Dirt jumping is a terrific and exciting activity. The few seconds in the air are all worth it, but it would be tricky to make that jump without a proper bike.
Here’s the deal. I’m a dirt jump superstar. I started with a BMX at the skatepark when growing up, but a dirt jump mountain bike feels far better.
I love MTBs in general, but today, we will discuss the best dirt jump mountain bikes in the market. I must warn you; they don’t come cheap. Sit back and read.
Dirt Jump Bike Buying Guide
Forget the XC and trail bike. Dirt jump bikes experience the most extreme falls, and therefore the frame strength is of utmost importance. Like the BMXs, the strength of the frame is more important than the weight of the bike.
Dirt jumping involves a lot of flying and turning. Racers are awarded points according to their performance.
The one who gathers the most points wins the race. You don’t want to break your frame and quit the race.
Many dirt jumpers use steel or aluminum frames because they are easy to repair and firm. In case you break any of this, welding them is affordable and easy.
These bikes are built with oversized aluminum tubing and fat junctions or welds to withstand the drops and jumps. Steel is still much popular, but most riders are going the aluminum way. Why?
Aluminum is stiffer than steel and lighter. With the bike’s weight reduced, it’s easier for a rider to throw technical tricks mid-air effortlessly.
There’s a new but more expensive material known as Chromoly steel. It’s a combination of aluminum, titanium, and carbon.
Frames are designed to run with or without gears, and it would be best to keep that in mind when choosing the bikes.
A Strong Fork
Another important thing that you need to consider when buying a jump mountain bike is the forks. These are not the usual rigid forks the BMX uses but the standard suspension mountain bike forks.
This is a bike built to withstand the abuse, and it makes sense that the forks should be as tough. They are built to withstand impact while crashing on the dirt under you and designed for flexibility and maneuverability.
Some manufacturers offer the rigid model at a lower price. They are lighter than the suspension forks, making them easier to throw around.
However, rigid forks are not as durable as the suspension ones, and you’ll be required to do maintenance more frequently.
It doesn’t make much difference running a suspension fork. Most riders run it stiff and only use the suspension setting to take on hard landings. Otherwise, you can decide to use a rigid or suspension fork and still get the most out of it.
If you are running a suspension fork, it’s advisable to test it before going for a ride. Put the front wheel between your legs, hold the bars, and twist them side by side.
If the forks are twisty or flexible, the chances are that you need to repair or replace them. The forks should be as stiff as possible.
The size of a dirt bike mountain bike is determined by the length or reach, not the height and the slackness of the headtube and the seat tube. BMXs use the same formula, and it seems it’s the ideal thing on the dirt jumping scene.
However, unlike BMXs, where you only have to slant the handlebars slightly frontwards to fit your size, the MTB section has seen a different development – lengthening of top tubes.
The current dirt jump mountain bikes look almost the same as the modern MTBs with the disk brakes, wide bars, front suspension, and frame design. The only difference dirt bikes have with other MTBs is their single speeds and the short seat.
The shorter tubes with shorter wheelbase and chainstays are suitable for street riding, while the longer counterparts are more fit for pump trucks, dirt jumps, and enough air stability.
Longer bikes are best suited for riders used to trail hardtail MTBs and looking for bikes their size. However, the longer frames are not good in maneuverability. The shorter top tubes ride better in concrete parks and ramps.
The wheels also take a lot of punishment, and therefore they need to be sturdy. Training is, in fact, the most unforgiving on your bike, so the wheels should be strong enough to handle or the flying and landing.
The wheel should have 36 spokes to absorb the crushing pressure. The tires should be inflated at 45 psi. Talking of the tires, here’s what you didn’t know.
The grip and rolling speed of your tires matter a lot. Most of these bikes come with 26” XC MTB tires which have mild tread blocks. Without a good grip, your bike will easily wash out, and that might be the end of the race for you.
Best Dirt Jump Mountain Bikes to Buy
Now we have come to the part where we will review all the best jump mountain bikes. It would be best if you knew that it’s a whole new experience building your own from scratch.
