Video courtesy of Levi Allen
For certain kids, the only thing better than fresh air, is big air. If you happen to be raising one of these audacious creatures, you are fully aware of what I mean—and you should probably read this as fast as you can and then go make sure they aren’t playing with dad’s welder again.
A friend recently commented to me that as a kid he spent half of his childhood combing vacant lots for lumber to build ramps and jumps. I grew up across town and was doing the exact same thing. It’s tough being a kid with zero resources and an affinity for making a bike or skateboard air over the neighbor’s trash can. Many of the jumps I hit as a kid made Pedro’s jump on Napoleon Dynamite look like a modern marvel of engineering—boards with still-exposed nails precariously laid atop stacked skateboards, quarter-inch particle board stapled to an old tire, and my personal favorite, an ironing board held up by a round garbage can on its side.
Since you’re a parent committed to getting your kids outside, and you’ve read this far indicating that at least one of your children has the dare-devil gene, this is a pretty easy opportunity to rise to hero status in the impressionable eyes of your budding speed demon. They’re going to build jumps anyway, so you might as well get involved and show your kids you still have a little cool left in you. Plus, you’ll feel better about Junior trying to jump over his younger cousins, having helped construct a worthy launch out of parent-approved materials. Grab a few tools, do a little research, and start building. I’ve scoured the web and compiled a helpful list of resources to save you some precious bike session time.
A few good places online to learn how to build bike jumps for kids:
Simple and Adaptable
The pictures in this instructable fail to impress, but you’ll see the basic time-tested design of a simple jump which can be adapted to your kid’s skill level. These don’t take a lot of lumber, are respectably sturdy, and the geometry of the jump in the picture is actually quite good for a smooth take off. Personally, if a dirt jump is not an option, this is basic construction I would use, adapted to whatever height I was after.
Adjustable Bike Jump for Kids
I have not tried this, but it looks promising for young, rapidly progressing beginners, or families with kids of multiple skill levels.
Nerding Out on Jump Geometry
This post from one of my favorite mountain biking websites contains some great info for those wanting to build a more advanced, custom jump without a lot of trial and error figuring out the ideal angles.
Nitro Circus Driveway Edition
Get a good helmet.
If you know of other sites that should be added to the list please leave a link in the comments below. And if you truly don’t have time to build a respectable jump for your kid, grab a couple of cinder blocks and a board and get outside with them anyway. They’ll love you for trying.
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