Why am I the only loser who can't wheelie?

I'm not kidding.

I suck at it. And the thing I can't figure out is why? I am YZ timed, rear geared to a 52 tooth and I only weigh 163 lbs.

I get giddy if I get the front wheel off the ground 10 inches for 10 feet. What am I missing here damnit. I ride with Kerry T and there he is changing gears during a wheelie rubbing it in my face.

I am wheelie deficient.


Dougie, '99 WR400

Mods: YZ timing, Race Tech Suspension, FMF PC IV, FMF Hi FLo Moto, YZ seat, IMS 3.3 tank, One Industries Graphics, Renthal bars, 14/52 gearing.

I think its in your genes........or maybe its whats..NOT..in your jeans.... haha.... Sorry dude, I couldn't help it........ Certainly if you are going to get better at it you are going to have to get over the giddiness (fear)... I guess you could practice a lot in a soft sandy area.... Then use proper technique.... Concentrate on being balanced (straight up and down) when you yank it.... And when you do yank it concentrate on pulling straight back,... not to either side.... then you have to get it up high and start giving it blips of throttle while covering the rear brake to be ready if it comes up too high....... And by the way... I think wheelying is overrated... I do however think it gives an indication that the guy who's doing it has a good sense of balance and throttle control.

try second, not first gear.

Dont worry Dougie - youre not alone...I get vertigo if the wheel gets even a sniff of fresh air (too many thoughts of - wheelie - flip - off work - mortgage - no eating - kids living on the street - aaaarrrgggghhhh...)


Wheelies are generally a learned science over the years. I learned how to perfect them on my MX bicycles as a kid. I could ride a wheelie over two city blocks long...even off of curbs and around corners. This helps you get the confidence and balance needed to hang it out there on a scoot. Im summation, all it takes its cajones... :)

Taffy, I agree it's easier to learn in 2nd gear, as it's less likley to sit you on your rear end. Once you learn to get it to the balance point (and that's a lot further back than you would think) you can start to change gears abd go around corners, that's not too hard to do.

Vincent, Like you, I learned on BMX bikes as a kid, and that probably helped me, as I got my first bike at 10 years old (YZ250B, would you beleive!!!) I didn't have any real problems learning to wheelie.


RodH Canberra, Australia<A HREF="http://www.400thumpers.oz-au.com" TARGET=_blank>

400 Thumpers Australia</A>

2000 WR400F See Photo's and Modifications


First your not the only guy. I'm YZ timed and can't wheelie very well either. I even had a post a few months ago where I thought something was wrong with my bike. Clark and a few others said the bike was probably ok so I just tried to get better at it- with marginal results. I would like to wheelie better for fun and also sometimes its nice to crack the throttle and pull the front wheel over obstacles. Maybe we will have wheelie practice in Moab.


Dougie, I do not know if Gary Semics or Gary Bailey offers any tips/videos on riding a wheelie. I cannot do it either. I can power the front end up to launch through puddles, whoops, etc, but I cannot sustain it. The trick is to find the fulcrum point and by metering the throttle and rear brake, keep it going.

One note of caution. I was at a dealer several years ago. He told me of a kid that bought a brandnew 3 wheeler or 4 wheeler. I guess the kid spent the first day on his OHV riding wheelies everywhere. It just so happened that the oil pump pickup tube was starving for oil since the thing was nearly vertical for a real long time. Well, the engine seized up and became a real heavy paperweight. Honda's warranty did not cover it...SURPRISE!!

Now, we all know our bikes use a dry sump. But if you get the hang of it, I wanted to warn you before you hit the freeway on your Ducati to do 80mph, 4 mile long wheelies (although I would love to watch it).


I hate to tell you this, but if you are battling on a WR400 dont even try it on any two stroke machine.

I've always promised myself that before I ever give up bikes (not currently even contemplating this but realistically if I fit a pacemaker one day all these falls could impact on its performance) I want to be able to wheely properly. I've had numerous 'training sesions' in the past with lots of bend subframes and rear fenders to prove it (as well as a butt that bled for a month - but thats another story) Despite all my practicing I could only power wheelie over relatively short distances on my previous KTM300s and watch in awe as some of my friends pulled endless balance wheelies.

