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Can you manual an XC bike?

mattrgeemattrgee Posts: 157
edited June 2011 in MTB beginners
Hi guys,

I've been trying to improve my general skills recently, starting with seated wheelies and also manuals. While I can get the front wheel off the ground with a couple of pedal strokes, I'm finding doing a manual very difficult. Typically, are XC bikes more difficult to manual than something with slacker geometry? Shortening the stem isn't an option as the bike is a little short already. The stem is 110mm.
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  • nozzacnozzac Posts: 408
    An XC bike with a very long stem and low bars is gonna be harder than something more upright and less stretched because it's easier to get your weight back without trying on the latter but people manual all sorts of bikes. Check out what Martyn Ashton can do on a carbon road bike: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5z1fSpZNXhU

    I'm no expert but what I do know is that it's all about shifting your weight back quickly before with the pulling of the straight arms and pushing with the legs, heels down. If you just try to pull up you won't get anywhere but if you compress and then throw your weight much further back than you'd think (think getting your bum over wheel like on a very steep descent) it's a lot easier to get the wheel up and get it up higher.

    I've got an old Trek from the 90s with a 120mm stem and flat bars. Those old XC bikes are longer and lower than the ones today as far as I can tell. I can still manual it fine but I have to get my weight back much more and get my legs into the action.
  • Generally xc bikes are designed to climb well so geometry is set up to keep the front wheel down.

    What you maybe able to do if your bike has an inline seatpost is change it for a layback post and some wider bars this should give you a lil scope to run a shorter stem and make the bike feel livelier and more controlled
  • stubsstubs Posts: 5,001
    Not as easy but can be done. Everything Nozza says plus I find it easier if the saddle is dropped a bit.
    Fig rolls: proof that god loves cyclists and that she wants us to do another lap
  • nozzacnozzac Posts: 408
    BTW if you're into learning tricky bits then Martyn has a book out: http://www.mtbtricks.co.uk/

    It builds up from the most basic of moves (like lifting the front wheel an inch) up to stupidly hard trials and jump stuff. Obviously there is a severe limit to what a book can do for you but at least it shows you how he breaks moves down into simpler sub-moves, masters them through repeating them over and over, and then pulls them together again. Certainly has the best approach to learning the bunny hop I've seen.

    I'm 41 and missed out on learning this stuff when I was a kid. We thought jumping off a ramp made from a plank and milk crate was daring. Kids these days have much more exposure to what is possible and much better skills. So I love poncing about trying to learn wheelies, trackstands, endos etc. I'm sure I look a right idiot but it's better than being middle-aged and boring....or so I tell the wife.
  • SalsaSalsa Posts: 753
    I can't manual my XC bike the same way as I can my BMX (off the seat & pumping to maintain the manual) but I can coaster manual it. By that I mean stay seated & sustain the manual by sitting on the extreme of the balance point using the brake if I go too far back & letting go of the brake if the front drops. It's easier to do this on a hill as the brake robs your speed, but it does work even on the flat & I can come to almost a stop on the back wheel which looks pretty cool.
  • nozzacnozzac Posts: 408
    Surely it's not a manual if you're sitting down, it's a wheelie?
  • stubsstubs Posts: 5,001
    I was practicing my manuals, wheelies, stoppies and bunny hops in the road outside my house thinking How cool must I look. Till a teenager went past wheelieing one handed. Put me in my place :lol:
    Fig rolls: proof that god loves cyclists and that she wants us to do another lap
  • Can wheelie no worries, manuals i cant get more than a few feet. Just cant work em out.
    4 wheels bad
    2 wheels good
    1 wheel for fun
  • bartimaeusbartimaeus Posts: 1,812
    I have an XC bike. I am totally unable to do a manual. Must be the bike :oops:
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  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    Bartimaeus wrote:
    I have an XC bike. I am totally unable to do a manual. Must be the bike :oops:
    I know the feeling, mine's scared of jumping too, big poofter bike.
    I don't do smileys.

