I took a minute to draw up my problem and hopefully someone can chime in and help me and anyone else that might experience this problem.
When I jump from a flat takeoff I'm fine and the bike stays nice and even in the air and I really don't do anything other than ride off the ramp. I don't preload or anything.
When I jump on a table top or gap jump where the lip of the takeoff is designed to kick you up, I tend to have a problem with the rear wheel kicking up and the front wheel not getting air, which leads me to feel like I'm going over the bars and kills any speed I have and all my confidence on these style of jumps. I don't preload the suspension on this style of jump, and maybe I should, but when I do preload the bike tends to be off balance in the air.
For those of you that can really air it out, how drastic is the action of preloading and are you leaning back leading up the face of the jump, or staying neutral?
Try slowing the rebound in your rear shock or speeding it up a bit in front if the rear is already on the slower side. If the bike is compressing through the takeoff and the rear shock rebound is faster than the front, the bike will tend to pitch forward through the air as the rear wheel kicks up.
In more of a skills sense, try not to allow your legs to stay too stiff in the air. If you don't let the bike move underneath you, it can pitch your weight forward as well.
I have the exact same issue. What i do and i think it helps me is trying to have more weight at the rear wheel just before the take off, plus preloading, plus lifting the bars "at the right time". This helps me lighten the front , and avoid the "over the bars effect".
Of course if the radius of the take of is too small I avoid the jump
Ive had the exact same problem whenever i hit a jump with a lip. Felt I was being kicked off.
Make sure your pulling up on the bars and gradually pushing forward once the back is up. I fought with my jumping ability and tried different suspension settings. Finally gave in and got a riding coach (figured I spent enough on my bike, time to spend it on me). Turns out I never learned to bunny hop correctly. I picked up bad habits from riding clipless, trying to pick up the bike with my feet. I switched back to flats to try to improve my riding and it revealed all of my bad habits and techniques.
Maybe search out some some instructional videos. For me, having the instant feedback of an instructor was invaluable. It's all about timing and using the handlebars. Stay loose and flow with the jump.
^ Let me ask this...how important is it to drop your post on jumps with a kicker lip so that you can have room to pull the bike up? I ride with my post pretty high and I don't have a dropper post. Getting off and adjusting it up and down is not that appealing b/c a lot of these jumps I'm hitting are part of flowy sections where I don't really want to stop before and after the jump sections to make adjustments.
mblittle: I think it depends on the magnitude of the jump, wrt:saddle height. the bigger/badder the situation the more you may want to be able to move the bike. BUT if you can always fly-well then you don't need the saddle down much at all.
For LEARNING to jump well it may be good to drop the saddle, to get to having decent habits and skills. Just like when working out how to deal with some obstacles it's easier with the saddle lowered - but once you get comfy with what is necessary you can go back to normal saddle height w/o issue.
What's helped me as well as the others stated here is to absorb the bike underneath you by bending your knees and letting the bike rise and meet your core. Then you should have more control of the angles and land smoothly to flat or be able to adjust the pitch to meet the transition with both wheels smoothly.
Thank you for posting this. I've been having this same problem lately as well and it's driving me insane. I've hit black and double black diamond runs at Black Rock here in Oregon in the past. Frequently launching 20-40ft comfortably and in control. After eating ish on jumps much smaller than I usually hit I'm now hesitant to get back on the bigger lines around here.
I recently got back on the bike after being off for a season with arm surgery and made some mods to the bike while i was out. I put a Fox 180 RC2 on (one more inch of travel from my Marz 55) and now I'm being bucked forward. Went over the bars a few weeks back after overshooting a short table. It's almost always jumps with a lip as well like others have mentioned.
I turned my rebound down on my rear shock to see if that would help. It helped a little but I'm still landing on my front tire off jumps with a lip. The new fork has a lot more adjustments than my previous (low and high speed compression). I messed with those a little but after reading this I'm going to take another look at my rebound setting.
If any of you have any input on the settings on this 2012 Fox Van 180 RC2 it would be much appreciated. Thanks again to all that have contributed to this post already. Definitely gave me a place to start.
I don't want to hijack this thread but am gonna post the question since it is along the same lines as the op.
For some reason I have developed a lean in the air after leaving the lip of a jump. Today this resulted in landing at and angle and making a new path threw the bushes. These are jumps that are in a straight line so my set up is square. Any tips would be great. Thanks
I have a few friends who do this same thing. The main issue i notice is they will tap their brakes right before the jump. This moves all the weight forward and causes your fork to eat up the jump and stay low. Even a slight tap will do this.
If you feel the need to slow do it so you have enough time for the bike to settle. keep fairly center with maybe a slight rearward bias and lightly push down on the pedals as you hit the transition. This will preload your suspension and give you a nice easy takeoff. Dont pull up on the bars either. this tends to make you jump crooked which can lead to bad things.
Pcemaker hit the nail on the head. Having your saddle out of your way allows you absorb your bike by being compressed before take off and elimanating the "dead sailor" as we call it, or stiff uncontrolled feeling. Jumping of any serious nature with a seat up is not a grand idea. Your bike is desighned to be riden from its center. If you have to lean back to get away from your saddle for a jump, you are throwing off the dinamics of everything. GET A SEAT DROPPER :-) That is the biggest thing I can recomend to every student I have ever had that likes to jump at all and still pedal somewhere (DJ or DH bikes are a different beast)
So the OP, Your mostlikley to "tall" when your hitting the take off. With a high saddle height you are already extended and all your mass is high which wants to move forward in the air. Lower your seat and find a little jump or make a ramp for your yard (neighbor kids will love you) and hit it over and over. The reason you are fine on the flat jumps is your basically not jumping but just "dropping" off and your body mass is dropping more than following an arc.
Take this all with a grain of salt because I have never seen you ride. I usually never post on technique because of that reason but hope that gives you a good starting point to work on. It never hurts to check out LeeLikes bikes.com He has tons of good info online plus a few good books.