If you are looking to learn a skill that is both flashy and practical, then learning to manual properly might be your next goal! This technique is useful for lofting your front wheel over trail obstacles by using your hips instead of your arms to avoid losing momentum. Not only is it functional, but it also earns you style points. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to master the manual:
6 Steps to Mastering the Manual
- Begin by riding at a jogging pace or slightly faster. This provides enough momentum while still allowing you to maintain control.
- Start in a high-ready position above the saddle. You can see an example of that here.
- As you approach the obstacle, pump down towards the saddle and shift your weight back, creating an L-shape with your body movement. The Ninja Manual Trainer is a tool that can also help you get comfortable in this movement by training you to find and trust the sweet balance point on your bike.
- Keep your arms locked and allow the handlebars to move with you.
- Once you’ve cleared the obstacle, bring your weight back to the neutral or ready position to bring the front of the bike back down out of the manual.
- Keep a finger over your rear brake at all times for added safety. Applying pressure to the rear brake will cause the front of your bike to lower down quickly if you need more control.
If you’re still having trouble with your manual, consider the following:
Helpful Tips for Improving Your Back Wheel Balance
- Start small and work on feeling the balance point on the bike instead of going big too fast.
- Use your weight instead of pulling up with your arms.
- Remember, shifting your weight back is what brings the front of the bike up, not pulling the bars up. If you pull the bars up without shifting your weight back, the front will quickly go back down.
- Think L-shape, down THEN back, instead of down and back at the same time.
- If you’re having trouble keeping the front wheel up, lower your center of mass by bringing your hips closer to the rear wheel, this will help you hold the manual.
- Practice this skill by placing a stick on a slight downward path and see how long/far you can hold the wheel lift. Some speed will keep the bike more stable.
For personalized feedback, join a MTB Clinic with a Ninja instructor and really watch you skills improve.