One of the coolest offroad motorbike skill riders develop is knowing how to pop wheelies on a dirt bike.
A good wheelie not only looks cool but also helps in a multitude of situations like loft the front end over a log or to avoid some uneven terrains.
Of course, a wheelie is also one of the easiest ways to show-off on a dirt bike; it’s tough not to look cool while riding on the back tire only, as long as you’re doing it right.
Before we go into detail on how to pull a wheelie on a dirt bike, I would like to emphasize on the safety before you try. Always wear protective gear properly so you will keep yourself safe. In saying this I am not scaring you in any way, but make sure you take care of everything and do not try this with negligence because when you try this in the beginning, there is some chance you may flip your bike.
Now that we have made sure we have protective clothing and gear in place, let’s see how we can do this trick
There are two types of wheelies:
THE STANDING WHEELIE: This is where you start from a stop and is the type of wheelie I recommend for beginners who are trying this skill for the first time.
THE POWER WHEELIE: This is where you start your wheelie when you’re already moving quickly and is better for long maintained wheelies over a distance.
The short answer is doing a pop wheelie is not that hard. It’s just a matter of balance you have with your bike. You have to sit back on the bike so the weight is towards the rear wheel, get into a gear where you can really pop the throttle quickly. This makes the bike’s front wheel fly upward. To continue this just add the throttle to put the wheel higher. To bring back the front wheel down, just top the foot brake slightly. Your balance with the bike pretty much decides how long you stay on a wheelie with correct throttling.
Now let’s see in detail the things you need to focus on to learn how to pop a wheelie properly
THE MENTAL PART:
There’s almost some mystique surrounding how to pull a wheelie on a dirt bike but in reality, it is the same basic riding skills of hand and leg coordination with the machine more specifically the throttle, clutch, brake, and your body positioning.
You should not get confused with the things above because you already use all these elements when you’re riding your dirt bikes. Once you start driving, it becomes a subconscious activity where you will not give much conscious attention to these things but you do it anyway.
The difference is in the execution of those controls as well as mastering the natural fear of falling. When riding dirt bike trails, the throttle and clutch are applied smoothly, which propels the bike forward, keeping your body relatively balanced with the bike.
With wheelies, you’re manipulating and condensing the same controls with a mini explosive way by activating the clutch, throttling in a faster way and adjusting your body weight towards the back of the bike, which makes the dirt bike leap up ferociously instead of normally riding forward.
When you are riding your dirt bike, you sit on the front of the sear near your fuel tank. This allows the bodyweight to be in the middle of the bike. For a wheelie, you need to sit all the way to the rear of the seat for a couple of reasons.
The first is to transfer your weight to the back of the bike so that the front wheel is not heavy and makes it a little easier to get off the ground.
The second is more important. In this position, your foot is easily placed in the footpeg and you can pivot it to use the rear brake pedal easily. The rear brake pedal is what stops you from flipping your bike.
Now that we have sorted your body position, let’s work through the other areas.
HOW TO DO A WHEELIE:
If you ever saw a motocross race, you would have witnessed that many riders will pop wheelies slightly from the starting gate. Visualize yourself now, the riders are lined up to have their clutches pulled in enough to remove power from the rear wheel, but out enough to engage the clutch quickly.
They’re applying throttle at a steady rev, and when the gate drops, they shift into gear, release the clutch, and apply more throttle. That’s what you’re aiming for, but at a much slower speed.
- The safest way to start is to begin from a stop and go straight into a wheelie.
- Apply your first gear.
- Rev up the engine with the throttle and the clutch pulled in so you’re still staying still.
- Then release the clutch all at once while maintaining the throttle.
- This will pop the wheel up.
- If needed, pull back lightly on the handlebars at the same time.
- It’s all about body position, balance and the right amount of throttle. You’ll adjust all those as you do a wheelie to stay up.
- All this happens in one smooth motion, not one step at a time.
- Each bike is set up differently so you may need to pull in the clutch a bit further to find your bike’s friction zone or give it more throttle.
- Concentrate on the controls, not getting the front end up.
- Don’t forget to cover the rear brake in case the bike feels like it’s going to flip over).
- Practice. Practice. Practice!
It takes time:
Everything sounds easy in print, but learning how to do a wheelie on a dirt bike isn’t all that simple, so don’t get frustrated if it seems hard to do.
The only way I got good at this was by finding a nice long stretch of land and practicing. I started off by just lifting the front wheel for a second. Then learned how to hold it up for longer. After a fair bit of practice, you’ll find you can change through the gears as you go and hold the wheelie for as long as you like. There’s a sweet spot where the bike feels weightless. This is where you want to be. It’s a great feeling. You will get to it, sooner or later.
Bikes for wheelies:
While any bike can be used to do a wheelie, the casual play bikes like the TTR 230 and CRF 230 will need a bit more effort to get the front end off the ground than a performance trail bike (i.e., KTM XC-250) or motocross bike. As with all aspects of riding a dirt bike, being able to touch the ground makes learning a lot easier, and that applies to learn how to do a wheelie. If you have access to a smaller bike like a KX100 or CRF150, use those bikes for practising then apply the process to the bigger bike.
TIPS FOR NOT CRASHING BADLY
Never hang your foot:
You might think hanging your feet off the back of the bike and dragging them on the ground instead of putting them on the pegs will help the front wheel to go higher. This is wrong.
This puts the weight further to the back, and also means it’s easy to put a foot down if you’re going to fall over to one side or the other. If you want to use your foot brake, you can just lift up the one foot onto the footpegs and having the other foot in the peg to balance the weight.
USE SMALL BIKES IF YOU CAN:
If you have a smaller pit bike or lower CC bike, you may want to use it for learning how to do a wheelie. These bikes are much lighter and easier to flip up, and also easier to manage if it starts to tip. Once you learn the basic technique it will be easier for you to manage bigger bikes
ALWAYS PRACTICE ON A FLAT SURFACE:
Find a very flat surface to do a wheelie. If there are any bumps at all, you can easily flop over because you’re focused on balancing front to back and you forget the side to side balance.
DO NOT SIT BACK TOO FAR:
Don’t sit too far back on the bike, like sitting on the fender or you’ll end up on your back. Find your balance, ideally, ¾ of the seat is ideal to start with.
These tips will help you from crashing. As I told you earlier, it is a matter of practice and getting used to popping a wheelie. After a few times, it will be a breeze.
Now that you have read how to pop wheelies, it’s time to take your bike and do it.