How To Jump Hardtail Mountain Bikes Like A Pro

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If you are here looking for how to jump hardtail mountain bikes, you must already be aware of its distinction from full-suspension mountain bikes.

However, for the uninitiated, I’ll explain in brief how a hardtail mountain bike differs from a full-suspension bike.

The basic difference between a hardtail and a full-suspension mountain bike is the absence of rear shock in the former kind of bike. Hardtail mats typically have front suspension or rigid shock.

Hardtail bikes are mostly preferred by entry-level riders, for their lightweight nature and lower price tags.

Before we jump into the jumps, let us understand the typical traits of a hardtail mountain bike:

  • A hardtail mountain bike’s front suspension is capable of absorbing impact on the front wheel. However, it does not offer suspension on the rear wheel. This rigid nature of the rear wheel gives it the name hardtail.
  • The moving parts of a hardtail mountain are much lesser when compared to its full-suspension counterpart. Hence, the need for maintenance is also less.
  • Typically the front fork of a hardtail mountain bike can be locked out when you need a fully rigid bike.
  • Hardtail mountain bikes allow better transfer of power between the rare tire and pedal strike; hence preferred by most cross country riders.
  • They are great for all trails except for the lift-serviced downhill ones.

With these basics, let’s find out what hardtail mountain bike jumps are like.

“Hardtails are great for jumps. You can boost on the way up. They’re more sensitive to the transition when you land, though. There’s a reason that dirt jump and trials bikes are hardtails and AM and DH bikes are (mostly) full-suspension. “

Andrew Switch, on mtbr.com

Why Are Hardtails Better For Jumping?

Hardtail Mountain Bike
Hardtail Mountain Bike

Even though hardtails are rougher, they can give a real fun experience to the rider.

Jumping hardtails may not be easy, but once you master the skill, you may end up enjoying the jumps much more than you would on a full-suspension bike.

And the reason is nothing but the rawness of hardtail bikes.

It would require you to master skills, but the result would be more engaging, satisfying jumps.

Are Hardtails Easier To Jump?

Many riders think that take-off and jumping are easier on hardtails, while landing may seem difficult for novice riders.

One must learn to keep the saddle away and use legs as suspensions for easier drops.

If you have just moved from full-suspension to hardtail, it’s best to have ample practice on decent trails, before you go full-swing with jumps.

Fret not, as the jumping technique would be the same, except for few things to consider. We will discuss that in detail.

Introduction To Hardtail Jumps

If you are of the perception that mastering the jumping technique is just to entertain yourself on the trails, you may be wrong.

Learning hardtail MTB jumping techniques will help you ride faster and safer even on technical terrains.

And if you thought that jumping would damage your bike that is also not completely right, as jumping the right way would not typically cause any damage to the bike.

It is quite common for riders to get intimidated while trying jumps on a hardtail bike for the first time.

However, practicing different techniques will make things easier.

How To Jump A Hardtail Mountain Bike?

Common Mountain Biking Myth About Difficulty
Jumping Hardtail MTB

Now let us get to the point.

If you are wondering how to get started, tabletop jumps are great, to begin with.

I agree, being in the air is no cakewalk, so it’s important to practice abundantly to get used to it. And this is exactly why I would suggest a novice rider start with tabletop jumps on your hardtail mountain bike.

In tabletop jumps, landing is smoother when compared to jumping off a very flat surface. One must approach the tabletop jump at a brisk speed and let the bike become airborne.

Practice controlling the bike by moving your weight, and make sure that you have both the wheels together when landing. Just being in the air can be a scary thing, so you need to get used to the feeling of doing it.

Tabletop jumps are ideal because you jump up onto them, which makes the landing smoother than jumping off something that’s too flat.

As trials, progress and you gain more confidence, increase the height and speed, and work on finishing on the landing ramp.

“You’ll know when you get it right because it’ll feel silky smooth in comparison to landing on the top”

writes Andrew Dodd at bikeradar.com

Master Pumping

Master Pumping For Hardtail Mountain Bikes
Pumping the MTB

If you are hearing this term for the first time with regards to mountain biking, let me explain it to you.

Pumping is nothing but a technique in which you drive the bike into the ground, intending to increase speed and traction. You can practice this with a double jump.

“First, ride towards the jump at a brisk pace. As you approach the take-off, you need to absorb it – allow the handlebar to come up towards you.

When the front wheel is at the top of the take-off, force it down onto the backside and allow your legs to relax as you did with your arms.

Push your feet down to plant the rear wheel – doing this will also give you some extra pace.

Ride the landing ramp in the same way and force the bike into the backside. This minimizes the risk of your bike getting bucked around and also increases your speed.”

writes Andrew Dodd at bikeradar.com

Learn Manualing

Person Doing Wheelie
Manualing Hardtail Mountain Bikes

Mastering manualling needs perseverance. Check out this hardtail MTB manualing video from Ride MTB where Kyle & April recommends using a bike stand while you are practicing a manual hardtail jump.

Another important thing is to have great speed when you manual, as slow speed would make it harder. You must have your feet at level, and, at a standing position coast into the manual.

In this position, it would be better to drop the front heel slightly, shift your weight back slightly, and lift your head. You must try to get the hip bone past the rear axle.

Typically, manualling is easier for taller riders than it is for shorter riders.

Taller riders would be fine doing low manuals, while shorter riders will have to get the front wheel much higher so that they know where their cranks are.

It is important to ensure that your arms are locked and pulled straight on the handlebar.

