Learning to wheelie on a bike

Having learned to unicycle, I want to try and learn to wheelie. I tried to learn years ago when I was a teenager (with supposedly better balance) but gave up. I could only ever get a couple of yards before my front wheel would touch down again, or I would topple over sideways. I don’t know if it’s just me but I found learning to unicycle a whole lot easier (having learned age 30).

Pulling the perfect wheelie is the holy grail for me, and being able to ride everywhere on that one wheel would kick *ss. Does anyone have any tips for learning, like what the ideal bike geometry and gearing is, how to control your balance etc. What will I be able to take from unicycling to apply to this?


I think the best bikes for wheelies are BMXses and Trials bikes. as they are pretty much designed for pulling wheelies.

I tried a BMX bike yesterday, and was able to wheelie for a few metres after a few tries. I think if I had a few days with that bike, I’d be able to wheelie very nicely.

When you’re trying a wheelie, it’s best to have the lowest gear possible, as you want more control and don’t want to go too fast. Then, just pull on the handlebars and try to find the balance.

I feel that they are two totally different skills. I learned to wheelie long before I ever considered unicycling. I find the easiest wheelie is one done on a mountain bike riding slowly in the lowest possible gear. Theres a certain point that you hit where your balance sort of locks in, I call it the sweet spot. This point is usually just beyond your comfort zone where you feel like you are about to fall over backwards. Be sitting down while you are trying to ride it and be sure to make use of the brakes if you start to fall off backwards.

A mountain bike is easiest for pulling at wheelie, if your pulling at catwalk a trials bike. Have a low gear but not too low. When I used to Mountain Bike I could go like 120ft doing a wheelie

I tried to ride a bike yesterday after quite a while. So I tried doing a wheely. But it was way easier than when I tried to do it without unicycling skills. Bikes are so fun:D

i can wheelie for about 100 yards on the RIGHT bike. i like BMX bikes that are a little longer than the average, and extremely light.

extremly light EH? I dont think so as much…Have you ever felt a Trials Bike…Mine is 24 lbs and its a heavier Trials bike some are 18 LBS

I’ve tried on my bmx and failed haha :roll_eyes:

Why do you want to drag that heavy front wheel all over the place? Yes, riding a wheelie on a bike is a lot different than unicycling. Plus you have to cheat and use the brake all the time… :slight_smile:

When i was into Biking I didnt use my brake.

I have to totally disagree with everything you said there.
Trials bikes don’t tend to have seats, not ones you can acctualy use anyways. And the best wheelies are sitting down so that rules them out. Depending on the chain ring on a bmx, you will have to keep up a fairly fast speed whilst pulling a wheelie which just makes things difficault for yourself.

I find mountain bikes much better. You can choose the gear which is fairly light but not so you’re peddling like mad either. A high seat helps so your legs are almost straight when pedaling. As for position your arms should be straight out infront and parelal to the ground, back straight. One finger on the break if your about to fall backwards, pedal faster if the front wheel drops.

Haha of course you just described a pro level bike just about. I rode one like that a couple times. I tryed to wheelie and I sucked at it. I tried to pedal kick (bmx) and just fell on my ass. Bikes+me=pain

are you trying to wheely or manual

manuals are so hard.

well i can manual and not wheelie

well what can I say- +1! BMXs are probably the worst in my opinion, as you’re so low and they don’t balance nicely at all. Nor do they have feasable brakes for the job.

You need a medium height seat, mountain bike, the ability to flip the bike, and 1st or 2nd gear. I say 2nd gear as sometimes it helps to have slightly more speed in the wheelie (1st can be too slow, therefore you fall sideways).

Idealy, you’d angle your seat (using a bolt or screw, whatever is under your seat) as far forwards as possible (down, so you find it hard to ride the bike flat on the ground sitting on the seat) so that when you are in the wheelie, your mass is pushing down on the back of the seat and you are sitting upright, rather than having to lean right back holding on for dear life, about to fall off the back! (extremely long sentence there, I know ^^)

The most crucial point is the way that you use your back brake. It obviously needs to be fairly well working or the idea would not help. When you are up in the wheelie (with idealy your index finger resting on the back brake), pedaling steadily and start to fall back slightly (you need to make sure that if anything, you will fall back not forwards), you need to apply gradual force to the brake to bring you back forwards slightly. This is called brake control - key word there is control. You’ll need to get exactly the right amount of force on the brake at the right time and then you can always trust that you will not flip the bike - therefore the only thing stopping you is a ‘‘UPD’’ or your hands aching meaning you are obliged to go down.

Well to sum it up, that must have been my most long winded post yet thus I hope it is useful.

Here is my video of me wheelying my bike.

As you can see, once you can do it normally there are many variations that make it very fun to do. Another one not in the video is to take the front wheel off (once you’re experienced) - it makes it much easier, when you’re up, as the front half weighs next to nothing without the front wheel :D. Or even, you could go as far as unibiker did and fully convert your bike!
Finaly - a quite recent thread where some of this was discussed that you may be interested in.

Get a fixie

If you get a fixed gear bike (no coasting) there are lots of options as the wheel and the pedals are always engaged.

I’d agree with pretty much everything posted so far (particularly the soundtrack to jamessd video - nice choice!), but I think that everyone has left out an important point;

Find a hill to wheelie up. If you ride up a nice gradient, then leaning back a little bit and pulling on the handlebars makes for a dead easy wheelie. From there you’ll get a feel for what’s good to do and bad to do so you’ll be able to wheelie on the flat easier.


Well i cut the front frame of my bike because it was becoming a hassle to fix. It kept bending and stuff. Obviously this was after a while of me one wheel riding a bike. Mostly front wheel wise. :smiley:

So i decided to do something like this to compensate it. :smiley:


Sounds like you know what you’re talking about, alas I could never pull off a decent wheelie on a mountain bike, even though I ride one all the time. I’ll try again, next time I ride, and try to keep your tips in mind.