How to Manual
Where ever you go you will see riders trying to manual, looking for that all-elusive flow that will take you to the next step of riding. We all want to flow but not all of us seem to get it, we all know that feeling of watching someone manual forever and just being jealous.
Manualling is a skillset that you want to work on early in your bike career. It is one though that a lot of us forget to work on early, as really it doesn't seem as flashy as a tailwhip when you're new to riding.
You want to start working on them early as not only are they the doorway to great bike control and balance, but they also take a while to learn. They are not a huck it till you make it style of trick or skill. You need to put the time in and you'll ultimately be rewarded.
Watch people who can manual
Watch how other people manual. Don't watch passively. Look at their feet position. Look at where their hips are. Watch their arms. See how they pump to keep balance. Watch and learn.
One of the best places to start here has to be Courage Adams. Honestly, has anyone done as much to raise the manual to the level of an art form that he has?
At the end of 2018, Freedom BMX brought out a video with the best manual lines of the year. It is also worth a watch.
How to manual
The main thing to remember with manuals is that as Shakira will tell you is that your “hips don’t lie”, a lot of people mistake pulling up on their bars, this is not how to do it. A few steps now.
- All of your weight should be in the hips
- Squat down and slide your weight off back of the bike
- Your hips should now be over the back of the hub
- If you are successful at holding this position your front wheel should rise up.
- Your arms should be straight and your legs should be bent as you hold yourself up.
It all seems so easy when written out like that, like all skills though it comes down to repetition and consistent practice to nail the skills. Do not give up, nothing easy comes easily and some other various cliches that we all know by now.
Demarcus Paul is another rider who dominates manuals and has some great street lines using manuals to link up lines. He also made a rather handy how-to video with Our BMX and to be fair it is better than anything we could have knocked up so here it is.
Some other notes
- As we said before do not pull up on the bars, it is the shifting of your weight that brings the front of the bike up.
- Learn this skill at slow speed and then slowly increase the speed, this will make you a better and more confident rider.
- Cover your brake (rear if you have both on), if you think you are going to loop out, feather the brake and this will bring the front wheel down.
- This skill can be practised anywhere, practice it riding to the shops, pub, home, everywhere.
- Before initiating the manual point your toes up and this will start to rock your hips back.
Taking a manual to the pump track
The next stage is to take it to the track. Remember what you learnt above. It is probably way better to practice this on a tabletop, to begin with.
- Stay relaxed as you approach a jump, you need a small bend in your arms and legs.
- As you start to go up the jump, begin pumping the transition and start to slide your weight off the back of the bike.
- Timing is crucial, so hopefully, you will have picked a jump you know inside out. As you start to hit the lip your front wheel should be lifting as your weight slides back over the rear hub again. Remember your arms should be straightening out here.
- Now start to think about your hips again. Your hips should start to initiate your legs pushing down as you start to go down the backside of the lip. this is the part where you generate speed, this bit all comes down to timing and is a skill that needs to be learned, so conscientiously practice this.
- Now, look where you want the front wheel to land. As you bring the front wheel down, hopefully in the landing, start to pump the landing with your arms and then through your hips and down your legs, you should now be flying.