Truth be told; if there is one mountain bike technique that comes with amazing benefits, but is often overlooked by most people; it has to be pumping. This technique can be a great deal. After all, not only can this simple technique help you enhance your overall riding technique, but it could also help you when it comes to speed on the trail.
Before we even look at the various ways you can pump your bike for speed, it would make a lot of sense if we first learn what pumping is all about. Contrary to what most people think, pumping is not actually the act of inflating your bike tires. It is a whole different technique used by most experienced riders.
So what is pumping and how it is done?
Basically, pumping is one essential technique you can learn today. It helps increase or even maintains speed and most important increasing traction by driving the mountain bike into the ground. This technique is somehow like free speed as it actually allows you to speed up without necessarily being forced to pedal the bike. How to pump a bike is somehow complex, but with enough practice and exercise, you should be able to pull off without any problem. Here is how to do it.
Normally, the whole trick works when you are on the bike. Here is how to pull it off.
- With both pedals at the same level; that is one back and one forward, you need to roll your bike at a steady pace.
- As it rolls, squat down; here you need to bend your legs and arms; that is before you start using your arm and hips to drive your weight right into the handlebar and pedals
- Keep your heel as down as possible. Here your feet must point slightly upwards
- Lastly, rotate your wrist down
These few steps will ensure all the energy you are using to push the bike takes it propelling forward and not just downwards. This will see you accelerating at mind-blowing speed without pedaling
Other areas you might find pumping useful
Other than just pumping your mountain bike for speed, there are other ways this technique can help you as a rider. Here are the most common ways pumping can help you.
- It allows braking with force: Other than just for speed, one of the main reasons why pumping is being used by most riders is that it help them to improve braking. Ideally, if you are able to brake really hard and quickly with a lot of confidence, then you can easily tackle a sharp corner with incredible precision.
- Accelerate without pedaling: We believe this is one of the main reasons why pumping is very popular among many riders. If you just want to fly in top speed without necessarily pedaling the bike, then you need to pump your mountain bike.
When to Pump and How To Pump Your Bike
There is pretty good number of scenarios you could actually use pumping to enhance your riding experience. Here are some of the most common areas of applications you are likely to encounter when riding.
Pumping to Jump
You can also pump your mountain bike before you take that huge jump. How to pull off this is quite simple. First, you need to pull up your handlebar as that will allow the front wheel to reach the top of the bump. As the rear wheel also reaches the top, using your legs, you need to push really hard. If you do it properly and time it well, you will find your bike flying in the air. Ideally, learning this trick can act as a great foundation when you are learning how to jump a mountain bike.
Pumping through corners
Did you know that pedaling your bike when you are negotiating a corner could actually send you flying into a thicket or a valley nearby? To prevent that from happening, you need to pump your bike. That pumping technique you have learned pushes the tires right into the ground. That opposite force you get from the ground will give you the much-needed traction, and that will allow you to corner the bike fast and safely. The best part, that hard you push with your leg, the more acceleration you will get.
Pumping over rises and over dips
If you are riding on even surfaces; that is a trail with raises and dips, pumping can truly come in handy. As you roll these kinds of surfaces, you need to maintain the same speed. As you approach a rise or a dip, pump into the face. This can be a hard technique to learn, but as you perfect your pumping skills, you will find it extremely straightforward. The best part; once you master the art; you will find yourself accelerating through such surfaces with incredible speed without having to pedal your mountain bike.
Pumping on technical features
If you are a technical rider, pumping your bike is also another key thing you need to learn. It is a must-have skill, especially if you often ride into very technical terrains and features as well. With proper timing and mastering of the pumping skill, you could actually get over rocks and tree roots with so much ease.
Pumping through berms
When it comes to berms, you need to do a pump as when you are pumping into a dip.
Pumping Tips You Need To Keep In Mind At All Times
As you continue to perfect the skill of pumping a bike, here are top tips to always keep in mind.
Know when you should pump and when you shouldn’t
One of the biggest mistakes most riders do is that after learning about great pumping skills, they just want to use them in every scenario. Well, as much as it can help you through a number of areas, using it when you shouldn’t can be disastrous. It could make you lose any control of the bike and have you tumbling down into the ground. Here are some of the few examples where you shouldn’t pump your mountain bike.
- Exiting a corner: When tackling those very tight corners we know how that doesn’t often leave you with the much needed speed. So when you are exiting, you should avoid pumping your mountain bike. Pedaling would be much better than pumping. After all, that one and well-timed pedal could see you exiting the corner fast and most importantly safely.
- Gentle descents: Here you don’t also need to pump your bike. If you are riding and you realize the trails starting to slope gently, just give the bike a few solid pedal strokes as soon as possible. That speed you generate will see you going down the slope without any problem.
Be very flexible
There is no way you are going to pump your mountain bike for speed if you are not flexible. In this case, you must ride with flex both in your knees and elbows. By doing so, your arms and legs will not only help you pump your bike but also ensure all the shocks and vibration from those impacts are effectively absorbed. Ideally, by flexing and moving your limps that alone will help your bike tires effectively come in constant with the ground, allowing you to achieve those smooth rides through the trail.
As with any other mountain bike technique you learn today, set aside some time and practice this useful technique. Even when you are sure you have mastered it well, a few practicing won’t hurt. It will not only help you fine-tune the art but will also help you be a better rider.
Maintain the right body position
How well you maintain the correct body position when pumping your bike for more speed is important, and must be considered at all times. How do you go about this? It is pretty much simple; here your center of gravity should be behind the centerline of the bike. This will help you not to move forward or backward for each pump, especially for every change in gradient.
Always be on the looking out
One of the biggest mistakes people make is spending too much time looking for that one moment to pump rather than feeling for it. Many at times, those transitions from downhill to flat areas do a great job when it comes to dragging your eyes down. Do not be tempted and look down the barrel of your bike forks.
Consider the type of bike you are using
This, probably, should have been the first thing we needed to talk about. When it comes to pumping, the piece of machine you are riding is paramount and must be considered at all times. Yes, we know it is a mountain bike, but what about the suspension?
For the best pumping experiences, riders are always advised to get a full suspension bike. Yes, it will cost you more money, but the number of great things you could do with such a bike makes it worthwhile.
Full suspension will ensure all the shock and vibration you experienced are effectively absorbed, allowing you enjoy a very smooth ride right in the mountain. The suspension system design must also be rock solid. That sluggish suspension system will soak up your pumps and slow your riding speed.
Speed control is essential
As much as we are advocating for pumping as one of the best ways to generate speed without pedaling, you also have to ensure you control the speed. It must be a level of speed where you are still in control of your bike. Additionally, also keep in mind that adding more pump into the whole ride will also allow you to achieve greater braking power.
In the end, really, learning how to pump a mountain bike is one of the things you need to learn before you can get yourself into some serious mountain biking activities. It comes with great benefits and this one mountain bike technique could see you enjoying those long rides in the wild.
Updated on December 6, 2021 by Ben