• This topic has 134 replies, 43 voices, and was last updated 3 years ago by geex.
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  • Manual madness
  • Premier Icon funkmasterp
    Full Member

    I’ve been trying to learn to manual and I’m getting absolutely nowhere with it. Watched a tonne of videos and read reams of text, but all to no avail. Anyone have any tips or failing that is there anybody local to Macclesfield who fancies teaching a numpty how to manual? I can pay with booze or cold hard cash!

    Premier Icon kayak23
    Full Member

    Make one of these.

    That’s what I intend to do. I can manual through rollers but never been able to sustain it on the flat yet.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Free Member

    Alternatively, do not make one of those.Use the time instead to practice.

    Low manuals, high manuals, up hills, downhills,  everywhere. wheelies can help with brake feathering/ tipping point. Stick at it you’ll get it.

    Premier Icon the00
    Free Member

    That manual machine is a waste of time and timber. The key to the manual is keeping your legs bent,  and moving the back wheel forwards and backwards beneath you around the balance point. You can’t do that on this machine. The video does not show anyone learning to manual using the machine.

    Premier Icon jimmy
    Full Member

    Something I’ve never stuck at but you can strap a pillow to your butt and lean against a wall to support you while you find the balance point without actually moving. Supposedly gives you an idea of how far you can actually go.

    Premier Icon geex
    Free Member

    Don’t make a manual machine.

    it’s nothing like manualling for real and can actually teach you bad habits. Use your carpentry/B&Q shopping time to practice outdoors. keep at it. you’ll get there eventually.

    Don’t bother with the “L” shape technique all mtb skills tutors seem to teach. once you can repeatedly get to the balance point just go straight back/down diagonally and kick the rear wheel forwards. Most folk don’t even realise how the kick from the hips is used. This part of manualling actually can’t be used properly on a manual machine.
    Even more controvercially. don’t drag your rear brake. Brakeless manuals are more pure and look better.

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Full Member

    I can’t manual for toffee but fix the back wheel (like in that machine or a turbo trainer) and lifting the front end and even balancing for a while is dead easy. Not sure exactly what the difference is but I can say from experience that being able to do it on a machine like that was no help at all.

    Premier Icon geex
    Free Member

    theOO describes what I’m talking about (probably better than I did).

    Ps. don’t listen to any advice from anyone who can’t actually manual themselves. It’s blatantly obvious in forums who can and can’t from the garbage those who can’t type.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Free Member

    @jimmy, you could do that I guess, but why not find the tipping point by practicing manuals.

    Intentionally go too far over the tipping point, on a grassy field, really slowly. No harm done.

    Premier Icon bigyan
    Free Member

    Practice, I learned most things by spending hundreds(?) of hours as a kid just riding a bike, this obviously takes a bit longer as an adult due to lack of free time to ride a bike 5 hours a day on weekdays.

    Coaching might skip some of the trial and error so you are at least trying/practicing the right technique, eg  stop just pulling up on the bars and start pushing the rear wheel forward

    Premier Icon geex
    Free Member

    it’s not even a time thing bigyan. Adults just don’t practice. look at any trail centre group ride.

    Faffing in the car park 45mins
    talking shit about their kit 15mins.
    actual riding time 2hrs15 (if you’re lucky)
    Stopping to eat and drink 30mins
    Strava?instagram/FB 15 mins
    Getting changed and washing the bikes 45mins
    Eating and drinking coffee in the cafe 45mins
    Practicing anything ZERO

    I don’t get it. I’m not even sure half of the adults who ride mtb even enjoy the riding part all that much.

    You can practice manuals anywhere and at any time. even in the dark. infact as nailing it involves a build up of muscle memory doing it with limited visual input (in the dark) actually helps.

    Premier Icon funkmasterp
    Full Member

    I’ve been practicing twice a day on the canal towpath (taking the long way to work). Thanks for all the advice, I’ll keep at it 👍🏼

    Premier Icon kelron
    Free Member

    If I may hijack a bit… all of the advice seems to be about finding the balancing point and practicing balance. But I have never even got my bike close to balancing, I can pop the front wheel enough to clear a kerb, or hold it up for a small drop on a trail, but that’s about it.

    I feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong with my body position when I’m trying this, but whatever it is I’m not picking it up from youtube videos. I do practice and I’ve seen improvement in my riding in other areas, but not getting anywhere with this. Any suggestions?

    Premier Icon geex
    Free Member

    You’re simply not committing enough.

    actively practice looping right over. to get it right safely, stand one foot on the ground and holding the bars push the bike forwards with the other foot on the pedal until the bike is stood upright on the back  wheel. (you stay still, you’re pushing the bike’s rear wheel  forwards while allowing it to rotate around the bars (this is how stopping the front dropping while manualling actually works). if you’re struggling to imagine what I mean. hold the back brake while straddling the rear wheel and holding both grips. now simply walk backwards. That;s what you’re aiming to do.
    Get that action right and then progress to doing the same whilst standing on both pedals rolling along at walking speed. Now simply step off the back as it goes past the balance point. You may want to try this on a soft surface until your timing is right.

