How to Wheelie a Motorcycle in 5 Steps

how to wheelie on motorcycle

On several occasions, I wished to do a motorcycle wheelie and I finally did it. I believe you have also tried to do this or wished to. I did a lot of research online before I was able to finally come across something helpful.

Put aside any fear of stopping you from becoming a stunt rider. In this article are the basic steps of how to do a motorcycle wheelie.

Although Wheelie can be fun, you always have to make sure that you’re doing it safely. Most motorcycle professionals would advise that you start learning the more basic form of a wheelie. The following are the 5 easy steps we take when wheeling in a motorcycle.

  1. Choose Proper Bike & A Free Road
  2. Keep Yourself Safe & Check the Rear Tire for Damage
  3. Warm up the Motorcycle
  4. Go in First Gear
  5. Keep your Balance as you Motorcycle

In this article, I will take you through the steps you need to follow to perfectly and safely wheelie a motorcycle.

The motorcycle wheelie is the most fundamental step of stunt. Hence, being a stunt also comes with risks of injury. Therefore, pulling the front wheel and riding only on the rear wheel is really a matter of skill. Of course, you come in control after thorough practices. It comes with risks of injury and some damage to the bike, so it requires basic precautions. So let’s do wheelies in a safer way by following the steps below.

1. Choose Proper Bike & A Free Road

In doing a wheelie, one major thing is to choose a proper bike. A slightly higher capacity powerful motorcycle is preferable. But it isn’t compulsory you get a super-bike to do a wheelie. A mid-level or entry-level motorcycle is adequate for the basic type of wheelie. Only for the power wheelie or rolling wheelie is a high capacity motorcycle required.

So you are able to do basic wheelies even with your 125cc commuters, and some professionals can also achieve this with scooters. So don’t be disheartened if you own a low capacity motorcycle. Just roll on and don’t stop practicing. One most significant thing is matching the bike with which you are planning to learn a wheelie. That’s the beginning step. So choose, according to your controlling capability, the proper bike.

It is not ideal that you learn or do the wheelie on the public road like highways or in the city roads. It’s totally unlawful. you can’t do it. It’s risky not only for you but also for others around you. Therefore, choose a free place like your back yard, unused walkway, or the roads which are not used often.

You can also commence your practice when people are not around the place, like morning or evening. Solid asphalt or concrete surface is chosen but you can also do it on normal ground. Just don’t choose wet, muddy or gravel surface. When you become an expert, then you can try anywhere you like, regardless of the surface.

2. Keep Yourself Safe & Check Rear Tire for any Damage

This is the most important step not to neglect before practicing a wheelie. You should wear sufficient safety gear before attempting to do a wheelie. Learning wheelie is really a risky tax. Before becoming an expert, you can at any time crash, skid or thrown off – a more reason you must have proper protection from injury.

Wear protective clothing. You never want to get onto a motorcycle without proper protective measures. This includes a thick motorcycle helmet, leather gloves, leather pants or long jeans, as well as a strong leather jacket. You will also want a pair of strong boots, preferable leather, with some proper grip.

When you’re just getting started, it’s also not a bad idea to wear ankle, elbow, or knee guards, as you’ll be having high chances of falling.

Look for a secluded street or road. Remember that learning this will require that you dedicate quite some time, and you’ll probably take some bad spills. You don’t plan to harm any pedestrians around you or crash your bike into any parked or mobile cars. Your constant attempts to try again are also going to generate a lot of noise, so you don’t want to distract those around you.

It’s not legal to wheelie on a street bike, so finding an isolated spacious area to practice in would help you evade any trouble from law enforcement.

Choose to learn on a bike with enough power. If you’re planning to learn the power wheelie on a sport-bike, it’ll probably be advisable that you go for a 500 cc motorcycle, at a minimum. You’ll be lifting the front wheel mainly with your acceleration, so you will want to make sure that your bike has the required power to pull that off.

You can also choose to learn the power wheelie on a dirt bike. This is great if you want something a little more comfortable. A 100 or 150 cc bike should provide enough power to practice this stunt.

Have in mind that you’ll be spending a significant period of time on this back tire when you’re practicing wheelies, so make sure that your tire is in good condition and with no sign to burst soon. Don’t expect any wobbling on that end. It’s also excellent to run your tire pressure a little bit lower than you might naturally. This will make the wheelie more stable.

If your bike has a tip-over sensor, remove it, as this sensor might cause your bike to shut off if you slope too far backwards. You will be tipping back a lot, and for the fact that you’re just learning, may tip even further backwards than totally safe. Ensure that your bike doesn’t give out on you mid-wheelie by removing this sensor.

Depending on where it is located on your bike, your back exhaust may also hit the ground, so make sure that it won’t hit the ground while you’re on your back wheel. If it eventually does, you may mash the ground and fall off the bike.

But is it true that it’s legal to do wheelies on a street bike?

There are only a few states that explicitly prohibit motorcyclists from practicing wheelies on the street. However, even in states where wheelie is not prohibited, wheelies are often regarded as stunting or hazardous driving. So you shouldn’t practice wheelies where people are likely to see you.

