Manualing Through Berms: You can do it too!

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If you’ve been following my videos, you’ve definitely seen your fair share of manuals through turns.  I first started filming a lot of these back in late 2018. For some reason, this one through a wooden berm in Costa Rica really popped well with folks:

There’s also this one from Puerto Rico…

I hadn’t done too many of these previously because, well, they aren’t really that hard.  Sure, every now and then there will be a berm manual that incorporates some other aspects that will then make it more challenging.  Like my favorite berm manual of all time, from Bentonville, Arkansas:

We filmed a bunch of these in AR.  I like this one in particular because it incorporates the “lanual” (landing in a manual) entrance as well as a full commitment gap/drop at the end.  If there’s anything that’s scary about manuals, it’s having the front wheel drop into a “pit of no return”, which could be the back of a landing, a log, off a drop, wherever.  Luckily, berms themselves don’t have that risk.

My cornering style isn’t anything crazy, but I do my absolute best to carve the bike and to pump my way through each turn.  When I pump, I use my legs a ton, but less obvious is that I also pull back on the handlebars quite hard. While the legs will always generate a lot more force, I need to really think about my arms in order to get the rest of my body to follow.  

Let’s break a corner down into parts- the entrance, the apex at the middle, and the exit.  While I’ve gone on and on about the importance of either a totally neutral, flat line OR entering high and pumping down low, the pumping motion is relatively similar regardless of which line is being ridden.  Get back and low on the bike, with a lot of downforce, to brake heavily and effectively in as short a distance as possible BEFORE getting to the corner. Then at the entrance of the turn, transfer weight forwards, while still being low on the bike.  Between ~⅓ of the way through to about ~⅔, I’m moving my weight from the front of the bike to the rear. This creates that big pump I’m talking about.

“Moving your weight from front to rear” is what I need to think in order to pull this correctly.  In detail, this means pushing down with your legs, while pulling back on the bars. Timing is what turns this motion into an effective pump, and I’m usually done with this motion by the ⅔ mark of the turn.  

Now this is also just about the same thing you’re doing when initiating a manual- weight is forwards for a preload, then rocking backwards while pushing down with the legs.  Why not get just a hair further back in the berm, pull up slightly rather than just back, and try to hold the resulting manual through the turn?  

This doesn’t work in every turn, but in those that have enough banking to support some g-forces, but not so much banking and speed that it’s hard to simply hold a line, then the berm manual is a surprisingly attainable maneuver.  The cornering forces seem to help hold the bike in a nicely balanced manual. It does take a lot of core strength to hold these, but not an insane amount.  

To get started with these in a controlled manner, I first practiced manualing out of corners.  Since I’m getting so much weight on the rear, it’s pretty easy to manual out of a berm that requires a hard pump.  Then it became a matter of pulling into that manual earlier and earlier.  

Is this a practical skill?  Not really. But it’s fun, not as hard as it looks, and it’s a good way to make old corners feel challenging again! 

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