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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've never learned to manual or wheelie and I decided I'd like to learn to do at least one or the other before I die. It was a really nice day today so I used some scrap wood to make a quick manual cheater machine to see if that can help. After a few adjustments, here was one of my 1st attempts. It is actually easier than I thought it would be with this cheater, but I went to a Grass field afterward and did better than I've probably ever done so I am hopeful this will help me progress a little faster. I also figured that posting it here would keep me motivated to keep practicing and try to get better. Any advice tips or tricks are welcomed.


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Can you post a photo of you machine you built? I was just thinking about building one of these to help my kids advance their riding skills, and maybe use it myself too. I'm really impressed with how long you were able to balance there!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Were you holding the rear brake? The bike seemed oddly still at the balance point.
Yeah since this is my 1st time doing this, I was wondering about that and what is the best way to "simulate" rolling at a constant speed - but my 1st goal was to just try to find the balance point any way I could

I tried a few different things - after some trial & error, I found that the easiest way was to hold the rear brake before starting the manual to stabilize or else I would roll forward when compressing before shifting back - but then I found it was easier to let go of the rear brake when bringing the front up - this allowed the bike to pivot back easier and then feather the rear brake in conjunction w/ moving to help control how far I tilted back. Once I found the balance point, it was definitely easier to keep it there with the rear brake activated, but I could balance it for a bit with or without the brake once I felt stable

Again, not sure what the best way to practice is in order to apply it to real world, but would be curious what others think
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Can you post a photo of you machine you built? I was just thinking about building one of these to help my kids advance their riding skills, and maybe use it myself too. I'm really impressed with how long you were able to balance there!
It was easy - took about 30-40 minutes and just used some scraps I found



 

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These things aren't really going to do much for you. The challenge of manuals on an MTB isn't finding the initial balance point. I rode BMX for 20 years before touching an MTB, could manual for a quarter mile down SF hills, through rhythm sections, into rails and drops, etc. Got on a MTB for the first time couldn't manual for 10 feet. Took me a long time to get it down on the big bikes and I'm still not great compared to some. Why it's hard to manual an MTB:
1. BB drop. Your feet functionally go forward for a sec as you lean back, so the balance point is tricky, it's like a parabolic curve instead of a linear progression like a BMX
2. Rear suspension axle path. It's moving as you lean back, again changing the balance point in a hard to predict way. You'll notice as you start manualing longer you have to readjust after manualing for 5-10 feet as the suspension levels out.
3. Tons of rolling resistance. You're constantly slowing down unless going down a decent hill, which is trying to drop your front wheel. Some people lean way back and just ride the brake to learn (like you can do on a moto), but you'll never really fully learn to manual this way

I recommend pumping your shock and rear tire way up, find a 2-3% downhill paved grade that's long, and learning there. It's really hard to loop out an MTB, especially something like a Megatower or similar 29er with longish chainstays and tons of BB drop. Put some flats on and go try to loop out on purpose in the grass/soft ground to find where that point is, you'll realize you should have no fear of looping out one of these big bikes as it's next to impossible.
 

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Freezer
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It's really hard to loop out an MTB, especially something like a Megatower or similar 29er with longish chainstays and tons of BB drop. Put some flats on and go try to loop out on purpose in the grass/soft ground to find where that point is, you'll realize you should have no fear of looping out one of these big bikes as it's next to impossible.
Yeah... that's just wrong. Looping out is dead easy- if it were nearly impossible to do, learning to manual would be easy, which it isn't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
These things aren't really going to do much for you. The challenge of manuals on an MTB isn't finding the initial balance point. I rode BMX for 20 years before touching an MTB, could manual for a quarter mile down SF hills, through rhythm sections, into rails and drops, etc. Got on a MTB for the first time couldn't manual for 10 feet. Took me a long time to get it down on the big bikes and I'm still not great compared to some. Why it's hard to manual an MTB:
1. BB drop. Your feet functionally go forward for a sec as you lean back, so the balance point is tricky, it's like a parabolic curve instead of a linear progression like a BMX
2. Rear suspension axle path. It's moving as you lean back, again changing the balance point in a hard to predict way. You'll notice as you start manualing longer you have to readjust after manualing for 5-10 feet as the suspension levels out.
3. Tons of rolling resistance. You're constantly slowing down unless going down a decent hill, which is trying to drop your front wheel. Some people lean way back and just ride the brake to learn (like you can do on a moto), but you'll never really fully learn to manual this way

I recommend pumping your shock and rear tire way up, find a 2-3% downhill paved grade that's long, and learning there. It's really hard to loop out an MTB, especially something like a Megatower or similar 29er with longish chainstays and tons of BB drop. Put some flats on and go try to loop out on purpose in the grass/soft ground to find where that point is, you'll realize you should have no fear of looping out one of these big bikes as it's next to impossible.
Thanks for the advice - I am practicing on my Canfield Bros. HT w/ flats and semi-slick rear tire w/ pressure at about 40 - had absolutely no problem looping out several times already - I found a slight DH grade on the grass at a nearby park - pavement makes me nervous!
 

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PokeyOne
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Anyone have a link to the super clean pre-fabbed manual machines that were everywhere at Sea Otter?
I built up a big monstrosity using the wife's old wind trainer. So I can pedal and, theoretically, practice wheelies too.
I found it helped.
For sure it helped a lot with the dirt jumper and pump track work.
It is huge and heavy and awkward though.
The one at SO looked like the easily came apart into several flat peices.

It can be stowed flat under the bed with the dusty rowing machine I am supposed to e using :)
 

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Hella Olde
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I used a grassy area and looped out on purpose a few times. I found the sweet spot pretty well. On a trail (if you ride flats!) you can always throw down both feet and dirt-ski if you overcook the manual.


Edit - I NEVER seem to reply to the correct thread location unless I quote. I've only been in IT since 1987 so pls forgive me.
 

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That's pretty cool! How much stress does it put on the rear rim? I'm kinda scared my clumsy ass will tweak my expensive I9 rims if I tried this with my trail bike.

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
That's pretty cool! How much stress does it put on the rear rim? I'm kinda scared my clumsy ass will tweak my expensive I9 rims if I tried this with my trail bike.

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Good question - I thought about this after I started messing around on it - the wheels on that HT are cheap low-end WTBs so I'm not too worried about it, but I might think twice about using expensive wheels - the way I have it set up, if you start to lean too much in either direction, the pieces supporting the rear wheel are fairly flexy and flimsy (probably from some old IKEA furniture) so they give pretty easily and you will have to put a foot down - I didn't really do this on purpose, but I think this forces you to have to center your balance laterally pretty well and takes the stress off the rims
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Another unforeseen side-effect: I have now practiced for 2 sessions on the machine followed by practicing on the grass - probably about 30 minutes each - I woke up with pretty sore lower back and inner thighs - and I am very active in a lot of activities (mtb, rock climbing, surfing, etc.) so I am using muscles I never use in anything else!
 
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