Manuals: Tallness is no excuse

Hi Lee,

Long time listener, first time caller. I’ve got a few questions about tall riders – I’m 6ft5 and pretty lean (read skinny) and I’m looking for tips to make a lanky bloke faster. My centre of gravity is higher (I ride an XL Heckler) so I guess manualling isn’t ever going to be my strong point, but can you give some tips of ways of using my height and long limbs to get down (and occasionally up) the hill faster?

Thanks, Matt

PS I’d love to be able to manual and I think I might be using my height as an excuse …

Van is 6-8 of pure man. Considering height-to-wheelbase ratio: When you’re that tall, you can ride a DH bike the way a 5-8 rider can ride a BMX cruiser.

Hey, Matt.

Yes, your COG is higher than mine (I’m a perfectly average 5-9). But you have more range of motion than I do, and that will ultimately let you do more with your bike than I can do with mine.

Our friend Van is 6-8, and when he manuals it’s such an event that we call it a Vanual. His long arms and legs let him get way behind the rear axle. He just hangs back there with his front wheel skimming right above the ground. It’s a thing of beauty.

Steve Peat is a tall guy, and he incorporates his range into his riding style. Where a smaller rider might make quick turns around big rocks, Peaty will go right over them.

The key for a tall rider — wait, any rider — is to use his full range of motion. All the way up, all the way down, all the way forward, all the way back. I guarantee you’re only using a fraction of your range. Practice being all the way down and back — your giblets should be behind the rear wheel — and the manuals will come easy.

Jon Watt is about 6-2. Note how his arms are perfectly straight. Get back there!

Regarding climbing: Try longer cranks. Read Which crank length do I need?

Have fun,

— Lee

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