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  1. #1
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    Learning to jump with Clipless and long Stem ??

    I suck at this jumping bizzo..still a newbie but have done a skills clinic. With using flats my feet don't feel very secure and it slows me down. Are going to go clipless soon and wonder if this is a good or bad idea??
    Also I have a feeling of going over the bars often , no matter how much I try to move my weight back. Have a 90mm stem and flat bars. Would a shorter stem help or would it make the steering too twitchy ? This is on a Hardtail 29er.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Drop to a 60mm stem. That's a little shorter but it won't shock you and it will help bring balance to your bike. Make sure to move your saddle back accordingly.

    Clipless pedals will do wonders for you. More control, more precise control, more efficiency. Just practice for a few weeks clipping in and out to get a feel for it before you go wild.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the feedback. Wow 60mm.?! I would need a setback seatpost to go back further and then my pedal position will be off a bit. Does this really matter or is it all about compromise ?

  4. #4
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    I'm a newb still too, and I find that clipless makes it much easier to pop. It makes me feel more secure that when I land my feet will still be in contact with the pedals, but it can also help on pulling up on the bike a bit. Although that tends to be smaller pops and things. I can't say I've really hit too many 'real' jumps.
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  5. #5
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    Learning to control your bike in jumps and rough sections with flats is the best idea. Then switch to clipless and watch your confidence and control improve vastly. Or you could stay on flats.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by beater32 View Post
    I suck at this jumping bizzo..still a newbie but have done a skills clinic. With using flats my feet don't feel very secure and it slows me down. Are going to go clipless soon and wonder if this is a good or bad idea??
    Also I have a feeling of going over the bars often , no matter how much I try to move my weight back. Have a 90mm stem and flat bars. Would a shorter stem help or would it make the steering too twitchy ? This is on a Hardtail 29er.

    Thanks!
    are you on a frame size that fits you properly?

  7. #7
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    Going to a shorter stem will help drastically with bike handling and reducing the feeling that you will go OTB and I agree 60mm is a good place to start. If you have narrow bars, go to wide bars at the same time and that will also help. It makes a huge difference. I would keep the saddle in the correct position for pedaling and see how that works with the shorter stem before you move it around.

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by beater32 View Post
    Thanks for the feedback. Wow 60mm.?! I would need a setback seatpost to go back further and then my pedal position will be off a bit. Does this really matter or is it all about compromise ?
    The difference between a 90mm stem and a 60mm stem is barely 1.25". I agree that you should also go with a wider bar, perhaps a mini riser. You won't need to move your saddle back very much, if any with a wider bar and shorter stem.

  9. #9
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    Do yourself a favor and learn to jump on flats for proper technique. In fact, learn to ride in general on flats and then go over to clips if you're so inclined. You'll be a better rider for it and will have build a skill set that most riders will never have.

  10. #10
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    A 90mm stem is not that long.
    If your top tube is long, or like SandSpur asked, if your frame is too big, you will get that nose-dive feeling.

    Higher bars for a heads-up position, as opposed to closer bars, might make it better.

    You could also lower your saddle for jump practice. That helps a lot!

    I find I move my feet around a LOT when I jump - so I like flats for that so I don't come unclipped.

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  11. #11
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    I agree with what Tangaroo and Dougie said. Learning these skills on flat pedals will ensure you are using proper mechanics to do so. Using clipless because it is "easier" ensures that you are doing it incorrectly. Once you become comfortable with these skills on flats, switching to clipless will allow you to fully take advantage of the "benefits" they offer.

  12. #12
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    I grew up on a bike, and currently use a 110mm stem. I have no problems jumping my ride, setup for XC racing.
    I'm 5'8", my bike is an 18" frame with a 23.3" toptube.

  13. #13
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    I know some people think strapped is stupid or dangerous (I disagree), but I've always had flats. I have raced on flats. And I am not some trickster, big-drop artist. Just a normal guy. And I have almost always been strapped. I've tried "clippless" setups many times over 23yrs and I just do not like them and have never seen an advantage. Shimano, Crankbros... doesn't matter. Not my thing.