“Use this position to look for the backside of the landing, and when there, allow the front wheel to drop onto it. As it drops, push into the landing, as with pumping, and follow suit with your legs,”

writes Andrew Dodd at bikeradar.com

Pre-Hopping Like A Pro

Mountain Biking Guidance
Pre-Hopping A Mountain Bike

Pre-hopping or pre-jumping on your hardtail mountain bike can up your speed significantly. When you pre-jump, you get to anticipate the terrain and use it to get to speed.

It is similar to a bunny hop, wherein you make a small jump into a feature in a way that you can reach the ground sooner.

A pre-jump would save you from flying off the ground which may result in slowing down your ride.

Global Mountain Bike Network has a useful video on how to perfect pre-hopping a mountain bike. Do check it out!

Double Jump Technique

Image of MTB Fitting
Double Jump Technique For MTB

To be blatantly honest, the double jump is an intermediate jumping technique that can either make a good ride or break you or the bike.

With a double jump, the idea is not to fly in the air, but to reduce the distance by keeping the jump low.

You may have to first combine all the techniques that we mentioned earlier, to size up the jump and then increase the speed, and pump!

By doing this, you will get an idea about the speed that would be required. Once you have estimated the speed in your mind, ride faster and use the manual jump technique.

Check this informative video on how to jump a hardtail mountain bike (double jump technique). The video covers two different techniques used for double jump.

You can find a clear distinction between the right method of double jump on a hardtail mountain bike and the wrong one.

How To Take Off On A Hardtail Mountain Bike For The Double Jump

Taking off on a hardtail mountain bike might need some skill.

“As you approach the jump, you need to give yourself a couple of bike lengths to get set up. Get out of the saddle with your favorite foot forward and prepare to push the bike into the take-off.

You might find it easier to just have a few runs flat-out at the jump and brake before it to get an idea of where the landing is about the take-off.

As the front wheel reaches the top of the take-off, spring upwards and pull up. As you do this, you’ll be taking the load off the rear end, ready for take-off.”

writes Andrew Dodd at bikeradar.com

How To Deal With The Bike In The Air

When the bike is completely taken off, watch out for the rear wheel to arrive underneath you; this will give a proper balance to the bike.

When the bike comes up, fully stand up and look at your landing point, while you have your arms and legs extended and locked.

The proper position would be the front wheel meeting the top of the transition, and the rear wheel follows.

How To Land A Double Jump:

Initially, you may have to focus on clearing the jump. You can consider it a good landing if you can roll out of it neatly.

When you get the gut feeling that it’s time for landing, push the front wheel into the landing by extending your arms.

You can get the rear wheel to somewhat reach between your legs, “as the bike makes the shape to meet the transition”.

Just after the front wheel touches the earth, push softly on the pedals and bring the rear wheel in to follow.

I know it’s easier said than done, and you must always seek expert help if you don’t feel confident enough to follow these steps.

Also, be wary of the weather conditions always; crosswinds can be a bad hindrance to your double jump effort.

What Is The Difference Between A Hardtail Mountain Bike And A Dirt Jumper?

Dirt Jumper Bike & Mountain Bikes
Dirt Jumper Bikes Vs Mountain Bikes

Dirt jumpers are bikes that are used specifically to perform tricks.

Even though a dirt jumper is also a hardtail mountain bike, they are slightly different from the typical hardtails.

They have only one gear, do not have a front brake, the seat post is too low, and has a slack frame geometry.

Dirt jumpers are normally heavier than hardtail mountain bikes.

However, everyone can’t afford multiple bikes for different purposes. And hence, it would be wise to equip yourself to do dirt jumping on a regular hardtail mountain bike.

Just make sure that you adjust your bike’s seat to the lowest possible level, and add some air to the tire for suspension.

Is It Easier To Bunny Hop On A Hardtail?

Bunny Hop Hardtail Mountain Bike
Bunny Hop A Mountain Bike

You must be aware that it is possible to bunny hop on a hardtail mountain bike like you would, on a full-suspension bike.

However, there is one big difference between the two.

When you bunny hop on a full-suspension bike, you don’t have to come back completely in a sitting position when landing, since the suspension will already have you landed, and putting extra weight on the saddle would do more harm than good.

But when you bunny hops on a hardtail mountain bike, you will have to bring your weight down for proper landing.

However, either of them is not easier than the other. You just have to master the technique and you are good to go.

Are Hardtails More Fun Than Full-Suspension?

I would say, yes.

I prefer hardtail bikes for jumps way more than suspension bikes. Even though the techniques used are similar, a full-suspension bike may cause damage to your jumping techniques.

You may also find it difficult to get through proper jumps on a full-suspension bike if you fall short of setting it up correctly.

Going Downhill On The Hardtail Mountain Bike

Downhill riding certainly gives you an adrenaline rush. But can you do it downhill with a hardtail?

Definitely yes!

Feeling every bump your rear tire hits will give you an even more satisfying riding experience.

And they say, if you cannot jump a downhill bike, you would probably be not able to jump a hardtail.

So yes, they are related in more than one way.

Wrap Up

I hope this article has solved your problem of how to jump hardtail mountain bikes, to a great extent.

However, if you happen to have more tips and tricks to enlighten me with, please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Do check out Biking Know How where I an my team share our experiences about mountain biking

References:

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Rohan runs Biking KnowHow along with his team. Rohan has been a mountain biker since 2005. His mission is to simplify mountain biking for everyone. All Biking KnowHow content piece is thoroughly fact-checked. Our content is backed up with leading research and inputs from expert cyclists.

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