Popping a wheelie is 40% strength and 60% technique but it can be quite intimidating for someone new, I started learning how to pop a wheelie recently on my mountain bike and I wanted to share some tips and tricks that I learned along the way and feel like they can help you out better by the perspective of a beginner like myself.
There are a ton of advice out there but sometimes there are just not enough clear answer and you can feel stuck so I want to share my experience and if it can help anyone out there all the more reason to write about it.
Here are some of the things that you might get confused with in the beginning
- Your bike size
- bike weight
- a special trick to pull it off
- which gear to be in
- where and how to apply force to lift the front tire
- would you ever be able to do it
These are all the things that almost keep everyone from popping a wheelie and I will be explaining them bit by bit so you can skip to the part that you feel most confused about.
Bike size :
Bike size doesn’t matter to pull a wheelie unless you are riding a bike that’s double your height and you can barely touch feet on the ground
it is possible to pull a wheelie on those but I won’t recommend it if you are riding a bike that’s slightly over your size that’s okay but not too much because it will just take you forever to get anywhere near popping a wheelie and before you can do it you will lose all your determination and spirit.
However, if the bike size is smaller than you it is quite possible and you might be able to learn quicker about it, it’s due to the fact that smaller bikes are lighter they give you more confidence and you do not mind so much stressed about falling down or getting injured but in case you don’t have a smaller bike ride along I have some good tips and tricks for you.
Bike weight :
A lot of people feel like their bikes are heavier and it might keep them from popping a wheelie while that’s not the case all you need is better technique not better muscles to pull off a wheelie. Remember how I said in the beginning that there’s 40% strength and 60% technique involved in popping a wheelie
Special tricks to pop a wheelie :
While there is no silver bullet to pop a wheelie on the first attempt and learning and mastering it in a day there are ways to fasten your progress I will be listing them down shortly.
Tips and tricks to pop a perfect wheelie :
when it comes to nailing a perfect wheelie there are some major steps that you shouldn’t overlook and some minor ones that you should ignore. I will be explaining below
- appropriate gear
- balanced pedals
- your position on a bike
- hands position once in the air
- the force from the right foot
- perfecting the timing
These are the main things when you are trying to do a wheelie I will be explaining along with all these things so you can get a better understanding and better chance of pulling it off.
Timing is key :
You have to keep in mind that timing is the key to everything each of the actions you will be taking should be well-timed of course that puts pressure on you but it can be done with enough practice, so don’t rush things they will slowly become second nature to you.
which gear to be in 3rd or 4th gear is the most appropriate gear starting out it’s not too low not too high once you get a hang of popping the front wheel you can get it any gear you want but as a beginner, these are your best bets
speed: For you first time you may think going fast may help you in a way speed has nothing to do with popping a wheelie it’s all about the right timing right technique and you will be there so don’t put too much thought in speed instead always focus on improving your balance.
adjusting seat position :
if you are trying to pull the wheelie on a mountain bike then you need to lower your seat post just a little low not too low but low enough that it gives you a nice bend when you are on pedal what it does is it allows you to channel more force onto the pedals to pop the wheel.
Balanced pedals and body position when poping the wheel: Now this is important you need both your feet on 180 degrees meaning they should be completely horizontal what this does again is it allows you to give the proper push,
now that you are in the right position on the pedals lean your chest forward toward the handlebar and pop now when popping you need to put force by your stronger foot the one that feels natural to you pop on that side pedal lean back instantly after the pop.
Note: You might or might not be able to pop the front wheelie in the first go if you didn’t keep practicing to pop the wheel.
Pedals to use :
I strongly advise you get flat pedals for wheelies if you have been riding clipless they are not ideal for wheelies you may not be able to unlock them properly in time and it will just be harder to do a wheelie with them.
Next step :
Now that you know how to pop the wheel it’s time to try to keep the position in the air this is the hardest one. keep your torso on the seat but lean your body back keep your arms straight and keep peddling do not try to bend your arms when you try to bend your arms you will unconsciously shift your body weight forward and you will be back to 0 progress.
on the first few tries you will be unsuccessful because you are subconsciously not pulling the front wheel up so much that you can adjust your center of gravity.
Centre of gravity/your sweet spot :
On day 2 or 3 I expect you to constantly pop and drop the pop and drop but you need to overcome your fear of falling down to overcome it you need to lean back more and shut off your fear, yes, you may fall backward yes the bike can go sideways because you are new and you can’t seem to grasp the right speed during a wheelie.
struggling with your fear will get you nowhere you need to start acting so you need to push yourself and trust your center of gravity it is there you are near to achieving it and you are close.
You need to keep leaning back until you think you are going to fall if you are going too much behind just press the rear brake slightly and shift your weight forward just a little bit bike will come down nicely.
How often should you try wheeling :
Time is key here if you try to wheelie after 2 to 3 days it’s not going to work and it will delay the time for you to learn quickly, do it every day it will increase your muscle memory means it will become second nature to you you will lose your fair and reach the learning curve quickly and see the results in days.
If you are not doing it regularly you will eventually learn but it may take you a longer period and feel like you may never be able to do it.
Control your thoughts :
Another thing that I usually do is face the fair if I think that if I do the wheelie I will fall instead of giving myself false hope that I will never fall I go the other way about it its okay to fall maybe I will definitely fall but if I can push myself 1step further those bruises were worth it, this is the most effective way to control and face your thoughts and fear of falling doing a wheelie.
Best spots to try wheelie :
The best spot to try a wheelie would be on grass or soft soil do not attempt wheelie on concrete surfaces or trails or hard surfaces in general grass is way better because you will feel much more secure on grass and avoid injuries as well.
Don’t utilize speed breakers or big bumps in the grounds for wheelie :
You may feel like a big bump in the ground may help you wheelie and it will but the problem is your rear tire once it steps on the bump you might lose your balance so it’s not an ideal way to pop the wheel for wheelie same thing for the speed breakers they seem to be helpful but its the other way around you may lose your balance and fall.
How much time it will take to learn wheelie :
If you don’t skip days you should be able to pop the wheelie and ride with your front wheel up within 2 weeks it can take longer or shorter depending on your practice.
Always remember your safety comes first and learning later, just a reminder before you wheelie remember to put on a helmet that is essential, and if you have knee pads or other equipment make sure you wear them they are for your own safety and well-being.
Personal tips :
Some personal tips for you from my own experience.
- It takes time so be patient
- Never give up
- There’s no silver bullet to learn wheelie overnight
- Failing and falling are progress keep trying you are almost there.
How to keep motivated :
It’s better to try and fail than to not try and regret
these are some of the wisest words from someone and they actually work better than someone to teach you wheelie in a day, its a little hard it takes time and effort and you may not be able to notice it but if you keep at something day in day out you will get better than someone you think had a natural talent for it just keep believing in yourself and you will get there.