You’ve probably seen many videos of people doing the wheelie and you wondered how to do a wheelie on a dirt bike. It’s not difficult to learn the act. This article will walk you through some technical skills you need for a perfect wheelie.
Whether you are a beginner or an intermediate biker looking to add on one more skill, a few practice shots after reading this article will leave you with a new exciting skill you can show off.
The Basic Idea
A wheelie is the classic bike move of riding with only the rear tire on the ground. The front wheel is off the ground, and the bike is balanced on the rear wheel for a short while. A wheelie differs from a manual, which you need to do with a pedal.
There are many different types of wheelies, including the basic wheelie, no hand wheelie, twelve o’clock wheelie, can-can wheelie, and the old school wheelie.
Generally, you can do a wheelie while sitting or standing. If you are a beginner, sit at the rear of your bike balancing on the back wheel. Next, shift to a comfortable gear that allows you to roll the throttle. The bike’s front wheel will soar upwards as you quickly roll the throttle. Next, tap the rear brake lightly to send the front wheel back down.
With this, you have completed a wheelie, but keep reading to grasp the full picture.
Advantages of Learning to Perform a Wheelie
A wheelie is an impressive skill. It can improve your riding style and allow you to show off your technique to other dirt bike riders or friends.
Learning to wheelie will also improve your brake control and teach you about clutch and throttle control. It is also great to improve balance and become more naturally positioned on your bike.
These skills will not only prevent you from getting into accidents but will also help you when you need to cross streams and go over logs seamlessly.
Standing Versus Sitting: Which is Better?
You can do a wheelie sitting or standing. Standing puts you more in control of your bike and the stunt. Most expert bikers tend to stand for a wheelie, making it easier to navigate obstacles and terrains. But sitting also means you have to sit far back on the bike, which may cause you to fall out of the bike if you throttle too much.
For a beginner, sitting is the best option, as you will easily find the perfect throttle power to get the front wheels off the ground.
Step-by-step Guide to Doing a Wheelie
Here’s a detailed guide on how to do a basic wheelie on a dirt bike as a beginner.
Be Mentally Prepared
When learning to do a wheelie on a dirt bike, you need to get yourself in the mood. You can do one or two skills you already know, such as bunny hops, to put you in the spirit and gain confidence.
Check Your Bike
Check the bike to ensure the brake and throttle are working well. You do not want any surprises while in the middle of a wheelie. The throttle control should be free and persistent.
Find a Flat, Straight Route
Find a road with good traction that has no obstacles ahead. The road shouldn’t have sharp bends that will catch you unaware in the middle of a wheelie. Paved roads or gravel are not beginner-friendly. Instead, look for grassy or sandy areas such as a field or beach.
Perfect Your Sitting Alignment
The way you sit does half the trick. Firmly grip the bike with your legs and sit back on it. Scoot back but still maintain some distance from the utmost rear of your bike. A good position would be when your butt is on the back of your seat pad.
Make sure your upper body is neutral, keeping ninety degrees between your shoulders and hips.
Choose the Right Gear
You need to choose the right gear depending on how confident you feel about your basic riding skills. If you are a complete beginner, it may be best to opt for the first gear, so you can start from a stationary position.
Get into Action
Keep the throttle and clutch pulled in as you rev up the engine. You can roll the throttle using one-fourth of it. What’s important is getting about 15-20 mph from it. Fully release the clutch and front brake while maintaining your hold on the throttle.
As you do this, your front wheel will soar up. If you want to, you can also pull the handlebars back – mostly with your body position and throttle.
Maintain the Throttle
As you continue to practice, you’ll find that the hard part is maintaining balance and landing smoothly. Make sure you resist the urge to lean far back. Instead, focus on keeping your body weight distributed and maintaining an even speed. This will help you find your bike’s sweet spot sooner.
Lower Your Bike
All you need to lower your bike back to the ground is to tap lightly on the rear brake. Avoid applying too much pressure as you do this.
The last step for a perfect wheelie is to practice constantly. Even pro bikers have had years of practice, and that’s how they became so good.
As you practice lifting the wheel, you will find yourself unlocking your bike’s sweet spot and extending the time you spend in suspension. You can also gradually move to a standing wheelie as your throttle control improves.
Other Tips to Perfect Your Wheelie
Here are a few other tips to perfect your wheelie.