When I bought my YZ426 all that changed. The power characteristics are such that it is simly the easiest, most forgiving mono cycle around. By the end of the first ride ,I was already able to balance the bike on the throttle in preferably 3rd or 4th gear with my foot on the rear break for 'insurance purposes'. With practice I am now able to wheelie almost indefinitely or until I run out of road or RPM (I still tend to pick up speed as I'm not riding the balance point properly).

Buying the YZ426 has been worth it just for the wheelies I am now able to pull.

Funnily enough, in the last few weeks I have just bought a KTM520EXC, and have found that this bike does not wheelie as well as the 426. O well back to the practice road. In fact if I dont get it right I will probably sell the bike and buy the new WR426 when it arrives at the end of the year - that's how seriously I take my new found wheelie abilities.


Don't feel too bad, you are not alone. Learning to wheelie takes time and practice.

I would suggest start out in 2nd gear, in a open field. Sand makes it harder because you spin the tire more, gravel will hurt more if you loop it. Then try 3rd gear.

Learn to cover the rear brake with your foot and test your ability to use it in mid wheelie.

I use the 'fan the clutch' method, I think it gives more consistant results. I use power to lift the front wheel, I don't pull the bike up at all.

Sit at the back of the seat, you spin the tire less.

To start out, just try to hold the front tire a foot or so off the ground & keep it there as you accelerate. When the power falls off near readline the front end will drop.

You don't need to get the bike up to the balance point to ride a desent wheelie, you just keep accelerating, this works better in the taller gears.

Hope this help!


I learned on a two stroke (KX 250, my first bike) by running through the gears.

Starting in first I learned how to get the front end airborne by blipping the throttle at real low rpm and leaning back. Not using the clutch is easier because it eliminates one more variable (or one more way for you to mess up and wreck).

Once I could blip and rip in first I would blip, drop throttle and shift into second.

Soon I was running through the gears.

I'm not too good at maintaining a long wheelie in one gear but for me it is pretty easy to start in first on my 426 and, lightly fanning clutch when I shift, go all the way through fifth gear without dropping the front wheel.

This way you don't have to master the rear brake or throttle control, you just blip until you start to get scared, drop the throttle and grab another gear before the front drops. Releasing throttle on a four stroke is almost as good as stepping on the brake, anyway.

Anyway, I was always a frustrated wheely person too until I tried, in effect, stringing a bunch of short wheelies together by shifting gears. Within one afternoon I was pulling long fourth-gear wheelies on my 250.

I think their are two levels of wheelie-ness that one can obtain.

Level 1 wheelie master - When mastering this level, you can wheelie over logs and rocks when you need to. I have not completely mastered this level yet, but if I come up to an obsticle and have to get the front end up, I can do it. If it's a huge log (like Jake and Dave and I came accross a week ago), I have problems. But most obsticles aren't a problem. However, as I'm lofting the front wheel, I'm looking on the other side for a place to set it down. I can't just hang it up there for an extended perioud of time. My brain says, 'get it up and over and back down asap'.

Level 2 wheelie master - This is the level of KerryT, the wheelie king. I've also seen pictures of RodH in OZ doing a Level 2 wheelie master wheelie. This is where the rider can hang it up in the air to dry. I've actually seen KerryT shift through his gears while lofted. If his front tire gets wet (which it rarely does since he wheelies through streams), he can dry it out by hanging it up high on the trail. I don't think KerryT has ever replaced a front wheel. He only sets it down if necessary to turn (I've also seen him turn corners only on his back wheel).

I'm a brown belt as a wheelie level 1 master. Once I get my black belt, I'll stive for level #2. Also, I think Doug is a wheelie level 1 brown belt. He can get over things when needed. He just wants to be a jedi master wheelie dude like KerryT.

By the way, on a mountain bike, I can ride a level 2 wheelie.


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