When you first starting learning how to ride dirt jumps, it can be a pretty intimidating process. The professionals do it all the time, but that probably makes it seem even harder! Don’t worry though, it’s not as difficult as you might think. In fact, this guide to riding dirt jumps will have you ready to hit the track in no time. Strap on your helmet and get ready to learn how to conquer even the toughest obstacles ahead.
To preface the guide a little bit, if you’ve ever gone off of a normal ramp, this will be fairly similar. There are a few small tweaks, however, due to the composition of the material, you’ll be riding on. If you’ve never tried any sort of jump before, you should make sure that you take it slow and try out smaller ramps before you go all in. Now, without further ado, check out our best tips for riding dirt jumps like a pro!
Related: Electric Dirt Bikes in Review.
Preparing to Hit the Jump
Preparation is easily the most important part of riding dirt jumps. It’s always fun to think about the actual stunts and mid-air height that you can get but setting up is key to success. Without good footing and knowledge of what’s to come, you’re going to be in a world of hurt or disappointment at the least.
The best way to get set up for the jump ahead is to start off by loosening up a bit. If you try to hit the ramp all stiffened up, you won’t get nearly as much air and the landing will be a bit uncomfortable. Staying loose lets you get more control of the situation and plan your tricks with ease.
You should also make sure that you’re standing up instead of sitting down. Standing when you’re riding a BMX bike will let you accelerate quicker and it’ll give you a broader range of stuns to pull off. Ultimately, it enables you to handle your experience a whole lot easier than sitting down would.
Finally, and this should go without saying, you should always aim for the center of the dirt ramp. The sides are not only weaker and looser, but they don’t set you up right for a good, solid landing.
Tips for the Air
Now that you’ve taken off, it’s time to brace for the moment you’ve dreamt of. What you do in the air determines how well you can take the impact of landing. This basically means that if you do everything right, it’ll all go according to plan. If you don’t, you could end up falling over and not landing the jump at all.
The first thing you should do here is to shift your weight back a bit as your bicycle moves forward. After doing this several times on smaller ramps, it’ll be like muscle memory. You want to follow this step because it helps you move further, and it lines up your front wheel with the edge of the landing ramp.
Next, you need to begin to extend your arms and legs to brace for the landing. Hitting the ground being too lose and make you fall into the handlebars while being too stiff can be uncomfortable as well. Extend both your arms and your legs to gain control over the entire process!
Lastly, always aim for the center of the landing ramp. Much like the launch, you always should aim for the middle due to stability and recovery, both of which we’ll get into in a little bit here. We should also note that you shouldn’t attempt any stunts until you’re 100% comfortable with riding dirt jumps by themselves. Safety comes first!
How to Land a Dirt Jump
Landing is actually one of the easier bits, despite what you might think. Watching BMX shows can make it seem like the whole jump is weighed on the landing (which is partially is), but once you get it down, you’ll be good to go. The biggest thing to think about is timing. Proper timing is the only way to land any jump, regardless of the surface material.
One of the biggest controversies in the cycling world is which wheel should land first.
Some people feel that the front wheel gives you more control of what’s to come, while others believe the rear wheel softens the impact. The true answer is that you should always, always land with the rear wheel first. Reducing the shock from hitting the ground at high speeds will not only prevent painful injuries, but it also helps you recover and prepare for your next move.
Be a little bit lost when you’re landing, too. Much like landing with the rear wheel, it helps reduce the impact. Think about it as hitting a stick into the ground versus a feather into the ground, both upright. The feather bends and doesn’t damage at all, while the stiff stick breaks right in half. Being stiff won’t necessarily cause immediate injury, but you might get long-term back problems. For that reason, loosen up a bit!
Great, you’ve now learned how to prepare for a jump, how to handle the air, and how to properly land without getting yourself hurt. The final step is to get ready and recover because you’ve only just begun!
You might start off practicing on a single dirt ramp, but eventually, you’ll want to move to a course. Courses are completely different than single ramps because your momentum keeps you cruising. You have to be ready to take the next curve, bump, or ramp in front of you.
Practice makes perfect, so always follow the first three steps until you’ve mastered them. The single key ingredient to successful recovery is to always be one obstacle ahead. Know your course and know what comes after the ramp you’re jumping. Let’s recap…
1. Stay loose, stand up, and aim for the center of the ramp
2. Lean back to raise the front wheel, extend your arms and legs, and aim for the middle of the landing ramp
3. Land with the rear wheel first, remain loose to reduce impact and start recovering
4. Know your course
5. Have fun, study this guide, and become a pro at riding dirt jumps!
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