- Sit back but not too far back. If you are on the heavier side, sit slightly forward.
- Don’t ever lose control of your throttle; this is where your balance lies.
- Practice on lower CC bikes first to avoid crashes.
- Once you master balancing with your feet on the ground, always have your right foot on the brake.
- Avoid using your arms to pull up on the bike. This will prevent your bike from lifting off.
- Slowly increase the gear to two and three as you continue to practice. This will raise your front wheel even higher.
- Try riding uphill if it’s especially difficult to get your front wheel up. This angle will make it easier, but it also increases the chances of your bike flipping backward.
- Don’t be afraid of crashes. Instead, prepare and protect yourself against them.
Doing a Wheelie With a Clutch
You may have heard someone mention doing a wheelie with a clutch. This is referred to as the old school method, as most dirt bikes now generate sufficient power for a wheelie without the need to pop. This method may be useful when coming out of a corner or when you need to flip over a rock.
Think of using the clutch for a wheelie as the same as dropping your clutch in a manual car with the glass pedal floored. This method works best if you already know your sweet spot, and it also requires you to already have close to perfect balance. You should also know your bike’s RPM range, gearing, and power band.
As you can see, this is not exactly beginner-friendly, but it could be worth considering as your skills improve.
How to Avoid Crashing in a Wheelie
The possibility of crashing when doing a wheelie is real. As your body extends back to the rear, you may lose control and have your bike topple or fall off. This can be easily avoided.
Maintaining balance is about applying your throttle and rear brakes correctly. Bring the front wheel up by rolling the throttle when you feel your balance is veering too far forward. Bring the wheel down by lightly tapping the rear brake if you feel your balance veering too far backward.
Another trick that helps beginners learn balance is removing your legs from the pegs. Instead, hang your feet off the back of your bike and drag them along the ground. This way, you can break off falls on either of your sides with your foot. Then, if you need to use your foot brake, simply return your leg to the peg.
The Best Bikes to Do a Wheelie
You can pop a wheelie on most bikes. You can also learn how to do a wheelie on a typical dirt bike or sports bike.
Since your ability to get off and touch the ground easily is important, it’s more difficult to wheelie on a casual CRF 250F or TTF 230. Lightweight bikes are usually the best for beginners.
You want to make sure you can control the bike and your leg can easily touch the ground. Some even start off learning wheelie techniques on a bicycle.
Some of the best dirt bikes for wheelies are KTM 250XC, the Honda Grom, Honda CRF150F, Suzuki SV650, Kawasaki KX100, and Yamaha WR250R. Of course, you can still do a wheelie if your bike isn’t any of these, but you will probably require more technique to maneuver it.
It would be best to practice your wheelie on low CC bikes because the higher the power, the more the chances of crashing.
2-Stroke or 4-Stroke Wheelies?
Wheelies seem to be easier on 2-stroke bikes because they are lighter, and their power is more manageable for beginners. Yet, it might be easier to do a long-distance wheelie on a four-stroke bike as well, as it requires minimal work to maintain and feather the throttle.
Is Doing a Wheelie Dangerous?
Doing a wheelie can be dangerous. Statistics show that single man crashes account for 39.87% of bike accidents. This usually happens when riders show off skills, including popping a wheelie.
On the other hand, a wheelie is not any more dangerous than most skills. First, it’s important that you already know how to ride a dirt bike and can sufficiently control the throttle. With the right technique and practice, you should be fine.
While we already said wheelies are fairly safe, they are still advanced dirt bike skills. You need to have mastered the basic skills of riding a bike before even attempting one.
Also, choose a sandy or grassy straight track rather than a pavement or gravel road for learning. It will help control gliding and reduce the impact of a fall.
Wear your complete safety gear. This includes your helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, boots, and gloves. Your riding pants should be stretchy and comfortable. Try not to compromise on your biking kit.
Do not go too fast when you start, as injuries are sometimes a product of overzealousness. If you can, practice with someone around, so you can easily get help if you need it.
Wheelies are one of the coolest skills to learn on a dirt bike, and they can immensely boost your confidence. They require a good deal of throttle control, and they are best perfected with patience and skill.
While they can be done on any dirt bike, the 250s are great for learning how to do a wheelie for first-timers. Ensure you take precautions and stay protected as you try out this new skill.