    Premier Icon sbob
    Free Member

    As ever, Ice Cube has all the advice you will ever need:

    Premier Icon kayak23
    Full Member

    Happy to be shot down about that manual machine being a waste of time, after all I’ve not gotten around to making one yet but, surely it would easily help you get used to the feeling of that general position?

    Obviously it’s not the same as actually manualling but it looks to me(and I’ve not tried one yet) that it might help you to get nearer to that point where you’re comfortable in that sort of position? I think that having the bike as high as that is hard to get your head around initially so I can only imagine it might help.

    Agree about the adults not practising like kids thing though. That’s basically it. Used to spend hours doing all sorts of circus shit….😀

    Presume you’ve seen this one Op?

    Premier Icon joshvegas
    Free Member

    That first 49m run was hilarious!

    Premier Icon roverpig
    Full Member

    surely it would easily help you get used to the feeling of that general position

    You could be right. I’ve been on a couple of skills courses where the instructor holds you in the position so you can get a feel for it, so it could be useful in that regard. The problem I found with it was that the action required to lift the front wheel in the first place was very different. If you fix the rear wheel you can just pull back and the front will lift (even if you don’t do much with your legs). If you just pull back out on the trail all you do is decelerate the bike. You need that push forwards with the legs to at least resist that backwards force.

    But, as I’ve said, I can’t manual for tofee and geex is probably right. It would be better to listen to those that can 🙂

    Premier Icon sirromj
    Full Member

    Does learning to wheelie first make more sense? I definitely find it easier to reach the balance point in a wheelie though still can’t keep it there. Don’t practice enough though.

    Premier Icon butcher
    Full Member

    Practice, I learned most things by spending hundreds(?) of hours as a kid just riding a bike, this obviously takes a bit longer as an adult due to lack of free time to ride a bike 5 hours a day on weekdays.

    This is the thing. When you see a kid manualling down the street on his BMX, you don’t see the countless hours he has put in every night to learn that.

    Some have more talent and/or less fear and pick it up really quickly, but it’s not something that happens overnight.

    And as an adult (I’m assuming you’re an adult…) we have a reduced ability to learn new skills, which means it’s going to take even longer.

    So I suggest just getting out and doing it. Give yourself 30 mins or an hour, a few times a week. After 6 months you might have them dialled 🙂

    Premier Icon greyspoke
    Free Member

    theOO describes what I’m talking about (probably better than I did).

    Ps. don’t listen to any advice from anyone who can’t actually manual themselves. It’s blatantly obvious in forums who can and can’t from the garbage those who can’t type.

    There is more to it than that.  To learn something you need to know how to learn to do it.  not how to do it, how to learn to do it.  So listening to someone who can do it telling you how they do it is not exactly what you want.  Ideally you want to listen to someone who

    – can do it

    – but didn’t find it came naturally (you wouldn’t be bothering with this if you were a natural)

    – and can remember what they did when they learned

    – and has the communication skills to explain it

    Premier Icon spaniardclimber
    Free Member

    OP you’re not alone on this and I’m glad I’m not alone either!

    41 here, have been practising to hold a manual since September, trying to get 30min sessions 3-4 days a week when weather allows.

    Did the manual machine with an old turbo trainer, it was absolutely useless, I could hold the manual on it for hours, but it didn’t transfer to real life at all.

    Other than practice there are a few things that might help: try to master the wheelie first (I’m going to go this way now as I was about to give up).

    Concentrate on your feet, don’t try to lift the wheel with your arms (I unintentionally ALWAYS pull with arms and go sideways).

    I found that a steep-ish road makes it easier to pop the wheel up and gives you more inertia compared to trying it on flat ground.

    Film yourself you will probably spot quite easily what you’re doing wrong (or post it here for feedback).

    Dont give up…there should be some kind of social network where people like us could encourage each other, gather feedback and track progress.

    It might be stupid but knowing I’m not the only one struggling with manuals makes me not want to give up.

    Premier Icon finbar
    Free Member

    Geex – you sound like you know what’s what. I have no trouble getting the frnt wheel up, and I’m not bad at feathering the rear brake when I need to, but my issue is I always veer off to the left or right. I’m tried my damndest to keep myself centred, but I’m still doing it. Any tips?

    Premier Icon anono
    Full Member

    kelron+1

    Forget all the “keeping the balance point” stuff – I’m not even getting to the balance point yet.

    So who can provide some advice on how to get the front wheel up for a manual.

    Its clearly down to body movement and from watching other people it shouldn’t require a massive effort, but still seems like a dark art.

    I get the feeling that pumping the bars down and forward, rather than just down, is helping, but can’t seem to get the leg/hip movement right.

    Any tips appreciated.

    Premier Icon greyspoke
    Free Member

    Efforts that you are not used to making feel more massive, once you do them regularly they feel less so.

    Premier Icon whitestone
    Free Member

    @anono – think about where your centre of gravity is in relation to the bike. Normally it’s somewhere between the bottom bracket and the rear axle depending on whether you are sat down or stood up on the pedals. With your weight here it’s impossible to lift the front end of the bike up for any length of time.