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  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 15,247
    You can manual any bike, even a road bike.
    The balance point on an xc bike is higher than on a freeride bike. A true manual shouldn't involve any pedaling once the front wheel is off the ground. Once the front wheel is up you can push/pull on the bars & pedals to keep the balance point.
    Always keep the back brake covered with at least one finger so that you can drop the front weel if it goes too high.
  • mattrgeemattrgee Posts: 157
    Thanks everyone.

    So if an XC bike isn't really suited to doing manuals etc. what is? Obviously a BMX would be easier but you don't see too many of those on the reds at CYB :D

    I've heard of various bike types such as i.e. All Mountain, Trail Bikes and Freeride but do to be honest I don't really know what the difference between them is and whether they are eaiser to manual than an XC bike.
  • popstarpopstar Posts: 1,392
    You don't want to manual all over Dragons Back, do you? Is it kinda new MTB style or what?

    I only can manual for 1sec, that's all. Think those sick skillz aren't for my discipline of riding.
    What could have been (Video)

    I'll choose not put too much stake into someone's opinion who is admittingly terrible though
  • mattrgeemattrgee Posts: 157
    No, that would be odd. Ultimately, being able to manual would allow me to ride obstacles like drop-offs and drain ditches better rather than letting them slow me down.
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    NozzaC wrote:
    Surely it's not a manual if you're sitting down, it's a wheelie?
    Yep, you're right. That is the difference between a manual and a wheelie.
  • miss notaxmiss notax Posts: 2,823
    I have limited success with manuals and wheelies - i'm fine with one random step / thing in the middle of a car park, but as soon as i'm out on the trail it's another story :oops:
    Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take your breath away....

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  • CustomCCustomC Posts: 122
    cooldad wrote:
    Bartimaeus wrote:
    I have an XC bike. I am totally unable to do a manual. Must be the bike :oops:
    I know the feeling, mine's scared of jumping too, big poofter bike.

    hehe epic! :D
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 15,247
    Different technique to a manual for riding drops & lifting the wheel over obsticles. Pump the forks, weight back & pull on the bars. You often don't need to lift the front over drops if you have enough speed, you can just keep your weight back & enjoy the ride :D
  • FunBusFunBus Posts: 404
    A manual whilst sitting down is not a wheelie! A manual is basically a wheelie without pedalling. Freecoasting with your front wheel in the air.

    You dont need to manual for all the obstacles you've mentioned, you literally need to pump your wheel up a little bit - a manual involves keeping it up much longer......if you struggle, i think there's tablets you can buy?
  • nozzacnozzac Posts: 408
    mattrgee wrote:
    No, that would be odd. Ultimately, being able to manual would allow me to ride obstacles like drop-offs and drain ditches better rather than letting them slow me down.

    I know where you're coming from - sounds like we're thinking about the same stuff. I think the underlying movement is important to learn and is used in drops, hops etc. However on the trail, the longest you usually need to be able to hold a manual for is a couple of seconds and not as high as balance point. E.g. manualling over a small hump that would otherwise give you air, or through a little stream or whatever the wheel need only be a foot or so off the ground. I've only recently started doing this myself and it definitely improves your flow.

    Have you been reading The Manual? (honestly, it is called that). It's just that Chris Ball makes a big deal out of manuals as being the basis for a lot of other moves and it's what got me thinking more about manualling recently. Whilst he's undoubtedly correct that the movement is used widely, you don't actually do a full coasting Manual for most other moves like a drop off unless you're going very slowly indeed. You just shift your weight in a similar way depending on the speed and angle of landing. You can equally consider it pushing the bike forward which is how other people teach drops. When you go backwards, the bike goes forwards and visa versa thanks to Newton.

    All of this is more than possible on an XC bike. I have a 90 XC bike with 120mm stem + flat bars and it's possible on that.

    I wouldn't think about swapping your bike until you're sure that the front wheel cannot be lifted which seems very unlikely. Find a road going downhill, compress your forks and spring backwards vigroously as they decompress and get your censored over the back wheel and let your straight arms pull the front up whilst dropping your heels and pushing the bottom of the bike forwards. I guarantee you'll flip the bike yet alone lift the wheel.

    If it's really hard then a shorter stem and/or rise bars will help a lot.