The Santa Cruz Jackal is sold as a frame only, and you can source the parts from your nearest shop. Here are the top dirt jump mountain bikes that you can buy.
DMR has been in the game since its earliest moments, and they are still building some of the best dirt jump mountain bikes.
One of them is the DMR Sect, which is made with Chromoly steel. The Sect is one of the most affordable, lightweight, and sturdy bikes in this category. DMR is a top-rated British company that makes bikes and bike accessories.
The bike uses the dirt jump geometry featuring a short rear for better spins and flips. The bike also has excellent stability and clearance with its 69-degree head angle. It’s ideal for tricks and tailwhips.
It comes with an RST Dirt 100 fork and other components that complete the bike’s look and functionality. There’s only one size for the bike, and it comes with 26” wheels.
Santa Cruz Jackal
If there’s anything with Santa Cruz’s name on it that comes cheap, it is the Santa Cruz Jackal. It sells for less than a thousand dollars for the frame, though.
Therefore, if you have the other components, you can purchase this frame, build a bike of your own and rip around the pump trunk on your own creation.
Santa Cruz Jackal is the king of the pump trucks. The California brand is famous for its exotic bikes, and it never got it wrong with the Jackal.
However, you can have your Jackal built for you if you don’t have the crucial components, but you’ll have to pay extra. It comes with an aluminum frame medium or large size. It also features 26-inch wheels.
NS Movement 1
Poland had already signed in the world of dirt jumping with one of the best bikes in the category, the NS Movement 1.
The Polish company is also known for its jaw-dropping mountain bikes, but right now, we are taking it on NS Movement 1. If you are looking for a premium dirt jump with an aluminum frame, your search ends at Movement 1.
While some riders prefer steel frames, here we have a 6061-grade aluminum frame. This type of frame features thick pipes and joints to ensure the bike can withstand a hard landing.
The bike won’t require upgrades on its components. Besides, it comes with a Manitou’s fork, which is a highly-rated jump bike fork.
Haro Steel Reserve
Haro is a popular BMX maker, and you can help but notice how they’ve packed the BMX DNA in their dirt jump MTBs to create one of the best jumpers out there. You can never get it wrong with the Steel Reserve.
Jump as high as you can as the bike doesn’t hold you down. They have two models, one that comes with a rigid fork and another one that comes with suspension forks. Most riders prefer the latter, which is slightly expensive than the rigid option.
However, the Haro Steel Reserve is not the most affordable dirt jump bike out there, and neither is it the most professional in the line, but it is a great starter bike.
If you have been doing BMX and want an MTB to start with, this is the right pick. You’ll absolutely learn dirt jumping with it and perfect your skills before joining the league of champions.
When it has a Scott name on it, you know it’s going to be a real deal. Scott Voltage is one of the Swiss bike maker’s releases across all cycling disciplines.
The Voltage is built explicitly for pump tracks and dirt jumps. This great-looking aluminum frame comes with 26-inch wheels and one size only. If you ask anybody why they love this bike so much, it got to be Brendan Fairclough.
The bike is equipped with adjustable chainstays and a tapered headtube with an X-Fusion Slant DJ fork, also tapered.
This is the perfect bike to perform tricks with mid-air, hit the pump track and dirt jumps hard like there’s no tomorrow. The bike is also affordable.
If there’s any bike that is quickly becoming a favorite amongst dirt bikes, it is the Commencal Absolut.
Why is the bike very popular? It comes with complete quality components when other bikes come with upgradeable components or the frame alone.
The Absolut is a full bike at an unbeatable price like no other, and it will be hard to look for another bike when you consider all of these. Aside from top-of-the-range components, you also get Commencal parts to complete the bike.
The bike comes with an aluminum frame and a three-piece BMX crank. In front, it packs a Manitou Circus Expert fork. With the Schwalbe dirt-specific tires, you know that it’s going to be crazy dirt jumping.
There’s also the Absolut 24, which has 24-inch wheels, while the standard one comes with 26-inch wheels. Besides, both bikes come with narrower handlebars.
