Using brakes in mid air


(This is a comment re: Controlling mid-air rotation.) 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 their 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 brake in the air. Is this correct? if so, what are the physics behind it?



Yes it’s true.

When you grab your rear brake, your front wheel drops. I occasionally find myself doing this on sets of tight doubles. It points my bike down into steep landings and helps me get better pump.

Here’s one way to look at it: Your rear wheel has lots of rotational inertia. When you grab the brake, some of that inertia transfers from the wheel to your brake caliper, then to your frame. Voila, your bike rotates forward and your front end drops. This is a pretty advanced move, and is not to be trifled with.

The opposite works on a motorcycle. If your front end drops, give it gas and the front end will come up.

BTW: Don’t grab your front brake in the air. That could complicate the landing. If you have a throttle, go ahead and use that.

— Lee

10 replies
  1. leelikesbikes says:



    If it’s a downhill landing, land front wheel first.

    If it’s a flat landing, land back wheel first.

    Landing with both wheels works well in either situation, but it’s tricky.

  2. chris pittman says:

    A great way to demonstrate this is to place your bike on a workstand, pedal the bike by hand and apply the rear brake

  3. Keith says:


    I am 38 and I do a couple of things to help my jumping skills. The first is practice at the local bmx track. The second is a one of the four drills I do in the street in front of my house. “Practice bunny hopping.” I built a mini high jump, 2′ x 2′ x 3/4 ply wood base with vertical 2″ x 2″ post in the center with nails to set a cross bar, broom handle, on at certain hights. I start low and work my up. I practice landing front wheel first and I practice landing back wheel first and mantaining a manual as long as I can. You can practice brake checking while doing this drill – you only need to tap the rear brake to get the front end to dive. If your going to practice nose diving start on something small, I can tell you from expereance that is a dangerous maneuver if you over shoot the landing or come up short on a big double.

  4. leelikesbikes says:

    Keith, you are the man. I’ve been thinking about a high-hop thing like that. Looks like I better get on it!

  5. Ben says:

    I do this all the time on my motorcycle in motocross, give it gas to bring the front end up, and pull in the clutch or LIGHTLY tap the rear break to get the front end to lower.

  6. Ramesh says:

    the big one said: “true or false that u should always land on your rear wheel when u drop off over 6 ft”


    If Flat – land back wheel first

    if sloped – your bike must MATCH the the slope.

    Mentally imagine yourself – both wheels touching down at the same time.

    The mind is amazing …use it.!

  7. pat says:

    hi all

    3 questions u always have 2 use the in mid air to land properly and/or make the distance the pros use this technique

    3.Whats a grip possistion for this “Braking in mid air” cos when i try it , it all just falls out of my hands.

    Cheers – pat

    dirt jumpin for 1 month so far! 14 years of age woot!

  8. leelikesbikes says:

    1. No.

    2. Probably some, some of the time. It’s for special situations.

    3. Hold your bars naturally. Nothing special.

    Rip it!

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