Technique - Learning the Manual - Part 4

Taking the manual technique on into bunny hops to clear trail obstacles

Learning how to pull off a manual can make your riding smoother, faster and more effortless. 

This skills series is designed to introduce and develop key trail riding skills that many find impossible to grasp or maybe have never even heard of. This is the stuff that good riders do without thinking, and what many of us do intermittently when we have that perfect day on our favourite trail.

The next step

Bunny hops represent a logical progression once you’ve learnt to manual. This is because the first part of a bunny hop is actually a manual, and again you are keeping the bike flowing over terrain. Learning bunny hops with flat pedals will also aid a better technique development.

1] Spot the obstacle and make adjustments to your speed. Ensure your speed is no less than a brisk walking pace.

2] Adopt the attack position and prepare to unleash your most dynamic rock forward, immediately followed by the rock back – this is your manual again – to lift the front wheel off the ground. Prepare to lift the front wheel at least the same distance away from the obstacle as the height of the obstacle (for a 12-inch high log, lift the front wheel at least 12 inches away from it). The faster you go, the more room for error you should give yourself.

3] You must now swiftly and fluidly transfer weight from the back to the front of the bike (this is in essence a rear wheel manual – or rear wheel lift). Pushing forward on the bars as you ‘scoop’ backwards against the pedal with your rear foot to lift the rear wheel off the ground will also help.

4] Where possible, land both wheels together, absorbing the impact of the landing smoothly and evenly with your arms and legs. Certain obstacles, such as logs taken at low speed, may require you to land the bike ‘nose first’ to ensure the back wheel clears it properly.

Top tips

Practice like crazy: this is all about timing and the quality of both your manuals and rear wheel lifts. Only hard work will let you get close to the current record of 50 inches!

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