The best way to really impress people and show off like a boss is popping a wheelie on your dirt bike.
Okay, NOT! But you're going to do it anyway so we might as well give you some instruction on the proper way to do a wheelie so you don't hurt yourself and look like a goon.
It probably is the first trick most riders learn and for many it was the first thing they ever did on a dirt bike. For those riders, that usually means things didn't end well and it was completely inadvertent. So really the easiest and quickest way, not to mention highly dangerous, is to just open the throttle:
So, the proper way of performing a dirt bike wheelie is first know how to ride dirt bike. If you don't know how to ride or are just starting out, learn the basics of riding then once comfortable, if you must, try a wheelie. In truth, it is fun and once accomplished actually goes a long way to boosting your confidence and comfort on the bike.
In many respects, opening the throttle is the correct way of doing a wheelie however it has to be controlled. So finding the power spot that lifts the front wheel of the ground is your goal. Therefore, it's likely you've done some form of wheelie, even if you haven't crashed, simply by riding around.
A controlled wheelie is what you're after so controlling the throttle is a must. Once you get the hang of picking the front wheel up then you can try it again and use the throttle to carry it a little further.
Standing vs. Sitting
You can wheelie standing on your dirt bike and wheelie sitting on your dirt bike. Standing, believe it or not, puts you more in control. However, if you're just beginning, finding the right throttle power to get your wheel off the ground might come easier when sitting. Once you've found the power "sweet spot" then get yourself into the standing position. Keep in mind, sitting puts you further back on the bike and boosts the chance of looping out. Additionally, looping out while sitting almost guarantees landing flat on your back but standing gives you a slighter edge (though not much) to pushing yourself away from the out of controlled bike.
It's worth mentioning that accomplished riders stand when a wheelie is required to navigate over an obstacle when riding off-road or timed trials.
In certain competitions knowing how to do a wheelie is a must
A Balancing Act
The art of the wheelie requires lots of composure and balance. Riding a 200 pound machine (designed for two-wheels) on one wheel without the ability to steer effectively is not easy. This is where standing vs. sitting comes into play and it comes down to personal preference. You may find the need to start from a sitting position so you can grip the bike with your legs or perhaps you'll find standing allows you to distribute your body weight evenly giving you better control of the bike.
This rider is...
You won't use your arms to pull up on the bike to perform a wheelie like you would a regular bicycle because even He-Man would have a hard time lifting the front weight of a dirt bike off the ground. However, pulling up, thereby sending your momentum to the back of the bike, along with a strong throttle almost assures a loop out. Conversely, your arms do help provide balance once the front wheel is off the ground. Synchronizing your arms with throttle control turns a quick wheelie into a drawn-out stunt worth watching.
...in big trouble
Use the Clutch
The idea behind using the clutch is similar to dropping the clutch in a manual transmission car with the gas pedal floored but with drastically different results. Using the clutch works best if you already know the sweet spot on your throttle. Drop the clutch with just enough throttle roll and you'll be off the ground in no time. This is also the easiest way to loop out which is why some riders in Motocross use a holeshot device and all riders position themselves over the handlebars at the gates.
Whenever you decide to go for the wheelie pick an open area free of obstacles and smooth ground. Start small, don't go for broken bones. Practice a controlled front wheeled lift, then try it again at different speeds working your way up to a full-fledged wheelie.
Something else to keep in mind, you might not get it on the first day. Give your body and mind a night's rest to process what you're trying to do and don't be surprised if you pull one off tomorrow.
For additional dirt bike training check out:
- How to Jump a Dirt Bike
- How to Ride a Dirt Bike
- Dirt Bike Riding Tips and Techniques - Learning the Basics
- How To Use A Clutch On A Dirt Bike
Written By: AndrewT