Balancing with small hops
Maintaining balance can be tricky especially on uneven shapes, edges or heavily textured grounds like rocky outcrops, pebbles or roots.
You can often progress safely with small repetitive hops through difficult zones that wouldn't allow the wheels to roll.
By maintaining both brakes locked, you can adjust your balance with successive hops, alternating left and right correction hops while moving forward or even sideways
through the weirdest zones. Each hop consists of a compression phase, crouching down first, with a small rebound phase during which you should thrust your hips forward,
using the flex of your ankles more than pushing up on your arms.
Bouncing with constant balance adjustements
Rick Koekoek progresses up a steep digger bit.
Aurelien Fontenoy hops up a slippery wood log.
Use small jump impulses with the flex of your ankles to move your hips up and down, followed with a lift on the bars while tucking the knees.
Your body weight must be quite above the stem, so that when you spring up up using the flex of your calves, you can pull
up the whole bike with you by just keeping your arms firms with your upper body.
Most of the time, you don't need to give any pedal kick, it is like doing firm push-ups during the tyre compression, largely assisted by
the spring effect of flexing your calves.
Try to minimize the hops' amplitude and height, and eventually, the frequency of the hops to save your energy for the next big move.
Else, you'll get tired very quickly and won't last long on the bike.
Bouncing up sideways across a slope
Marc Caisso progressively hops his way up a ladder.
Nico hops carefully not to slip across the slope.
To avoid a tiresome pogo-stick effect, make the most of each hop by targeting specific landing spots.
Focus on being smooth and concentrate on following the terrain as closely as possible, adjusting your push-ups to the minimum,
pulling just high enough to drag the bike in any direction you want but without overdoing it.
Once your body has moved up from the extension, a good grip on the bars naturally lifts the bike
(no need to pull very much). A good exercise is to balance across some stairs, with the wheels on different levels,
and try to hop up the stairs, or sideways along the same level.
Click on any step below and use the scroll-wheel to move through the animation.
Bouncing up across a slope
1° From a standing position, lean slightly your torso over the stem.
2° Flex both legs and arms and crouch suddenly to compress both tyres at the same time.
3° As the tyres compress, resist with a firm push-up and use the flex of your ankles to start moving up again.
4° Spring back into extension, pushing both on your legs and arms to surge upwards and sideways.
5° Firm up your arms with your torso and tuck your knees as you lift the handlebars to pull the whole bike up with you.
6° Place your wheels one step higher across the slope and absorb the impact smoothly by flexing both legs and arms, crouch again.
Watch all the slow-motion video clips for this move
Placing your wheels with precision
Ramiro hops carefully to place both wheels.
The whole move starts with your shoulders.
If there is some gap between the front wheel support and the rear wheel ground,
or there is no convenient space for turning around progressively with a few hops, you'll
need to pull on the bars and "jump in one extension" to take off both wheels at the same time and
land them directly onto their final position. In some cases, a small push on the pedals just at the end of the
extension helps a bit the move forward.
Sharp change of direction
Vincent Hermance crouches before a turn.
Swing the bike to turn during a hop.
Another scenario is to turn 90° or more in one energic hop, to land both wheels onto a completely different track.
When turning in one hop, the bike mainly follows the shoulders. During the push up impulse, rotate your shoulders towards
the direction in which you want to end.
Try to face towards your final direction. That way, when lifting up the bike, you will only need to naturally realign the bike in line
with your upper body. In some gnarly steep rocky tracks, your only way up is bouncing sideways or forward with constant
repositioning for balance.
Soft pedal-assisted hops
To move forward more easily, finish each hop with a smooth pressure in your front pedal while releasing the rear brake at the same time.
Lock the rear wheel right after the hop. The pedal impulse should not take place while both tyres are under compression,
but when you are just about to take-off, just after you have surged forward. This pedal-assisted hop adds a rolling effect to the rebound,
it propels the bike just before you pull it up with your inertia.
This improves your mobility across small gaps or for sharp changes of direction.
On a gripping surface, each tiny kick will allow you to re-adjust your pedal position or move up a small step forward, enabling you to be very precise with your hops.
The more effort you put into thrusting your upper body before take-off, the higher you will hop, unless you thrust your hips forward for a fully-fledged pedal hop
(maximising jump distance). The pedal kick is not the main driver here, but is only assisting your body language. When riding on slippery of very uneven obstacles,
it is best to use this soft approach. Beware that any misjudged kick could make you lose grip and slip.
Small hops are safe across uneven terrain.
Ramiro prepares for his next hop
Crouch before surging forward.