10 great wheelie bikes for every budget

Ten of our all-time favourite wheelie bikes, from £1,500 to £15,000

10 great wheelie bikes for every budget

WHEELIES: Childish? Yes. Illegal? Probably. Potentially embarrassing? Most certainly. Fun in the right place? Definitely.

And even if you’re too sensible to ever try a wheelie, it’s nice to know you’ve got a bike that could if you wanted to, isn’t it?

Here then, in no particular order, are 10 of our all-time favourite bikes for big wheelies, with a price to suit every budget.

Starting with...

1. Yamaha MT-07

The MT-07 may not have the best suspension money can buy but it proved an instant hit with journalists at the launch in 2014 and the explanation is one word long: wheelies.

Sit upright in first gear, open the throttle just to pull away and you'll be saying “Oops, what was that?”

The MT-07 loves a wheelie. Lean back a bit you’ll be popping a cheeky one every time you get rolling, while in the right hands it will come up off the clutch in third.

Not bad for a 75hp 700 with a price tag the right side of six grand.  

Read our Yamaha MT-07 review

2. Suzuki Bandit 1200/1250

They’ve been around so long they’ve turned up on dinosaur digs, but the Bandit 1200 or 1250 is a wheelie legend, with predictable and plentiful power. There’s enough mid-range to pull the front back up as it starts to descend, and it will stay pointing skyward through second, third and fourth if you have nerve and ability.

These days prices range from about £1,500 for an aged one to £7,499 for a brand-new 1250S. A bargain either way. 

Read our review of the latest Suzuki Bandit 1250S

3. Aprilia Tuono

All super-nakeds love to wheelie but none more so than the Tuono. For ultimate wheelie control, go for the base model rather than the Factory, which has more aggressive power delivery and can quickly send you past the balance point.

An early Tuono is softer and more controllable still – so the less you spend the more you get.

Read our review of the latest Aprilia Tuono.

4. Suzuki TL1000S

The TL1000S may only make about 120hp but it’s the torque that counts, and there’s enough to clutch it up from anywhere in second and plough on all the way to top.

In third, you can lower and raise the front on power.

Never quite the ‘widow maker’ its reputation suggested, the TL would nevertheless benefit form a steering damper if you’re planning a third-gear minger.

Find out what owners think of the TL1000S

5. Suzuki SV650

It’s so old, we think it might be about ready to challenge the Royal Enfield Bullet for the longest ever continuous production run – but it’s a bit better at pointing skyward than the RE.

It’s also another bike that gives more for less, since we reckon the old ‘curvy carbed’ naked version is the most eager to lift the front, thanks to the lack of fairing, higher bars and a slightly more ballsy mid-range.

It’s easy to keep the front airborne, making it a good bike to learn on, and the engine is up for a bit of abuse.

Or you could go for the latest, brand-new 2016 naked version, which is just as good.

They’ll all do it, mind, including the 2003-on naked SV650 (pictured), and the half-faired SV650S, with a little encouragement from the clutch.

Read our review of the latest Suzuki SV650

6. Triumph Speed Triple

At 140hp, it’s not the most powerful of super nakeds, but the 1050 triple’s compromise between V-Twin grunt and in-line-four smoothness makes long-distance one-wheel travel a doddle.

The smaller Street Triple isn’t shy of pointing at the sky either by its bigger brother is the one that will do it all day long with just a dab of clutch.

Read our review of the latest Triumph Speed Triple.

7. Ducati Hypermotard SP

All Hypermotards like to wheelie and especially the SP. There’s loads of torque from that 937cc V-Twin and the delivery is smooth enough to control and adjust.

It’s almost too easy to keep it up – but beware of the risk of oil starvation to that front cylinder.

The older air-cooled model is just as good, and maybe even more controllable.

Read our review of the latest Ducati Hypermotard SP.

8. Kawasaki Z1000

So, we didn’t want to make this list all about super-nakeds, because anyone could have done that.

But as one of the only remaining old-school super-nakeds without traction control, which usually only gets in the way of wheelies anyway, we couldn’t ignore the Zed Thou.

Clutch it up in third or just keep the throttle open in second – the Z1000 can’t get enough of it.

Anyone can wheelie it - but bear in mind it’s a doddle to flip too.

Read our review of the latest Kawasaki Z1000.

9. Kawasaki Versys 1000

The Versys 1000 is a sly old dog. Look at it. It could be a geography teacher’s bike, with its drab colours. Okay, it's not that bad. 

But what you might not guess from its appearance is it’s one of the easiest and most controllable bikes to wheelie we’ve ever tested. Hold the throttle open in first and the front rises surely but steadily, not aggressively, giving you lots of time to react and adjust.

The Versys 650 likes a wheelie too, but rises more abruptly on power, so it’s bigger brother is easier to control.

It’s so manageable even Visordown’s wheelie-shy Editor can do it, as shown in our picture (which he insisted we use despite the poor quality).

If you want to wheelie but the idea makes you nervous, this is the bike to test the water on.

Read our review of the latest Kawasaki Versys 1000.

10. KTM 1290 Super Duke R

If the Versys 1000 makes an easy introduction to wheelies, 1290 Super Duke R is the bike for the already adept (like, say, Jeremy McWilliams, pictured) to show off at higher speeds.

Choose third, slip the clutch slightly and give it a bit of throttle. That's all you need to do. It doesn’t matter if the engine is just above idle or near its 10,500rpm red line - the front will come up.

It’s as easy as baking cake – although the cake won’t go into a lock-to-lock tank slapper and spit you off if you bring the front back down too aggressively.

You’ve been warned.

Read our review of the 1290 Super Duke R

Want more? Read our simple guide to pulling wheelies.