Get your bike up and over obstacles.
The front wheel lift is used to get your mountainbike over obstacles that can't be rolled over. This is usually an upwards step in the trail or larger rocks and roots but the technique can also be used to get out of vehicle or errosion ruts in the trail. Once you get the front wheel over an obstacle the rest of the bike will usually follow.
Rolling front wheel lift.
Rolling or manual front wheel lifts allow you to lift the bikes front wheel up and over trail obstacles using momentum generated by shifting your bodyweight around the bike. The unpowered rolling front wheel lift requires you to have enough forward momentum to carry you over the trail obstacle before performing the move, typically when riding on on flat or downhill trails.
The technique used for the rolling front wheel lift is similar the one we used for rolling over raised trail obstacles in the 'Rough Sections' topic. The only real difference is that we are going to physically lift the front wheel onto the hazard wheel rather than allowing the terrain to push it up.
When first learning the front wheel lift, start on a flat or gently downward sloping area of ground. Place a small branch or plank about an inch or 30mm high across your path to use as your practice 'obstacle'.
Get your weight towards the rear of the bike.
Cover the rear brake with at least one finger at all times. If at any point in this move you feel you are going to loop off the back of the bike, applying the back brake will bring the front wheel back down.
Crouch down and slightly forward towards the bars as you approach your 'obstacle' to get the front suspension to pre-load (sink a bit into it's travel). As the suspension of your mtb firms up, push off the handlebars moving your shoulders up and back. At the same time drive your feet down pushing the pedals forward and away from you.
Allow your arms to extend and push your hips back as your body moves away from the handlebars to get your weight over the back wheel. Allow the rear wheel to come under your body as your legs fully extend. Pull back on the bars once your arms are fully extended.
Your bodies rearward momentum being applied to the handlebars combined with your feet pushing the pedals forward should lift the front wheel as most of your weight will now be over the rear wheel. Remember that rear brake if it you past the rear wheel balance point and feel you may be falling off the back of the bike..
The front wheel should lift as your weight goes over the back of the bike. This is a manual front wheel lift. If the front wheel doesnt lift, try again pushing your hips further back until the front wheel does lift.
Move your body up and over the bike.
Once the front wheel is over the obstacle we need to think about helping the rear up. Pull your weight back over the cranks using the handlebars for leverage. Initially keep your legs extended as you start to move forward.
Suck up the rear wheel.
As your weight moves over the cranks push the handlebars down to get the front wheel back on the ground and allow the rear wheel to roll up and over the obstacle by sucking it up in a similar manner as riding raised rollable trail obstacles in the Rough Sections lesson.
Practise this to perfect your timing so you can get the front wheel over your 'obstacle' every time without the rear wheel hitting it hard. Once you can get over a branch or plank 3 inches or 75mm high it's time to move to riding up kerbs. The technique is the same but once you get the front wheel on the pavement it is easier to lighten the rear as you immediately have something to push against through the bars.
Push the bike forward underneath you as you absorb the bump to help the rear wheel up larger steps.
Once you've got used to this try it a little faster. Point your toes down and scoop the pedals upwards as the rear wheel comes over the obstacle for added smoothness.
With practice you can get the front wheel over higher and higher obstacles allowing for a more subtle movement over the smaller ones.
Sideways front wheel lift.
Add a little lean when you explode off the pedals by pushing sideways a little on the bars to move your weight in the direction of the obstacle you wish to hop up or over. Pull the front end back under you when it's off the ground to hop sideways onto kerbs or out of ruts.