How To: Wheelie

Mar 6, 2011 at 9:15
by Ethan Morse  
The wheelie is an important part of your skills on the trail and street. I will be showing you how to wheelie easily and helping you along the way.Being a trail rider, I need to get over obstacles that stand in my way. Instead of bunny-hopping and as a result slowing down, you can do that simple trick that will boost you over, as well as gaining speed in the process: the Wheelie.
Learning this move requires many things, so here is a list of what you will need. 1. CONFIDENCE. It is important to have this, it will help you learn it better and will take the fear out. 2. A large grassy area. This needs to be forgiving, in case of falling on your bum. 3. A helmet. Hands down, you need a helmet. This is the most important accessory/piece of equipment that you will need, regardless of where you are riding. 4. Flat pedals. While trying to learn the wheelie a year or so back, I made the mistake of clipping in, and fell on one of my brake levers, resulting in the brake pin falling out. I have used flat pedals ever since while practicing the wheelie and have found out that it helps tremendously when you need to bail. 5. (OPTIONAL) If you are a rider that is fragile and breaks easily, I would suggest armor. Knee protection would be fine, as would elbow protection. Body armor is a little unnecessary, as you will not be landing on your chest or back often.

It is imperative that you are in a good gear that you don't spin in (very easy to pedal) or have trouble cranking the pedals twice or so. A good gear for a trail bike (I would not know about downhill bike, as I do not own one, but I reckon it would be about the same) is the middle chain ring up front and the third or fourth largest in the cassette. In the video I will show you if you do not understand. After picking the right gear that is acceptable for you, it is time to learn the basics. The wheelie is a three step process. Lifting the front wheel with a good pop, giving it a good pedal crank to help the wheel go even farther up, and then pulling back and still pedaling, keeping it going for as long as you need.
1. Popping the wheel. It is essential to get a good pop, as it is the base for this trick. To do this, lean over the bike and bob the fork up and down. When the fork is bottomed out, and yourself still leaning over, pull the handlebars up, allowing the wheel and whole front end to go up in the air. You should try and get the wheel about 12-20 inches (1-1 3/4 ft) off the ground.
2. Giving a strong pedal stroke to move the wheel up even more. This is essential in having the wheel in the perfect spot. To do this, pop the wheel like in step one, and lean back a little while giving one or two good pedal strokes. The wheel will boost up, but if you have confidence, you will not bail, but ride it out.
3. Holding the wheelie. To hold the wheelie, all you need to do is keep leaning back and pedaling. It is as simple as that. No need for anything else. Just keep leaning and pulling. Try picking a spot where you are practicing and see if you can get there while doing a wheelie. It will help by keeping your wheelie longer and not bailing when you want to or feel like it.
I have found it helpful to start at a slow speed and then do the wheelie. The pedal strokes are much more effective that going at 5-10 mph. You can work your way up from there, so you do not slow down on the trail.
In case of falling there, are two options to save yourself. The first is to pull the rear brake. By doing this, the rear wheel stops, and the front wheel goes back down to the ground. The second is to completely jump off the bike. You will need to do this when the front end is getting too high, and it is too late to pull the rear brake. You merely jump off, but still hold onto the handlebars, in case of hitting something nearby or injuring yourself.
Remember to always wear the appropriate safety gear and ride with caution. I hope you found this helpful and keep trying to get it, no matter how much it eludes you!

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