Learn how to Manual using a Manual Machine

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Aim

Use a manual trainer to learn how to manual on the trails.

Risk

Simulation does not replicate real experience and wasting time.

Build a Manual Machine

Watch the YouTube below to learn how to build a manual machine.

Better yet, Build a manual machine which can be used as a bike repair stand.

Research

First, let’s see what other people have tried, maybe we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Let’s see what lessons others have learnt…

To watch YouTube faster, go to YouTube settings and increase playback speed to 1.5x

Determine dominant foot. What does that mean?

Use strap on crank to prevent going back too far, find balance point and be comfortable in balance position. Learn to use hips and knees to balance.

Film yourself and analyse body position.

Practice stepping off bike backwards when going too far back.

Remove the chain. The chain turns the wheel and creates a false sense.

Do the L. Pop the down.

Learn posture to move hips over seat when in balance position. Move seat lower if needed.

Knees out help with balance. Wider center of gravity.

Risk: Improper form. All about balance. Need hips behind rear wheel. Get your weight as far back as possible.

Down and Back. Get your body low for better control.

Feathering the rear brake to put front wheel down if you go too far back. Pulling brake stops the manual.

Practice lots.

Sit on back wheel “chair” (not bike seat). Put feet on pedals. Lift front wheel. Rise off chair. Find balance point. Fall forward. Repeat.

Take chain and rear brake off. They provide a false sense.

Get a baseline. Manual on the street and see how far you can go. Use a slight downhill grade.

Weight back, use knees to pull hips forwards and back to find balance point.

Have someone stand behind you to prevent falling off backwards. No straps were used. Have confidence to go back.

Remove chain, it gives a false sense.

Seat/saddle all the way down.

Strap on front wheel to prevent going too far back.

Rear brake also gives a false sense. It will lock you in position rather than put front wheel back on ground.

Don’t pull up on handlebars to pull front wheel up. Bring weight down then shift back.

Try to pop to balance point.

Manual dynamics. Find balance point. Butt has to be behind rear axle.

Don’t pull handlebars up and look down. Go butt down and back. Arms straight. Move your weight by bending knees and moving hips forwards and backwards.

Steer using knees and hips.

Use a strap to get over backwards.

Practice in flat pedals to step off back. No clips.

Practice lots.

Remove the chain. Lockout derailleur and pinch chain with hands/pliars.

Record your practice.

Put weight down and back to lift front wheel.

Keep arms straight, dont arch shoulders.

Look forward, not down. Look where you want to go.

Let’s see how it’s done without a Manual Machine

We want to make sure our manual machine practice is realistic for real world manualing. so let’s see what our objectives are. To do this, let’s watch some manualing YouTubes.

It takes time, practice.

Practice your wheelies.

Master the motion. Down and Pop backwards.

Find a good practice field. No traffic. Parking lots. Slight grade.

Rapid repetition. Be able to repeat manual 4-5 times on each run.

Find a good practice location. No traffic, slight downhill.

Squash bike down. Drop into seat without touching seat.

Push down, push the bike forward, push butt backwards.

Seat down. Butt Back and low. L drop.

One finger braking. Learn to feather rear brake.

Practice wheelie to know your balance point.

No pause in the L. Drop and pop.

Slow speed is good. High speed equals bigger accident.

Learn the balance point.

Summary from Manual Machine Learning.

