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Wheelies and manuals


A classic for urban riders, wheelies are just a fun way to improve your overall balancing skills. Mastering the wheelie is essential as a shortcut for smooth transitions, riding off an edge or to accelerate before a rolling pedal-kick.

Try this up against a slope

trials riding tutorials Maintain your lateral balance with your hips.

Riding slowly, drive a quarter of a crank turn with your front foot while crouching slightly to push-up on the bars and compress the front tyre. Then thrust your hips backwards and accelerate on your lazy foot for the next quarter turn. You should lift the front wheel as you push on your lazy foot.

Keep your centre of gravity at the vertical of the rear hub, arms fully stretched. Pull back your shoulders as far as possible with your arms extended and just carry on pedalling smoothly while reaching balance over the rear wheel.

Keep your knees loose, carry on pedalling slowly and feather the rear brake if you tend to accelerate too much, this will prevent you from falling on your back. Ideally, you should find a point of balance where you just keep the bike rolling without accelerating. Adjust your balance with your hips.
If you have a regular bike with a seat, it is often easier to learn the wheelie seated.


Click on any step below and use the scroll-wheel to move through the animation.

Pedal firmly but without accelerating

trials riding tutorials
1° Riding slowly, drive a quarter of a crank turn with your front foot while crouching slightly to push-up on the bars.

trials riding tutorials
2° Then thrust your hips backwards and accelerate on your lazy foot for the next quarter turn to lift up the front wheel.

trials riding tutorials
3° Keep your centre of gravity at the vertical of the rear hub, arms fully stretched. Pull back your shoulders as far as possible.

trials riding tutorials
4° Keep your knees loose, carry on pedalling slowly and feather the rear brake if you tend to accelerate too much.

trials riding tutorials
5° Ideally, you should find a point of balance where you just keep the bike rolling without accelerating.

trials riding tutorials
6° Adjust your lateral balance with your hips and try to maintain the same pace.


Biketrial video Watch all the slow-motion video clips for this move Biketrial video


Natural progression

trials riding tutorials Control your pace until you can stop.

It is easier to learn the wheelie going up a very mild slope, the front wheel is easier to lift and the natural uphill resistance allows for better pedal control without succumbing to an uncontrolled acceleration. This also prevents the bike from shooting underneath you. Once you get the feel for it, improve your braking control, either on a flat or down a mild slope.


Adjust your vertical balance

trials riding tutorials Tune your vertical balance by hovering over the rear hub.

Often, the front wheel tends to drop down when riders don't lean back enough. For those bikes equipped with a seat, the point of balance should feel exactly the same sitting on your bike, as if you were balancing on a dining chair, on two legs only.

When the front wheel drops, a slight pedal acceleration or adjusting your shoulders and hips further back should bring you back into perfect balance.

If you tend to fall backward, either crouch and lean forward while flexing your arms and tucking your knees on each side of the frame, or feather the rear brake to force the bike down and keep your balance. The mistake of most beginners is to perform wheelies in constant acceleration instead of focusing on balance and controlled pedal input.


Tuning your lateral balance
Once the front wheel is up, use your knees and hips to keep going straight and compensate for any sideways deviations. For example, if you fall on your left, pull your right knee on the outside, and if necessary, swing your hips aside too. Keep your knees more or less open to achieve perfect lateral control.

Start at a low speed and try not to accelerate to maintain a constant speed. Eventually, you will be able to ride slowly, slow down to a full stop and start again while balancing on the rear wheel. It really takes some practice but it is worth the feeling.


Learning the manual

trials riding tutorials Go fast and stop pedalling to cruise on your momentum.

The "Manual" is a variant of the wheelie where you keep cruising on a flat surface or down a slope without pedalling. Well performed, this pure urban trick will give you a surfing sensation, floating with balance. On a flat surface, you should ride fast enough to keep moving at a good pace once you've stopped pedalling.

Lift the front wheel with a firm push-up on the front tyre and lean back with your bum hovering over the rear hub. Control the whole bike inclination by adjusting your centre of gravity with your hips and knees, keeping your arms well stretched.

Keep a finger over the brake levers just in case of emergency, but in a very well balanced manual, you don't need to rely on the rear brake. You can practise manuals down a mild slope, though you should feather the rear brake to compensate for the constant downhill acceleration and to control your speed. When you use the rear brake, lean further back to compensate for the change of momentum and prevent the front wheel from diving.


Click on any step below and use the scroll-wheel to move through the animation.

Launching a manual

trials riding tutorials
1° Ride fast enough to keep moving at a good pace once you've stopped pedalling, then lean forward over the bike.

trials riding tutorials
2° Lift the front wheel with a firm push-up on the front tyre and lean back with your bum hovering over the rear hub.

trials riding tutorials
3° Control the whole bike inclination by adjusting your centre of gravity with your hips and knees, arms well stretched.

trials riding tutorials
4° Maintain the right balance spot as your cruise along, by adjusting your posture over the bike.


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