How to jump a dirt bike whilst staying in control when you’re in the air – tips on dirt bike jumping
Dirt bike jumping is possibly one of the scariest things you’ll experience on your bike. But it will also be one of the most exiting experiences too. Dirt bike jumping isn’t for the faint hearted, as it can be extremely dangerous. Please read on to find out how my friend’s dad tragically died when jumping his dirt bike.
How do you jump a dirt bike? How to jump a dirt bike and stay in control begins with starting small. Before your first jump make sure to check the landing zone first by riding over the jump slowly. Your first jump should be small and progress to bigger and higher jumps. Be aware dirt bike jumping is one of the biggest causes of dirt bike injuries.
As dirt bike jumping is one of the biggest causes of dirt bike injuries, make sure you have all the protective gear on beforehand.
How to jump a dirt bike and where to begin
First things first, you need to either find yourself a jump, or build one yourself. I recommend finding a track with a jump. But don’t go crazy if you’ve never jumped a dirt bike before. Always start off small. As you build your confidence and skill, you can gradually increase the size of jumps you tackle.
Take note: Dirt bike jumping is one of the most dangerous activities you can do on a dirt bike. Two of the most common causes for injury on a dirt bike include collisions with other riders and falls during jumps!
Always bear in mind that this is one of the most dangerous things you can do on a dirt bike. Two of the most common causes of injury on a dirt bike include collisions with other riders and falls during jumps.
Before you try your first dirt bike jump
Once you’ve found a place to jump your dirt bike, I recommend you pitch up next to the jump and observe. Watch the other dirt bike riders and see how they tackle the jump.
Watch carefully how they approach the jump, how the run up the slope and watch them in the air and how they land their bike too.
You want to watch how they position themselves on the bike in the approach, in the air and when they land. Your position on your dirt bike when you jump, apart from your speed, is one of the most important aspects to get right for successful dirt bike jumping.
But more about that further down in this article in the step by step guide on how to jump a dirt bike.
Dirt bike protection should be your no. 1 priority when dirt bike jumping
As already mentioned earlier in this article, dirt bike jumping is one of the most dangerous things you can do on a bike. With this in mind, dirt bike protection should be your top priority.
Having protection will not protect you completely, so in a serious crash you may still get hurt even with all the body protection. But having the right protection and the correct dirt bike gear, you limit how badly you’ll get hurt.
In the above image you’ll see the ideal protective gear you should wear, which is also listed as follows:
- Special dirt bike helmet, which has a built-in chin guard.
- Goggles to protect your eyes from dirt and stones (mostly from other bikes on the track).
- Neck brace, not all dirt bike riders where these, but if you’re jumping you should consider it to limit the risk of a neck injury.
- Chest protection or a chest pad to protect your chest from high impact.
- Crotch protection is a worth while consideration to protect sensitive areas from high impact. If you land funny you may be thankful you wore one!
- Gloves are must have dirt bike gear.
- Knee pads will protect your sensitive knee joints from impact.
- Heavy duty dirt bike boots to protect your feet and calves from injury.
You should be wearing most, if not all of the above dirt bike protection for normal dirt bike riding. But if you’re jumping, the chances of crashing increase immeasurably, especially at the outset.
So if you are looking to progress to jumping your dirt bike, you should now consider the full list of gear noted above.
How to jump a dirt bike step by step
Now that the safety aspects of dirt bike jumping have been covered, let’s look at how to jump a dirt bike step by step.
Step #1 – Get to know the jump
Before you actually jump the jump, you should get to know it first. You need to know how steep the slope is on the lead up and also what’s on the other side.
To do this I suggest you ride over the jump, but at a speed that your bike doesn’t jump. Use this exercise to get a feel for how high the jump actually is. Doing this will also give your bike a chance to warm up too.
Try riding over the jump standing up on your pegs. As this will start to give you more confidence standing and riding. Also, when you jump you are much better off in the standing position.
Step #2 – Check the safe landing zone
A part of step one above was to review the jump. One of the most important aspects of this check is the landing zone on the other side.
Make sure there is somewhere safe to land. Make sure there are no dangerous objects or obstructions to crash into or land on. If there are dead and fallen trees in the way and you are able to move them, make sure you move these out of the way first.
Look for other hazardous objects, like posts, dis-guarded mental objects or broken glass. The last thing you want, is to become impaled on a post or other object when you land on the other side.
Also, make sure there’s enough of a run off area. You don’t want to do a perfect jump and land well, only to crash into some trees or bushes on the other side which are too close to the landing zone.
Step #3 – Approaching the jump
You need to have enough momentum or speed when you reach the jump to actually jump. I don’t suggest you go full throttle in a higher gear at the outset. Jump small to begin with and built the height up as you build confidence and get the feel for being in the air on your dirt bike.
Make sure you are lined up with the jump and approach it in a straight line. Hitting a jump at an angle when your learning to jump may not be a good idea. Jumping at an angle is possible, but it may kick the rear of your bike out. This is for the pro jumpers, which of course may be where you want to progress to.
