I've been trying to improve my manual technique. I ride a Hakka MX and want to get better at manuals so I can better negotiate drops and whatnot on MTB trails.

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I'm having a hard time getting the front wheel up enough without also giving some power through the pedals. And then it's a wheelie, not a manual.

I'm wondering, is this a consequence of the geometry of the bike compared to a typical MTB? (No dropper post, lower stack, longer reach...) Or just a consequence of my technique?

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    Also note that the Hakka's gravel geometry comes with very long chain stays: 420 mm. A typical road bike (eg Giant TCR) has 405 mm. While the trend for road bikes is towards longer chainstays, many of the tutorial videos show riders on such classical road bikes. – gschenk Oct 4 '20 at 22:35

You are correct. The geometry of a road bike leads to a different body weight distribution than you would have by default on an MTB, BMX or other type of a bicycle. To lift the front wheel, you'll need to shift your mass center to the left of the rear wheel's axle to ground projection, that's just statics in physics.

You can ease it slightly by e.g. installing a shorter stem and by lowering the saddle, but it still would not be enough to make it as easy as it would be on certain other bicycle types.

It is not impossible, you may find videos on the Internet of people doing manuals, front manuals and whatnot on road bicycles. By as for the beginner, it would take much more time and frustration to learn it on a road bike frame.

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    You mention statics, but getting into a manual is a dynamic move, and the thinner tyres plus lack of front suspension on a gravel bike will reduce the effect of preloading. – Chris H Jul 11 '20 at 6:55
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    @ChrisH Of course dynamics are at least as important when things are in motion. My reasoning is that a manual as a trick is more about keeping the bike balanced on a rear wheel than about the initial front wheel lift. Lifting takes maybe ½ second, the follow-up balancing could go on indefinitely long if one is skilled enough, and that is where the system may be approximated as static. I do not think that the front suspension is as critical as the geometry/weight distribution aspect for the same reason: the front can be lifted with a preload/punch hard enough, but then one has to balance it. – Grigory Rechistov Jul 11 '20 at 8:10
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    I see what you're saying, but the OP says they're having trouble getting the front wheel up, not "keeping" it up - so IMO it's the dynamic part that's the problem – Chris H Jul 11 '20 at 10:51
  • @ChrisH preloading? How does that work? – gschenk Jul 11 '20 at 15:47
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    @gschenk with suspension you'd compress it first, then pull up, to get some assistance from the spring. Even without, you can get a bit from the tyre, by pressing down on the bars before shifting weight back. I think Grigory was referring to the picture with "left", rather than from the rider's point of view – Chris H Jul 11 '20 at 17:33

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