    As you note, it’s down to body movement, you have to get your CoG over the rear axle (or thereabouts) which basically makes the front half of the bike unweighted so you can “lift” it but too far back and you’ll loop out. From this it follows that a shorter length bike helps: your arms are a fixed length so if at full stretch you can’t get your weight back then you aren’t going to be very successful in manualling.

    I think the ‘L’ movement talked about above is more about getting the angle of the arms lower so you are less inclined to pull on the bars in an attempt to lift them. It also means that when you kick/push with the legs the resulting force is forward rather than down.

    Premier Icon anono
    Full Member

    Thanks whitestone – all makes sense….but

    I can hang off the back of the bike as far as its possible to go, and whilst the front end feels lighter, the wheel doesn’t lift.

    I guess to get that lift requires a combined upper and lower body movement, and that timing of the arm/leg pushes is fairly critical.

    All I want is for someone to describe that movement in a way that I can replicate and become a manual master in half an hour…..is that really asking too much?!

    Premier Icon whitestone
    Free Member

    Unless the bike is really short “hanging off the back” isn’t getting your weight above/behind the rear axle, it’s just off the back of the saddle. Bending your legs then pushing backwards gets you past the tipping point as it were, a bit like overcoming the “stiction” in a fork’s travel. You also need your cranks at close to right angles to the intended direction of your push so that both legs are working equally, if the cranks are level to the ground then you are limiting yourself in how far back you can push your weight.

    After that it’s timing! And practice.

    Premier Icon anono
    Full Member

    Cranks at right angles – now you could be onto something there….

    If that doesn’t work, I’m going to give up and use the excuse that my legs are too short.

    Premier Icon funkmasterp
    Full Member

    Thanks all. I’ll keep trying on my commute and get in some practice whenever possible. Have a small pump track around the corner too, so will try that when I get too frustrated.

    Premier Icon geex
    Free Member

    Finbar. Look. Further ahead. Go slightly faster.

    Most folk are way stronger on one side of their body than the other  You steer manuals mostly through your hips. So try to calibrate the push equally

    Premier Icon finbar
    Free Member

    Thanks – will give it a go!

    Premier Icon sam_underhill
    Full Member

    I built a manual machine. One thing I learned quickly is that you need to take the chain off. Once you’ve done this, I think the physics front to back is quite similar to real riding. To get to the balance point you need to move your hips around just like I see on the youtube vids. Sure you are supported from side to side, but it definitely teaches you something useful about finding that sweet spot. I’m far from manually down the road Infront of the peaslake bus stop, but I’ve learned some valuable skills and I’ve got much better control of the front end of my bike.

    Premier Icon geex
    Free Member

    “it definitely teaches you something useful about finding that sweet spot”.

    Sorry but it honestly doesn’t mate. I have access to a stand similar to a turbo trainer with no resistance unit and because I was dubious of the point of a manual machine I tried a few bikes on it (with and without chains). None were anything like manualling on a moving bike at all.

    Do yourself a favour. Ditch the stupid manual machine idea and go outside and actually practice. it’s not that scary. honest. infact it’s fun. Persevere. You’ll eventually get it.

    Premier Icon newrobdob
    Free Member

    When I ride BMX the one thing I always was told to do was give yourself an aim. Try to find a small bit of pavement or different colour tarmac or white line you want to manual the length of. Start at 5 or 10 metres and go up from there. Gives you something to aim for.

    Premier Icon nickc
    Full Member

    the machine works for some to get an idea of how far back you have to be over the rear axle, which is what i think holds most folk back. (that and looping out on their back)

    I learned in a grassy park that conveniently had a shallow gradient on it, and just practiced. As an aside, when I watched some videos I realised that I “have bad habits” I pull up on the bars a bit as a move back, TBH who cares? Not me

    Premier Icon tillydog
    Free Member

    I am not a manual master, but I’ve been taught what to do, and on rare occasions, it all comes together and works, so my 2p in case it helps:

    “I can hang off the back of the bike as far as its possible to go, and whilst the front end feels lighter, the wheel doesn’t lift.”

    It’s a dynamic thing, not a static balance – you whiz the bike forwards with your legs and the front rears up on its own.

    “I guess to get that lift requires a combined upper and lower body movement, and that timing of the arm/leg pushes is fairly critical.”

    Don’t do anything with your arms – nothing – just keep them straight. You need to kick down REALLY hard with both feet and drop your heels. Even just practising that while coasting along should see the front wheel coming off the ground. Combine it with a change in body position and the front comes way up.

    Now shoot me down…

    Premier Icon julians
    Full Member

    I cant manual ( for more than a metre anyway) , but presumably its easier to learn on a hardtail than a full suss? Or is there not much difference?

    Premier Icon anono
    Full Member

    Thanks tillyd – I’ll give that try.

    Premier Icon giantalkali
    Free Member

    Go find a quiet carpark and keep practising, stop reading this.

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