Learning to manual: a wheelie with no pedaling

Bikeradar.com manual3-480-90-480-70I made a big step forward last week when I began to understand the difference between a pedal-powered wheelie and a manual. These articles helped me:

I’ve been using it this week to get over larger rocks and logs at speed.  And when I say ‘larger,’ I don’t mean large.  I mean bigger than the curbs on my street. Go ahead and laugh, but it was pretty cool when I got the hang of doing a manual over the curbs repeatedly.  And I can now see a bunny-hop in my future.


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2 thoughts on “Learning to manual: a wheelie with no pedaling”

  1. I thought I’d dust off this blog post and try to get better at manuals this spring. I got to the point last fall where I could sometimes manual over two rollers but not reliably.

    I’ve got a “how to manual” Pinterest board where I’m archiving videos and articles on it. Tonight, I watched and read this one by James Wilson at BikeJames.com which he posted on PinkBike.com. These two paragraphs stood out:

    You need to avoid pulling the front end up with arms (which results in bent elbows) or by simply leaning back forcefully with the lower back. Both of these techniques result in the bike center of gravity changing without your center of gravity compensating. You have to remain balanced in order to manual and the ability to drive from the hips and not the arms/ lower back is the key.

    In the video, he also describes pushing forward with the feet, heels down. And the connection to the kettlebell swing? It’s the “forward-backward projection of energy”:

    The swing is as close as you can come to a hard trail ride without throwing your leg over a bike. It ingrains body position, teaches you how to absorb impacts with your hips and builds massive forearm strength and endurance. However, the most important lesson you learn from it is how to keep the arms relaxed and drive the hips forward. It is a forward-backward projection of energy which makes it a unique way to learn how to drive the bike forward, which means that when you can do 20 perfect reps with a 16 kg (women) or 24 kg (men) kettlebell you’ll be able to more confidently loft your bike into the air.

    Joe Lawill’s “Manuals Made Easy” article in the May 2009 edition of Mountain Biking Action likewise emphasizes this hip action and he’s got a nifty way to practice it before you get on the bike. See his photos:

    You do not pull up on the bar to do a manual because the slightest unbalanced input will cause the bike to wander to one side or the other. Instead, use the shifting of your body weight to raise the front wheel. So the first exercise is to get the feeling of the weight shift. Stand to the side of the bike with your hips touching the handlebar. Now, thrust the bike forward. Do this in one quick movement. Don’t move your hips to the bar; bring the bar to your hips. Remember; push out, don’t pull up.

  2. I’m intrigued by this comment attached to that video by KTownRoyster (Oct 4, 2012 at 8:59):

    its best to learn without using the brake to get the fear of falling off the back over with. sounds crazy but fall off the back a few time on purpose to learn your personal balance point.

    Makes sense to me.

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