How To Bunny Hop On A Mountain Bike | MTB Skills

The bunny hop is one of the most useful skills, which can be performed on any bike, whether you ride flats or SPDs. It helps you effortlessly float over obstacles that you would normally cause you to brake, or uncontrollably bounce through. Bunny hopping helps maintain speed and improve flow on the trail, and will often help get you out of trouble. It will also help you progress on to more advanced skills like jumping and advanced line choice.

Types of bunny hop

There are a few different types of bunny hop, but only one type of bunny hope which you should learn, as the others don’t allow you to progress. The types of bunny hope are:

Two wheeled/spd hop

The ‘mini two-wheeled hop’

The ‘mini two-wheeled hop’ is achieved by the rider pushing against the pedals, and scooping the bike off marginally the ground. Although, this is very simple to learn it does not help you while riding much and will not help you progress onto other skills. This technique is commonly used by beginners until they learn the front wheel pop.

The SPD hop (The English Hop)

The SPD hop is similar to the ‘mini two-wheeled hop’.The rider pulls up on SPD’s which connect their shoes to the bike, allowing them to simultaneously lift both wheels. small amount off the ground. This technique does not require any skill or allow you to gain much height. This technique should be avoided, or at least while you’re learning.

Front-wheel pop bunny hop

The front-wheel pop

‘The front wheel pop’ is where the rider pulls the front wheel up off the ground first. Then pulls the back wheel off the ground secondly by scooping up the pedals with their feet. This technique allows the rider to gain a good amount of height should they need to clear a large obstacle, and is the key to unlocking many skills on a bike. This technique does take a bit more practice to learn but it’s more than worth it!

How to bunny hop

How to bunny hop
How to bunny hop animation

We have divided the ‘front wheel pop bunny hop’ down into its 2 simple fundamental skills to learn, and then help you bring those skills together to perform the perfect bunny hop.

  1. How to get the front wheel up?
  2. How to get the back wheel off the ground?
  3. How to bring both skills together, and do the perfect bunny hop?

Note: Learning to bunny hop can be done with both flat and SPD pedals, however, it’s recommended to use simple flat pedals while learning to bunny hop so you learn the correct technique, and are not tempted to cheat.

Step 1. How to get the front wheel up?

First, you need to learn to get the front wheel off the ground by doing a small manual, which is similar to a wheelie but without pedaling. We have a full tutorial on how to manual here if you need it. Although here’s a brief summary:

  1. Stand tall towards the front of the bike. This is a good starting position when it comes to learing to bunny hop, remember to keep on looking ahead throught out the entire process.
  2. Shift weight from the front to the rear of the bike. You want to use you body weight like a lever, shifting from standing tall over the front of the bike to sitting over the rear wheel. This should ‘pop’ the front wheel off the ground.
  3. Push your arms forward as you go over the rear wheel. You are not pulling the handle bars directly up horrazontally. You are aiming to push handlebars away from you diagonally.
  4. Keep your knees bent. Try to keep your knees bent, as you will need bent knees to do the next stage of the hop.
  5. Cover the rear brake. It’s a good idea to cover the rear brake with one finger just incase you pull the front wheel up too high. A quick dab of the rear brake will send the front wheel back to the ground.

Practice this technique until you feel you can get the front wheel up confidently. This mini manual is a very useful skill in itself and can be used for anything from lifting the front wheel over obstacles to drops, and jumps.

How to bunny hop
How to bunny hop – getting the front wheel up

Step 2. How to get the back wheel off the ground?

Secondly, you need to learn how to pick the back wheel off the ground by doing a small endo without brakes. For those of you that don’t know, an endo is normally achieved by putting your front brake on, which puts you on the front wheel, while putting the back wheel up in the air. in this step, you will learn how to do this with just your body alone and not your brakes. (However, it would be easier if you learn a simple endo with your brakes first).

  1. Stand up tall with your weight over the handlebars. Having your weight over the front of the bike is important to help take the weight off the back wheel. Try to keep your elbows pointing out, which will also help keep your weight over the front.
  2. Push your feet into the pedals, while pointing your toes down. Holding your feet firmly in the correct position will help alot with pulling the rear wheel off the ground.
  3. Scoop your feet up, while simultaneously leaning over the front wheel. Keep looking forward, really push into the peadals while scooping up the rear end of the bike. Also at the same time push your weight further over the front of the bike. If done correctly the rear wheel should come off the ground.

Practice this skill until you can effortlessly lift the back wheel at least 30cm off the ground consistently. This is a worthwhile skill to have as it can be useful to lift the rear wheel over things you may encounter on the trail.

Step 3. How to bring both skills together, and do the perfect bunny hop?

Now you have learned to lift both the front and the rear wheel off the ground separately, it’s now time to bring both skills together into. a bunny hop. The hop is similar to an ollie on a skateboard, you lift the front wheel first and then bring the rear wheel up second.

  1. Start with the front wheel pop (mini manaul). Keep looking forward in the direction of travel and start to pop a small manual allowing the front wheel to come up off the ground.
  2. Lift the rear wheel once the front wheel is almost at its highest point. The font wheel should be up off the ground and you weight should be over the back wheel. Now shift your weight from the rear wheel to standing tall over the front of the bike, try to do this in combination with scooping up the rear wheel as you did with the brakeless endo. This should bring the bike off the ground initiating the hop.
  3. Once in the air, allow the bike to come up into your body. When the rear wheel comes off the ground allow the bike to come up into your body with your arms and knees bent into towards your body.
  4. Aim to get both wheels landing at the same time, with body rextended. To keep the hop smooth and in comtrol it’s importnat to land with both wheel land at the same time. To keep you landing smooth also try to extend your arms and legs to absorb the landing.

Once you are comfortable with getting both wheels off the ground, it’s time to practice hoping over something small like a stick. Gradually increase the high of the optical you are jumping over. You will start to realise doing the perfect bunny hop is all about getting the timing right, which can only be learned with practice.

Pop the front wheel, scoop up the back wheel

Bunnyhoping Questions And Answers

Is bunny hopping bad for a bike?

Normally a well-performed bunny hope is not bad for a well-maintained bike. However, there are. a few slight exceptions. It’s not recommended hoping road bikes up and down curbs as the wheels are not so strong, although the odd bunny hop on a road bike should be fine if needed.

How do you Bunnyhop on a hardtail mountain bike?

lift the front wheel up and then scoop up the front wheel with your feet. It’s the same technique as on a full-suspension bike. Read the full tutorial above

How do you bunny hop a mountain bike with a flat pedal?

On flat pedals, you need to learn to pop bunny hop – which. is the best way to learn to hop! check out this tutorial above.

How do you bunny hop a curb?

hoping up curbs is all about learning to pop bunny hop. The technique involves lifting the front wheel and then the back wheel with your feet. Once you learn the timing it will be simple to hop up and down curbs.

You may also be interested in learning how to wheelie and manual.

Remember selecting the correct shoes makes a big difference, which out our post here: What Shoes To Wear Mountain Biking? (Complete Guide)

Peter Ballin

Pedro is the primary writer on the site. He’s raced downhill and enduro at a high level, spannered at mountain bike world cups, and also written a book called Mountain Bike Maintenance. He’s appeared in both print & online major media publications across the Uk, France, and Japan (and even appeared on French Television). He’s made his living from bikes in various forms, from mountain bike guiding in France and Spain, Trail building in New Zealand and Canada, and working as a bike mechanic in the French Alps for many years. Pedro loves a good adventure and is often settling random challenges like riding down Mount Fuji, swimming across Lake Geneva, and hitchhiking across America.