by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com
Not all trails are smooth and flat. Many time’s we encounter large rocks, roots, ledges, and logs. The bunny hop and wheelie hop are simple moves that you can learn to traverse these obstacles with speed. Below, we have spelled out a step by step process to learn to hop.
The Bunny hop has been around forever. While there are a few ways to pull one off, the basic motion of the bunny hop is to lift the bike without pedaling. Specifically, a bunny hop motion is to lift the front wheel, lift your legs and weight, and roll your wrists (and by extension the bicycle) over an object. The bunny hop is great move to clear obstacles at speed and while heading downhill.
The wheelie hop is similar to the bunny hop, except, rather than using your body motion to lift the front wheel, you use the pedals. Once that front wheel is up, the wheelie hop uses all the same motions as the bunny hop. The wheelie hop a is great move to use on uphill obstacles and low speed situations.
The first motion in the bunny hop is to lift the front wheel above the height of the obstacle. To start this, stand up on the pedals, bend your knees and elbows, and lower your center of gravity. Next, spring your arms and knees, propelling your weight up and slightly backward. As your weight is traveling up and back, your front wheel should begin lifting off the ground. The basic concept is to rotate your weight and use the point where your rear wheel touches the ground as a fulcrum.
The pedal up is slightly different from the pull up, but, still ends up with your front wheel in the air. Start in a seated position with your arms locked. Make sure you are in a relatively easy gear and jab your pedal through the pedal stroke as you pull the bars into your body. In about one pedal stroke your front wheel should be off the ground. Your weight should be centered over the rear wheel, your arms should have a good bent to them, preparing to spring your weight up.
Lift your feet and weight
Although the first part of the Bunny hop and Wheelie hop are different, the rest of the motions are the same. Once you have the front wheel in the air, begin lifting your own weight up and off the bike. To do this, focus your weight on the rear wheel and move your body up, unweighting the bike.
Roll your wrists
Once, both your front wheel and your weight are moving up it’s time to get your rear wheel off the ground. This is done when you roll your wrists and bars forward while your momentum is moving upward. Basically, your weight is moving up with the front wheel leading the way. Rolling your wrists forward redirects that upward momentum forward, leveling out the bike, and clearing the object in your path
Practice on a curb
A great place to practice these hops is on a curb. Approach the curb at a slow speed, pop the front wheel up and onto the curb, then complete the motion and try to get the rear wheel up without hitting the square edge of the curb. Begin with a very low curb then work your way up to something higher. Once you are comfortable with the motion, try moving faster.
On the trail
There is a new variable that gets introduced when you use your bunny hop on the trail. That variable is the landing. While practicing on pavement, you can be confident that your landing will be onto a flat surface. On the trail, landings can be rocky and rough, couple that with your weight moving around the bike and you can get bucked off the bike rather easily. Therefore, try to keep your weight back on the bike while landing on the trail to resists getting bucked.
So, while a slab jab is not technically a bunny hop, it does use a similar movement. Basically, a slab jab involves getting your front wheel up onto a tall object (like a rock or log) then pivoting the rest of the bike up onto the object using your front wheel as the fulcrum. Just like a bunny hop or wheelie hop, get your front wheel into the air, but unlike a hop, plant that front wheel onto an object. Next, while lifting your weight and rolling your wrists aggressively jab the bars forward. If done right, the jab motion will force your front wheel over the object and lift your rear wheel up onto it. With the front wheel over the object and your rear wheel on it, let off the brakes and simply roll on.
Like learning to descend, ride rocks, or any other riding skills, the bunny hop is a skill you should slowly build. Start on small objects and work within your comfort zone, maintaining control all the time. After a few months of practice, you will find that you can bounce around the trail like a bunny.