Dirt jumping is a sport that involves riding mountain or BMX bikes over jumps becoming airborne. The jumps are made of soil or dirt. Dirt jumping was born alongside BMX racing and doesn’t have a big difference with mountain bike racing or BMX racing.
The fact that the racer jumps off of heap of dirt and performs a midair trick in between is what connects the two races. Their difference is however brought about by the manner in which the rider jumps. In BMX racing the heap of the soil is much lower than that of dirt jumping. At the same time, the rider is lifted higher into the air in dirt jumping than in BMX racing.
How is Dirt Jump Done?
Dirt jumping cannot be done on ordinary bikes as it requires great skills. There is a special kind of bike to do the tricks and it known as “Dirt jumpers”. This is a special mountain bike that majorly differs from the ordinary bike due to its fit. At the moment, BMX has just a single standard dirt jumper frame. This is expected to serve all riders, both young and old.
There are different types of dirt jumping and some of them are defined below:
This is the most famous type of dirt jump. It is made up of two separate earthworks. One earthwork acts as a takeoff (lip) while the other one acts as a landing. The other name of double jump is “gap” jump.
In double, you can have “Step-Ups” where there is a lower jump’s up ramp than the down ramp. In this the rider loses speed. Alternatively, you can take “Step-Downs” which has a lower jump’s down ramp than the up ramp. This means, the rider gains speed.
Although double jump is the most common, tabletop is the best for beginners. Many riders who are new to the sport prefer tabletop jumps as it is simpler and safer. Tabletops are characterized by a single earthwork consisting of two earthworks. There is a takeoff earthwork on one end and landing is on the other end. The difference with a double is that there on the top, there is a ‘flat table’.
· Ski Jumps
Ski jumps are usually flatter and longer compared to the other two jumps mentioned above. These also have just a single earthwork (the takeoff). To make it easier, the Ski Jumps usually takes place on downhills so that landing can be down on the slope of the hill. Ski jumps are most common on jump length competitions.
This is characterized by small tabletops placed at the beginning of a certain trail. The small tabletops ‘pumps up’ the jump giving the rider extra speed.
· Step Ups
The main purpose of step up is to help you jump to a raised landing from the top of an incline. Therefore, the ramps are found just before inclines.
· Whoops/ Rhythms
Just as the name suggests, this is characterized by a series not less than three small rounded ramps that are placed close together. This makes it easier for you to ‘manual’ over them.
Like the first two, spine has a landing and a take-off only that it is done on a steep. It also doesn’t have any gap or table to help the rider rise higher air without distance.
This is a curved embankment that sprouts out of the ground. This is most common on sharp turns and it helps the rider to bank sharply as well as make sharper turns.
· Hip jumps
Hip jump is known of having a jump with 45-90 degrees landing left or right of the ramp. This enables transfers.
· Triple jumps
This consists of unused earthwork, a takeoff and a landing.
· 360 Berms
There is a large berm in 360 berms that is almost 360 degrees. A rider is expected to either jump into, out of or both.
Difference Between a Hardtail and a Dirt Jumper
A dirt jumper and a hardtail are both special bikes. A dirt jumper is a form of hardtail mountain bike. It is however slightly bigger than the ordinary BMX bike and has a front shock. The two bikes don’t have a rear shock since they are designed for landing jumps and aerial stunts.
There is a big difference between a hardtail and a dirt jump and these differences are listed below:
i. Angle of the head tube
Dirt jumpers have compact frames that consist of a steep head like 69 degrees according to standards set by modern MTBs. The steep head angle helps the rider to maneuver the bike especially when riding at low speeds. The riders weight is therefore kept closer to the front wheel. The head angle of a hartail is much slacker like 66.5 degrees.
The chainstays of dirt jumpers are significantly shorter than regular MTBs to help the rider perform tricks like manuals and bunny hops. Hartails however have longer chainstays to increase stability during high-speed riding.
The shorter chainstays of dirt jumpers increases your chance of hooping out and reduces stability for demanding descents.
iii. Length of The Seat Tube
The seat tube of a dirt jump is very short to offer a compact frame and controlling the seat during tricks. The same factor makes dirt jumpers awful climbers. On the other hand, a hardtail has a longer seat tube. Thich makes it a great climber and a perfect choice for long distance riding. It is also more efficient and comfortable.
iv. Bottom Bracket Drop
The bottom bracket drop of dirt jumpers is significantly shorter than that of hardtails. This is because, a small bottom bracket drop is perfect for hops and manuals while a longer one increases stability. Therefore, the length perfectly fits the purpose of each bike.
v. Wheel size
Dirt jumpers majorly rely on 26-inch wheels but some have 24-inches. On the other hand, the wheel size of hardtails is usually 27.5 and 29-inch.
vi. Frame Size
Although there is a large variety of trail bike sizes designed to fit most riders, dirt jumpers have uni-size models only. It is therefore a bit challenging to find a good dirt jumper that you can use for trail riding.
Dirt jumpers are only fitted with a rare brake that helps the rider execute different tricks like bar spins. You can never function on trail riding with a single brake. Two brakes of great quality are needed for this purpose.
For weight reduction and simplicity, most dirt jumpers have a single-speed mode. This makes it difficult to use a dirt jumper in actual cycling. On the other hand, MTBs come with a wide gearing range that allows a rider to exert less effort and yet cover more distance.
Are Dirt Jumpers Safe on Trails
Looking at the difference between the two bikes, it is clear that dirt jumpers aren’t the best for trail riding. Due to the steeper geometry, it is not safe to rider a dirt jumper downhill as a modern hardtail. However, if you don’t expect comfort and top performance, you can as well give it a try.
If you desire to have an efficient race machine, nothing would come in handy like a carbon fiber hardtail. Hardtails are also great adventure bikes and can be used for long-ride shenanigans and bikepacking among others. Unlike hardtails, it is almost impossible to alter the features of dirt jumpers making them less efficient.
Why Are Dirt Jumpers So Expensive?
Although dirt jumpers are “specialist bikes”, they are still bicycles. Therefore, they also fall victim of the same market forces influencing the whole industry. Considering to their specifics, the manufacturers are forced to put their price a bit higher than the ordinary bikes.
At the same time, the fact that these bikes occupy a small cycling niche also contributes to its high price. This is because, there is low production volume and less competition as there are only very few manufacturers. To compensate the low demand and cover the expenses, producers are forced to charge more than expected.
These bikes are durable single speed bikes that feature a front suspension and front brakes. This makes it easier for the rider to perform tricks like bar spinning. They have a simple design with less features like rear suspension, gears and many more found on a mountain bike. However, they are far more expensive to shock some people.
Point To Note
The functionality, performance and strength of dirt jumpers are some of the features that force targeted consumers to comply. These features are very important to them and unfortunately, they cannot find them elsewhere at a cheaper price.
We are all given one chance to live. Therefore, we should ensure that we give ourselves the best there is in life. If dirt jumping is your thing and you are able to get a good dirt jump bike, “Go for it”! This bike lasts long enough for you to enjoy the fun and forget the cost incurred in purchasing it!