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So how does one get over stuff? Unweighting the front wheel(20 posts)

So how does one get over stuff? Unweighting the front wheelKristin
Oct 22, 2002 6:02 AM
Do you have to be graceful? Because I'm not. Nor am I coordinated much. So...

This summer I learned to bunny hop. My biggest hop so far... about 2 inches. (I know yer excited, but hold yer applause!) Can an ungraceful person learn to get up over big stuff? Plus what does one do with the back wheel? Besides replacing it every six months.

I love going to the Downers Crit each year. After the race, when the racers are all riding through the crowd I just stand there and gawk. A rider will come up two inches from me, at two MPH, pop up onto a 8 inch curb, then turn his wheel 45 degrees to angle around me. Wow! I could crash just looking at a pedestrian.
Frankly, bunny-hopping a road bike makes me cringe...(nm)joekm
Oct 22, 2002 6:11 AM
Oh, I'll be getting an MTB or something nearly as beefy (nm)Kristin
Oct 22, 2002 6:22 AM
Sometimes it's better than the alternative (nm)KSC
Oct 22, 2002 7:07 AM
yea, I guess I'd agree, still....joekm
Oct 22, 2002 7:26 AM
In a group ride last month and watched somebody bunny-hop a $5,000 litespeed rig over a road-kill. Probably the right move but still, glad they weren't my rims.
better to bunnyhop a huge pothole than ride through it (n m)ColnagoFE
Oct 22, 2002 8:19 AM
It may be a road bike but its not weakPODIUMBOUNDdotCA
Oct 22, 2002 11:30 AM
Just because its a road bike doesn't mean its incredibly fragile and can't be bunny hopped. I better be able to bunny hop on a frame cus if it can't withstand that what will happen if I ever hit a pot hole? Also what about the forces exerted on it when sprinting or climbing a steep hill?

A little grace...a little physics...biknben
Oct 22, 2002 6:27 AM
It certainly helps to be coordinated. It's all in the technique. The trick to getting HIGH during a bunny hop is starting LOW. You should prepare for the hop in advance by getting low towards the frame, bending knees and elbows. Then in one quick motion, push down and spring upwards. Now for the physics. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The initial spring will get you a couple inches off the ground. To get more AIR you pull the bike up towards you as you reach the top of the movement. Your position, relative to the bike, should look the same just before the hop as it does when your at your highest point. Then when you land, you bend the knees and elbows again to absord the landing.

To get higher and higher you apply more downward force, quicker. Then pulling the bike closer to your body when you're at the top of the hop.

How high can you go? A good guess is the distance between the seat and butt while standing on level pedals. Mayber 6-10 inches or so. MTB rider get higher by pulling the bike up past their butts. Notice a picture of a mtb guy in the air and you'll notice that they look like they are sitting on the rear tire, right. They pull the bike forward under them so they can pull it up higher.
A little grace...a little physics...WARNING!peter1
Oct 22, 2002 6:54 AM
All good info...but I have to warn you about the transition from mtb to road. After riding my mountain bike for a few days, I get used to flinging it up and over obstacles. Then, when I get on my road bike, I'll forget and try the same things.

The landings are a lot harder running 110 psi! But you can still nose wheelie a road bike...
They are all ex-Mtn bikersfiltersweep
Oct 22, 2002 7:06 AM
It is all fun and games until the guy crushes his fork when he misses hopping the curb... or breaks a spoke. Did he lock up the tire when he slid around at 45 degrees (and lay a nice flat spot into the tread)?

I'll save such theatrics for emergencies only, when it is between hopping or crashing, and even then, such usefulness is questionable as there often isn't enough time or there is too much speed to clear something.
I'm not recommending we all hop 8-inch curbs...but...biknben
Oct 22, 2002 7:29 AM
Being able to do a bunny-hop on the road bike is a good skill to have. I regularly will hop over stuff when on a solo ride. Lips on driveways, speedbumps in my friends condo complex, uneven expansion joints on bridges. If the object goes across the road, I'd rather hop it than risk a pinch-flat. OTOH, if it's a piece of debris or hole, I'd recommend just going around it. Certain exceptions would be taken if with a group. You don't want to lead other riders up to some obstacle and then hop over it without warning them.