    So what I would tell you is to strap in. Blaq Straps, Power Grips, or roll your own with some spectra. Give it a whirl.

    No clue what the stem length has to do with anything. Same basic technique.
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  14. #14
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    Thanks for all the replies. My frame is a 20inch and i'm just over 6ft so I think the bike size is ok. I have 760mm flat bars and I always have my seat down for practising.
    I'm not trying anything g crazy,the kids at the part can do much better than me.
    Have been trying over a series of small tabletops and find the first is ok but then my feet start to move around.
    Thought of getting better shoes for flats but I can swap to clipless cheaper and i'm keen to try...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by beater32 View Post
    Thanks for all the replies. My frame is a 20inch and i'm just over 6ft so I think the bike size is ok. I have 760mm flat bars and I always have my seat down for practising.
    I'm not trying anything g crazy,the kids at the part can do much better than me.
    Have been trying over a series of small tabletops and find the first is ok but then my feet start to move around.
    Thought of getting better shoes for flats but I can swap to clipless cheaper and i'm keen to try...
    6' tall, 20 inch frame, 90mm stem, 760mm bars? That sounds way too stretched out in all directions for someone around 6' tall... Do you have exceptionally long arms?
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  16. #16
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    Nope-ha! I'm a bit on the lanky side though.That's why I was thinking of a shorter stem. The bars are new and are a slightly different sweep that forward about 10mm to the previous ones. I like the width though but can trim down if I need to.

  17. #17
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    It sounds like you're on an XC race bike (hardtail, flat bars, stretched way out) trying to do tricks in the park. If that's what you want to do, maybe you're better off with a different bike.

    Before you start tinkering with bits and pieces, you should check to make sure your basic bike setup and sizing is correct, or even close, to begin with. A fantastic online sizing calculator can be found HERE. It takes all relevant aspects of your anatomy into consideration. I've used this many many times for doing initial setups on bikes, and it provides a very good starting point that usually won't require much tinkering (will give you bike and setup dimensions for XC, All Mountain, and Gravity). The first thing I'd recommend doing is using it and checking your bike sizing and setup, then get it dialed in and try riding it for awhile to see how it works for you. Then, if you think it needs improvement, try fiddling with other aspects of your setup like stem length, bar rise, bar width, etc.
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  18. #18
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    Thanks i'll check that out. I'm not trying to do anything fancy at all. I'd just like to be able to clear the smallish jumps that appear on the trails.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by beater32 View Post
    Thanks i'll check that out. I'm not trying to do anything fancy at all. I'd just like to be able to clear the smallish jumps that appear on the trails.
    Then I'd start with the online sizing calculator and verify that your bike is set up properly. I'd be willing to bet that it needs some adjustment, and once you tweak it you will feel much more balanced and confident. As long as the frame is the correct size, everything else, with the exception of stem length, can be adjusted without requiring any new parts.
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  20. #20
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    It seems I have the right bike size. But I've just had a sit on it and my arms are straight with no kink when I grab the bars. That can't be good...

  21. #21
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    If you're really into learning to jump, I recommend you pick up a used jump bike from the pinkbike forums and learn on that. Jumping on a cross country bike is much harder. Something with a really short seat tube - giving you room to pump - is better then a bike designed for efficient pedaling. There's really no worse bike to learn jumping on than a 29'r designed for XC. It's just set up for a body position and completely different riding style.

    As others have mentioned, you should learn to be comfortable jumping on flats. Switching to clipped in will just mask bad technique and lead to other, possibly worse, problems.
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  22. #22
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    I rode flats for a long time and got good with hitting jumps but I switched to clipless and I'll never look back! People seem to be scared of not being able to unclip while on dismount but the only time I have fallen because of my clips was when I was standing still (a little embarrassing). Any other time that I've been falling, unclipping just comes completely naturally with the way your feet move. My point is that you have way more control of your bike at any given moment while you are clipped in. Stem wise, I say definitely shorten it up if your arms are fully extended! Come back about 20mm.

