Bike stunts might not come to mind when you think of world records. But today, announced by the self-cited “ultimate authority on record-breaking achievement,” the Guinness World Records organization, has confirmed a December 4, 2011, stunt by Zachary Hutelin, age 16. In front of cameras and a crowd that confirmed the feat, he pulled his front bike wheel off the ground and coasted in a manual position for 686.25 feet.
Some distcintion: Though we note this as a “wheelie” in the title, officially a manual or “manualing” on a bike involves coasting (no pedaling allowed!) with the front wheel held off the ground. Its close cousin, the wheelie, involves pedaling while riding on the rear tire alone.
Hutelin’s “longest bicycle manual” record smashed the existing 334-foot mark set by another super-balanced biker sometime in the recent past, according to Guinness.
To manual, a rider must be already at speed, lifting the front wheel to balances his or her weight while often crouching back on the bicycle’s frame to coast in a delicate pose. Those who can manual well make it look easy. But rest assured it is not! This seemingly useless trick takes a bucket of determination and a willingness to pick one’s butt from the pavement repeatedly until the skill is mastered.
Hutelin used a Specialized P3 bike for the stunt, which is a dirt-jump/urban/street model that’s more or less a 26-inch-wheeled BMX bike. It has front suspension and disc brakes.
Beyond simply impressing bystanders, a well-placed manual can allow a rider to complete a section of BMX rollers more smoothly and with more control. Said Hutelin of his commitment to the move: “I did it because the fast kids were doing it.” For sure, nothing beats seeing some old BMX salt ride a block-long manual outside your favorite hangout. A tip of the hat to Hutelin and anyone else who can bust out a manual at will for a long stretch down the road.