How to ride a log roll-over

So you want to know how to ride over log roll-overs on a mountain bike?  Well, you’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll find all you need to know to get over your first log roll-over safely, and with confidence and control.

The ‘How to ride over log roll-overs’ action video down the page shows the main steps required for this great mountain biking skill,


I strongly recommend taking the time to read through the written steps and their Super Tips below. These tips, as well as the First-timer Tips at the bottom of the article will teach you exactly how you need to think and move with the bike to make your first log roll-over a success!

Let’s get started:

How to ride log roll-overs on a mountain bike

Step 1 – Approach

  • Look ahead to the top of the log roll-over as you approach it at jogging speed     (5 or 6 miles p/hr, 8 – 10 km p/hr)
  • Pedals level, arms loose and elbows relaxed
  • Bum off the saddle, slightly crouched and center of gravity slightly rearward

  Step 1 Super Tips:

Lower your seat If you’ve never done a log roll-over before, it’s best to lower your seat so your mountain bike has room to come up under you as you both go over the logs. You’ll find the original How to adjust your Seat on the move video here

Plenty of run-up   When performing practice runs, start each run-up about 20 meters back from the logs so that you have ample time to accelerate up to your approach speed, get your pedals level, get balanced on the bike and rolling to the log roll composed

The right gear    Pedaling about 4th gear should help you find the right approach speed on most mountain bikes

Be the Caterpillar  Rather than fear the obstacle as something that could knock you off your bike, think of shaping your bike and your body like a caterpillar, letting the log roll-over move under you as you move over it

Step 2 – Lift

  • transition the front wheel up the logs – unweight the front wheel and let it either roll up, or perform a slight lift to avoid an abrupt transition (see Super Tip below)
  • elbows outwards, not close to your waist
  • lift/soak the handlebar up to your chest/mid-torso to absorb the rise as the front wheel climbs the log roll-over

  Step 2 Super Tips:

Every log roll-over is different  For abrupt log roll-overs you may need to perform a slight front wheel lift to transition the wheel up the approach side.  For others, like the roll-over in the video below, you only need to unweight the front wheel to allow momentum to carry it up the approach side

Lift with care Too much front wheel lift or body rocking backwards to get the front wheel up can often transfer too much weight to the rear for the bike.  This can cause the rear wheel to slam into the logs rather than climb them, stalling your momentum.  If you do need to lift, or even rock back on the bike to assist the lift, make it snappy, then instantly unweight the rear wheel as in step 3 to let momentum climb it up the logs

The fluid approach Whether you need to lift or just roll the transition, let your arms and legs be the main suspension for the shape of the log roll-over itself, and let your suspension absorb the irregularities of the logs and smaller adjustments

Elbows out  Elbows out, particularly on mid to large log roll-overs, keeps you pointing straighter by giving you better muscle leverage and control of the bar. Elbows out also allows you to move your arms more fluidly and use them as suspension to soak up the rise, and caterpillar over the log roll-over

Step 3 – Suck

  • Bend your knees and lift your heels rapidly while reaching forwards with your arms to transfer your weight rearward as the wheel climbs
  • suck the rear wheel up to your crouched body, just like in the attack position for steep slopes
  • use your legs as suspension to help the rear wheel roll up the logs by momentum, look ahead

  Step 3 Super Tips:

Platforms vs clipless It doesn’t matter what pedals you have.  You can heel lift a bit more with clipless, though platform pedals are recommended for beginner mountain bikers learning the log roll-over

Avoid excess compression Excess compression of both the fork and shock robs you of precious momentum and sends energy to the ground, instead of forward with your direction of travel.  In addition it will lower your chainrings to the logs, risking chainring damage

Practice the attack position You’ll need to shift to the attack position to maintain your center of gravity over the top of roll-overs. Some roll-overs only require a slight attack, others a full-blown attack position.  This video teaches you how to ride the mountain bike attack position – practice on slopes and smaller obstacles to get yourself used to moving into and out of it

Step 4 – Roll-out

  • Keep arms extended, but not straight
  • Unweight (reduce your pressure on) the handlebar as the front wheel rolls down transition back to the trailto minimise fork compression and enable a smooth front wheel roll-out
  • Look ahead and pedal away!

  Step 4 Super Tips:

Fork dive kills  Excess fork dive (fork compression) as the front wheel transitions back to trail can stall the front wheel and send you over the bars.  Instead, reduce your pressure and weight on the handlebar to allow the front wheel to roll out and away from the logs smoothly

Don’t be a Jerk!  Jerky and sudden movements rob you of momentum and balance. Practice these four steps again and again to improve your fluidity and caterpillar style over log roll-overs.  Start on smaller logs, performing a simple front wheel lift, then rear wheel suck, then work your way up to larger and more challenging obstacles as your confidence and skill develops.  Enjoy!

Extra Super Tips for your First log roll-over:

  • Improve your Aim  Draw a line on the ground (see photo) that you can see from 5+ meters away on approach.  This will help you line up to ride what you’ve chosen to be the most suitable section of the obstacle
  • Momentum = balance  The lower your momentum, the harder it will be to balance and keep in a straight line as you pass over the logs, so keep to 5-6 miles or 8-10 km per hour when starting out
  • No slip  Avoid wet or slippery logs for your first log roll-overs
  • Chainrings aren’t cheap Some might say you’re being over cautious, but they don’t pay your bills! So, if you’re not sure about chainring clearance walk your bike over the log roll-over to check (see photo). A quick check could save you from chainring damage or even an over-the-bars incident.
  • Pedal to safety  Always approach log roll-overs in a gear you could easily pedal out of trouble with. Should you stall halfway over, a half-crank in an easy gear should gear you down with minimal fuss.
  • Adjustable seat post  A mountain bike adjustable seat post comes in handy to help you adapt to a wide range of log roll-overs