Condensed Answer: A mullet bike facilitates jumping because the rear wheel is lighter, easier to lift, and less likely to come in contact with the rider’s body during a jump.
That said, a mullet bike is still not a dedicated jump bike. If you want a bike specifically for jumps, then a dirt jumper will serve the purpose better than a mullet.
FAQ: What is a mullet bike?
A mullet bike is an MTB that uses a larger wheel at the front (usually a 29″ unit) and a smaller one at the back (27.5″). The name comes from the famous male haircut in which the hair is cut shorter at the front, top and sides, but is longer at the back.
Or in other words, the term mullet is used to indicate the size discrepancy between the front and the rear wheel.
The Advantages of Mullet Bikes For Jumping
- No Interference With Body Position
During jumps, the rider often has to get over and behind the rear wheel. The larger the wheel, the greater the chance to touch it while jumping. A smaller wheel reduces this possibility and makes the experience more comfortable.
- Lighter wheel
A smaller wheel is a lighter wheel because the rim and the tire require less material. A lighter rear wheel makes it easier to lift and control the rear end.
Note: It’s possible for a 27.5″ rear wheel to be heavier than a 29″ unit. It all depends on the rim and tire model. The wheel will be lighter only when all variables (rim, number of spoke, tire model…etc.) are equal.
- Stronger Wheel
When all things are equal, a smaller wheel is a stronger wheel because the spokes are shorter and thus less susceptible to external stress. (The shorter a lever is, the harder it is to bend it). For that reason, people who want their bikes to have super strong wheels often go for smaller wheel sizes (e.g., 26″).
The additional rear wheel strength could be particularly beneficial for jumping because the rear wheel is the first to touch the ground during a landing.
That said, the quality of the wheel is more important than the wheel size. A strong 29″ wheel can take more impact without coming out of true or deforming than a poorly built 26″ model.
- Faster Acceleration
The smaller the circumference of a wheel, the easier it is to reach a higher RPM (rotations per minute). For that reason, smaller wheel sizes are the choice when fast acceleration is needed.
This property is beneficial when jumping at tight spots that don’t offer a lot of room for acceleration before the jump. However, the size discrepancy between 27.5″ and 29″ wheels isn’t large enough to make the faster acceleration super obvious.
- Slacker HTA
By putting a smaller wheel at the back of а 29″ model or a larger one at the front of a 27.5″ bike, one would slacken the head tube angle (or in simpler words, the front end will be elevated). The head tube angle is the angle between the head tube and the ground.
The slacker the headtube angle is, the easier it becomes to lift the front end of the bike because there’s less weight on the front and the handlebars sit higher. Thus, a slacker head tube angle makes the execution of drops and stunts such as bunny hops easier.
Mullet Bikes Aren’t Jumpers
The advantages above apply only when comparing mullet MTBs to standard 29″ models. At the end of the day, mullet bikes are designed to perform well on the trail rather than in the air.
If you want a bike that’s designed specifically for jumping, there are 2 better options:
a. Dirt jumpers (this is the go-to machine for MTB jumping). Dirt jumpers are very strong, accelerate fast, and “love to fly”.
b. BMX (A BMX bike isn’t as optimal as a dirt jumper, but it can still be used at a pump track.)
Of course, BMX bikes and dirt jumpers come with their own downsides and are very specialized bikes that can’t be used on the trail effectively.
If you want a bike that’s fine for jumping but also great on the trail, then a hardtail MTB is a logical option to explore.
FAQ: What makes dirt jumpers so good for jumping?
The qualities that make dirt jumpers excel at jumping are:
- Short chainstays (this property makes it easier to lift the front wheel)
- Small frames (the bike is lighter and easier to manipulate)
- Small wheels offering fast acceleration, strength, and lightness
- A strong frame (a quality dirt jump frame is close to indestructible)
- Simplicity (dirt jumpers have a single-speed drivetrain and thus do not use derailleurs that could easily be damaged when performing stunts)
Summary: What You Need To Know
Mullet bikes have the following properties that could make them better jumpers than a standard MTB:
- A small rear wheel that is less likely to touch the rider when jumping
- A lighter rear wheel that’s easier to lift during a bunny hop
- Taller front end which facilitates the lifting of the front wheel
- The rear wheel is smaller and has the potential to be stronger and lighter
- Faster acceleration
Nonetheless, mullet bikes are still MTBs and cannot match the jumping experience offered by dirt jumpers.