Choose the gear you want to do the jump in, I suggest third gear may be a good gear to begin with. You don’t want to be changing gear as you get near to the jump or in the middle of a jump. So change up through the gears quickly, as you approach the jump, but finish changing gear before you hit the up-ramp.
You also want to use an even throttle, but if anything you want to be slightly accelerating as you leave the up-ramp. But not too much, as you don’t want to go over backwards (see risks and dangers below).
But also don’t ease off from the throttle too much as you approach the jump (which is what most beginners tend to do). This will send you and your dirt bike into a nose dive and you’ll probably do an endo. Your front wheel will more likely hit the ground first, not the best way to land (see step #5 below on preparing to land).
Always lean forward as you run up the up-ramp
As you run up the up-ramp and at the point of leave the ramp, lean forward towards your handle bars to balance the bike and to avoid going over backwards as you approach the ground.
At this point in the jump you should be standing up. You should already be standing up as you run up the up-ramp. Your total body weight ideally needs to be completely in front of your foot pegs, with your body as close to your handle bars as you can.
Always stand up on your pegs during the whole jump
Standing up through the jump gives you better control. Plus it’s better for you when landing. Your legs act as extra suspension on impact.
If you are sitting down when you land, this will jar your back and send a shock-wave up your spine. Not a good way to land.
However, when you’re in the air, there’s nothing wrong in sitting down. But make sure if you do sit down when you’re in the air that you stand up again before you land.
Step #4 – How to control your dirt bike in the air
When your back wheel leaves the ground push back on the throttle a bit (but see tip if you’re heading for a front wheel landing).
But now that you’re in the air you need to lean away from your handle bars. When you hit the ground you will be automatically pushed forward with the momentum of the bike. If you’re too close to the handle bars, you are more likely to hit them with your chest and have the wind knocked out of you.
The other accident that can happen on landing if you lean too far forward is you could end up hitting your groin area on your fuel tank. This is painful, as I’ve done it myself. This is another reason for having a jock-strap or crotch protection.
Step #5 – Prepare for landing your dirt bike
As you’re in the air you should be watching for where you are going to land. Prepare yourself for the impact and allow your knees to cushion the blow, whilst keeping your arms at length (but not locked straight), to keep your chest away from the handle bars. But always keep your wrists straight, to avoid spraining or damaging them on impact.
Your aim is to land the rear wheel and tyre first, quickly followed by the front wheel.
Landing is where it can all go wrong. Once you’re air-born you have no choice than to hit the ground somehow. That’s pure physics and gravity. The trick is to land safely and without injury.
But be prepared to crash at least once when learning to jump and when practicing. This is why having protective gear is essential. Dirt bike gear like a chest protector should be worn, just in case you hit the handle bars or hit the ground hard.
Extra tips and tricks for dirt bike jumping
Here are a few extra tips and tricks for you to master jumping your dirt bike.
Tip #1 – If you’re heading for a front wheel landing
If your in mid-air and it looks like you’re heading for a front wheel landing, pinning the throttle (i.e. increasing the throttle) can help to bring the front of the bike up through centrifugal force of the spinning rear wheel.
If you land fast and heavy on your front wheel, you are likely to do an ‘endo.’ An endo is where your bike goes end over end and you’ll end up going over the handle bars. This type of dirt bike crash is extremely dangerous and should be avoided. It can even be fatal.
Tip #2 – If you have a down-ramp or landing ramp to land on
Where you have a landing ramp to land your bike on, rather than simply a dirt track, you are better off slightly landing on your front wheel first.
Tip #3 – Try not too land on both wheels
Landing on both wheels increasing your chances of crashing, plus it looks like you’re an amateur dirt bike rider. So unless you’re landing on a pre-built landing ramp and landing on the front wheel, always aim to land on your rear wheel first.
However, if you’re landing fast and on a down hill slope, you are better off landing on both wheels instead (see the below video).
Tip #4 – Land with your weight centred on the bike
Your aim is to have your weight centred on the bike. You should centre your weight so that your landing will be controlled and more comfortable.
Tip #5 – If your bike goes sideways in the air
If your bike goes sideways in the air, you are better to keep your front wheel pointing forward. Also keep your body inline with the handle bars so you are forward facing when you land.
Tip #6 – Make sure you don’t meet other riders coming in the opposite direction
Always make sure you know whether or not if a bike is going to come in the other direction. The last think you want is to meet another dirt biker head-on at the top of the jump. This has happened and in one case caused a fatal incident.
How to get better at jumping dirt bikes on the track
If you are going to ride your dirt bike on a track, you need to get better at jumping. Most dirt bike tracks or motocross tracks have jumps in them. So unless you go over each one slowly and don’t jump, you are going to have to learn how to get better at jumping on a track.
The best way I suggest and the best advice I can give is to practice. I remember my first time on a track feeling pretty scared. There were dirt bikers there who were really good at riding. But what you’ll also find is there will also be beginners on the track like you too.
What the track organisers may do is to only allow certain skill levels on the track at certain points. So sometimes they’ll have the track open to all skill levels. Whereas at other times, the dirt bike track will be open to the pros only.
