:


    This is the most complete explanation I’ve ever seen. I’ve never learned from other explanations, but with yours the “pulling the bars to the hips” is trick; I’ll definitely work on that one. Just a comment: Mashing the rear tire on take-off is critical. My experience has been that I have to decide whether I’m going to be bunny hopping a lot or flowing fast down the trail. Running the low psi that is conducive to fast trail riding is actually detrimental to bunnyhopping. Trying to mash the rear tire on lower psi, especially when off-camber or trying to jump sideways will really flex the sidewalls. It’s hard to find the happy medium, but of course, it’s all rider ability, right?

  4. Vito says:

    Hi Lee and hi Zach, you guys are awesome.

    In the past few days watching the the video and putting into practice the tip on jumping “as high as you can on your feet and land as softly as possible…” just made me have an epiphany. I can bunnyhop a bit, but not having fully understood the technique I haven’t been progressing at all. That’s because, so far, I never realized that what you’re doing is just that, jumping up into the air drawing your knees up, that’s what makes the bike rise, not your feet pulling up as I’ve thought so far.
    Of course this is easier said than done and to pull the bike that high up you need to manual the front wheel up that much, but now I’ve got something to practice on and I know the direction I have to take to get better.

    Thanks and happy 2008.

  5. Marc says:

    Hi Lee,

    Is the technique the same with a dual-suspension bike? It seems that when I manual and then hop, all the energy gets sucked up by the shock, resulting in very little amplitude. I seem to get somewhat better results by preloading the whole bike at once and then hoping. This way I can get about a foot off the ground. This way is not very useful on the trail however as it doesn’t allow the front of the bike to get over the obstacle before lifting the rear wheel.


  6. leelikesbikes says:

    Same technique, but the timing is slower and your movements have to be more exaggerated. You have to crush your rear suspension. Think of bouncing on a big, soft trampoline.

  7. leelikesbikes says:

    As a matter of fact: Curtis is demonstrating on a 5″ Enduro.

    If we had video of both Curtis and Zach, you’d see that Curtis ‘camps out’ for a moment on his back wheel. It’s a slower fore-aft rock than on a hardtail — and much slower than on a BMX.

    I’m learning that one now on my new 24″ cruisers — I have the shin marks to prove it! 🙂

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