How to Manual on a Mountain Bike

When you’re cruising on a mountain bike or pacing through a trail, you face different problems. One such problem is the obstacles that you face while conquering trails. To overcome these obstacles, there’s a popular skill that is known as a manual.

With a manual, you can pass over these obstacles in style and comfort. And like every skill, this mountain biking skill requires practice. Because without practice, even if you learn it, you won’t be able to utilize it. Let’s find out how to manual on a mountain bike.

Manual a Mountain Bike

What Is a Manual on A Mountain Bike?

Lifting a bike’s front wheel and then using the back wheel to ride without pedaling is called a manual. It sounds similar to a wheelie, but no. The rider sits down on the seat in a wheelie and pedals the bike to keep the front wheel up. But in manual, the rider’s momentum will keep the front wheel up. The rider stands on the pedals in manual.

How To Manual on an MTB?

A manual on a mountain bike is a rather competitive skill. Therefore, experts recommend that the rider should first learn the wheelie. Because doing so, the rider would know where his bike’s balance point is. But you can learn to manual without learning wheelie first too. Here’s a step-by-step guide on the how-to manual.

5 Steps to Manual on a Mountain Bike

  1. Start while being in the attack position. While standing on the bike, you need to prepare for the manual. Go down and come close to the bike.
  2. Keep your body close to the bike and your feet level. To bring your bike into a balance point, you can pull the wheel up by straightening your arms and legs. A tip for first-timers is to keep their eyes straight; it will assist you in being stable and traveling straight.
  3. To manual, the trick is to bring the front wheel up by moving your weight. You’ll have to bring your weight from the front to the back. Now, bring your body on the back while keeping your arms straight. Don’t pull the bars, but let your body pull the bars for you by keeping your arms straight.
  4. As soon as the front wheel starts to come up, shift your whole weight to the back wheel. Do this while pulling the handlebars. Bring your weight behind the back wheel. This is one of the mistakes that beginners make. They can’t bring their weight to the rear wheel’s back.
  5. Once you’ve successfully performed all the above steps, you’ll be manual with ease.
Manual a Mountain Bike

Maintaining a Manual on A Mountain Bike:

Manual is a tricky task. But once you manual, it isn’t as hard as it seems. It would feel like a piece of cake to manual on a mountain bike. Now comes the real task, to maintain a manual on the bike. You would have to try it again and again, even for a second, but it will help you maintain it. To maintain the manual, you can practice the following tricks.


The first and foremost task would be to find the balance point on your bike. Here, you might have to play with your weight by pulling the front wheel and riding on the rear wheel. When you find the balance point, you need to straighten your arms.

Don’t lock them, as locking can make it worse at some points. Straightening your arms will help in maintaining balance.

Pushing With Legs:

Once you know your balance point and are comfortable holding it for 2-3 seconds, time for the next step. Now push against the pedal with your legs. This will ensure the front wheel is up. For starters, you can practice by timing this move as soon as it starts to drop.

Rear Brake Control:

While manual, there might be times when you’re going way in the back. What to do then? Your rear wheel brake is useful in this situation. Dab on the brake, and your bike will stop falling back.

To perfect your manual, you need to work on pushing the pedals and dabbing on the brakes. Once you get a complete hold of the manual, you’ll be able to manual as long as you want. Well, as long as you have enough speed.

Common Mistakes to Avoid While Manual:

Whenever you’re learning a new skill, you’ll make mistakes. And oftentimes, we’re making some common mistakes without even knowing. We’ve listed some of the common mistakes for you so you can avoid them next time you practice the manual.

  • When pulling up, you’re bending your arms. If you are bending your arms, you won’t be able to raise the front wheel easily.
  • You are compressing your forks to gain spring and lift. Remember, the bike needs to come back because of your weight shift.
  • Not pushing your body back enough to lift. As there won’t be enough counterweight, the front wheel won’t come up.

Tips For Mountain Bike Manual:

Here are some tips to help make the manual on an MTB easier:

  • Lowering your saddle height can make manuals easier, as it will slightly lower your center of gravity. But once you learn the how-to manual, you should adjust it back to your former settings. Because you’ll need to manual at the drop of a hat on the track.
  • Flat pedals boost confidence while doing a manual. A pro tip would be to place your feet further to the front to get the most from the pedal.
  • Raising the bars of your bike will help in the manual. This way, your bodyweight won’t rest on your arms.
Manual on a mountain bike

Not All Bikes Are Made for a Manual:

When you can’t manual, even though you’re avoiding all the common mistakes, then the problem is your bike. That’s because not all bikes are compatible with manuals. Some allow manual out of the box, while others require tweaking to manual. To give you an idea, bikes that have a raised bar or a higher front end are easier to manual. That’s because your weight won’t be on your arms, making raising the front wheel easy.

Other than that, bikes with a shorter chain stay will have their seats closer to the back wheel. These bikes will make it easier to lift the wheel. Flat pedals help develop confidence for newbies. Because with flat pedals, it’s easier to jump back off if you can’t loop out.

Is a Manual on MTB Useful?

Okay, so you’ve spent weeks perfecting the manual, but is it useful? Or did you waste your time on a useless skill? This skill isn’t useless. It is used to clear obstacles on the trail. With this, you can overtake rocks and logs on the trail.

First, your front wheel needs to clear the obstacle, then your back wheel will follow. On the trail, it’s important to shift your weight to maintain balance. Other than that, keep your pedals level to avoid catching on to the obstacles you’re clearing. Manuals can help you ride smoothly on your mountain bike tracks.

If you want to bring your mountain biking to the next level, by learning the skill of bunny hopping.

How Long Does It Take to Manual An MTB?

Manual is a complicated task. In this, you need to time several things to get your bike to manual.

First of all, you need to learn how to bring your bike into manual. It can take anywhere from a day to 3 days. But again, the learning curve for everyone is different. Some can learn it in an hour; others need a few days.

Anyways, learning the manual is easy compared to the next task, maintaining the manual.

For this, you need to practice a lot. What riders do is give themselves small manual tasks to help them grow. These tasks often have a duration or a certain distance to cover while manual. Set a small task for each day. Once you perfect that said task, increase its duration or distance.

Perfecting manuals can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks to 6 weeks for a typical rider. Yours might vary on your skill learning capabilities.

Are 29ers Harder to Manual?

As the 29ers have a higher center of gravity and an increased bottom drop, manual is harder on them. But it isn’t impossible. It isn’t as hard as it seems if you can perform manuals on other MTBs. Although, it’ll require extra time getting used to. That’s because they have a 29″ wheel. This is also a benefit, as the increased bottom bracket drop makes it more stable.

Balancing on a bike depends on the wheel size and geometry of the bike. So, you might have to work anew on your 29ers to perfect longer manuals. These bikes aren’t designed for manual, but they can be a tougher job for you for speed.


A mountain bike manual is quite a useful trick if you love to bike off-road. Because with this, you can cross almost all obstacles with ease. To manual on a mountain bike, you need to work on your hip movement. Remember, your hips should be behind the rear wheel if you want to lift your bike.

To perfect a manual, you need lots and lots of practice. Set small targets and overcome them. Next up, increase the intensity of the targets. This way, you’ll be able to increase your manual stamina. While manually, you need to consider one thing: you’d need to manual at the drop of a hat.

Below is a Pinterest friendly photo… so you can pin it to your Mountain Bike Board!