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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been mountain biking for almost a year and have become very involved. I want to ride anything the trail throws at me and have made good progress. Log piles that used to scare the hell out of me seem very simple now. But anytime I come up on a drop, I'm hard on the brakes and go around... I get visions of the front tire diving out from under me and going end over end. Anyone have advice on building up to taking drops at speed? The biggest one I've encountered is only a couple of feet down and my buddies cruise over it like its nothing. It paralyzes me.
 

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Rabid Lana Fan
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One word.....progression.

Find a smaller one, say 8-12 inches. Ride off that one a million times till it feels natural.

Then find a little bit bigger one. Ride off that one a million times till it feels natural. Now go find a little bit bigger one than that, Ride off it......well, you get the idea.
 

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At speed drops aren't really anything, it's when you have to approach them slowly and it involves some proper technique, that's when it gets real scary. That being said, me and drops don't go so well, although, at speed and under 3ft I'm good, it's the wheelie dropping off them that scares me and I don't do. If you're approaching a drop at speed, make sure you're off the saddle and as the front wheel reaches the edge of the drop move your body weight back a bit and "push" the bike off the drop, when the bar hits your hands, that action will bring the front end up like it should - you don't want to be pulling up on the bar. If I can find the video I'll post the link, this was a key bit of info for me and it does work, yanking up on the bar does not.
 

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That guy has moves like a cat!

I took a Take Aim bike course a month ago. What the video and LynX said above is what they teach. Practice what is above and look for a Mt bike skills class. Coming from a motocross background I though of myself as a good rider before the class but after It was a great reminder/lesson of what I had been doing all along and made me understand what I was doing and why I was going it. The classes are really cheap. I only paid $10 per class. There were 15 in the class.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I know progression is the key, but I literally know of curb sized drops... Then the two footers that are giving me problems. I like the idea of straightening your arms then legs to force the front up, thanks. I've watched that you tube video quite a few times and it's just not realistic for me. A class sounds great! I'm going to look into it! Thanks all!
 

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Maybe build an 18" high and about 15' long (in sections) surface that you ride up and drop off the other side. That is what the Take Aim course does. You can practice in your yard or parking lot
 

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I scared myself yesterday doing similar heights as the OP. I used to do wheelie drops off stuff up to about 3' and got chicken over my absence from the sport between '99 and 2006. Since my return someone noticed that I have a tendency to pull the bars to the right when launching off stuff. This is particularly an issue when landing. Yesterday while wheelie-dropping off a rock about 18" high I landed the 1st perfect but the 2nd wasn't so good and I was lucky I saved it. The 3rd was worse, so I started rolling off instead which was much better. I graduated to 2' by the end of the ride, but my inconsistency in keeping the bars straight bugs the beejezus out of me. More practice I guess, since I love the wheelie drop technique.

p.s. great video, J, thanks for posting!

2nd, p.s. my homemade frame didn't break despite being landed to flat on concrete. I guess I'll go higher then!
 

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I was in a similar boat about 5 years ago. First thing I did was make a trip to HomeDepot and bought some lumber and concrete blocks to build a make shift skills park in my back yard. Made a couple of ladder ramps and use the blocks to change the height of them. The next thing I did was borrow some platform pedals from a bud and bought some leg armor. Then spent hours upon hours in the back yard drilling drops at speed as well as wheelie drops. Once these became second nature I rebuilt the ladder ramps making them much narrower (about 6") to drill log rides. I got caught up in this I would try to recreate trail features I had issues with in my back yard out of the wood ramps and blocks. All of this made a huge difference in my riding and was also a fun way to kill time in the evening after work when I didn't have time to get to the trail.
 

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Drops are easy. Scary as hell, but easy.

As previously mentioned, progression. Start small and build.

Speed is your friend. You have to get enough practice on smaller drops to feel confident in letting go of the brake.
 

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I've been mountain biking for almost a year and have become very involved. I want to ride anything the trail throws at me and have made good progress. Log piles that used to scare the hell out of me seem very simple now. But anytime I come up on a drop, I'm hard on the brakes and go around... I get visions of the front tire diving out from under me and going end over end. Anyone have advice on building up to taking drops at speed? The biggest one I've encountered is only a couple of feet down and my buddies cruise over it like its nothing. It paralyzes me.
push your bars forward rather than trying to do a wheelie. It seems weird but it works and the timing is much easier. Curbs are usually too small to practice this on unless you are going really fast. You can use this technique at moderate speeds. If you are going really slow, then you need to do a wheelie drop

What this is basically doing is forcing your weight to shift back a little which keeps your wheels parallel until the rear is off the ledge too.
 

