It's more than skinny jeans and backflips

Dirt jumping may seem like a different world to trail riding but we’ve tracked down the skills we think will boost your day-to-day riding.

Make the first time count

Dirt jump skills for trails first time

The scariest part of dirt jumping is hitting a new set of jumps for the first time. It’s all about judgement and confidence and past experience; dirt jumpers get extremely good at relying on these three traits.

On the trail

Whether it’s a double on a trail, a drop, or a super-steep section, you can take those three skills and apply them to trail riding. Take time out to look at the obstacle first, never feel pressured to ride it blind.

See if you can watch someone hit it or even follow them in. Above all, just make sure you are ready to do it, commit 100 per cent and don’t attempt anything that’s way outside of your ability!

Jump more

Dirt jump skills for trails jumping

Dirt jumping is obviously about taking off from one pile of dirt and landing on another, that’s pretty much the whole point of it. The best riders make it look as smooth and easy as Burt Bacharach.

On the trail

There are natural takeoffs and landings everywhere, the only limit is your imagination. Whether they are roots, rocks, or just lumps in the ground, use them to clear tricky sections or to just gain speed. The bigger the gap, the more speed you tend to gain from it. Concentrate on being as smooth as possible, lifting over the obstacles and gently touching down again.

Watch how to jump tabletops and doubles with Olly Wilkins

Let it slide

Dirt jump skills for trails slide

Dirt jumping demands that you stay light and loose on the bike, keeping off the brakes (if you have any!) and riding things out without panicking.

On the trail

Take that loose style to the trails — if the bike slides out on you, don’t panic! Let the bike drift but keep looking forward; stay off the brakes and nine times out of 10 it will step back in line. Commitment is the word.

Braking because you’re nervous is just as likely to cause a crash as preventing one. Try coming off the brakes before a turn and committing to not touching them all the way round.

Pump and flow

Dirt jump skills for trails pump

A well-built series of dirt jumps doesn’t need any pedalling from you between the lips; instead, it’s all about pumping the down slopes and keeping that flow.

On the trail

Likewise, a good trail doesn’t need much braking or pedalling. Boost your speed by weighting the bike on landings and in the compressions and un-weighting it on rises or takeoffs. Slow yourself down with minor corrections — try loading the bike on up-slopes or bumpy terrain, really forcing it into the ground.