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I'm stuck on learning wheelie. I've read a few tutorials and watch some videos and now trying to repeat that. But I only able to raise front wheel for a second and half-rotate pedals. I prefer to use the highest gear (instead of low or medium) for this trick because it is easier to keep balance and also pedals feel more rough so I can stay on them while pulling the handlebar.

I thought that problem can be with my bike, so I've even set a shorter stem. It almost didn't help.

So what can you recommend for mastering the technique of wheelie?

  • Weight distribution is likely your problem. Learning to manual can be a good way to learn how to shift your center of gravity rearwards – Rider_X Jun 4 '16 at 23:00
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Step 1:

Get used to bailing out.

Put your bike in first gear. Ride very slowly, then give a (small but sharp) upwards jerk on the bars as you do a hard downstroke on one of the pedals. Stay seated. You should have the power to pass the "tipping point". When you do, put your feet down so you don't fall on your butt.

Do this until it feels completely natural and easy, and you have lost all fear of tipping over backwards. This is the real reason for this step, hopefully you won't be needing to bail out at all.

Step 2:

Learn to feather the rear brake.

Now, instead of bailing out, give a light pull on the rear brake lever. The first time you do this, the front wheel will probably slam down uncomfortably. Keep doing it until you can save yourself from going over backwards but not so abruptly that you can't continue the wheelie.

Step 3:

Add speed.

What's the highest gear with which you can reach the "tipping point" while staying seated? The higher the gear, the easier it is to sustain a wheelie.

Bailing out is a bit tricky at higher speeds, but hopefully you'll never need to.

Tips

Doing wheelies on a long climb is a great way to practice while reducing the monotony. And you don't have to use the brakes to slow yourself down for the next wheelie.

A front suspension makes learning much more pleasant. It makes landing so much more comfortable.

Staying seated cannot be stressed enough. A wheelie is not a manual, learn the difference. When you're getting started with wheelies it might help confidence and control to lower your seat a bit, but make sure you still have the power to pop the front wheel high.

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    I never considered using the back brake I always just go lighter on the pedals. Good tip. – KeithWM Jun 5 '16 at 13:53
  • I didn't know about using the brakes either, or going up hill. – Kilisi Jun 6 '16 at 0:37
  • Got bored yeasterday whhen going uphill, tried to wheelie several times, lost control and ended up in the gutter :( – Vladimir F Nov 13 at 8:38
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Practice, practice, practice.

Start moving forward slowly in a low gear and then pop the front wheel off the ground by suddenly pushing a pedal forward and pulling up on the handlebars at the same time, and just keep pedaling while trying to balance on one wheel. If you accelerate to a point where you cannot pedal fast enough to maintain balance on one wheel, shift up 1 gear and keep your momentum going. Keep upshifting when you can't pedal fast enough to keep the front wheel up, and eventually (it took me about a year or two) you'll be able to cover the length of a football field on one wheel while accelerating thru several gears on a single wheelie, all the while anticipating and counteracting all the little obstacles (bumps, rocks, holes, tree roots, curbs, etc.) that you see on the ground along the way.

"Doing wheelies on a long climb is a great way to practice while reducing the monotony. And you don't have to use the brakes to slow yourself down for the next wheelie." <--This is great advice. On a grade that's not too steep going uphill, you can upshift, downshift, or stay in the same gear and just try to keep the front wheel up throughout the entire climb. Eventually you'll be confident enough to steer around objects by leaning to the left or right while riding a wheelie and even use just one hand on the headset or on the handlebar and ride that wheelie to the top of the hill while tipping your hat with the other hand. I'm in my fifties now and totally out of shape, but in my thirties I was able to regularly wheelie up a hill that was a quarter-mile long, but because I never learned how to properly feather the brake, I had to accelerate to keep the front wheel up as the hill flattened out at the top. The first 3/4 of the climb was a monotonous single-gear slow wheelie up the hill, but that acceleration at the end made it a stomach-crunching workout every time.

Different frame geometries call for different weight distribution, so if you're not have any luck after a few weeks, try changing the stem or the seat height.

Practice, practice, practice, and you'll get there. Try again and again, and if you fail, just remember: there's no shame in failing because at least you're trying. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." If you fall, get back up, dust yourself off, and try again, no matter how many times you fall. Do this and you WILL get better and better over time. If you quit, however, or worse, if you never even try to begin with, then you'll never get there.

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Pump your suspension, the lean back while pedaling to get the pop, keep the consistent pedal to keep the wheelie going (you might feel uncomfortable leaning that far back), feather your brake while doing it.

I like doing wheelies on gear 3-1. It seems to be the best gear for it. Remember practise makes perfect, you probably wont get it first go. Good luck!

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Learning how to wheelie isn't just a cool trick - it's a useful skill. Using a pedal punch wheel lift can help you get over obstacles while climbing a technical trail.

Watch this video or read this article to learn wheelie on Mountain bike.

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    Welcome to SE - could you expand on what a "pedal punch wheel lift" is ? Likewise, please summarise the main points of your links. Link-only answers are discouraged because if/when the links stop working, this answer will become almost empty, so its best to have the basic topic in your answer, and leave the link as supporting info. You can also read the tour to learn more about how the site is organised. – Criggie Nov 12 at 21:26

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