How to mtb, weight shift

MTB Manual Over Obstacles w/Overlooked Move, Video Tutorial

MTB Manual Over Obstacles w/Overlocked Move, Video Tutorial and frame by frame break down

Going up and over obstacles takes a lot more than just a manual.  It is all about finesse, not speed (though there is a minimum speed for this, which I found by testing how slow I could do this 🙂  ). Last week I said, “smooth equals fast and efficient” and I’m saying it again. This is all about being smooth!

Watch the video for the 2-minute tip and check out the frame by frame breakdown below. Please don’t think you will never use this by the size of the wall I’m using, I do the exact same thing on obstacles of six inches or more. I used this wall to graphically demonstrate the technique and show how these two very basic skills can achieve massive results.

As you can see it is a really simple but committed technique using two simple core skills I have been teaching for 19 years on the first day of my famous three-day skills camps, the manual and the weight shift. As a matter of fact, I have had several students work their way up to doing this by the end of my three-day camp.

By committed I mean you can’t try to do this! Either do it or don’t because stalling halfway will end badly! So baby step your way up to this. Find something much smaller and/or less steep to start on. Luckily, connected to this wall is a smaller wall that goes from a curb with just to pavers on top and has one paver increments up to this height, perfect for practicing.

First the manual breakdown. The manual isn’t a pulling or lifting maneuver, it all about pushing your bars forward while pushing your hips back (which pushes your feet forward and powers your arms). There is no need to push down and load your fork either (though it appears I’m doing it a bit here, I taught to start with a push down until about 2010 when Andy Winoradsky (one of my former BetterRide coaches) showed me that is was unnecessary, old habits die hard!) that simply wastes energy and could spell trouble on a loose, slippery or off-camber surface (your front wheel could slide out).

Start Low, centered and hinged with knees bent, elbows out (tutorial on this important descending position: ). Ready to power that handlebar shove with your hips.

Drive your hips back and push your handlebars forward (not up, simply away from you). Notice, my hips are almost

over my rear axle and arms are starting to straighten.

My hips are now further back, bars further forward and I’m looking to the top of the wall.

My front wheel is unweighted and leaving the ground, arms nearly straight hips over the rear axle. Notice my heels

have dropped and legs have straightened out a bit as they push my hips back and pedals forward.

mtb how to manual

My legs are much straighter having driven my hips behind the rear axle and pushed my pedals forward. I’m now

looking past the wall, where I want to end up (looking to victory!).

MTB how to weight shift

Now I’m starting my weight shift. I am going to drive my hips and chest forward and slightly upward to keep my momentum

going up and over this wall (instead of straight into it which a manual without the weight shift would do, stalling the rider out).

How to mtb, weight shift

Look at that weight shift, my head and chest are over my handlebars, my hips have moved 2.5 feet forward and the bike has pivoted beneath me into an almost vertical position. Notice how lightly my rear tire is hitting the curb at the bottom of the wall! This is why the weight shift works, without the weight shift all of my momentum would have slammed straight into the curb, stalling me out and probably pinch flatting my rear tire.

Almost there! Almost done with my weight shift, bike pivoting back towards level and weight almost recentered.

Mountain Bike How to Manual

Victory is mine! 🙂 On top, centered and neutral ready for the next thing the trail throws at me!

I hope this has been a help to you! If it has please let know in the comments below and/or on youtube. If you know someone who could benefit from this please feel free to share it.

Thanks for tuning in, now go practice this!


10 replies
  1. Byron
    Byron says:

    AWESOME video, Gene, especially when combined with your video of how to rolll down the same obstacle!!! You make both look so easy, even at slow speed! I can’t wait to practice the component skills (balanced on bike, agressive position, wheel lift and weight transfer) on smaller obstactles and then work my way up. There’s still too much snow on the ground here in MN to ride on my favorite sites, but I can practice on a curb or rock in the meantime. Anyhow, thanks for the posting!

  2. Gene
    Gene says:

    Hi Byron,

    Your welcome! Glad you got a lot out of it. Love how you are going to practice each component of the move. That is how to practice!

    You’d be surprised how good a curb is for practicing!



  3. Gabriel
    Gabriel says:

    I’ve been pulling up like a jackass for over 20 years now, this made such a difference out on my ride today. Thanks!

    • Gene
      Gene says:

      Hey Gabriel,

      Don’t be so hard on yourself, I pulled up for about ten years until a friend taught me this. That is why I started coaching mtb skills in 1999. Most of the skills are not intuitive at all and many go completely against human instinct.

      Glad I was a help to you!



  4. Tim G
    Tim G says:

    Great manual tip, Gene! I have been struggling with the manual and watching this just brought me to the epiphany of the key mistake I have been making. I am ready to practice proper manual technique!

    Thanks a bunch!

    • Gene
      Gene says:

      Hi Tim,

      You are welcome. Glad to hear my video helped you realize the mistake you have been making. Happy practicing!



  5. Anne
    Anne says:

    Gene, I’ve been doing my drills, but still struggled with the manual. It’s funny how seeing things at different times will suddenly make something make sense. When we were practicing drops off curbs, I didn’t really understand some of the feedback you were giving me. Somehow, seeing this video and tying it with my drills made it suddenly click–the role of the manual when dropping and the importance of not using the compression. Thanks, hope you’re well!


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