MTB How To: Log Hops

Logs – they’re a fundamental part of mountain biking in most areas of the country since where there are trees, there are trees that fall. Many riders hate logs and would like to see all of them cut off the trails. Others, like me, really enjoy riding them and are always wondering just how big we can go. But part of enjoying riding logs is knowing how to ride them. A few years ago trek7k wrote a post on a few different ways to ride over a log but in this post I’m going to provide a little more detail and insight into what he called the ‘speed hop’.

When you know how to ride them, logs are an enjoyable part of the mountain bike experience. Photo: Brian Reynolds

The goal here is to get over the log as smoothly and safely as possible. Done right, you don’t even have to slow down – if you’re quick enough and your timing is super precise. This move can be used on all sorts of things, pretty much any time you have to go onto or over something. Rocks, bridges, even curbs in your neighborhood can be ridden in style with the speed hop. You can also ride some really big stuff this way. This is, in my opinion, the best way to get over things tall enough to hit your chain ring. Bashing your chainring into stuff is hard on you, yourbike,and your wallet plus it’s not smooth and it forces you to slow down.

The Approach

You want to be in the ready, or “attack” position: off the saddle, knees and elbows bent, weight centered over the bike, pedals level. Do NOT try to ride over a log sitting down with your cranks vertical. It will not work. And yes, I’ve seen someone try this. It resulted in a 10ft nose wheelie to tuck and roll over the bars. Luckily the only thing damaged was his ego.

First Wheel Up

Pick the front wheel up. Get you weight back over and behind the rear wheel axle, and pull the bars toward your chest.

Set Up The Pivot

Let the front wheel land on top of the log. As it is falling down onto the log move your weight forward and prepare for the hop.

Up and Over

Now hop straight up, not forward! Use the front wheel as a pivot point for the bike. Suck your legs up to lift the rear wheel off the ground, rotating your wrists can help with this too. You want the rear wheel to go over the log, so hop just high enough. No need for a huge hop if the log is only 6″ around. Extend your arms to push the bike out in front of you and over the log, keeping your weight to the rear, just in case the rear wheel hangs up on the log. If your weight is forward and the rear wheel hits the log you might take one of those famous trips Over The Bars.

The rear tire might land on top of the log, or on the back side. That’s fine, you’ll hardly even notice. It’s also okay if it clears the log completely. Generally, the faster you go, the more likely it’ll clear the log completely.

One more tip: if you’re going fast, you’ll actually start to hop before your front wheel touches the log. If you don’t you’ll hit your chainring… which doesn’t usually end well when you’re going fast.

Ride Away

Now just ride away in style, at the same speed you were before, and without hardly even feeling a bump. But be nice – don’t laugh at your friends who had to stop and walk over the log. It is okay to laugh at the guy who just bent a tooth onhis $100+ XTR chainring though. 😀

Moving Pictures

Here’s the video all of the screen shots from above were pulled from.

So how do you feel about logs? Love? Hate? Indifferent? Tell us in the comments section below!

Big thanks to Tyler and David for help with the video.

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