  23. #23
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    This is my bike. Have a cheap 60mm Stem coming to try out. I should be able to put this over small jumps i'm hoping ??

  24. #24
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    Once your setup is done and you have the sizing all set up. It's practice, practice, practice. I had trouble with my feet staying planted so I just went around the street and hit rounded curbs, ramps, protruding round rocks. Basically anything that got me off the ground. Has helped a fair bit with knowing what to do when I hit stuff on the trails. Still didn't stop a rock from throwing me over the bars the other day, but hey learning from that too.

    You may want to think about raising your handlebars just a bit, may help as you are set up aggressive for a new rider. At least that is what I have heard... I'm a newb so don't trust me too much. lol.
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  25. #25
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    There's been some advice to put your seat back to compensate for a shorter stem, and I've got to chime and say that in my experience, the fore/aft position for me isn't a variable I'm able to fudge. On my bikes, if I put the saddle forward or back I can't seem to sit differently to make it work.
    A shorter stem requires a longer handle bar to get your body in the same position as before.

  26. #26
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    Yeah I did things backwards by getting a 90mm stem THEN changing bars...live and learn!

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by beater32 View Post
    It seems I have the right bike size. But I've just had a sit on it and my arms are straight with no kink when I grab the bars. That can't be good...
    A quick way to check your position and whether your stem is too long or too short (assuming the frame is the correct size and your saddle is properly positioned) is to sit on your bike in pedaling position and look down at your hub to see how the hub and bars line up with your eyes. Your bars should be aligned (or close to it) between your eyes and hub for your position to be balanced. If the handlebar stem is too long for you, not only will you feel stretched out but the hub will appear to be noticeably behind the bar rather than in line with the bar when you're looking down while in riding position. If the stem is too short, the hub will appear to be noticeably in front of the bar. Either one of these will affect your balance on the bike and make jumping obstacles, climbing, or descending more challenging than it would otherwise be.

    Note that I mentioned the saddle needs to be in the correct fore/aft position first so that you're properly positioned on the bike. To verify this, while in the pedals bring one of the cranks forward to a position where it is parallel with the ground, then drop a plumb line from the bony point just below your knee cap. The plumb line should drop straight down to the pedal axle. If it's behind you need to move the saddle forward, and vice versa. Once you're properly positioned on the bike you can check the stem length using the method above. If you have used the online fit calculator, you should be able to set everything up by using the numbers it gives you, then test it to verify fit and make any further tweaks from there.
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  28. #28
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    Thanks-That's a good easy test and by bars are forward of the hub for sure.Looking forward to see how much difference a new Stem makes.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by beater32 View Post
    Thanks-That's a good easy test and by bars are forward of the hub for sure.Looking forward to see how much difference a new Stem makes.
    So how badly off (or not) was your saddle position and stem length?
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  30. #30
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    Seat position was spot on and the Stem looks like about 20mm too long. Cheap 60mm should be here this week to trial.

  31. #31
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    Update time-Just had my first ride around the property with a 60mm stem. Quite a difference! Seems to of helped with getting my heels down easier also..? Have some DX pedals here,just waiting on some AM45s to arrive then it's off to test on some trails. a bit nervous tbh..!

  32. #32
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    If your feet are shifting around on the pedals when you jump, it sounds to me like a bit of a jumping technique problem. You might be standing too high when in the air, rather than keeping your body low and connected to the bike. You definitely shouldn't need to be clipped in to stay connected. One thing I noticed about my own jumping a while back was that I have a tendency to use my upper body to jump, and pull up on the bars. This is bad and if you do it in clips the bike will stay with you, but you could easily get unbalanced in the air, resulting in a worse crash.
    I spent a lot of time reading snippets of wisdom on Lee McCormack's Leelikesbikes website a while back, and he recommends pushing the bike down into the face of the jump with your legs to create pop, but avoiding doing anything with your upper body. This helps you stay connected and trace the same arc through the air.

