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How to Manual on a BMX Bike: 5 Pro-Approved Steps

how to manual bmx
Written by James Jordan
Last Update: August 16, 2023

The first question that pops into one’s mind is what on earth BMX is! Well, its bike motocross. A BMX bike is an off-road sport bicycle used for racing and stunt riding. Scot Alexander Breithaupt is credited as the founding father of BMX in 1970, where else but Long Beach, California. He was a mere stripling of 13 years when he started off in BMX. Soon kids took to country dirt tracks racing and trying out stunts. It grew steadily in popularity. BMX riding is inherently dangerous. Here we will take you through how to manual BMX.How to Manual on a BMX Bike

What Is a Manual?

A likely definition of a manual is riding and balancing on the rear wheel without any motion of the pedals. But why call it a ‘manual’. On a bike, a wheelie is gaining speed before lifting off the front wheel. A manual, on the other hand, relies on physically using your arms to lift up the front wheel off the ground, hence manual as some sources suggest. Because of its long wheelbase, BMX bikes are extended. A manual is all about balance and shifting body weight. BMX bikes do not have suspension. So riders rely on maximum power and thrust to overcome obstacles on the sprint around a race track. The legs and bodies absorb impacts.

How to Manual BMx

A manual is basically riding on the rear wheel without pedaling. You simply haul the front wheel off the ground and shifting your bodyweight back, balance with the legs.

  • The manual is pretty much the first step in getting into the bunny hop. Finding the balance point and holding it is the trick.
  • To learn to manual, the rider has to bear in mind that factors to take into account are body weight, the length of the bike, and their center of gravity to find the balance point.
  • A manual is the basis of many beginner bmx tricks.

Learning to Manual on a Flat Surface

1. Getting Into the Manual

You want to be certain that the pedals are right below the balls of your feet, with the feet pointing faultlessly forward. Ensure the handlebar is set parallel to the fork. Keep your index finger on standby over the brake lever in readiness to be deployed in the event of starting to wheelie out.

As pointed out earlier, to enter into the manual, three actions should be performed; the front wheel has to be lifted off the ground, your weight shifts back so that your center of gravity is above the wheel.

This is not be confused with a BMX flatland which is essentially a freestyle technique done on smooth, flat surfaces.

learn how to manual bmx on a Flat Surface

2. The Dos and Don’ts


  • Be cool.
  • Ensure pedals positioned below balls of feet.
  • At a little more speed than jogging, approach the curb.
  • Pedals should be kept level all the time.
  • When hoiking the front wheel, keep your arms nearly straight. You’re going to lift the front wheel with your back, not your arms.
  • Shift your weight back and at the same time in a smooth motion lift up on the bar.
  • Effortlessly, slide your weight behind the seat.
  • If you start wheeling too much, your front wheel is too high. Tap your rear brake and this will bring the front wheel down a bit.
  • Switch clipped pedals for flat ones. You don’t want your feet clipped in as you practice this.


  • Don’t call quits. Keep trying
  • Place the middle of the foot on the pedal
  • Yank on the bar. Doing it smoothly is the key.
  • Lean forward.
  • Lift the front wheel with your arms
  • Try this with clips unless you have mastered it on flats.
  • Don’t break any of the bicycle rules and regulations.

3. Looping Out

This is an abandon maneuver when you have essentially lost control. It happens with everyone and it is better to stay one step ahead and learn how to do it smoothly. Go a grassy patch to be on the safe side.

Yank up on the bar and simultaneously lean back so far that the front wheel keeps lifting. As it goes up you slide backward off the bike. Land on your feet preferably and don’t let go of the bar.

How to Manual on a BMX Bike - Looping Out

How to Manual on a BMX Bike - Looping Out

Land on your feet perfectly

Taking It to the Track

1. The Most Common Mistake

So now that you have had a feel of what it’s like to manual on flat ground, our next stop is the track. This is a completely different ball game. An essential skill here is pumping the rhythm.


A common mistake on riding BMX

Pumping the rhythm is to unweight the bike on the uphill section of the rollers and weight it on the downslope.

This is the first common mistake. Most beginners end up trying the reverse.

2. Do Not Weight the Back Wheel

The rear wheel should only be weighted after crossing the crest. By leaning back up the slope, you are weighting the rear wheel. Big mistake.

The Secrets to Manualing on a Track

What is most desirable when manualing on a track is that the front wheel should dip slightly. This is achieved not by shifting the center of gravity but by pumping the legs hard. This will result in the front wheel rising. If the wheel closes to the ground, force it up by pumping again.

Tips to Do a Perfect Manual

Proper form is what you need to get correct.

  • Keep the arms straight. You can flex them a bit but if you want to really do a long manual, keep the arms straight.
  • Crouch and get your behind way back till it’s above the rear axle.
  • The lower you are, the more stable it is.
  • Learn how to jump off the bike and banish the fear of looping out.
  • To go long, you need to pump intermittently to hold the balance and keep going.
  • Don’t over-focus on the front wheel. It can throw you off track.
  • If the front wheel is too high, stand up and straighten out.
  • If the front wheel is too low, you get low.

As I mentioned earlier, doing a manual, leave alone a 180 BMX or 360 BMX, is fraught with the element of bodily harm. Do not forget to always have a helmet on, knee and shin pads. In this guide, we have concentrated on the manual mostly as it is the leaping stone for many BMX bike tricks. If you are considering taking up BMX bike riding, it is highly recommended to choose a BMX bike wisely and watch the vast collection of instructional videos out there on the net and do as much reading as you can. Best of luck in your new endeavor.

About the author

James Jordan

As a kid I inherited the love for mountain bikes from my father who used to ride for weeks through the Colorado trail in the city of Denver. He had his gang, and I followed pretty much the same track.

Later on, my interest in biking grew more after joining the Enduro race back in 2013. My buddies and I also participated in the Downhill racing for the third consecutive year, and it’s been an amazing experience.

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