Regardless of whether or not they’re big or clever, wheelies are the one stunt everyone wants to be able to do. If they won’t admit as much then they’re in wheelie denial and should seek help immediately
Pulling a wheelie isn’t difficult. All you’re trying to achieve is a burst of acceleration strong enough to propel the rear wheel forward faster than the rest of the bike, thus lifting the front wheel.
Large, powerful bikes are obviously best for this. Simply rolling off and sharply back on the throttle should result in the front wheel becoming airborne. The trick then is regulating both bodyweight and throttle position to keep it there. On a modern 1000cc bike, start off in second gear. You’ll be far less likely to flip it.
That said, learning to wheelie on a less powerful bike is the way to go if you want to get good at it. To get the front wheel lofted you’ll want to be in first gear in the part of the rev range just before peak torque, the point at which the engine starts to get into its stride, which may also be the revs you tend to go for when overtaking.
Now dip the clutch and release it quickly, in much the same way as you would if you were doing a drag start, while tugging lightly on the handlebars. The more sit-up-and beg the bike, the less you’ll need to pull. A harder yank might be needed on a bike with clip-ons because there’ll be more weight over the front wheel.
Your first few attempts will doubtless be a little clumsy, but stick with it and build up height and length as your skill and confidence grow. Make sure you keep the rear brake covered – it’s your only bail out should things get a little too vertical. Also practice slipping the clutch mid-wheelie. This can help fine-tune wheelie angle.
Once you’ve got them floating along in one gear, you’ll need to learn to change gear mid-mono. Either snap the throttle closed and quickly open again or get it nice and high, dip the clutch and pop in the next ratio – just be aware that the change of ratio will either cause the front to drop if you’re in the wrong part of the rev range, or soar uncontrollably if you’re too vicious.
Being smooth is important but, even more than that, pulling wheelies is about practice. Being told how to wheelie is one thing; mastering it quite another.
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