Doing a Wheelie

MI2 Wheelie

You're at a traffic junction, the light turns green and as you pull in your clutch to get into gear, this bugger next to you pulls a wheelie and leaves you in a cloud of smoke....

What do you do? Learn it for good measure of course! Here's how.

But before you try anything mentioned below, be informed that motorcycle stunts are very dangerous and illegal on public roads and car parks. If you really have to, then try it only if your home has a driveway as long as that of the Istana!

And of course, be prepared to pay for the repairs and injuries that will surely follow...
The owners of this website will not be responsible for any property damages, injuries or loss of life due to actions taken by readers after reading this page.

So you wanna do a wheelie? There are basically two methods of getting the front end up.

Using The Clutch

First ensure that you are in first gear, and going quite slowly (the actual figures will vary from bike to bike), say around 3500rpm. Sit as far back in the seat as you can, and sit as upright as possible (this is to move as much weight as possible backwards). Roll the throttle on to maximum, as the tacho moves through 4000-4500 rpm, pull the clutch in. As engine rise rapidly, let the clutch back out quickly at around 4000rpm later.

Did the front wheel lift?

If not, you'll have to increase the RPM differential. Ideally, you should be feeding the clutch back in somewhere around peak torque or slightly higher. The larger/more powerful the bike, the less critical it is. Pulling the clutch in at lower rpm is also another option. It's all a matter of experimentation. But beware, don't wind it up to the rev limitter at a stand still and just pop the clutch on the first attempt. It is better to fail 20 times, than flip over on the first attempt!

Are you now in hospital?

If so, after you heal you could give it another go.

Is the bike a wreck?

Well, either way, at least you've learnt something. Only mechanically insensitive idiots do wheelies!

Using The Throttle

This technique requires a little more from the bike and it is actually possible that you cannot lift the front end using the throttle alone. Firstly, what your bike really needs is throttle response, because you'll be relying on the bike to load and unload the suspension quickly to help hoist the bike up. Of course, if you own a 916 or a ZZR-11 or something of that like, you can stop reading now. Just back up and do it in first gear!

The idea is to use your suspension to help loft the front wheel. You do this by accelerating hard, shutting the throttle quickly, thus loading up the front, and as the forks reach their maximum compression, pull the throttle again. Pulling back on the handle, lurching back and standing up are all optional. They may be necessary for your bike.

Now of course it is easy to say as the forks reach their maximum compression, but when you're trying to concentrate on everything else, it's all a bit much. So try remembering this. What you are dealing with here is physics. If you open the throttle at a certain rpm, close it at a certain rpm, delay a certain amount of time and then open the throttle again, what happens will be pretty much the same from one occasion to the next. What you're really trying to do is learn what these variables are, with practice you'll develop a feel for when you've got it right.

Have fun and ride safe always!