#1 Wear full protective gear.
#2 Practice on a motocross track where the jumps are properly taken care of and safety is a priority.
#3 Start on small jumps first before working up to the more advanced ones.
#4 Get your approach right with your body weight and position
#5 Stand up for greater control and balance.
#6 Use the right speed and throttle control to launch the bike into the right direction.
#7 Stay in the same gear unless you want to speed up or slow down after landing.
#8 Landing on the back wheel is the easiest, most comfortable way to land on flat ground.
#9 Accelerate upon landing to keep the bike under full control.
#10 On advanced jumps, use mid-air trim techniques to move the bike into the correct trajectory.
#11 To increase your learning quickly, follow a more experienced rider around a motocross track and copy their techniques.
There’s no doubt about it, jumping a dirt bike feels awesome.
There’s nothing in any ground based sport I can think of that gives you such a sensation of flying.
If you have ever hit a big double jump then you will know the feeling of flying for what seems to be hours.
It’s almost like time slows down when you are airborne.
The reason why motocross riders always want to move into supercross the first opportunity they get is because they are chasing the big jumping rush.
The feeling of flying off those jumps is addictive and almost Zen like.
And I bet that all the other riders that I ride with are doing it for the same reason as well.
Watching a skilled jumper do their stuff is really impressive. But you can’t just pull a huge cross up as a beginner though.
Jumping takes heaps of practice and experience before you are able to go big.
Its so important to learn the basics first before flying high!
You need to know how to time the jump, how much speed to use, where to sit on the bike and how to assess the jump you are about to hit.
Also, you need to learn where and how to land and when to change gears.
In this article, I will show you how to jump a dirt bike like the pros.
I’ll also be offering some tips and tricks along the way to speed up your learning process.
Additionally I’ll be talking about some more advanced jumping techniques that you can try when you have the basics down first.
#1 Wear Full Protection
Jumping a dirt bike is the riskiest type of riding and so you need to gear up properly in case of a crash.
Boots, helmet and gloves are a must.
Knee braces are also a must in my opinion to protect your knees and legs from impact and hyper-extending in a crash.
A kidney belt will help support your back from the constant impact forces from jumping.
Also, take a look at a good pair of elbow guards, as the elbows can take a real beating if you come off.
#2 Practice on a Motocross Track.
Practicing on a motocross track is the safest bet for beginners because the environment is controlled.
The park rules are enforced for your safety. The jumps are better taken care of and the landing zones are free from obstacles.
A motocross track is great because you can just roll over the large jumps that are too scary and only practice on the small jumps.
Even if you focus on one jump per lap, your skill will increase quickly. You will find that you will be able to tackle the larger ones before you know it.
If you are a bit self-conscious as a beginner, ask the park stewards for the days when the track is really quiet. I used to ride in my local motocross park during the quiet times because bike traffic made me nervous. I mostly had the track to myself for as long as I wanted during these quiet times. It was awesome because I didn’t have to worry about traffic and it sped up my learning process.
Read more tips about riding on motocross tracks here.
The problem with practicing on un-managed trails, enduro tracks or in a friend’s backyard is that the tracks aren’t properly taken care of. They trails are well worn and the jumps usually have lots of deep ruts in them. There is also usually a deep hole in the landing zone and all these obstacles will just make it harder to learn the basics of jumping.
Also, don’t ever be tempted to put a timber plank onto a box and try to jump that. That’s just downright dangerous and you will definitely be eating dirt if you do it this way. I see it a lot on Instagram and it always ends in tears. Pretty funny to watch tho lol.
Things to Look out for on Jumps>>
If the jumps you are attempting are a bit worn down, keep an eye on these issues.
a. Ruts develop from the constant use of other riders using the same lines to launch from the jump.
Although ruts can be safe, some can develop a dangerous depth that will interfere with the front wheel.
Deep ruts can also conceal rocks and other debris. Some can be so deep that they can hit your foot pegs.
Snagging a peg on a jump is no fun and they can even drag your feet off the pegs which is also really bad news.
If you have to use a jump with ruts, use the rut with the least use.
b. Lips appear at the end of a rut and can kick the rear of the bike in the air.
Sometimes the lip goes right across the top of the ramp and sometimes it is only in one spot.
Avoid lips whenever you see them.
c. Low spots can develop on the face of the ramp from other riders accelerating to launch off the ramp.
