The Thrill of Jumps and Drops: Getting Airborne Safely in Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is more than just pedalling through picturesque trails; it's an exhilarating experience that involves mastering various techniques, including jumps and drops. Riders who crave the thrill of getting airborne while navigating challenging terrain must do so safely to avoid injury. In this article, we'll explore the art of jumps and drops in mountain biking, providing you with valuable insights, tips, and techniques to ensure your adventures in the air are both thrilling and safe.

Mountain biking has evolved from a leisurely outdoor activity to a heart-pounding extreme sport. One aspect that makes it truly exhilarating is the opportunity to catch some air by mastering jumps and drops. However, with great excitement comes the need for great responsibility. In this article, we will delve into the art of getting airborne safely while mountain biking.

Understanding the Basics

What Are Jumps and Drops?

Jumps and drops are essential techniques in mountain biking, allowing riders to navigate obstacles and terrain variations with finesse. Jumps involve lifting the front and rear wheels off the ground simultaneously, while drops require you to descend from a height. Both techniques demand precision and skill.

The Adrenaline Rush

The thrill of launching into the air and landing smoothly is what draws many riders to jumps and drops. The adrenaline rush can be addictive, but it's crucial to balance this excitement with safety measures.

Essential Gear

The Right Bike

Choosing the right mountain bike is paramount when it comes to jumps and drops. Look for a bike with robust suspension and sturdy frame construction to handle the impact. Full-suspension bikes are popular among riders for their ability to absorb shocks.

Safety Gear

Safety should always be a priority. Invest in a quality helmet, gloves, knee and elbow pads, and body armour. These items provide protection in case of falls or crashes, ensuring you can continue to enjoy the sport without serious injuries.

Mastering the Techniques

The Bunny Hop

The bunny hop is a fundamental skill that every mountain biker should master. It involves lifting both wheels off the ground using a coordinated motion of your body and the bike. This technique is crucial for clearing obstacles and maintaining control on the trail.

The Manual

A manual is a wheelie without pedalling. Learning to manual allows you to control your bike's balance while navigating tricky terrain. It's an essential skill for tackling drops and maintaining stability.

The Jump

Jumps come in various shapes and sizes, from tabletops to gap jumps. Learning to time your take-off and landing is essential for a smooth and controlled flight. Practice on smaller jumps before attempting larger ones.

Finding the Perfect Spot

Man jumping over small ramp

Natural Features

Many mountain bike trails incorporate natural features like rocks, roots, and small cliffs that are perfect for practicing jumps and drops. Explore your local trails to find suitable spots for honing your skills.

Man-Made Features

Mountain biking parks often include purpose-built jump lines and drop zones. These are ideal for riders looking to progress their skills in a controlled environment.

Safety First

Pre-Ride Checklist

Before attempting jumps and drops, conduct a thorough pre-ride checklist. Ensure your bike is in good condition, your safety gear is on, and you're mentally prepared for the challenge ahead.

Start Small and Progress

Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are mountain biking skills. Start with smaller jumps and drops, gradually working your way up to larger features as you gain confidence and experience.

Learning from the Pros

Watching professional riders and taking lessons can be immensely helpful in perfecting your techniques. Learn from those who have mastered the art of getting airborne safely.

Riding with Confidence

Visualise Your Line

Before tackling a jump or drop, visualise your line and landing spot. Having a clear mental picture of your path can boost your confidence.

Relax and Stay Loose

Tensing up can lead to accidents. Keep your body relaxed and your grip on the handlebars light to maintain control and respond to changes in terrain.

Commitment Is Key

Once you commit to a jump or drop, follow through with determination. Half-hearted attempts can lead to instability and accidents.

Dealing with Challenges

Overcoming Fear

Fear is a natural part of the process. Acknowledge it, but don't let it hold you back. Gradual progression and practice will help you conquer your fears.

Handling Technical Terrain

Technical terrain often includes challenging features like rocks and steep descents. Mastering jumps and drops can enhance your ability to handle such terrain safely.


Mastering jumps and drops in mountain biking opens up a world of thrilling possibilities. However, safety should always be your top priority. With the right gear, practice, and commitment, you can experience the joy of getting airborne while ensuring your rides remain injury-free.


1. Are jumps and drops suitable for beginners?

  - While these techniques can be challenging, beginners can start with smaller features and gradually progress as their skills improve.

2. What type of bike is best for jumps and drops?

  - Full-suspension mountain bikes are popular for their ability to absorb shocks and provide control during jumps and drops.

3. How can I overcome my fear of jumps and drops?

  - Start with small features, practice consistently, and consider taking lessons from experienced riders to build confidence.

4. Is safety gear really necessary for mountain biking?

  - Yes, safety gear is essential to protect yourself from injuries in case of falls or crashes.

5. Where can I find mountain biking parks with jump lines and drop zones?

  - Many regions have dedicated mountain biking parks or trails that include purpose-built features for practicing jumps and drops.


In this article, we've explored the exciting world of jumps and drops in mountain biking, emphasising the importance of safety and gradual progression. Whether you're a seasoned rider looking to enhance your skills or a beginner eager to experience the thrill, remember to prioritise safety and enjoy the adventure of getting airborne on your mountain bike.