Two new how-to-bunny-hop videos demonstrate similar but slightly different approaches

Two new ‘how to bunny hop’ videos published recently focus on wrist/shoulder motions:

1. James Wilson at MTB Strength Training Systems has a blog post titled How to use your wrists to Bunny Hop with flat pedals with this video embedded:

2. Chris Carter at MTBTips has a new How to Bunny Hop page with this video embedded:

Twisting locked hands/wrists to help raise the rear wheel

James: “You twist your wrists hard as you change direction and that’s what lifts the rear end of the bike up.”

Chris: “Near full height, shrug your shoulders and arms forward, throwing or ‘rolling’ your locked hands forward and over in one explosive move to “turn” the rear wheel up with your hands.”

I’ve never heard or read anything before about locking one’s hands tightly on the grips to assist lifting the rear end of the bike up.  I wonder how important or helpful it is… and how difficult it is to learn.

Two approaches to getting the front wheel up

James says to use a manual to get the front wheel up first. Chris says “Stand high on the bike, head above the front wheel. Vigorously pump your weight into the front wheel (pre-load the fork), then explode the bar upwards to your chest.”

In a discussion thread about this on my Facebook page, IMBA ICP Level 2 Instructor and Dirt Dojo coach Jenny Abraham wrote:

I’ve heard instructors debate about how much they use a basic front wheel lift vs. a manual front wheel lift to initiate the bunny hop. They seem to vary, or do something in between. To me, the manual way is harder to learn but seems an overall better technique.

Miguel Masberg, a dirt boss at Cottage Grove Bike Park and an expert park rider wrote:

I say you have to use a mixture of both techniques of pulling up. The manual technique is more efficient and consistent. In a pinch or emergency situation you will probably use the preload… I would advise to stay away from relying on a pre load technique. Since rigid forks are completely useless for this, all suspension forks will vary in feel, and rake and headtube angle will all make huge differences. Now, the reason I say not too learn the other motion is because it is much more sporadic. You are putting your weight in the front, which is the opposite of what you would normally do for any obstacle. If you don’t get your hop off in time, you are going over the bars.  There is no question whether the manual hop is more effective than the other. The issue is that it seems harder to learn.

If we assume that manualing the front wheel for a bunny hop is harder to learn but better/more flexible overall, does that make it the best for everyone? I can see telling a 10 yr-old who’s hanging out at the bike park that they should learn to manual and then incorporate it into bunny hops.

But what about the 40 yr-old singletrack rider on a hard tail who’d just like to learn how to bunny hop over some of those small logs they regularly smash into on their favorite XC trails? Might they be better off learning to bunny hop with the easier basic front wheel lift? And if they do, does this make it harder for them to learn the manual method should they want to at some point?

I won’t be creating my own version of a how-to-bunny-hop video any time soon but I will be working on the skill. And I may blog about my progress.

If you’ve got a favorite how-to-bunny-hop video, attach a comment with the URL.


  1. On the front lift technique – note how Chris pulls handlebar to his chest without moving the body – but in the isolated drills only. In the end when he shows the full bunnyhop he does a proper manual. Also – James does not mention the preload, but he also does a slight one.
    So in the end – amount of preload is just a matter how comfortable doing a manual you are.
    And Seth very nicely shows that neither grip nor shrug nor feet pull lift the bike off the ground.
    All this just makes it higher, but initial lift comes from the unload followed by handlebar pull.

    October 14, 2015
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    Peter, thanks much for chiming in here. My apologies for the delay in responding.

    I didn’t know about the Seth’s Bike Hacks YouTube Channel, so I’m glad you posted that link.

    I’ve since joined the Ryan Leech Connection membership site where one of the tutorials is a series of instructional videos on manuals leading up to the bunny hop. I’ll post more about it as I get further along.

    October 27, 2015

Comments are closed.