You’re having a great time ripping up the mountain biking trails, but now it’s time to add some more flair to your cycling. One of the oldest tricks in the book is the trusty bunny hop, but it can be difficult to do on a sturdy, rugged mountain bike.
This is exactly how you do it, from the first step to the last. Keep in mind that these take practice to get familiar with, but once you land that first bunny hop, the rest is history. Let’s take a look at how to get started.
Is a Bunny Hop Dangerous?
A bunny hop is likely the safest trick that you could do on any mountain bike or BMX bicycle.
You’re in full control during the entire process, and it doesn’t pose the same potential harm as a wheelie on a mountain bike. However, it depends on where you’re doing the bunny hop.
Typically, you’ll want to just bunny hop in the middle of a flat area and not as you’re going off of an obstacle or closing a gap. That could increase the danger. Otherwise, it’s a very safe bike skill for you to put to use.
Is a Bunny Hop Difficult?
Bunny hops are simple. It’s one of the first tricks that many cyclists learn. The main difficulty that you run into is the strength to essentially pull the entire bike up off the ground, but this is a skill you can learn and develop.
Because this is an unassisted jump, meaning one without a ramp, there’s definitely more upper body skills involved.
If you don’t have a lot of control over your mountain bike right now, you might run into an issue in the beginning, but it’s still fairly simple to master once you get it going.
Why Bunny Hopping is More Important Than You Might Realize
There are three main reasons that learning how to bunny hop could actually majorly impact your skills on a mountain bike.
- Understanding Your Momentum: The momentum of your bike is more powerful than you realize. When you’re in mid-air and still moving, it gives you an excellent scope of how much power your bike has.
- Developing Weight Balancing: If you bunny hop while riding, you immediately feel the weight of the bike shift. You have to balance that out, and it gives you a great frame of reference for weight distribution while riding. This can help you develop your ability to spill/crash effectively (meaning with less injury, there is a right and a wrong way to get hurt off a mountain bike).
- Increasing Awareness: When you connect with your mountain bike, the small dings and swerves are something you can feel almost instantly. Any tool you use in life is an extension of your senses, so when you know how to bunny hop and feel what the bike is like completely off the ground, but with your weight on top of it, you can better detect when small changes occur while you’re riding.
How to Perform a Bunny Hop on a Mountain Bike?
#1 Stand on the Pedals
You want to stand tall so your glutes are off of the seat. When you do this, you want to lean forward on the handlebar while gently bending your elbows out. Your chin should just cross over the threshold of the handlebar if you look straight down.
#2 Tilt Forward
When you lean forward and put your weight into the bike, you give yourself more power when you pull back and shift the momentum of the bike.
#3 Lean Backward
When you lean backward quickly, the momentum shifts. When that shift happens, the front wheel will be much easier to pull up. Use your arms and pull up gently until the tire lifts off the ground. This can be difficult to time, but it’s necessary.
#4 Extend for the Pop
When the wheel comes off the ground and the bike is still moving, you have to re-shift your momentum to pull the heavier end of the bicycle up off the ground before that front tire lands on the asphalt. For this, you want to:
- Extend your legs so you’re mostly standing up straight on the pedals, as if you were standing up from a seating position quickly
- Point your toes down to continue your control and make sure that you don’t hurt your ankles
- Move your body forward as your legs extend and your toes point down
All three of those have to happen in sync, so all at once. As you extend, it creates a pop where the momentum of the bike shifts upward. It’s a fluid motion you have to master, but it’s doable.
#5 Air Control and Landing
If done correctly, all that momentum-shifting will have led to you getting that back tire off the ground. You’re in the air, so what do you do now? You maintain your stance.
You’re standing up on the pedals, your arms are extended but your elbows are slightly bent, and your toes are pointed down. The bike is going to come down, and you want to make sure the front wheel lands first. It will soften the impact when your rear tire lands.
It’s possible for both of your tires to land at the same time, but this might actually halt the momentum of your front tire, so it’s best to have the front land first.
Adding Another Stunt to Your List
A bunny hop is pretty standard, and a great step towards increasing your list of skills on a mountain bike. There’s other ways you can progress, like with this guide on how to pop a wheelie with a mountain bike.
Follow the steps, have control over your bike, and don’t pull up for the bunny hop if you can’t be 100% sure that you’re not going to tilt forward. You’ll have this mastered in no time.
Last Updated on May 29, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic