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How to manual a mountain bike

Updated: Feb 21

Manualing is a fundamental skill in mountain biking that involves lifting the front wheel off the ground while balancing on the rear wheel without pedaling. It's not only a stylish move but also serves practical purposes such as navigating obstacles, maintaining speed through rough terrain, and enhancing overall bike control.

Here's a step-by-step guide to mastering the art of manualing:

1. Proper Body Position:

  • Begin in a neutral riding position with your pedals level and knees and elbows slightly bent.

  • Shift your weight slightly back over the rear wheel while keeping your arms and legs relaxed.

2. Initiating the Manual:

  • As you roll at a moderate speed, compress your body by bending your knees and hips.

  • Simultaneously, push your handlebars forward and down while shifting your weight back. This action loads the rear suspension and prepares you to lift the front wheel.

3. Lifting the Front Wheel:

  • Once your weight is shifted back and the handlebars are pushed forward, focus on lifting the front wheel by extending your arms.

  • Use a combination of your arms and upper body strength to pull the handlebars upward while pushing your hips backward.

4. Balancing and Sustaining the Manual:

  • As the front wheel rises, lean your weight slightly forward to maintain balance.

  • Keep your eyes focused ahead and maintain a steady balance point on the rear wheel.

  • Use subtle adjustments in body position and arm extension to control the height of the manual.

5. Finding the Balance Point:

  • Practice finding the balance point by gradually increasing the height of your manual.

  • Experiment with shifting your weight forward and backward to maintain balance.

  • As you become more comfortable, aim to hold the manual for longer durations.

6. Landing:

  • To bring the front wheel back down, gently push the handlebars forward while shifting your weight slightly forward.

  • Aim to land both wheels simultaneously to maintain stability and control.

  • As you touch down, absorb the impact with your legs to maintain smoothness and control.

7. Practice, Practice, Practice:

  • Like any skill in mountain biking, mastering the manual requires practice and repetition.

  • Start by practicing on flat, smooth terrain before progressing to more challenging surfaces.

  • Experiment with different speeds, body positions, and terrain types to develop a well-rounded manualing technique.

8. Safety First:

  • Always wear appropriate safety gear, including a helmet and pads, when practicing manualing.

  • Start with small progressions and gradually increase the difficulty as your skills improve to minimize the risk of injury.

9. Patience and Persistence:

  • Manualing takes time and patience to master, so don't get discouraged by initial setbacks.

  • Celebrate small victories and progressions along the way, and remember that every practice session brings you one step closer to proficiency.

By following these steps and dedicating time to consistent practice, you'll soon be confidently manualing your way through the trails, adding a new dimension of skill and style to your mountain biking repertoire. Happy riding!

Want to learn from the pros? Schedule a Manual Clinic session here!

Our Founder, Jonas, showing how it's done!

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