What is a manual?

Manualing is the act of lifting your front wheel using your body weight and then maintaining balance by shifting your body weight  around. Many mountain bike skills stem off the manual such a bunny hops, this is why learning how to manual is very important. However, that does not mean you need to learn hold a manual for a long time. Learning to manual with correct technique will help you in all aspects of trail riding.

In this article, we're going to look at how learn to manual a mountain bike and talk about some of the common issues people have learning how to manual and how to overcome those problems.

How to Manual a Mountain Bike

  • Find a smooth section of road that is either flat or slightly downhill
  • Parking lots work great because you can use the spaces to gauge how far you've traveled

How to get into a manual

  1. Preload by  bringing your chest down and bending your knees
  2. Explode backwards by pushing off your bars
  3. As your arms are completely extend, pull back will your whole body
    • Do not pull the bars to your chest. Your arms should remain locked out
    • You must get your body behind your rear axle to lift the front wheel
  4. Get your butt behind your rear wheel and drive your heels forwards

Keeping front Wheel Up

  • Thrust your pedals forward, and aim to get you back wheel out in front of you. Most of the movement comes from you hips and legs.

 Going too far back

  • Tap your brakes gently to lower your front wheel. This is where a slight downwards incline helps. You can regain the speed you lost after tapping your brakes.
  • Bend your knees bringing your butt closer to your seat.

Balancing side to side

  • Use your knees to counterbalance the side to side fluctuations.  
  • You can also your bars to help steer you in the direction that feels best.

Additional manual tips

  • Some mountain bikers find it easier to balance with their bars slightly turned
  • If you're having trouble getting the front wheel up, try learning to manual out of a slightly bank.
    • This will help assist your  front wheel up.
  • You man want to practice "looping out", by purposly flipping back too and landing on your feet.
    • this will help overcome some of the fear going back too far
  • Learning to manaul on Hardtail is
  • Keep you butt nice and low
  • You may find that going faster is easier

Common Manual Problems

  • Pulling their handle bars into their chest
    • keep your arms locked out
  • Not getting enough weight behind their rear axle
    • Simple physics, you need enough body weight behind your rear axle wheel to lift your front wheel. 
  • Not Hinging at their hips and pulling with their back
  • Not sitting low enough into the manual

Final Thoughts

Learning how to manual is difficult, it’s taken me 19 years of riding to figure it out. I could ride a unicycle but not hold a manual. Honestly I was embarrassed that I couldn’t manual, that I just didn’t try them anymore. Then I learned not to care and started trying them again.

Learn More skills!!