Being able to hop your bike off the ground to get over logs, potholes, cyclocross barriers or onto curbs is a skill most cyclists want to improve. Bunny hops are fun, they make riding safer and they boost your speed. Many riders struggle with this skill and default to avoiding logs, rocks and any situation that will expose their bunny-hop inability.
If you would like to improve your hops try these three drills:
Before you even get on your bike, stand facing the back of the bike, with your front tire between your legs and your hands on your handlebars.
Practice doing little hops where you push into the front wheel and lift your body up using a mix of your arms and a gentle push into your feet to hop up in the air. This is the type of pressure you will need to put on the handlebars and into your feet/pedals to help unweight the rear wheel to roll over logs smoothly and eventually to do a bunny hop.
Working on your manual helps you improve your log hops simply by helping you put your front wheel exactly where you want it. Flat pedals are nice for practicing this because you can step off the back of the bike (carefully!) and therefore work on the range of manual heights more effectively.
A great manual and log hop starts with a very quick compression into the ground. It is this push into your level pedals, not a pull up with your cleats, that makes you jump up in the air. This compression downward comes from your hips and creates a reaction you can direct rearward by moving your hips backward as you spring back up. This down, then back motion creates a rough L–shape if you watch a manualling rider’s hips. As with so many skills, you are best to start in a grassy field where you can practice safely.
FRONT WHEEL BOUNCES
We are never told as beginner cyclists that we can put our front wheel on the obstacle to hop over it. As a log gets bigger or your speed gets faster you will hit your chain ring or rear wheel on the obstacle if you lift your front wheel right over it. This drill gets you to practice putting your front wheel on a low and wide obstacle you can practice ‘bouncing’ your front wheel off of. You should find your front wheel bounces off it and then your rear wheel lands on the same spot. This drill is fun to do and provides an external focus, hitting your front wheel on an obstacle like a pizza box, log cutout or manhole cover. Very wide or double logs work well here as well but making sure to start in a field and with a low obstacle ensures your early success. This technique of putting your front wheel on something and quickly bouncing or pushing into that obstacle to initiate another hop over it is one you can use to conquer the biggest of logs.
READ MORE > HOW MOUNTAIN BIKING KEEPS THIS NASCAR DRIVER FIT
These are just three drills that can help you change your perspective on how to get your bike over obstacles. If you still are struggling, consider getting some coaching in a one-on-one or group scenario to help progress your skills further.