Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How to Do a Basic Wheelie on a Motorcycle

Wheelies can be fun, but make sure you do them safely and in a place where they're legal. First and foremost, you do wheelies by the feel and sound of the engine, not by what the tachometer says. Everyone has different power and sprocket setups, plus you don't need to be looking at your tach. Pay attention to the road.

First step is a basic "roll on power wheelie". Basically you need a bike with enough power to raise the front wheel off the ground with simple acceleration. You need to get comfortable with the front end getting "light". Most stock bikes won't be able to do this without some modification. You can also try getting the bike up to a good speed in first gear(around 10-20 kph), once you reach the powerband (where the engine starts to go faster with little throttle) let off just a little, then give it a lot of gas. Not so much gas that you flip over, but a good amount. You'll notice the front end pick up, and if you let off the gas, it goes back down. More gas after the powerband will get it up higher. If you don't have a stabilizer, this would be the ideal time to get one. Trying to lift the bike off the ground and then comming back down suddenly will cause the front tire to shake. If you don't land almost perfectly straight, you will do a highside (flip off the bike over the front). You will be hurting and so will your bike. Once you get comfortable with the front end getting light, try to carry the wheelie further each time. After you are comfortable with this move on to the next step, which is slipping the clutch.

Roll at about 10-20 kph in first gear on

Pull in the clutch and rev the motor a little, then slip the clutch. Do this a few times with a little more gas each time until you start to feel comfortable with how high the front end is coming up. The front end will come up quicker than a power wheelie, so be prepared.

Once you are comfortable getting the front up a little, it's time to worry about throttle and brake control. Use the throttle to maintain the height of the wheelie and the back brake to keep from looping the bike. Chopping the throttle while in first will almost always bring you back over, but you will most likely slam the front pretty hard.

If you get good enough at the brake control, you can ride a wheelie in first until the motor blows, in theory. But at first you will probably just run through your rpm range and drop the front down. This is when you need to shift to second. It's a clutchless shift, at the peak of the wheelie when you have about 3k rpms left before redline. Let the front come down just a bit and simultaneously shift to second.

Once you get in the second gear, pull the accelerator so as not to let the bike go down due to inertia, and find a balance point upon which your bike is steady in the air on the front wheel. Balance point can be found by leaning on the rear side of the bike, so that centre of gravity of the whole system (you and bike) is in the centre, and you can roll on long. But take care as not to shift the body position on the back side, as you will be likely to fall in that case, and keep your rear brake ready for any such situation.


  • Body position is very important. Beginners may be uncomfortable and hug the tank with their knees to help hold on, but ideally sliding back against the rear seat is the best place.
  • On powerful street bikes, as soon as you shift to second the front end will pull up a little so keep the rear brake covered.
  • If you have never done a clutchless shift, practice on two wheels first. Get your rpm's up fairly high, back off the throttle just a bit and shift firmly so you don't hit neutral.
  • Stand up wheelies, either both feet on the back pegs or just the left foot on the back peg can make it much easier to balance a wheelie.
  • Practicing on a pushbike will help get the feel for the balance point and rear brake control. The feeling of looping and the balance point is very similar. Once you master this skill transferring it to a motorbike is easier.


  • Wheelies are dangerous, even when done by professionals.
  • Wear protective gear and practice on a small dirt bike such as a 100cc-150cc. These smaller bikes can help tremendously with learning brake control which will prevent you from looping a motorcycle.
  • Do not think you can learn to ride wheelies in a day. Even practicing every day will take you a few weeks to get comfortable. Most of the pros you see in videos or doing shows have been doing it for many years. So don't get afraid, go on.

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