RiskControl
WarningPractice lots: It seems this is not easy to learn or maintain. Manuling also works your muscles. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Are you committed for the long term?
Practice: Look for a good practice location with a slight grade and no traffic to practice manualing. Find a location where you can do 4-5 manual pops on each run. Manual at the practice location and see how far you can go. Add this location to your weekly ride.
Technique to aim forManual dynamics: Find your manual balance point. Your butt has to be behind rear axle. Your body weight counter-balances the bike weight.
Where to look: Look forward, not down. Look where you want to go. Look forward and don’t look down.
Dominant foot: Determine your dominant foot and put it forward. What does that mean? Which is my dominant foot in mountain biking.
Get the front wheel up: Don’t pull up on handlebars to pull front wheel up. Bring hips down then shift back. Do the L. Pop the down. Squash bike down. Drop into seat without touching seat. Push down, push the bike forward, push butt backwards. No pause in the L. Drop and pop. Pop to Balance Point. Keep arms straight at elbows.
Find your balance point: It’s all about balance. Need hips low and behind rear wheel. Get your weight as far back and low as possible. Be able to move over seat while balancing.
Maintain Balance Point: Point knees out to help with balance. Wider center of gravity. Weight back, use knees to pull hips forwards and back to find balance point. Arms straight. Move your weight by bending knees and moving hips forwards and backwards. Steer using knees and hips. Keep arms straight, dont arch shoulders. One finger braking. Learn to feather rear brake to bring front wheel down. Get your body low for better control.
Manual Machine does not replicate reality.Rear Brake: Rear brake gives a false sense. It will lock you in position rather than put front wheel back on ground. Learn to feather the rear brake. If you grab a hand full, in reality it will slam your front wheel down.
Remove the chain: The chain turns the wheel and creates a false sense. Lockout the derailleur and pinch chain with hands/pliers to remove chain.
Bike SetupStraps: Use a strap on pedal crank or front wheel to prevent bike going back too far.
Seat/Saddle: Put the seat/saddle all the way down. This allows your hips to move forwards and backwards to maintain your balance position.
Pedals: Practice in flat pedals to step off back. No clips.
Learning TechniqueAnalyse results: Always record yourself and analyse body position. Analyse your practice sessions and learn from your mistakes.
Get a baseline: Find a good practice location. find a location with a slight downhill grade and no traffic.
Dominant foot: Determine your dominant foot and put it forward. What does that mean? Which is my dominant foot in mountain biking.
Focus: Where are you looking. You go where you look. Look forward. Never look down.
Fail safe #1: Use a strap to stop going over backwards.
Fail safe #2: Practice stepping off bike backwards when going too far back.
Fail safe #3: Have someone stand behind you to prevent falling off backwards. No straps used. Have confidence to go back.
Fail safe #4: Sit on back wheel “chair” (not bike seat). Put feet on pedals. Lift front wheel. Rise off chair. Find balance point. Fall forward. Repeat.
Find Balance Point: Find balance point and be comfortable in balance position.
Maintain balance point: Learn posture to move hips over seat when in balance position. Learn to use hips and knees to balance.Feathering the rear brake to put front wheel down if you go too far back. Pulling brake stops the manual.

Progress

TaskResult
Set expectationsI may not be able to manual on trails. So let’s focus on achieving the steps and see how far i can get. It may take years to do a manual.
Find a practice location.Kedron Brook. Use on/off ramps. Ride Kedron brook, practice wheelies going up ramps, come down and practice manuals. Ideally, Gateway bridge bike path would would be best, but grade is too steep (5%). Ultimate goal would be to manual down nth side of Gateway.
Get BaselineTry and determine my dominant foot. whilst riding on Brook, try left/right foot forwards and see which is comfortable. Find a suitable practice location. At practice location, Attempt manual with left foot and right foot forward. Try and hold manual for as long as possible. Look forward, don’t look down. Record practice.
Results after 1st day.Found a good practice location. It’s 500 mtrs from home. On Jenner St in Nundah at the Killeen St end. It’s a back street with a dip. The grade on both sides is gentle and long enough for 4-5 pops per run. I can also practice wheelies on the other side. A little traffic, but manageable. I was able to determine my dominant foot. It’s my right foot forward. I’m right handed and standard on water skis (non-goofy). Rode my bike with butt over back wheel and tried left and right feet forward. I tried faster speeds and slaloming and rapid handlebar movements. Definitely more comfortable with right foot forward. Yes, according to a fb poll, I’m a goofy footer mtb’er.

Results – Day 1 (5th May 2020).

Dominant foot findings

I’m RIGHT handed RIGHT foot dominant/forward. I was curious to see if this was normal so I created a post in the “South East Queensland Mountain bike discussion” facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/743302145761683/?post_id=2875001732591703

From the poll, it would seem RIGHT handed, LEFT foot forward is the majority. What’s also uncommon is that Goofy footers are usually very rare in any sport. It’s weird that the ratio between RIGHT/LEFT and RIGHT/RIGHT is approximately 60-40.

I was just watching some old YouTubes of me jumping my MTB and going over obstacles, I noticed that my RIGHT foot was unconsciously forward on each jump. So, if you have some existing footage, just see which foot you have forward when going over an obstacle.

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