video courtesy Kat Millar
Recently I have been practicing my manual at my local jump track. Its one of those things that looks so easy to do until you try it for yourself. A manual is not to be confused with a conventional wheelie, its a wheelie without pedaling which means that they can be done at much higher speeds. Having spent much of my youth on a bike, a long wheelie is quite easy for me so I thought that the progression to a manual would be pretty straight forward – How wrong I was.
Here are some pointers that I have picked up along the way that may help you learn to manual.
– Get up to a reasonable speed, not too slow that you feel like you are going to fall over and not to0 fast so that you are out of control. The better you get, the more you can play around with you speed.
– When you are ready to manual make sure your pedals are parallel to the ground.
– Load the front wheel
– In one motion, pop the front wheel off the ground and shift your weight right over the rear wheel.
Something to remember is that you are not holding the front wheel up with your arms, rather, you are shifting your body weight around to balance the front wheel. If your front wheel is not getting high enough, you need to lean further back. If your wheel is going too high, tap your rear brake to bring it down. I suggest keeping a finger on your rear brake while learning.
Sometimes you will over-rotate and fall off the back of your bike so its best to learn with flat pedals rather than being clipped in. If you do over-rotate, which is what I do quite often, make sure you jump off the back of your bike onto your feet, still holding onto the handle bar to keep the front wheel off the ground.
Manuals are easiest to do on BMX’s and Hartail Jump bikes. Bikes that are setup for XC racing are much harder to manual properly.
We have put together a video to try illustrate some of the point that I have spoken about above. You can see how a manual can help you get over obsticles smoothly and how they can help you line up a forthcoming obsticles.