If you hit a low spot, the suspension will compress more than usual and you wont get the sort of height and distance you need to make the jump.
Avoid the low spots whenever you see them.
#3 Start Small.
As with all sports, you need to tackle the small obstacles first before moving to the larger ones.
The small jumps will give you enough confidence to move onto the larger ones.
They will teach you the important elements of jumping, like balance, control and power.
#4 Getting the Approach Right.
Make sure you hit the jump straight on and you have chosen the best path that is free of any ruts or other obstacles.
Hitting a jump on an angle will make the landing awkward and you may not even land on the track.
On the approach to a jump, your body should be over the center of the bike so your weight is equally distributed from front to back.
Your head should be slightly behind the handlebars cross-brace and your legs should be slightly bent.
In this position you and your bike are well balanced and you are able to move your weight backwards or forward if you have to.
#5 Stand Up.
There are times when you have to sit down to take a jump. Like when you need to sit down when you have to accelerate hard at a ramp for example.
Other than that, always stand up when jumping.
Stand up and hold the bike between your knees as you approach the jump, as you get air and as you land.
While the bike is airborne, keep your body centered so the bike doesn’t dive or rise.
If the front wheel starts to move up or down, shift your weight to keep the bike level.
#6 Speed and Throttle Control.
How fast you are going will determine how far you will jump.
If you hit a jump at too much speed you will get too much air and land in the wrong spot.
Not enough speed and the back wheel can kick in the air and send you over the handle bars.
Every jump is different so you will need to figure out how much speed you will need to get you into the air cleanly.
As you hit the ramp, give the throttle a blip to give the front wheel enough lift so you bike flies evenly through the air.
Too much throttle can send the front wheel too high and too little can send the front wheel pitching forward. Throttle control is really important!
Also, don’t try to pull back on the handle bars like you would do on a mountain bike. A dirt bike is way too heavy for that and you will only sprain your arms/shoulders.
Instead, use the gas to modify the angle of the front end as you are launching.
Most of the time you will remain in the same gear that you launched in when you go over a jump. But there are exceptions.
If the jump is followed by a straight you might have to shift up so you can accelerate hard when you land.
Also, if the jump is followed by a corner you sometimes have to downshift in mid-air so you’re in the correct gear to take the corner.
There’s no special technique involved here but you will need to be careful when shifting in mid-air.
If you increase the revs too much, the back wheel will spin hard. This can upset the balance of the bike.
Make the shift as smooth as you can so you don’t interrupt the balance and angle of the bike.
The most comfortable way to land when you’re learning to jump onto flat ground is to land on the back wheel.
Landing on the back wheel takes the harsh impact out of the landing.
The bike is much more easily controlled than if you landed on the front wheel first.
Avoid trying to land on the front wheel as it just doesn’t feel right.
It feels like you are about to be sent over the handlebars.
Ultimately you want to land on both wheels at the same time.
But when you are starting out, the back wheel is the best option every time.
#9 Exit Acceleration.
A dirt bike is most stable when it’s under controlled acceleration.
When you hit the ground after a jump, the bike can wobble all over the pace if the ground is rough.
The best thing to do here is get on the gas a fraction of a second before you hit the ground.
Controlled acceleration will drive the bike in one direction, making it easier to control.
Make sure though that you are facing the direction you want to go before you hit the throttle so your back wheel doesn’t wash out under acceleration.
#10 Advanced Jumping Techniques.
As you build up your confidence on smaller jumps you will want to try out the larger jumps that have exit down ramps.
These include tabletops, ski jumps, canyons and double jumps.
Although these types of advanced jumps use the same basic jumping principles, you will also need to make sure the bike lands on the down ramp front wheel first.
Ultimately, you will want to land your bike with both wheels hitting the ground at the same time.
But in reality, this is near impossible to do on exit ramp type jumps.
To land the front wheel properly on exit ramps, the rider needs to alter the trajectory of the bike mid-air. To do this you will be using the rear brake, the throttle, the clutch, their weight or sometimes a mixture of all 4.
This is where experience and heaps of practice comes into play.
There are a whole heap of different scenarios that could happen if the rider doesn’t get it right.
Too little speed and you will end up landing short of the down ramp or the back wheel may clip the top of the jump, sending you flying off the bike.
