Jumping on an ATV can seem dangerous. But if you know what to look for, and practice the right way, it can be done safely, and is really a lot of fun. If you’re new to jumping on an ATV, it is best if you take it slow at first. Learning the feel of your quad is a must. I highly recommend wearing safety gear before attempting any jumps on your four wheeler.
Basic safety gear includes: Helmet, goggles, boots, gloves, pants, and some type of body armor. Safety gear will keep you protected in case of an accident. Remember, you’re launching yourself and a 400 pound machine into the air. Better safe than sorry. To check out some of the best gear to keep you safe, visit the Recommended Gear section of this site. Safety first.
The first thing to remember when jumping a quad is to keep the front wheels slightly higher than the rear wheels on take off and landing. This will help keep the landing smooth, and it is an important thing to remember when jumping. If you land with the front wheels first, the landing could be rough, with the potential to fall off the quad and cause injury. Landing with all four wheels at the same time, could bounce you off the four wheeler.
Another thing to focus on when jumping, is your body position on the quad. You want to be standing, or at least have your butt raised off the seat a bit. This will help you use your legs as suspension along with the suspension of the machine.
If you’re sitting on the seat when you land, you could be thrown from the four wheeler. When the quad hits the ground the suspension will compress. When the quads suspension rebounds, along with the your body’s downward force, you could be bounced off the ATV.
Standing not only helps your legs become extra suspension, it also helps you move your body around to correct the quad’s angle on take off. The key here is to allow the quad to move around underneath you. You should easily be able to shift your weight forward or to the side to make minor corrections to the ATV’s take off angle.
Always begin with smaller jumps when riding a new quad for the first time. Every quad behaves a little differently, and it takes time to find what works for you. To get the perfect jumping angle, try to focus on throttle position and body position.
When you approach the jump, stand slightly with your body weight slightly to the rear of center. You want to get some of the weight off the front end. Keep a steady pressure on the throttle to prevent the front of the ATV from lagging down. If you don’t keep the front up, you risk nosing down while airborne. That’s when the front of the quad lands before the rear.
The throttle shouldn’t be all the way maxed out, but you don’t want to give too little throttle either. If you are approaching a jump to fast and need to slow down, that’s ok. Hit the brakes to slow yourself, and right before launch hit the throttle again.
The main points here are to keep the quad in a straight line when jumping and try not to tilt the machine. The right side of the ATV needs to be even with the left so that the right rear tire and left rear tire touch down at the same time. Not landing properly can be dangerous, bend an axle, or throw the rider from the quad.
What do you do if you tilt mid-air? You need to correct yourself in mid-air so that both your rear tires land at the same time. Something as simple as a bump in the track that only one tire hit could send you into a tilt. You can easily correct yourself though by shifting your weight to the higher side of the machine. This is why standing is so important when jumping. It’s best to focus on getting your weight onto the left or right foot peg while you lean in the proper direction. Shift your weight to your left leg or right leg to easily correct a tilt from a standing position.
What do you do if your quad gets sideways? Keeping the quad in a straight line when you take off and land should prevent this from happening. But if your rear tires slip on the take off, this could still happen to you. Keep calm and keep the front wheels pointed in the direction the quad is supposed to be going. If you can’t re-align by just shifting your body weight, lean to the opposite side of the kicked out rear end. Keep on the throttle and hang on, the quad should straighten back out on landing. If the front tires are pointed straight in the direction you want the quad to go, then as soon as they touch down they will grip the trail and straighten out the machine.
Everything doesn’t always go exactly as planned, especially once you become airborne. There are a few things to look out for when you move onto bigger jumps. The most important, and dangerous, is if you get the quad vertical. If you hit a steep jump with too much throttle, or pull back on the handle bars too much, you could find yourself in a nose up vertical position. If the rear end kicks up on you while airborne, you could be in a dangerous nose down vertical position.
Nose up vertical
How do you fix it? Try to fix being nose up vertical by leaning forward onto the handle bars. Try to move as much of your weight forward as you can. Get off the throttle immediately and hit the rear brakes hard. How can using brakes while airborne be helpful? It does help a little by stopping the rear tires rotation. Once the rotating rear tires stop, the inertia from them will be transferred to the front of the quad, helping bring the nose down a bit.
It is a good idea to pull in on the clutch to keep the engine from stalling. If you are still going to land on the back tires with the front end way too high, be prepared for the machine to jerk forward. Lean into the landing, keep the throttle off, and keep your body position forward. Be ready for the handle bar to jerk forward. If you need to you can loosen your grip. You don’t want to be thrown in front of the quad while it’s still moving forward after landing.
Nose down vertical
This is one of the scariest scenarios in my opinion. When the rear of the quad kicks up behind you and you have the nose of the quad facing downward. This can happen sometimes right as you hit a jump, it is not very common though. You definitely don’t want to land in this position. Move your weight to the back of the quad as soon as possible, while pulling back on the handle bars. Hit the throttle to spin the wheels. This has the opposite effect as using brakes in a nose up vertical position, and the rotating tires could help level out the ATV. The rear end should drop back down and level your machine out for a safer landing.
If you are new to jumping, be patient and practice a lot before trying any big jumps. The people getting 20 feet of air have likely been jumping for years. It is best to develop your skills on smaller jumps first. Things can go bad quicker on bigger jumps where more speed is required.
Remember the basics, wear a helmet and protective gear, and have fun learning. Don’t try anything that is too much for your abilities. We all start somewhere. Go slowly over the jump at first, getting no air, just to get a feel for the jump and the terrain. Then go a little faster, about half speed, to see how things feel before taking on a new jump.
While you’re in the air, check your landing zone for obstacles such as rocks, logs, or other riders. Use your legs as an extra set of suspension. Try to ride loose on the quad and get a good feel for the machine before trying anything dangerous.
Sum It Up
Take your time to get a good feel for the quad. While airborne, even the slightest change in position can make a big difference. Stand on the quad with both feet on the pegs and squat slightly towards the rear of the quad. Be ready to shift your body weight at any time. If the ATV starts tilting, lean against the tilt without over correcting.
Try to land with the back tires touching down just before the front tires do. Start off small only hitting smaller jumps until you build up your experience. Get a feel for the jump by just driving over it slowly at first.
When in the air, use your body weight to control the quad, and use the throttle and brake to level yourself out if you need to. If you start to go sideways, shift your body weight to the opposite side and keep the front wheels pointing the direction you want to go.
Remember the basics and wear protective gear. Most importantly, have fun! After you get good at jumping, you could even throw in a trick or two.