Skills + Training

8 tips for perfecting a manual on your mountain bike

manual on your mountain bike
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8 tips for perfecting a manual on your mountain bike

Mastering the manual on your mountain bike, Chris Gibbs explains…

Chris explains how to master the manual on your mountain bike

After the last blog on the attack position it’s time to look at using other techniques to enable us, not just to get down trails safely, but to take charge and ride them with flow and confidence.

The ‘manual’ is an essential core skill allowing the front wheel to be lifted over obstacles whilst carrying momentum. It should be in every rider’s tool box!

Once mastered, the manual enables you to negotiate terrain with much more flow and style, as well as being able to carry more speed and keep your front wheel out of trouble.

How to perform a manual on your mountain bike

  1. Start in attack position, coasting at walking pace or slightly faster
  2. Initiate with a slight rocking forwards of the body
  3. Rock backwards, pulling up and backwards using shoulders and lower back, whilst keeping arms straight to achieve a hanging feeling. This should create a pivot from the feet
  4. Keep your head looking up as the lower body moves back
  5. To further enhance the move, drop heels and push forward
  6. Try to ‘hang’ in this position until you’ve passed the obstacle
  7. Cover the rear brake and feather it to avoid going over the back
  8. Return to the attack position as front wheel lands

The manual is a sum of all its parts being performed well and should be done in one fluid motion.

Above and below: Mark Clark shows perfect manual form and also illustrates some of the key elements in more detail.
Bottom: Dan Milner captures Rene Wildhaber on trail with us in Chile. The perfect manual (with a bit of added flair!)

Common faults to avoid

  1. Pulling up and bending arms
  2. Trying to compress the forks to gain spring and lift
  3. Not committing to pushing your body weight far enough back during the lift phase
  4. Sliding weight backwards but keeping head and shoulders too low

For most of us the manual is a move that takes practice, lots and lots of practice! However, with the right technique it’s a sure-fire way to better riding and much more fun on the trails, and practice is just an excuse to out and ride more!

Found this useful? Why not read up on these posts too! “Perfecting a manual on a mountain bike” and “5 tips for your first mountain bike tour”.

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