How to MANUAL on the trail

Manuals increase your speed, smooth out tracks and feel reallll good. We’d all like to be able to pull a manny like Wyn Masters but to make a difference on the trail, 1 or 2 bike lengths will get you through most things. Whether it’s through drainage ditches, natural compressions or between two rollers; manuals make a rough trail feel like a BMX track.

Here’s the basics –

  1. As you ride in, keep your weight centrered, you need to be forward enough that you have plenty of weight to shift back.
  2. As you approach the feature you want to manual over/through, push your weight through your heels and straighten your legs and arms out, shifting your hips back- bringing your front wheel into the air.
  3. As you get to the bottom of the dip, you can kick (push your weight) through your pedals again to pump and pop you up over the upslope. This also keep the rear wheel stuck to the ground to gain a bit of pump out of the track.
  4. Bring your hips back closer to the bars and push down to get the front wheel onto the ground again.

Tips –

  • When your front wheel is coming up at the start of the manual, keep tight through your back with your shoulders back.  If you let your shoulders roll forward too much , the front wheel comes down more easily.
  • Use your legs to kick through the pedals and the shift of your hips going back to let the front wheel come up, rather than relying on pulling on the bars.
  • If you lean to one side – check that you are keeping your pedals level.
  • Practice on flat ground first. . . Cover your back brake and use it to bring the front end down when practicing . Once you can hit the balance point for even a split second, it will be enough to get through most obstacles on a trail at speed.
  • If your front wheel just drops down- you might need to ; get your weight back further OR dip your heels more OR hold your upper body (core) firmer. Think of yourself as an “L” shape. Try and hold in the position and use the force of your weight pushing through your feet to get to the balance point.

Keep practicing until you get it like Mr.Wheelie Wednesday himself! Also, use flats to learn so you can bail off the back easier!

Max Neely, May 10, 2016