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How to Manual on a Mountain Bike? – 7 Easy Steps to Remember

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

how to manual on a mountain bike

Doing a manual on a mountain bike is a fun way to enjoy an MTB. It is similar to the wheelie, where you keep the bike’s front wheel off the ground while shifting all your body weight on the rear wheel. It is entertaining and a great way to show off your cycling skills.

However, perfecting how to manual on a mountain bike requires practice and a great level of balancing skills. Without the right knowledge, you may get hurt in the process. Luckily, we are here to help you gain a good manual bike technique, especially when mountain biking.

Manual Technique


There are two important things you must remember when learning manual trainer MTB – having a perfect balance and keeping the bike front wheel in the air. A manual MTB technique is a cycling skill where you lift the front wheel and ride on your back wheel without pedaling. You use your momentum to maintain the front wheel in the air while standing up on the flat pedals.

It is a useful technique when riding on different kinds of trails. You can use this technique on challenging trails, especially when you want to build better stability while riding. You can depend on your manual technique while trial cycling or mountain biking. Learning to manual on a mountain bike also helps you gain more control over your cycling, keeping the front wheel from diving off or making a slow drop.

But before mastering this skill, you need to start from scratch and build confidence gradually. It is essential that you practice on an empty corner, and start from the right body position. You have to practice with your knees bent while applying pressure on every turn. More importantly, you have to establish a good grip, as your balancing skills will be deliberately challenged.

You can start by keeping a straight line on the ground and monitoring your progress from time to time. It is also crucial to follow the step-by-step guide below while learning to manual on an MTB:

  • Start with the right body position
  • Work on your hips
  • Practice popping your bike up
  • Look for the balance point while maintaining the front wheel position
  • Start keeping the front wheel up for a longer time
  • Practice rear brake control

Way to Do Manual on a Mountain Bike


Step 1: Start with the right body position

The key to learning the technique successfully is to start with the right body posture. You have to ensure that your body is close to the bicycle while keeping your feet level. It will prepare you to straighten your arms and legs while you pull the front wheel up to the desired balance point.

While practicing your posture, it is also crucial that you keep your eyes straight ahead. It will build better stability while you are focused on the direction you want to launch.

Step 2: Work on your hips

Keeping your arms and legs straight is not the only thing you have to work on. You should also pay attention to your bum and hips. This can help you find the right balance point and be more in control with the back wheel.

To do this, you should slide your bum off the back of your bike saddle while aligning your hips with the rear hub. Once you master this position, your weight will be taken off the front wheel, making it easier to keep the wheel off the ground.

(Pro Tip: Do not be caught up about having to pull very hard with your arms)

Step 3: Practice popping your bike up or preload

It is crucial that you have full control of your body to get the front wheel up while doing the manual bicycle technique. You have to transfer the weight from the front to the back portion of your bicycle. With the good posture mentioned above, practice popping your bike up while gaining control of your body.

(Pro Tip: This is also called a pre-loading strategy. You push your weight down in order to preload the suspension. It will provide you rebounding energy to get the wheel up)

Step 4: Transfer the weight over the rear wheel

Now that you have mastered popping the bike up and controlling your weight, you can try transferring the force over the back wheel. Then, pull the handlebars up and hold the position.

(Pro Tip: When doing this step, always remember to make the punch. When pulling the handlebars, quickly push your feet and arms forward, throw your weight into the back. Remember to keep your arms straight to ensure that your weight stays on the back wheel)

Step 5: Look for the balance point while maintaining the front wheel position

At this point, try to establish the balance point and prepare for movement. Ensure that you find the right balance point, so you can hold the position for a long time. We recommend straightening your arms if you cannot find the balance point.

Step 6: Start keeping the front wheel up for a longer time

When you are more confident with your balance, use your legs to keep the front wheel up in the air. You can do this by pushing your legs against the pedal and pushing the wheel up. Monitor your progress by timing how long the wheel stays up. Then, gradually adjust the height of the wheel, while building more stability in your body.

Step 7: Practice rear brake control

Using brakes is also important with doing manuals on your mountain bike. Make sure that you always cover the rear brake, and dab the rear brake in case you feel like you’re getting off balance. If you are now more acquainted with the manual technique, you can progress by working on your speed. Controlling your speed while you manual your MTB can help you go through a much more difficult trail in the future.

I also find this quite helpful video, which is easy to follow and has all the demonstrations for the basic technique:

Other Things to Keep in Mind to Ease your Mountain Bike Manual

  • It is alright to be a bit worried about your backside when you are coming down from a manual. Just remember that you can rely on the rear brake; dab it to bring yourself to the front end and down.
  • Although high seats are preferable for most bikers, it can make the manual process more difficult. When you are still taking baby steps to learn, we recommend lowering the seat to simplify the process of finding your balance point.
  • Bikes that are equipped with riser bars, short chainstays, and flat pedals are the easiest to do a manual on.


Learning several mountain bike techniques can give you the edge when on the road. It will make the experience enjoyable while maximizing the use of your bicycle. Similar to mastering the wheelie, it can make you a better rider. You can attain more speed, master balancing skills, and train yourself to gain full control of the bicycle.

Hope this article on how to manual on a mountain bike is helpful for you. If you like this guide, don’t forget to like it. Thank you!

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