    Worth looking into.
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  33. #33
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    I thought the whole "learn to bunny hop on flats first" was a bunch of voodoo garbage. Then I got clips. I can bunny hop for the first time ever! (Now I wish I could go back and REALLY BMX...actually, I'm thinking of getting one, am I too old for a BMX bike?) I went from rat cages to flats and the flats REALLY improved my skill. I am pretty sure I'll never go away from flats for off-roading (but road bikes look so sexy with metal cages, I can't not ride with them).

    I don't like the attitude of clipless. I ride to go to places and explore. Half the time I'm riding I jump off my bike to scramble up rocks, or hike down to rivers, why wear clipless?

  34. #34
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    On a mountain bike stems are not for bike fit, but for handling. If your technique is good you can climb steep sections as well with a 50 mm stem as you would with a 90 mm. Jumping, descending and rough sections are all better with a short stem. The saddle should remain in your ideal pedaling position while a wide handlebar will stretch you out a bit. Elbows bent and out. Your body can bend and move to adapt to the trail. A lot of the bike fitting theories come from road bikes and the ones to do with stems and handlebars do not apply to mountain bikes. I started riding when 100 - 135 mm stems and 22" bars were popular and now I ride 50 mm stems and 30" bars and everything just works better.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  35. #35
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    Had my first session today on the trails with new setup. Was surprised at how fast I adapted to the clipless set up. Great pedals and i'm much more comfortable with them. Finding I can concentrate more on my technique now i'm not so concerned about my feet slipping. The 60mm stem has helped also,bike feels more awake to ride. Climbing is ok also.no worse from when I had the 90mm stem. Had a few 'moments' but pleased overall. Can't see the flats coming back..

  36. #36
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    This ... Wisdom..
    Quote Originally Posted by Dougie View Post
    Do yourself a favor and learn to jump on flats for proper technique. In fact, learn to ride in general on flats and then go over to clips if you're so inclined. You'll be a better rider for it and will have build a skill set that most riders will never have.

  37. #37
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    A lot of great advice going on here. Happy to hear that your confidence is building, beater32. There has been a life-long debate on clip less vs. flats.
    Our Head Coach has some great insight on pedal preference in this article.
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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrentP View Post
    A quick way to check your position and whether your stem is too long or too short (assuming the frame is the correct size and your saddle is properly positioned) is to sit on your bike in pedaling position and look down at your hub to see how the hub and bars line up with your eyes. Your bars should be aligned (or close to it) between your eyes and hub for your position to be balanced. If the handlebar stem is too long for you, not only will you feel stretched out but the hub will appear to be noticeably behind the bar rather than in line with the bar when you're looking down while in riding position. If the stem is too short, the hub will appear to be noticeably in front of the bar. Either one of these will affect your balance on the bike and make jumping obstacles, climbing, or descending more challenging than it would otherwise be.

    Note that I mentioned the saddle needs to be in the correct fore/aft position first so that you're properly positioned on the bike. To verify this, while in the pedals bring one of the cranks forward to a position where it is parallel with the ground, then drop a plumb line from the bony point just below your knee cap. The plumb line should drop straight down to the pedal axle. If it's behind you need to move the saddle forward, and vice versa. Once you're properly positioned on the bike you can check the stem length using the method above. If you have used the online fit calculator, you should be able to set everything up by using the numbers it gives you, then test it to verify fit and make any further tweaks from there.
    I think it has been said elsewhere in this forum, but what you are saying are often repeated bike fit guidelines. I somewhat agree with the seat and pedaling position recommendations. The handlebar obscuring the axle works for traditional head tube angles when applied to a road bike. This does not work for modern mountain bikes with slack head tube angles. With a slack head tube you would have to increase the stem length to obscure the front axle from view, which is opposite of the current trend. Generally, short stems and wide bars are employed to bias rider weight towards the rear of the bike. This gives the rider more control going downhill, advantage going over bumps, more control over jumping, and the ability to weight the front of the bike in line with the axle giving greater front wheel traction.

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