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bikeaholic
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One of the things to remember about drops is that you need to get your butt low, and back over the rear wheel. As your front wheel is rolling up to the edge of the drop, get low and throw your weight back.

Like others have said, just practice these fundamentals on real little drops over and over then go bigger when you're mostly comfortable. Remember that in order to progress with anything in mountain bikes, you need to come out of your comfort zone just a little. Each time you do that your comfort zone gets bigger and bigger. Rome wasn't built in a day, you'll get it.
 

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The joy of ski is Yours
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Some drop-features on trails are glorifed grom piles, nothing more than a loss of riding altitude. Drops to flat do need the most attention, cyclelicious' video is a great demonstration.

Easy way to master using body weight to place the wheels is find an area with curbing to ride off, and practice just leaving the curb. Only - have your weight shifts be made to the point where in the short duration of the drop - you can have the bike return to ground in a wheelie. Likewise the other direction where the effect is on the front and that is controlled - nose-wheelie.

Finding your center on the bike and having it effect the attitude of the bike with simple features as a Curb will allow better applications of you & the bike when on the trail.
 

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+1 on progression.

You are sorta pushing the bike out in front of you rather than pulling up - like the start of a manual or a bunny hop. If you're really good at it, you don't have to pedal.

If you do have to pedal, make sure you are in the right gear and that you can pull a wheelie while still going straight. If you're in a high gear, it might cause you to crank off to the side - too low and you run out of pedal stroke before you drop (this is BAD). Practice this over a simple line/crack on the pavement. When you can lift your front wheel in a straight line until your rear wheel clears the line, you are ready to progress. Curbs, stairs, loading docks... it is the same move every time, but just make sure your feet are level when you land - at least it helps a lot.

If you are always crooked, you can just aim your bike crooked (to other side) then just embrace your crookedness so you land straight. I've high-sided a bunch of times trying to do this, but it's fun when you get it right - like you're swinging your front wheel around in space.

-F
 

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Body position is key for me. Weight back behind the seat, heels down on the pedals.

Best advice for me in working up to drops was to take my fingers completely off the brakes. A last second dab on the brake right at or before takeoff and you'll be going nose down. For me, I didn't even realize I was doing it. So I would get in position, approach the drop, and grip the bars w/ all 5 fingers until I hit the ground on the other side. Actually helped me a lot. I still remind myself to just grip the bars as I approach a big or new drop I'm not comfortable with.

Good luck!
 

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Good, green, Oregon.
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I have a love/hate thing with drops. Scary as heck, but fun and very rewarding when nailed. Here are some that have helped me with confidence:

^This one has a few parts, and be sure to watch them all, because they progress in skill as you go along.

I have to echo other's posts in that speed can help massively. Going slow, a drop can feel really big, but add speed to it, and it becomes nothing. You'll wonder why you hesitated for so long.
 

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some real hard stuff was easy for me when I did it at night following someone who knew the lines. something about not being distracted by anything and trusting the person in front, and copying them...whatta know.. it worked

once I figured out the problem is in my head, I did a lot better on my own in daylight

you also gotta spend time and set up increasingly large obstacles and work your way up
 

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some real hard stuff was easy for me when I did it at night following someone who knew the lines. something about not being distracted by anything and trusting the person in front, and copying them...whatta know.. it worked

once I figured out the problem is in my head, I did a lot better on my own in daylight

you also gotta spend time and set up increasingly large obstacles and work your way up
I don't know about the "at night part", but following someone who knows the trail helps a lot with line selection and going the right speed.
 

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Good, green, Oregon.
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I don't know about the "at night part", but following someone who knows the trail helps a lot with line selection and going the right speed.
Actually, I agree with the "at night" portion of it. Your focus is only in the little bubble of light that you can see, and nothing else. Obstacles look totally different in the dark, and you won't second guess yourself as much. I did a drop I had never done before, that I would have gladly walked around, but I followed someone and didn't realize where we were on the trail, and next thing I know, I rode it and had no idea what I had just done. It made the next time on that trail in the daylight, so much easier, because in my head I knew I could do that drop, becuase I had done it before!
 
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