The manual is a useful skill for lofting your front wheel over an obstacle. Yes, lofting as opposed to lifting. Once you know how to manual you’ll start to see the trail from a different perspective. You’ll no longer have to ride over small trail obstacles, you’ll be able to effortlessly loft the front end at will and avoid losing momentum. Getting up small ledges will also become much easier as you learn how to use your hips instead of your arms to pick your front end up.
But, if you’re like most mountain bike mortals — learning to manual is much easier said than done!
This manual machine was designed and built by avid mountain biker (and a Civil Engineer), Steven Andraka from Crownesville, Maryland. Steven built this machine to help his wife, Jane Andrake, get her manual on point! Take a look at the following detailed photos for inspiration on building your own manual machine.
Ready for the next steps? Let’s give you manual machine a whirl!
1. Ride at jogging pace, or a bit faster. You want to go fast enough to provide momentum, but not so fast that you can not control yourself.
2. Start in a ‘high’-ready position (standing neutral) above the saddle.
3. Pumping down towards the saddle, then just as you are about to hit the saddle, shift your weight back. You objective is to make an L with your body movement, down and back.
4. Lock your arms out and all the handlebars to come back with you.
5. Once you’ve cleared the obstacle (or are done with your attempt), bring your weight back to the neutral or ready position. This will bring the front of the bike back down.
Fine tuning your manual. Troubleshooting tips …
1. Going too big, too fast does not work. Start small and work to feel the balance point on the bike.
2. Use your weight, do not pull up with your arms.
3. Shifting your weight back is what brings the front of the bike up (“lofting”), not ‘pulling’ the bars up (“lifting”). If you pull the bars up without shifting your weight back, the front will quickly go back down.
4. Do not cut the corner. Down and back at the same time, does not work. Think L shape, down THEN back.
5. Are you getting the front end up, but it wont stay up? Lower you center of mass by bringing your hips down closer to the rear wheel.
6. If on the the trail, keep a finger over your rear brake at all times. If at any point in this move you feel you are going to flip off the back of the bike, applying the back brake will bring the front wheel back down.
7. Once you’re ready for the trail, practice this skill by placing a stick on a slight downward (smooth) path and see how long / far you can hold the wheel lift. Some speed will keep the bike more stable.
After some focused practice on this skill you’ll be riding manuals all over the place – good luck!
We’d love your comments below — what do you think of Steven’s creation?
The Guru’s #1 passion is taking bike skills and breaking them down into tangible, progressive steps. Is there a skill you just can’t master? A maneuver you don’t understand? A fear you can’t seem to get past? Turn to the Guru! The Ninja Skills Guru has spent years riding bikes and carefully breaking down riding skills into easy digestible steps so you can tackle the trail with confidence. Yup, the guru is that friend who doesn’t talk about anything but bikes!
I would encourage anyone of any ability to take a class with these guys.
I recently attended one of the Intermediate/Advanced Efficiency and Flow clinics. Even though I have been riding for many years...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
I recently attended one of the Intermediate/Advanced Efficiency and Flow clinics. Even though I have been riding for many years I learned a lot from this clinic. The techniques covered ranged from reviewing basic skills such as basic body position to practicing more advanced techniques like switchbacks, bunny hops, and cornering. I was able to recognize, get instruction, and practice some skills where I was weak and instantly improve them. Even skills I thought I was pretty good at I was able to pick up useful tips. I also realized that deliberate skills practice is not something I incorporate into my riding, but now that I understand what I should be doing I will make sure to add this in! After taking the course my comfort on the bike has improved and I am more aware of my body position and movement of the bike. I would encourage anyone of any ability to take a class with these guys. The instructors are knowledgeable and easy to work with. There is a lot of one on one help and they will make sure you understand the skills being taught and are able to perform them successfully. Plus the clinic was lots of fun! I highly recommend and hope to work with these guys again soon. ~ Michelle A.
The course was very fluid, engaging, and I would highly recommend it.
I took the intermediate/advanced course in Balboa Park after having ridden for just over 2 years on my own. It...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
I took the intermediate/advanced course in Balboa Park after having ridden for just over 2 years on my own. It covered a wide breadth of skills, some of which I already felt aquatinted with and others I had little to no experience with. I found all of the material useful. I was able to improve skills I already had and was able to learn new skills. I also feel confident leaving the course that the instructors have provided all of the information for me to practice and improve outside of the course setting. The environment of Balboa Park was perfect for learning and sessioning the skills covered. The instructors were friendly, fun, and attentive to all of the participants. They spent more or less time on certain skills based on how the entire group was grasping them. They also gave individualized attention to participants that required more help with technique. The course was very fluid, engaging, and I would highly recommend it. ~Alexandra Rose Brysiewicz
Taken the 3 day Skills Camp out in Mulberry Gap GA. Outstanding weekend. We had a small group of about...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
Taken the 3 day Skills Camp out in Mulberry Gap GA. Outstanding weekend. We had a small group of about 8 people with 3 Ninja Pro's. Richard and the instructors were attentive and always helpful. The course had you work on your base fundamentals, advanced skills, along with bike setup,maintenance, nutrition ,This was a very comprehensive course. After learning the skills, we'd hit the trails and the training didn't stop. Instructors would get to a technical portion of a trail and have us all stop and they would show us how to use the skills we just learned. Everyone learned at their own pace. So no one felt pressured to keep up with others. Having fun was always top priority. Arriving back home, I was practicing all the skills i've learned like an excited little kid with a new bike. I hope to take this course again when they come back to this side of the country -- it was well worth it! ~Vic D.
Enrolling in the Intermediate/Advanced clinic was the best thing I’ve ever done to improve my speed and ability on the bike.
Hands down, enrolling in the Intermediate/Advanced clinic was the best thing I've ever done to improve my speed and ability...
Ninja Mountain Bike Skills
Hands down, enrolling in the Intermediate/Advanced clinic was the best thing I've ever done to improve my speed and ability on the bike. I am so much faster on singletrack and through technical sections/jumps that even if people are more fit than me, I still keep up with them (and kind of love watching them do a lot more work than they need to). Richard and Kris are fantastic and break things down in a way that makes sense and is manageable. By the end of my first clinic, I was jumping off ledges and power climbing up sections that I couldn't drive a car up. You could buy a $5,000 carbon bike and do 10,000 ft rides every day, but you will get the best return on any investment you make in your riding by attending a Ninja Skills Clinic. ~ Regina J.
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