Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thursday afternoon quick rant: you can't manual

I hear constantly about how this or that bike doesn't "manual" easily enough. Often I hear this from obvious freds or 50 pound overweight retired dentists online.

Folks, this is a manual. It means you get up on your rear wheel and balance there, without pedaling, and roll along. It's not a wheelie, it's not just lifting your front wheel for a second to get it over a dip or a rock in the trail. Almost no mountain bikers can do it (including most pros), and it's not even a particularly useful skill for most people for trail riding. It's a skill that often coincides with being a really good bike handler and it's occasionally useful, but if you're skilled enough to do a real manual, you can basically do one on ANY bike.

So if you want to complain that a bike doesn't manual well, I'll be happy to listen provided you go grab your trials bike or BMX and manual that for me. Otherwise, you can't manual because you can't manual, no matter what bike you're on, and furthermore, manualing won't really help you on the trail, so don't worry about it.

Yours truly, 36 year old fred who can't really manual Walt


dicky said...

I knew this was coming when I saw that you updated.


mike said...

Love it! I was hoping this would be a photo of Mohawk Matt.

danny said...

It's about core strength/center of gravity/overall natural god-given balance...and yes, if you can manual, you can manual ANY bike, as I've witnessed one talented fellow mechanic do on a vintage, chrome-fendered ladies step-thru cruiser bike... I personally cannot to save my life, but it sure feels good to pretend (that I'm not lame) when a section of trail gets dippy/momentum is on my side. Cool post, Walt.

MB said...

Another good example of some long ones...

Brad said...

I tried to on the 36er... Ended up needing new bike shorts!

Anonymous said...

Um, how do you know they're overweight and dentists? Is it like the image of that Paul Gaulzetti guy whose tattoos you found so objectionable?

Manualing aside, there is that element of manualing which is the de-weighting or lifting of the front wheel, which is fairly directly related to chainstay length--correct me if I'm mistaken--a frequent topic on which you might say more.

Might as well, since the Honzo already exists, among others.


Walt said...

Hey Anon -

You might want to read back a few years on the blog to see my many long and boring diatribes about weight distribution, chainstay length, front center, blah blah blah.

I've got a 40cm chainstay 29er right here that I can't manual, even!


Anonymous said...

I've wanted to learn to manual for years. Maybe this year.

Adam M. said...

Manuals are so early 2000's.... it's all about the nose in the 2010+'s. Walt for my next bike I want a 75 degree head angle, cause my Walt can't nose mani for shit!

Walt said...

Hah! That's awesome. Yeah, nose manuals are pretty worthless on the trail too - but maybe I should build you something that rides fakie (ie backwards) better? I mean, most of the bikes I build really don't handle that well backwards.

Anonymous said...


I took your advice and backread your articles with an eye for chainstays and overweight retired dentists. It was slow going until I remembered that the 'Search' field functions like an index in printed matter. The episode where Heaven Can Wait perpendicularly blocks access to the start of Pickett's Charge stands out, though off topic.

Re: chainstay length: I stand corrected. You have written on it, illuminatingly. I think you're right on in 'Short stays, tire clearance […]' when you pinpoint the bigger (male?) rider's fantasy of being Hans Rey—the shorter the stay, the greater the Rey. Later in the same article, written as recently as Mar 2009, it says, 'But then again, I'm not a huge fan of super-short chainstays on my bikes either.' So, we're somewhere between 'taking the desire for short stays as a given' and 'in the real world, there's a lot more to it than that and the chainstay length shouldn't be considered in isolation from the rest of the frame geometry.' Still, it can always be desired even if it shouldn't be considered!

Taking 'Reductio ad Absurdum [sic]' a little further, I propose that, less being more and more being less, desire approaches its limit the closer chainstay length gets to 0, and that that would be the ideal chainstay length, the greatest degree of nondifference with Hans Rey. WW Unicycles (0) could be added to the Medical Devices division. Besides, the fitting process would be greatly simplified, being largely reduced to the question of saddle height and, the cycling concierge's most delicate operation, saddle selection facilitation. One has to do a jump simply to mount the device, the stay length is so ideal. What could be a greater trial, even for little Hans?

Ideals aside, my objection to the singling out of online overweight retired dentists is addressed on Oct 30, 2009: 'Without getting too far into this debate (it would end up being a rant about how chainstay lengths should be custom for every rider [and in your operation, they are, or could be] and all sorts of lengths can be "right" depending on terrain and preference), while most of these people don't even know what an actual manual is (let alone actually being able to ride one), they do have a point, to an extent.'

Society for the Protection of Fifty Pound Overweight Online Retired Dentists Who Would Like to Manual If They Knew What It Was (SPFPOORDWWLMITKWIW)

P.s. We look forward to a rant on the undertheorized topic of seat stay length.

VT Mike said...

Nose manuals are useful on the trail, at least in the sense that you have the ability to not toss yourself over the bars under hard braking.

Anonymous said...

A manual is properly done on a skateboard. Bikers couldn't come up with a term for something similar on the bike so they just stole it. Bikers are not very creative anyway, hence needing a bike to help them do something.

Walt said...

The problem, anon, is that as soon as you start the sh** talking about what vehicle is most awesome you end up getting some unicycling dropping the "hey, you guys are almost ready to ditch your training wheels!"

So best not to start that.