Too much speed and you will land on flat ground, front wheel first which is also bad news.
Landing on a down ramp on the back wheel will destabilize the bike. Too much angle on the front wheel will send you straight over the handlebars.
This means that the rider needs to create a perfect elliptical trajectory from entry to exit and do it consistently.
A bike will not do this properly on its own!
To make this happen, use the following mid-air trimming techniques.
a. Rear Brake Trim.
Hitting the rear brake while you are in mid-air will cause the front wheel to drop down if your front wheel is too high.
When you use this technique you will also need to pull in your clutch so the engine doesn’t stall midway.
If the rear brake trim is not enough, you will also need to shift your body weight forward as well to force the nose down.
b. Engine Trim
If your front wheel is way too low and you are headed for a nasty crash, rev the engine to make the rear wheel spin hard.
This will affect the inertia of the bike and cause the back wheel to drop down.
You can also influence this by shifting your weight to the back of the bike which will also help to get that front wheel up.
#11 Turning a Bike in Mid-air.
This is an advanced technique that’s used when you need to jump and then turn into a corner immediately after you land.
Motocross and supercross tracks like using this type of track layout as it makes the track more challenging and technical and gives riders a chance to improve their jumping skills.
The crowds also love it!.
By turning a bike in mid-air you can land the bike in the same direction as the turn and make the turn quickly without having to brake and wash off speed.
Turning a bike in mid-air takes lots of practice before you can do it with consistent accuracy. It’s one of my favorite techniques to watch when I’m following other riders going around the track.
To turn the bike mid-air you need to ride the bike in a gentle arc across the face of the ramp, not from one corner to the other, but at a slight angle in the direction of the corner.
Here’s a video of junior motocross champ Brian Deegan demonstrating the mid air turn!!
This technique will alter the center balance of the bike and will swing the rear of the bike slightly left or right. Very cool.
For example, if the corner following the jump is a left hander, you arc the ramp from right to left and press against the side of the bike with your left leg, which encourages the rear of the bike to swing right.
You loosen the position of your bikes natural tendency to swing to the right.
This is a very subtle technique and requires a lot of practice. But it can shave some time off your lap if you are planning to race competitively.
It also looks impressive as hell!
Avoid pulling advanced jumping manoeuvres in windy conditions. Strong winds can make a bike do weird things. Wind can unwillingly alter your technique and your trajectory. Wait for the wind to die down before practicing.
#12 Pro Tip: Follow a More Experienced Rider Around a Motocross Track.
Following a more experienced rider around a track is a fast way to learn!
You can watch everything they do and you can emulate their technique straight away.
When you’re riding behind someone, you can see where they put their body-weight.
Also you can see how they position themselves on the bike, how much air they get with different approach speeds, how they change the inertia of the bike in mid-air and how they land.
It’s also a hell of a lot of fun blasting around a track with another rider taking one jump after another.
So be sure to try it as you will probably end up wanting to do it all the time.
#13 What to do if the Shit Hits the Fan
Sometimes crashing is unavoidable and crashing can happen for a few reasons.
There is quite a bit to write about on crashing so I’ve written another blog post about how to crash a dirt bike here.
There is no doubt about it, jumping a dirt bike will increase your risk of crashing and sustaining injuries.
Unlike standard riding where the tires are firmly in the dirt, jumping requires a leap of faith.
You will have to give up a bit of control while you are flying through the air.
To learn more about this, I’ve written an article about the risks of dirt bike riding here.
Anyone that rides motocross whether pro or just for fun, have crashed a few times in their riding career.
Crashing is part of the game and a fact of motocross life.
That being said, if you are hitting jumps at reasonable speeds and taking on jumps that are within your capabilities, then the risk of crashing is greatly minimized.
I find that it’s the riders that go too hard too soon to impress others that have the worst crashes. They will try crazy moves that they saw on TV without the experience to back them up. These riders are the hospital candidates.
If you take it easy and jump within your capabilities, even if you do crash, your injuries will be minimal.
Also, if you are wearing full protection then you have minimized the risk of injury again.
Practice my points for jumping a dirt bike and you will be flying through the air like a pro in no time at all.
What is your favorite type of jump on a dirt bike? What techniques do you use to maximize success? Let me know in the comments below and please don’t forget to give this article a like and share if you liked it.
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