Why and How To Do a Manual

It is time to whip out the instruction manual as we instruct you on how to manual! What is a manual? Essentially rolling on just the back wheel of your bike without pedalling. Aside from making you look like a boss, there are other practical applications for the manual as well!

How To Manual Cover
Rolling on your rear wheel without pedalling is both great for showing off a bit and elevating your riding ability!

By lifting and unweighting your front wheel it becomes easier to get over obstacles on the trail or onto a pavement for example. You can do manual to show off to your mates but, as with just about any bike skill, the more you practice it the better you will understand your bike and how it interacts with your body, improving your overall bike handling. When mastered, you can use the manual to pump through trail undulations to increase speed or flow. Read on to watch the video below for details on how to manual!

How to Manual – Video

Setting up for a manual

When setting up to do a manual, keep you pedals level and ideally have your seat post dropped out the way. You’ll want to practice your manuals on flat ground or a gentle descent to keep speed up. On speed, the more you have the more stable you will be but take it easy at first.

How to initiate the manual

You are essentially shifting your mass over the rear axle while locking out and pulling through your arms. To do this, drop / push your weight down onto the bike and as you’re about to hit your seat, shift back over the rear axle with locked out arms. You body should move through an L shape, down and then back. Don’t shift directly towards the axle as this makes it harder to lift the front wheel.

Why And How To Do A Manual
Initiating the manual, drop your weight directly down onto the bike and only then shift backwards over the rear axle
Why And How To Do A Manual
Your hips should follow the “L” shape depicted above and completed on the image further below.

When you want to drop the front wheel back down, shift your weight forward and / or pull the rear brake gently.

It is important to lift the wheel with your weight through locked out arms rather than pulling your arms to your chest which will actually move your weight forwards and push the front wheel down.

How To Manual Incorrect
If you are pulling up through bent arms, you will be bringing your weight forward and not into a stable manual position, causing the front wheel to drop.

How to hold the manual

Having your weight closer to the rear axle makes for a more controlled manual. Shifting your weight forward slightly will drop the front wheel down and shifting it back slightly will lift it up.

How To Manual Correct
Reaching the end of the “L”, your centre of mass should be over the rear axle and low down to hold a stable manual position with locked out arms (getting weight as far back as possible).

You can use your rear brake to bring the front wheel down but this also affects your speed. I recommend that you work on controlling the manual by moving your hips forward or backwards as much as possible and rely on the brake for emergencies!

Good to remember

  • Shorter people will need to lift their front wheels higher in order to get their weight over the rear axle.
  • Keep your elbows locked out to get your weight further back.
  • Keep a finger on the rear brake incase you need to drop the front quickly.
  • Bias your weight over the rear axle,
  • Keep your eyes up to stop the manual from dropping.

Let us know how you come on in practicing your manuals! As ever, repeated practice, reviewing your technique and a side of patience is required with mountain bike skills!

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