Top 10 budget wheelie bikes

For riders who like a bit of one-wheeled action

WHEELIES. They’re either the sort of thing you just can’t get enough of or they have you tut-tutting and worrying about the bad reputation of motorcyclists.

Yes, they’re unnecessary. Often antisocial. Arguably illegal. Potentially embarrassing and risky. No, they won’t make you irresistible to the opposite sex. But they can be fun. So assuming that there’s always going to be a healthy percentage of riders who like a bit of one-wheeled action, here’s our top 10 wheelie bikes on a maximum £2,000 budget.

10. Suzuki DRZ400

Small, light, slow, the DRZ isn’t going to be quite the thing for motorway-speed wheelies. But if you just want something to get a bit of practice on then they’ll do nicely. They’re endlessly popular, which means the prices are likely to be a little steeper than you might expect, but getting one for £1,500 should be no problem.

9. Aprilia Falco

The Aprilia Tuono is often cited as one of the world’s great wheelie machines, and with that torquey V-twin and wide bars it’s earned its spot, but they’re tough to find under £2,000 and those that do creep under that mark have probably already been wheelied, flipped, fixed, wheelied again, stolen, recovered, wheelied some more and probably set fire to before being left in a ditch full of stagnant water to mature to full ripeness before they finally hit the classifieds. So the alternative is to find a nice, well-looked after version of the technically-similar Falco instead. Straight-looking ones can be picked up for around £1,500.

8. Honda VTR1000

I recently saw a rough-looking but fully MOT’d VTR1000 – a bike that I still remember rather liking back when they were brand new – sell for under £700. OK, the first ones are nearly old enough to get a bike licence of their own these days, but they’re still 160mph, 1000c V-twins with a bulletproof reputation. Will they wheelie? Of course they will. And at current market values they’re virtually disposable…

7. Suzuki TL1000S

You can’t mention the VTR1000 without also talking about the TL1000S – the Mr Hyde to the Honda’s Dr Jekyll. The ‘widowmaker’ reputation of the TL1000S was largely blown out of proportion, but you might want a decent steering damper before fully exploring that great V-twin’s ability to lift the front at every opportunity. As an alternative, the watered-down and rather newer SV1000 is also well within our imaginary price range.

6. Suzuki Bandit 1200

Remember when bike stunts weren’t a passé fad? Long before the Starboyz (remember them?) and similar ‘stunt teams’ with stripped-back 600s, wheelies and burnouts were the domain of the likes of Gary Rothwell and his West Coast Motorcycles-sponsored Bandit 1200. They might be big, heavy boat-anchors but they will still wheelie, and these days there are plenty about for little over £1,000.

5. Ducati Monster S2R

A few years ago, we did a top 10 of wheelie bikes (with no top budget in mind) and the Monster S2R was a surprise inclusion – beating other models in the Monster range, even more powerful versions like the S4R, thanks to their predictable power delivery and just the right sort of torque band for wheelies. These days, you can just about find S2Rs for under £2,000, too, so it’s a shoe-in for this list.

4. KTM Duke II

You can’t talk about wheelie bikes without mentioning supermotos, and when it comes to a road-going motard the KTM Duke is impossible to ignore. The Duke II 640 is the one that fits our budget (easily – in fact you might find one for under £1,000) and it will hoon with the best of them.

3. A motocrosser

Remember how we mentioned that wheelies are legally dubious, potentially risky and antisocial? Well you can get around most of that – and hone your skills in relative safety – by practising them at low speed, off-road and well away from anyone you’re going to upset. And provided you know a friendly farmer or have vast tracts of land yourself, an old motocrosser might be just the ticket. Two-stroke, four-stroke, regardless of size, most are light and powerful enough to make wheelies a formality. In fact, if that’s all you want to do, you could even get an old trials bike to practice on. Prices start at next-to-nothing and go up to beyond-your-means, so there’s something for everyone.

2. Suzuki SV650

It seems that Suzuki’s everlasting SV650 turns up on more of these top 10 lists than any other bike. Is there nothing it can’t do? The fact is that for more than a decade there’s been little to match the Suzuki when it comes to getting a ‘proper’ bike for minimal money, and with older used examples easily dropping into three figure prices, it’s easy to see why they’re able to be all things to all people. For this list, we’d try to get the old, naked version rather than the faired S model, even though they’re a little thinner on the ground. You’ll need skill (and a bit of clutch) rather than brute force to perfect wheelies on it, but you’ll get there in the end.

1. Triumph Speed Triple

Assuming that you’re buying a wheelie bike with intentions beyond merely sitting on the back wheel, the Speed Triple is a vital inclusion on the list. Don’t start getting ideas that you’ll have a 1050 for under £2,000, though  - we’re in 955i or T509 territory here. For most purposes, the rule here would be to buy the best and most recent one in your budget, but all have the sort of wide-barred, streetfighter style and torquey engines needed to achieve your wheelie intentions.

More Top 10s

Visordown readers' top 10 Japanese sports bikes

Top 10 most influential motorcycles ever

Top 10 interesting Suzukis you might not know about

Visordown readers' top 10 motorcycles