Master the bunny hop and you’ll hit the trails knowing you can jump over anything.
Compiled by: Amanda Maclean
Rider: Rachel Atherton
Photos by: Robin Kitchin
Ready to kiss goodbye to the days of slamming on the brakes to get around obstacles in your path? A bunny hop is a key skill in mountain biking that will get you over obstacles, not around them, and will open the doors to a new level of confidence and riding. It’s a fun trick to perform and, once you’ve sussed it, you can bunny hop over bigger logs at higher speeds and keep up with the boys.
The set up
Find a small log, or use a cardboard box. Place the obstacle you’ve chosen to bunny hop over on a clear and flat surface, making sure you have enough space around you.
Ride straight at the log, keeping your hips, shoulders and head facing forwards. This will stop you from messing up too badly. Approach the log at about jogging pace, not too fast, not too slow. When you are roughly a bike’s length away, crouch your body low into your bike, bending from the knees and elbows. This crouched position will give you more height to get over the log.
The pop up
Spot the obstacle, and where you want to go, and pull up on the bars with your arms in time to go over the top of the log. At the same time lower your hips back and down, as if you were pulling a wheelie. Your front wheel should be right above the log to guarantee that you will clear it.
The follow through
Making sure the movements flow together, throw your hips and the handlebars forwards at the same time, bringing your feet up towards you. Your back wheel should now leave the floor. If it doesn’t, keep trying and make sure you put all the steps together in one smooth movement, the key to pulling the back wheel off the ground. If you are still finding this hard you can use the lay of the land to help. Try finding a slight rise or mound in the ground and use this to help you take off.
Hopefully you should be in the air now, over your obstacle. Next thing is to spot your landing and you want to land with both wheels at the same time or the back wheel first, ever so slightly. Land as smoothly as possible by soaking up the jolt with your legs and arms. Ride out with a smile on your face and then find something bigger to clear.
How to… progress
Once you can hop things confidently you will find that your sense of balance and awareness on a bike will have improved greatly. This will help you to jump bigger jumps, ride steeper and harder tracks and in all weathers too. If those slippery wet tree roots make you crash, just hop over them. Enjoy!