Even if you don’t see an explicit anti-wheelie law on your state’s books, the police officers have a preference for ticket drivers they feel are acting dangerously and wheelies always fall into that category. So if you’re practicing on a street bike, do it somewhere isolated. 

3. Warm Up the Motorcycle

Now that you are preparing for the wheelie, you have to warm up the motorcycle. Be habituated with motorcycle size and weight. It’s ideal not to have the tank fully fueled, as it may spill out. So keep it half-filled or below half. That will also help to maintain your balance.

For safety purposes, you can disassemble extra body parts, such as panels, light, indicators, windshield, etc. Hence if the bike falls down or crashes, it will not damage those parts.

Again, you can also fix auxiliary crash guard or another type of bike protection to protect the bike from damage.

Since you are fully prepared to make wheelie, you should know it’s a job that requires practice and to be habituated. The basic thing to wheelie is to pull up the front wheel in the air and come in balance on the rear wheel, keep rolling. Secondly, landing the front wheel back to the ground safely and still in control.

Hence, pulling the front wheel into the air from quite a standstill position needs an extra power delivery. So it should be done in low gears like gear 1 or 2, depending on your motorcycle size and engine power.

  • This is the progression of wheelie
  • Start rolling in 1 or 2 gears at extremely low speeds, like 10-20kmph.
  • Grab the clutch lever to let the bike move free.
  • At the same time, accelerate the throttle over the mid RPM and fast free the clutch lever.
  • During this short period of time, the rear wheel will get extra power and lift up the front wheel into the air.
  • Keep twisting the throttle and roll on balancing only on the rear wheel.
  • In the process, don’t forget to keep your leg on the rear brake pedal as applying the rear brake will help you to balance. Furthermore, you have to land the front wheel by applying that brake.
  • So when you get used to that synchronization, try lifting up the handlebar back by forcing your body weight. That helps flying the front wheel easily.
  • Repeat the synchronization again and again.

So you can see it’s a sequence that you have to perform in a few seconds and requires huge practice. If you won’t be in a hurry and will be patient you will be able to make a perfect wheelie and can roll for a long period of time.

Remember that in a higher capacity motorcycle, it’s quite easy with less hassle, as it can easily lift up the front wheel. But while you’re attempting to learn, you can’t take a risk with a higher capacity motorcycle. It’s fairly easy and less hazardous learning with small motorcycles. So start learning with a small motorcycle and then go with bigger ones.

A Wheelie requires strong force from your upper body, and some powerful pedaling to prepare you to pull up, crouch over your front handlebars and don’t forget to look forward. Once the handlebars are in the air, lean your weight back and don’t stop pedaling. You may lose balance or not able to keep it up for long, but you’ll eventually feel yourself sinking into the wheelie for a longer period of time. 

4. Go in First Gear

Though you can practice in any gear that you’d like, the first gear is generally the easiest for beginners. If you have already learned clutch wheelies, you’ll have to know how to change gears within the wheelie. Because power wheelies are simply about utilizing your acceleration to jerk the bike’s front upward, you won’t have to bother about shifting.

Your back brake, as well as the handbrake on your bicycle, will help you if you ever begin to slope too far backwards than necessary. While most riders don’t regularly use the rear brake, it’s very beneficial in your first steps of learning the wheelie.

If you feel you’re moving dangerously far back, you can then put some power on the rear brake, halting your back wheel. This will directly lower your front wheel. Be cautious when it’s coming down, however, as you’ll feel some pressure in your direction as a result of the impact.

Bring your motorcycle to a good speed. It’s ideal that you start learning wheelies at a speed between 10-20 KPH. If you’re going too quickly, you may find yourself losing some control, making you crank the gas in a hazardous way. When going too slowly, however, you’ll find it hard to pull the front wheel up with adequate force.

Let off the gas while still keeping your speed. You won’t want to slow down too much, but it’s reasonable to lower your speed right before you start to accelerate into your wheelie. This gives you more of a kick when you hit the gas, and this extra power will help bring your front wheel up more smoothly.

Crank the gas to accelerate and while attempting to bring the front wheel up. Once you’ve reduced your speed a little, put more pressure on the throttle. As you’re doing this, you’ll pull the front wheel up, just like you’re doing a wheelie on a bicycle. At first, these elevations will feel very small, almost like bunny jumps. As you become safer lifting the front up, however, they will gradually come to be longer and longer.

When you lift the bike up and come back down too suddenly, your front tire is going to shake due to impact. If you don’t come down straight, you’ll fall off the bike over the front, contrarily known as a high side. This tends to happen when you’re first getting started, so just make sure that you’re landing your wheelies as straight as possible to avoid it.

5. Keep Your Balance in the Wheelie

When learning your balance point, stagger back on the rear side of the bike, making sure that the center of gravity of your system (you and your bike) settles in the center. This will enable you to ride the wheelie for a longer period of time. Any sloping forward or backward will affect the center of your system, causing you to fall.

