How to wheelie

The ability to lift your front wheel at low speed is actually vital for getting up and over trail obstacles. Here’s how to wheelie.

>>> Mountain biker faces court summons for 180 metre wheelie

You’re doing it wrong if…

  1. You’re pulling on the bars
  2. You’re moving your hips or bending your elbows
  3. You’re standing up
  4. You’re using speed to keep the front wheel up
  5. You’re not practising enough

The humble wheelie, beloved of teenagers and victorious XC racers, may not seem worthy of the discerning, respectable and responsible mountain biker — but it’s very useful.

Forget the distance you hold the wheelie for and concentrate on the balance and timing of the lift. Keep your bum in the saddle, make sure your arms, handlebars and shoulders form a square, choose a gear that provides some resistance but isn’t too hard, and place a finger over the rear brake lever.

Now lean back from your shoulders while you push on the pedals. Your arms should remain straight and your hips fixed in the saddle, allowing the lift to be 100 per cent body weight and almost zero per cent strength. Let the lift come from your upper body pivoting around the rear axle while your pedalling causes the rear wheel to move forwards below you.

Keep your head up and remember — if you’re pulling on the bars, you’re going wrong.

8 wheelie good tips from Red Bull

Find a gentle uphill slope.

Lower the saddle down to half the height that you normally have it.

Put the bike into a middle gear.

To get the front wheel into the air, bend your arms and lower your chest towards the handlebars.

Push off in one motion and lift the front wheel by starting to pedal.

Straighten arms once the front wheel is up and keep your weight over the back to keep the front wheel up in the air.

Combine pulling on the handlebars with pedal strokes to move forward.

To maintain the balance point, use the handlebars, knees and your upper body for control.