Rear wheel unweighting and lifts: neglected mountain bike skills

I’m thinking my next Thick Skull Mountain Bike Skills instructional series should be about unweighting/unloading, paying most attention to rear wheel unweighting and rear wheel lifts.

Many intermediate/advanced riders I see rely only on their suspension for small-to-medium obstacles and don’t seem to realize the problems that this causes, eg, loss of traction, fatigue, etc. And then they also miss out on some of the fun that a gnarly section of trail or a technical obstacle can provide.

Here’s a 15-second video clip from last October when I was experimenting with some parking lot drills on my hardtail, first showing rear wheel unweighting over some small firewood and then a rear wheel lift up a curb (no front wheel braking):

Today I created this 25-second video of my riding over this snow-covered log, unweighting the rear wheel over the smaller end and doing a rear wheel lift on the larger end:

Now I have to start brainstorming on how to design a progressive set of exercises and drills for both skills. My thinking now is that this unweighting instructional series will be a prerequisite for learning the bunny hop.


  1. JD Dallager said:

    Griff: Great article today in Singletracks….Congrats again!

    Looking forward to your sequel(s) on unweighting and drills one can do to improve that skill set.

    I’m using only flat pedals this year, after many years in clipless, to try to improve my MTB technique and FUN level. James Wilson’s “Flat Pedal Manifesto” got me excited about flats and seeing your articles/videos using flats just reinforced that.

    Cheers……JD (also a Geezer!) 🙂

    January 7, 2015
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Hey JD, good to hear from another geezer!

    I also got converted to flats by Bike James and his manifesto (link: ), thankfully within a few months after I started riding. About the only time I go clipless now is for gravel rides.

    I have one more video to produce for my Thick Skull MTB Skills “Holding a Line” series and then I start work on the unweighting series.

    January 7, 2015

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