That being said, I don't recommend hopping curbs and pulling tricks on the skinnies. It just wasn't designed to withstand that type of abbuse.
How would you bald a tire going 2 MPH???Kristin
Oct 22, 2002 7:41 AM
The pro's are, well... pro's. They can do that stuff. Thats why people go watch them race. So, no, he didn't lock up any tires. He just floated around me and continued to glide through the crowd at a very slow speed, moving around people effortlessly. Beautiful.
Follow bikenben's advice for at speed...Brooks
Oct 22, 2002 7:28 AM
but to just pop over o curb at low speed requires you to just pull up the handlebars with weight to the back, then pull up the pedals (like bunny hopping) with weight to the front when the rear wheel reaches the curb. Both wheels don't have to go up at the same time to clear a curb at low speed.

Okay, let me rephraseKristin
Oct 22, 2002 7:52 AM
I don't want to move over curbs at low speeds. I was just telling a story that contrasted my skills and a pro's skills. And stating that I am amazed how some riders can do that stuff. It appears to have confused things.

My question is about getting over curbs on Warrenville Road as I commute to work MissJG can testify that Warrenville road has an ample riding shoulder which disappears and reappears frequently. Most commuters stay out of the street by just riding up over the curb when the shoulder goes away. This, to me, is more preferable than buzzed by 5 ton street sweepers and semi's. Hopefully I'll be moving a little faster than 2MPH when I do this--as I will be on my way to work and not waiting for a podium call.
curb hoppinglonefrontranger
Oct 22, 2002 2:30 PM
There are several keys to a good hop, each of which was touched on in this thread. Bunny hopping a road bike DOES NOT have to involve damage to your equipment; as Nick pointed out, it's a matter of finesse.

#1) Hopping an obstacle in the middle of a pack is generally frowned upon unless you use impeccable form and can land it straight without impinging on someone else's line (this skill level is less common than one might think). That being said, there are times when hopping an obstacle is the only way to avoid it safely, and I myself have lived to tell about hopping parts of bikes and downed riders in a crit. Doing this leaves the person behind you fully at the mercy of the obstacle, with little or no warning. In a race it's everyone for him/herself, but on a group ride one would hope the front runners would at least warn the group about danger zones. Seen instances where someone in the paceline hopped a hole that the guy behind them rode straight into, and it doesn't promote good karma to the rest of the day's ride.

#2) Wheel lifts at slower speeds are the easiest way to get your bike over minor obstacles (like low curbs) and also learn the proper way to initiate a hop. This is a "seesaw" motion that involves lifting first the front, then the back wheel. If you can only get the front wheel up at first, do not despair - the back wheel will follow and you won't damage your rims. This also teaches you balance on the bike, as you will not be able to raise either wheel until you learn how to "unweight" that end of the bike. The analogy I've used with students is that doing wheel lifts without unweighting is like trying to pick up a board that you're standing on - impossible, right?

#3) Most roadies don't do a proper "rodeo" (BMX-style) hop, meaning front wheel up then back wheel, landing the back wheel first. They tend to depend on their pedals to do what's known as an "SPD-induced" bunny hop. This is all well and good, but when you land the front wheel before the back one (even incrementally), you run the risk of an endo, especially if you're hopping tracks or curbs, i.e. something with a lip to catch the wheel on. Learn to do it right to begin with and you won't have to break bad habits later.

#4) "Landing" either a wheel lift or a bunny hop involves soaking up the impact with your body, NOT the bike. Consider how a gymnast or figure skater lands a big jump or dismount. They don't slam down with all joints locked, do they? However, most roadies I see who land bunny hops on the road tend to "piledrive" the bike into the pavement upon landing. Soak up the impact by keeping your knees and elbows loose; this will also help you hold your line as you land.

