Riders all have their own bag of tricks, but the one everyone secretly wants to master is the wheelie. It doesn’t matter this can be complicated and dangerous, sooner or later every enthusiast is going to try it. Knowing that, here are three steps that might make the maneuver safer and easier.
1. Lower tire pressure
In most cases a lower tire pressure is advised. Lower pressure lets the tires “squish” more as your weight is placed over them. The pressure in each tire should be adjusted so that the quad tracks in a straight line when on a flat surface. Running the tires on a lower pressure also creates a bigger flat spot, so more area of the surface grips, making for easier balance when you’re actually up in the wheelie.
2. Check your grab bar
For ATVs, this is critical because it’s your defender if something goes wrong during the trick. You’re looking for cracks or weak points that could cause it to bend or snap when hit. If you’ve bent it before, it’s a smart idea to replace it. Newer fabricated bars are stronger and will last longer, and can take the abuse of being scraped on the ground. Of course, the idea is to not have to use it, and to remember it won’t always save you in a crash.
3. Body position
Wheelies can be performed seated, standing, split, or standing on the seat, but until you get very good at the technique the stand up position is probably easiest. Pro dirt-biker Brian Capper recommends learning on an uphill slope with your legs dangling on the ground. For quads, hands on controls, feet on the pegs and the rider standing with a clear view ahead and the front end won’t seem as high as it does from a seated position. And if you mess up and cause the quad to fall back onto the grab bar, you often can just step off. The brake and gear shift might be a stretch to reach, so be ready.
4. Throttle control
Smoothness is ultimately the goal, so forget advice about chopping the throttle. The basic idea behind throttle control is simply to use a lot to get the quad from the ground to the balance point, but then smoothly adjust to where you can almost hold it steady. Getting the tires up is a lot more difficult then setting them back down, but there can be challenges there as well.
The reality is that it all comes down to practice, and everyone learns at their own individual pace. To be safe, know your limits and put in the time needed to improve.
Photo credit: Four Wheeler Riding By Moodboard, Getty Images