When getting started, you might want to try to hug the tank with your knees, helping you hold on when the front wheel of the bike lifts up. This will certainly prevent you from slipping backwards against your seat. If you find yourself stuck hugging the tank while your bike is going backwards, the gravity of your system won’t be in balance.

Lessen your throttle when you settle into a relaxed balance. When you feel yourself easing into the balance of your wheelie, you can lessen the throttle, just a little, so that you are still in control when holding its motion. Reducing it more than necessary, however, will make your bike lose all its momentum.

Hold the rear brake to navigate yourself down. When you want to come out of your wheelie, you’ll use the rear brake to bring the front wheel of the bike back onto the ground. If you crank this too severely, however, your front wheel is likely to crash down too quickly, and you may stumble or fall. To prevent this, you can raise the throttle as the front is declining, balancing your movement. 

Where to maintain your balance:

Front-wheel?

If you’re leaning too much forward when you’re trying to pop a wheelie, you won’t find it easy to bring your front tire off the road, because the weight of your body will keep it down. Your center of gravity should be further lean backward than this.

Over the seat?

When you’re doing wheelies, your center of gravity (as well as that of your bike) should be much in the center of the bike. That keeps your balance and makes it easier for you to keep the wheelie as you ride.

Over the back wheel?

Almost! If you tip too far back while doing a wheelie, you’re liable to stumble over backwards, so you need to maintain your center of gravity closer to the front of the bike than this. Also, leaning too far back can let your rear exhaust grind against the ground.

Advice: Practice on a Bicycle and Ride Uphill

Put on your protective gear. Though you might not need the same level of protection when practicing on a bicycle, it’s always advisable that you practice safely. As stated earlier, ensure you’re wearing your helmet, at the bare minimum, and knee and elbow pads if you want to be really careful. While starting wheelies on a bike may seem totally free of harm, things can go wrong when you take some bad spills and hurt yourself.

Practice by riding uphill. Start with convenient gear. The best is probably two or three, so there would be no need for too much excessive pedaling. Don’t choose a hill that is too steep. Instead, learning on a nice, gradual slope will help you maintain your balance and maintain your front wheel in the air.

In your quest to learn wheelie, your pedaling may become difficult, which may cause you to fall off the bike. The resistance to pedaling uphill will oppose those forces. That will help you, when you practice on flat ground, to maintain a straighter trajectory of motion.

It’s not necessary, but it seems easier to do your practice on a mountain bike, rather than a BMX bike. Mountain bike back wheels are much more stable, and the front of the bike is easier to lift up. The large wheelbase also has the ability to make you feel more powerful.

Maintain an easy and comfortable speed while practicing on flat ground. Though this speed will vary on a case-by-case basis, you can aim for a speed between 5 to 10mph. Moving at extremely high speed might cause you to lose control when you’re only on one wheel. However, if you go too slowly, you may not have the momentum to properly lift the front into the air.

This keeps you in motion in the wheelie. Once your front wheel is in the air a few times successfully, you’ll want to start riding the wheelie for a longer period of time. When you’re in the air, extend your arms and soften your grip. 

You will also want to use your rear brake to adjust your leverage while in wheelie position. Some people hold the rear brake for the duration of the wheelie, while others just tighten their grip on it when they have the feeling that the front wheel is coming too high into the air. The harder you hold on the brake, the harder you’ll need to keep pedaling to maintain your front tire in the air.

You might want to ask why it is ideal to practice your wheelie while riding uphill. This is because it helps you lift your front wheel.

This is not necessarily true, though. Regardless of how sloped the ground you’re riding on is, it can be physically hard to pull your front tire up into a wheelie. You just have to make sure that your center of mass is focused back toward the seat and not up toward the front wheel.

That makes it less taxing to maintain your speed.

Generally, it’s easier to keep your speed on a flat surface, riding uphill tends to slow you down, and going downhill tends to speed you up more than you might want. It is advisable that you practice while going uphill, though. That helps keep you pedaling steadily.

Yes! It can seem easy to start pedaling erratically once you have your front wheel in the air. But the added resistance of biking uphill keeps pedaling stronger and steadier, which helps you to maintain your wheelie without falling.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prevent falling when performing a wheelie? If what you mean is about looping the bike as in going too far and going over backwards, what you have to do is make sure you apply the rear brake. Applying the rear brake will bring the bike back to the ground. Be steady in the throttle.

How do I stop my bike from going left when doing a wheelie? You can stop this by shifting your body or steering to the right. You will want to put more weight on your right side (it shouldn’t be too much or you’ll fall).

Should I practice first on the road or in a softer place? If you have street tires, you will need to use either concrete or asphalt so as to get enough grip to do a wheelie, even while practicing. Just make sure you’re wearing a helmet and padding should you fall.

Conclusion

I hope that this article has helped you to know the basics of doing a wheelie on a motorcycle. If there is ay part that I failed to talk about, kindly drop them in the comment section.

Disclosure: Gear Sustain is not a professional motorcycle teacher. We are not liable for any wrongdoing while riding your motorcycle or wheeling your motorcycle, we are simply educating you how we wheelie and how we would recommend you do things.