When you hear a Specialized, you probably think of the light carbon-fiber S-Works road bikes and MTBs that are concurring and dominating races out there.
It’s just another Californian company that knows how to cater to cyclists’ needs, and dirt jumpers are not left out.
The Specialized P3 is an epic dirt jump mountain bike, but it’s not a carbon frame but aluminum built. You also get some fantastic features on this bike.
The press-fit bottom bracket Stout DJ crankset with 170mm crank arms is one of the components to look out for when buying a Specialized P3. Besides, it has an integrated rear dropout tensioners to adjust your chain.
You also get Specialized Rhythm Lite 26” tires. This is one of the bikes that come with a RockShox Pike DJ fork.
If you are looking for a great bike and are not afraid to spend a lot of money on it, the Specialized P3 is the right ride.
Canyon Stitched 720 Pro
All the seven bikes we reviewed come with hardtail frames, meaning they don’t have a rear suspension.
In a sport dominated by BMXs with rigid frames and forks, you would never think there would be full-sus bikes, but we do have a few, including the Canyon Stitched 720 Pro. This bike offers you extra comfort at a reasonable price.
Upon buying the bike, you get a six-year guarantee, and that means you can ride and grow old doing it with the Canyon Stitched. This is the bike for a rider who thinks that tricks are becoming technical and wants to jump higher.
Where to Go Dirt Jumping in the US
The Garden in Chicago
After much of Riverview became a shopping mall, part of it was reclaimed by nature. In those woods today, there’s a dirt jump park where anyone can go for dirt jumping.
The park, which used to be a secret but is now in the public domain, is known as The Garden. It’s where people who like to jump and land spend their time.
The park features 24 jumps with a lot of riders. Since there are no hills in that area, riders start by climbing a raised area which is storage covered with dirt. Riders can descent from the platform at high speeds.
A few cyclists, mostly Chicago natives, would ride and do one or two jumps on these grounds. The park is now welcoming all dirt jumpers from all over the world to experience the fun.
There’s a marked entrance into the park, but no charges whatsoever. You can join and enjoy for free.
Lyons Dirt Jump Bike Park in Colorado
Lyons Bike Park in Northern Colorado is a perfect spot if you are looking for a getaway to enjoy some dirt jumping.
It features a couple of dirt jumps, a pump track, and rock features. You can find it in Bohn Park in downtown Lyons.
Initially built in 2008, the park caters for most outdoor games in Lyons, and the great pump track was added in 2009.
The park holds a dirt jump contest annually. That’s how serious the sport is around the area. You’ll find natural terrain and artificial tracks, some imitating the regional trails in Colorado. Riders can visit the part in Spring through Fall and enjoy the fun.
Park City’s Dirt Jump Park, Utah
If you live in Utah, especially around Park City, you are a lucky person. The city has a dirt jump park where you can practice and take your riding skills to higher heights.
The park is open to all for free—all riders of different ability levels. From beginners to the experienced can train and practice in this park. The only condition here is that riders should have helmets and pads on at all times.
You can come to the park with your friends, family, or alone. Your safety is guaranteed, and you only have to worry about having fun.
You can also join the dirt jump camps for adults or kids, depending on where you fall, which are offered in summer. Check out their site and sign up to join the camps for more fun.
Highbridge Park, NYC
Highbridge Park is a wonderful place to start if you are looking for a dirt jumping spot with some good climbs.
Starting from Fort George Avenue, there is a pump track and a dirt jump. Though the park is small and not that professional, it’s guaranteed to give you some moments of fun.
The track is short and hasn’t been maintained. It’s in poor condition. There are broken pieces of glass, litter, and needles which make it risky for every rider.
Some sections are entirely damaged, and you cannot pass through them. It’s a shame that Manhattan’s park is not in the best condition. Hoping to see New York riders volunteering to make this park iconic.
It’s a wrap, but you have no idea how hard it can be to find a dirt jump park. If you already know a place, get yourself a bike.
Practice makes perfect, and did you know that dirt jumping pays? You can turn it into a career. In case you have any questions go ahead and ask.