It’s at the time when the track is open to all skill levels that you want to get on the track. But I suggest you go around the track at least once or twice getting to know the lay of the land.
Find out how high each jump is, what’s the landing zone like on the other side of the jump for example?
Once you’ve been around a few times, you’ll soon find out there are other beginner dirt bike riders just like you. There will be some that have never jumped before too.
Don’t jump too high to begin with
You don’t need to go mad to begin with. Start small and build yourself up to doing the bigger jumps. Plus build yourself up to jumping bigger on even the smaller jumps on the track too.
Never feel pressured into jumping faster or further than you feel comfortable with. Plus always remember that there are other dirt bikers on the track too.
Be careful not to cause a dangerous obstruction that could cause a crash hazard for the other riders on the track.
The solution to how to get better at jumping dirt bikes on the track is to practice, practice and more practice.
What are the risks or dangers of dirt bike jumping
I wanted to close this article with the risk factors of dirt bike jumping. I don’t want to spoil your fun and I don’t want to be seen as a party-pooper, but what I do want is for you to jump your dirt bike as safely as possibly.
The reason why I am more cautious than most, is as a result of a serious accident that involved my friend’s dad. My friend and I were always off dirt biking and we were lucky to have plenty of tracks and off-road areas to ride on.
There was a particular area we used, which had a track we used for dirt bike riding on a regular basis. The track had jumps and other obstacles we could practice on. One day my friend’s dad went along with my friend and decided to take a ride of his dirt bike. His dad went over the biggest jump on the track and went over backwards and landed on his back.
The crash resulted in one of his ribs piercing his heart and he died at the scene! This accident quite obviously shook us all up, not least my friend. But it goes to highlight what can go wrong, especially with a novice or a beginner dirt bike rider.
So what are the risks or dangers of jumping a dirt bike?
Risk #1 – going over backwards
As already explained in the above serious accident, it is possible to go over backwards as you take off from the jump.
This can happen if you accelerate too much as you go up the up-ramp and off the jump. This can be made worse by pulling on the handle bars at the same time as you accelerate.
The risk is you land badly or hit the ground hard. This can result in being winded, broken bones and/or bruising. Or worse still, a fatality like the incident above.
Risk #2 – Landing badly
One of the key elements to dirt bike jumping to master is landing. If you land badly you can seriously hurt yourself.
The risks associated with landing can either involve simply landing badly do to the positioning of the bike and/or the you as the rider, or because of what you land on on the other side of the jump.
Risk #3 – Being hit by other riders
Collisions with other dirt bike riders is the other top cause of injury in dirt bike riding. Jumps are a typical place where this type of accident or injury can occur.
This is because you have a blind summit. If a rider crashes on the landing on the other side of the jump, other riders will not not usually be able to see the crashed rider until it’s too late.
If you do crash on a jump, especially on a track where there are other dirt bike riders, and if you’re able, you must get out of the way as quickly as you can.
To consider other riders, this includes clearing your bike away too. Otherwise other riders may get injured by landing on or hitting your bike. If you’re not able to move your bike, and there are no marshals around, you need to get to the top of the jump to warn approaching riders of the danger.
Risk # 4 – Doing an endo when you land
If you hit the ground with your front wheel first, especially if the bike is pointing very far forward, you stand the risk of doing an endo.
An endo is where the dirt bike goes end over end. This will result in you going over the handle bars too. The danger in this type of accident is the possibility of serious injury.
How do you jump big jumps on a dirt bike?
Looking forward to jumping big jumps on a dirt bike, I thought you might like to think about a few more tips on this. Although you’d be as well to use these tips for all types of dirt bike jumping to remain safe.
Before you go for any jump, and in particular big jumps, make sure you check your dirt bike over. Check the bolts on the wheels and make sure all is in order with your rear sprocket, plus that your front forks and handlebars are good to go.
As with all dirt bike jumping, make sure to warm up first. I would advise against you turning up to a large jump and simply going for it. Ride your bike around and do a few smaller jumps first.
Above I explained how with smaller jumps and when you’re starting out jumping a dirt bike you should slowly ride over the jump first. Whilst you don’t necessarily have to ride over the jump slowly, with big jumps you still need to size it up and familiarise yourself with it. Before you go for the full length of the jump, you are best to take this in stages. So for example, if the full length of the jump is say 80 foot, start by jumping say 30 foot. Gradually increase your jump length until you reach the full 80 foot jump length.
Jumping big jumps is about having confidence and committing to the jump. You don’t want to have any doubts when you’re on the run up. Or worst still second thoughts once you’ve committed to to the jump won’t be safe. Which is where things can go wrong!
I hope you enjoyed this article about how to jump a dirt bike
I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of dirt biking in the comments below. Please also share your photos. Either from your cameras or videos from your Gopro’s!
If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions about dirt biking (or specifically about how to jump a dirt bike), please comment below with your questions.
There will also be many more articles about dirt biking for you to read and learn about this fabulous sport and hobby.
Have fun and be safe!