MTB Drop off technique.
Allowing your front wheel to roll down drops is great when the drops are small with a clean runout on easier trails. As the size of the drop increases, if there is no smooth runout the front wheel will dig into the ground forcing you over the bars. A different technique which allows the rider stay balanced keeping the front wheel roughly level with the rear all the way through the drop is required.
Manual front wheel lift.
Make sure you understand and can reliable perform the manual front wheel lift keeping the front wheel off the ground for a minimum of at least one bike length and preferably two bike lengths before attempting this topic. Remember, thefaster you are riding the longer distance you will cover before the front wheel drops.
Ride off not down.
Approach an small flat take-off to flat landing drop at a moderate pace, the kerb of a quiet back street makes a great practise drop close to home allowing you to get the timing of the technique correct before moving on to larger drops.
As your front wheel approaches the drop, perform a manual front wheel lift timing your lift so that the front wheel leaves the ground just before it reaches the edge of the drop. At first stay leant back and pushin down on the pedals so that your rear wheel hits the ground first using you legs to absorb the landing. Once the rear wheel is down shift back forward to drop the front wheel if it has not already come back down.
If you find the front wheel drops before the rear wheel lands be a little more agressive with your front wheel lift or attempt the drop at a slighty higher speed until you can consistently land rear wheel first.
Wheels together for a controlled landing
We now need to learn how to get both wheels to hit the ground at the same time for a smoother landing. As the rear wheel rolls off the drop pull on the bars to return your weight to the normal neutral riding position.. When your weight comes back over the cranks stop pulling on the bars. The front end will start to drop, timing your forward movement is how you control how long the front wheel stays up.
If the front wheel lands after the rear, move forward a touch earlier. If it lands before the rear wheel you have shifted your weight too early and need to delay your weight shift a little longer.
Adapt to different drops.
On downhill drops you will need a more aggressive manual front wheel lift. For larger drops you will stay in the air longer so delay your forward weight shift a little longer otherwise the front wheel will drop too far before you land .
If you are riding flat pedals, point your toes down and scoop your feet backwards to hold up the rear wheel.
If the drop has a flat takeoff but downhill landing use a slightly less aggressive manual to allow the front to drop enough to match the landing downslope. Downhill landings are much smoother than 'to flat' landings.
Soak up the landing.
Ensure you absorb the landing with your arms and legs to stay smooth.
Check out the downhill and trials sections for more advanced drop techniques.