    Bear in mind I'm a distinctly average rider. I've just been thinking about this a lot recently myself and noticing what works and what doesn't. I could be completely wrong and probably am. I'd take more experienced and better riders' advice over mine any day!
  • RockmonkeySCRockmonkeySC Posts: 15,247
    Rather than asking about tricky riding techniques on a forum you would be better off doing a days skills training. You would be surprised what a good instructor can teach you in a day.
  • SalsaSalsa Posts: 753
    NozzaC wrote:
    Surely it's not a manual if you're sitting down, it's a wheelie?

    No, I mean I'm not pedaling at all, I am maintaining the rolling manual with the brake & my body weight only and coasting along on the rear wheel with no pedal input.
  • nozzacnozzac Posts: 408
    Salsa wrote:
    NozzaC wrote:
    Surely it's not a manual if you're sitting down, it's a wheelie?

    No, I mean I'm not pedaling at all, I am maintaining the rolling manual with the brake & my body weight only and coasting along on the rear wheel with no pedal input.

    How are you getting the front up in the first place? That is key to what the OP was asking.
  • mattrgeemattrgee Posts: 157
    Rather than asking about tricky riding techniques on a forum you would be better off doing a days skills training. You would be surprised what a good instructor can teach you in a day.

    Yeah good idea, I'm hoping to do a weekend with Ed from Great Rock before the end of the year.

    Do people find bikes with slacker geometry easier to manual? My XC bike has a head angle of 71.
  • SalsaSalsa Posts: 753
    NozzaC wrote:
    Salsa wrote:
    NozzaC wrote:
    Surely it's not a manual if you're sitting down, it's a wheelie?

    No, I mean I'm not pedaling at all, I am maintaining the rolling manual with the brake & my body weight only and coasting along on the rear wheel with no pedal input.

    How are you getting the front up in the first place? That is key to what the OP was asking.

    Oh I see what you mean, I have to pop the front up with a pedal kick as I would if I was just starting a wheelie. As I would have to lower my saddle to put my weight on the rear axle & scoop the front into a manual like on my BMX to sustain it for a decent amount of time, it's not really practical on my high seated XC bike. It doesn't look like I'm starting a wheelie though, more like a trials power hop but only with the leading foot as I only have to push a little & lean back.

    What you said about not really having to hit the balance point if your just using a manual to flow through/over something is good advice, you don't really need big manual skill to do that as it only lasts a few metres.

    I didn't really read his question :oops: so didn't realise he wanted to learn manuals for the practical use of them, not like me who mainly uses them to pose :wink:
  • tom_howardtom_howard Posts: 792
    NozzaC wrote:
    An XC bike with a very long stem and low bars is gonna be harder than something more upright and less stretched because it's easier to get your weight back without trying on the latter but people manual all sorts of bikes. Check out what Martyn Ashton can do on a carbon road bike: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5z1fSpZNXhU

    I'm never blaming my bike for my not being able to do something after seeing that!
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  • getonyourbikegetonyourbike Posts: 2,804
    Salsa wrote:
    Oh I see what you mean, I have to pop the front up with a pedal kick as I would if I was just starting a wheelie. As I would have to lower my saddle to put my weight on the rear axle & scoop the front into a manual like on my BMX to sustain it for a decent amount of time, it's not really practical on my high seated XC bike. It doesn't look like I'm starting a wheelie though, more like a trials power hop but only with the leading foot as I only have to push a little & lean back.

    What you said about not really having to hit the balance point if your just using a manual to flow through/over something is good advice, you don't really need big manual skill to do that as it only lasts a few metres.

    I didn't really read his question :oops: so didn't realise he wanted to learn manuals for the practical use of them, not like me who mainly uses them to pose :wink:
    so it's a powered manual.
  • wordnumbwordnumb Posts: 847
    You can manual any bike

    A tenner says you can't manual a tandem.

    :D
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    :lol:
  • tom_howardtom_howard Posts: 792
    wordnumb wrote:
    You can manual any bike

    A tenner says you can't manual a tandem.

    :D

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej-HoqKoRds

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