a minor drop-off

Advanced to Expert Riders ONLY!

DO NOT ATTEMPT ANY OF THIS FOR THE FIRST TIME WITHOUT THE SUPERVISION OF A SKILLED TEACHER. OK, so you want get some air? Or maybe you want to drop off of a ledge. A jump has a ramped take off. A ledge has a flat, or slightly downhill take-off.

mountain bike toursDROP OFFS ARE DANGEROUS!

To ride off of a ledge, stand up! Move your weight back slightly, SLIGHTLY! Relax and float. Keep your hands firm on the bars, though. As your front tire leaves the edge pull back on the handlebars by shifting your weight back. Don't yank the bars. NO weight DOWN on the bars at all! Either pull back or go weightless, depending on your speed and the length of the travel of your suspension. You will ALWAYS want to be slightly back on the bike, no matter the speed. The faster you are going the more weight back.

If the ledge is up to four feet high, you will want to let your rear wheel fall faster and land before the front wheel does. Small launches on unsuspended bikes will demand that you use your legs as rear suspension. Keep your weight back!

For fully suspended riders only:

If your fork retails for over $1000, then you are going to have fewer problems dropping big ledges. Remember that by shifting your weight forward as the rear wheel leaves the ledge you can adjust for level flight or bring the nose down slightly to make contact with a downhill grade. You can also touch the REAR brake, then release quickly--an advanced skill only to be tried after you have the weight shifts down. This is especially important on long travel suspension bikes and whenever you a dropping more than four feet on anything. It always depends on the kind of bike and the skills of the rider, but listen up: The worst mistake you can make when dropping off of a ledge is to lock the front brake.

You want to land on BOTH wheels, but with very little weight on the front wheel. Err toward the rear wheel, please. There is a shift of your body weight almost on impact with the ground as you absorb the shock with your legs. ALWAYS shift your weight back and down, balancing the forces of the landing with your speed and momentum. ONLY BRAKE ONCE YOUR WHEELS ARE IN FIRM CONTACT WITH THE GROUND. Downhillers lower their saddles for this specific reason, so that when they land or corner at speed they can bring their weight WAY BACK and DOWN, then use the brakes. On a XC full suspension bike with three to four inches of travel with a fixed saddle height, you will have to get back and down by getting BEHIND THE SADDLE. Realize that you hardly ever fall off the back of your bike. Most accidents happen when the front wheel gets unhappy on a bad line and has too much weight on it. This pitches you forward. You can only fall off the back of your bike if you are going too slow. If you are nervous and going to slow, you should not be attempting the jump in the first place. This is a simple rule: If it freaks you out and you don't know how you are going to react in the air, forget it. Wait until you are ready.

You want to get to that point of balance over the bike and with the speed over any given terrain. You will feel it. Now let's deal with the surface:

Sand landing: A lot of Moab ledges drop into sand. When you land in sand you must have the weight back a bit more than you would on solid ground. Your wheels are going to sink and you want them to float. Speed helps. Do not exaggerate landing on the rear wheel, though. Hit on one wheel and it will dig in, so try to distribute your weight so that both wheels absorb the impact and keep you on the surface, but weight BACK. You have to land evenly on the handlebar, perfectly balanced. If you are a little off to one side your front wheel will TURN AND STOP. Keep your weight behind the bar, wrists and elbows down, relaxed-- and oh yea, DON'T relax your HANDS! You will have to hang on. As you land, pedal. Click on SAND SKILLS for more info on what happens when you land. Go fast. Even pedal stroke. Fat tires.

Flat landing onto rock: Rear wheel first!

Loose landing (EXPERT AND PRO LEVEL RIDERS ONLY!): Don't use your brakes until you are off of the loose stuff. Balancing your bike is crucial. If you are slightly off balance when you land the loose stuff is going to take you down. Keep weight on your bars BALANCED and even. If you have too much weight on one side, down you go. Loose stuff is DANGEROUS!

Uphill landing: Get off and walk. If you are considering an uphill landing, then just remember the rear wheel always comes down first, then you start pedaling your ass off as the front wheel comes down.

Jumping in Moab, Utah

mountain bike toursRAMPED JUMPS NEED SPEED!

Ramps are fun. To start out with, it is best to find a small ramp with a gentle uphill landing like the one above. Gain a bunch of speed and hit the ramp straight on, lift up and try your best to land on two wheels. Do it over and over until it feels right and you are in total control, then head to a slightly bigger ramp. If you have a fully rigid BMX bike, you are going to learn a lot faster. Suspension can eat up the ramp and fight your flight. To get a long travel full suspension bike to launch off a small ramp you are going to have to load the suspension with speed as you hit the ramp and time your rebound as you hit the lip. A good suspension fork will suck up the lip and your rear wheel will launch without the front wheel leaving the ground. Adjusting compression damping and preload to firm up the fork will help.


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