IMO if you are commuting on a route with lots of curb cuts, you'd be better off to practice slowing a bit and doing a wheel lift over said obstacles until the point at which you are confident you can gain the amplitude (practice in a grassy space using branches and other non-threatening items etc.) necessary to avoid hitting the lip.
great post, I was hoping you'd weigh in on thisKristin
Oct 22, 2002 2:57 PM
Your tips are always helpful, and this info will save me a couple rungs on the stupid ladder. This summer I had fun figuring out how to bunny hop...but my poor bike! First I tried what you mentioned not to do--which was pulling up on the bars in an attempt to lift the front wheel. It didn't help that I stood up everytime I tried to do this. After slamming into a number of construction seams I abandoned that method. Funny, I actually "got" the whole bunny hop thing while jumping down off of curbs. I guess I needed to get a little air underneath me to understand. But what I hadn't got till today, was that I should lift the bike after in the hop to get more height. And, what you mentioned, about focusing on which wheel comes down first. I'll have to practice that. With my slender coordination skills and the ability to get lost just turning a circle, I'm sure to do a face plant or two. Well, here's to soft landings and fun on the journey.
thanks, & continuation...lonefrontranger
Oct 22, 2002 4:00 PM
It's impossible to convey or even adequately describe the physics and motion involved in doing correct wheel lifts and/or bunny hops on the 'net; full motion streaming video with an instructor voiceover would be nice :)

I forgot to mention the famous and time-honored Hans Rey technique of using "chocolate foot" to induce your wheel lift. I'd really recommend that you practice LOTS of wheel lifts, both front and back, before you start trying to do big air maneuvers with both (i.e. bunny hopping fixed obstacles such as curbs).

Those slow-speed wheel lifts you saw the guy doing at Downer's to pop up onto the curb actually are the basis of technique to doing a good bunny hop at speed.

To do a wheel lift, and subsequently bunny hop, you must first "load" the front wheel, as ColnagoFE described, by crouching down and/or flexing your elbows. Then you simultaneously (this takes a LOT of practice to get the timing right) lean back on the saddle, pull back on the bars, and take a good hard pedalstroke with your "chocolate" (strong) foot. You need the simultaneous weight shift and power stroke to induce a good wheel lift. Timing and practice will help you to learn control.

When you're really cranking on these, practice in the grass. I've seen students induce a pretty decent wheelie without knowing how to control it, with the predictable result that they "looped out" i.e. fell over backwards. Keep a finger on the rear brake; if you get too high for comfort, tapping it will bring the nose down.

Lifting the rear wheel is only a matter of reversing the process, but this is the one most students have the hardest time with. The reason is that they're usually not comfortable with shifting their weight into a semi "endo" over the bars. Again, technique and timing come with practice.

Once you've got the seesaw motion down, it only takes amplitude to turn it into a proper "rodeo" or "wheelie" hop. The benefits of learning to do this right are many. One, you don't have to depend on your forward speed, like you do with an SPD-induced hop. Two, as mentioned before, you can control the back wheel landing first, which controls your line and helps avoid endoing. The third reason is that once you've learned how to "rodeo" hop, you can gain way more amplitude with technique doing it this way, by the simple act of "recompression", or pulling your bike up to you as you gain altitude. Watch some BMX stunt videos to see good examples of how this is done. Remember, those guys use flats and tennis shoes, so they don't depend on their pedals to induce a hop, and their bikes weigh a lot more than yours does. One of the Cat I guys I used to ride with once jumped his road bike over a park entrance cable that was at least 30" off the ground, just to prove to me why I needed to learn a "rodeo" hop instead of SPD-induced.
Oct 22, 2002 4:17 PM
This might help with learning or teaching the technique.

This is a static bunnyhop (no forward motion), but I think it is handy because it better illustrates the actual body/bike motion involved.
are you loading the wheel first?ColnagoFE
Oct 22, 2002 8:18 AM
I mean are you just pulling up or are you weighting and then unweighting? If you weight it first you'll get much more distance. Riding a MTB will help you learn this skill fast. I can think of many times a quick bunny hop saved my wheels. I even saw a guy bunny hop someone that crashed ina crit once, but that's a bit beyond my ability.
Hop it all and have funroadiebrodie
Oct 22, 2002 9:04 AM
On our group ride this past weekend I was coming back off the front when there was a big branch in the road so rather than force myself back into line I just simply hopped it. I couldn't believe the reation, it was the talk of the ride. I regularly ride a route that has speed ripples (you know the ones that are cut into the asphalt about 3 feet wide) designed to rattle your brains out, I always hop those. Bottom line is you need those skills, when you have them you can have fun using them, and somtimes they might just save you from a major crash. By the way I ride Ti bike with Kysriums, carbon fork and steerer...h no damage always true wheels.