How to Pop a Wheelie on Your Bike: Simple Tips and Techniques

It’s not uncommon for people to want to learn how to do a wheelie on a bike. It can be a challenging and fun trick! This blog post will discuss how you can pop a wheelie on your mountain bike with some simple tips and techniques. We’ll also go over the steps for beginners so that anyone can learn how to do it!

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I used to think I was too old for wheelies, but then my brother showed me how easy they were. It was incredible to feel the exhilaration of riding on a single wheel. I had never been more alive! It felt just as amazing as that time when I took my first ride on a bike, and it felt like nothing could ever stop me from riding down the street with ease.

Now popping wheelies have become second nature over time.

Disclaimer: Wheelies take practice…

It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced cyclist; it’ll still take you a couple of tries to get used to doing your first true wheelie on your bicycle.

How To Pop A Wheelie On a Bike?

A wheelie is a great skill to have when you’re out riding your bike. And while some might say that doing a full-on bicycle wheelie takes finesse and control, there are many different ways to learn to do them! I’ve outlined exactly how I learned and practiced to now wheelie a mile with little trouble in the steps below.

Bike Setup – Finding the Perfect Seat Height

This step is crucial because the seat height will greatly determine how easy it will be for you to perform a wheelie. Without the proper height adjustment, you’ll either be completely out of balance once you’re in the wheelie, and this will make it difficult for you to control the duration of your wheelies as you’ll be swinging all over.

On the flip side, if your saddle is too low, you’ll end up falling off or having difficulty pedaling the bike if it’s too low. This happens because a lower saddle position reduces the motion of your legs and the power you can push to the pedal.

You have to remember that one of the main keys to performing and staying in a wheelie is in keeping the front wheel up. It is done through momentum and balance. As such, finding the right seat height is possibly the most important step in the process of popping a wheelie on a bicycle.

The best seat position to do a wheelie is one inch from the top of your correct seat height. Once you’ve found the right seat height for the wheelie, you also need to ensure that you sit on your saddle throughout the wheelie. 

Maintaining a seated position removes all the wobbling that will because by being up off the saddle. It also keeps all your weight low and in a stable form that will allow you to stay in the wheelie for longer.

Setting your Gears Up for Success

Another very important part of doing a wheelie is picking the right gear to do the stunt. Picking the wrong gear will make it more difficult to do the wheelie, and you won’t be able to keep up the momentum needed for a long enough time.

Depending on the type of bike you have, you’ll be presented with different gear setups. Some bikes have a single gear, as in the case of a fixed-gear bike; others have multiple on the front chainring and cassette.

You’ll want to pick a gear that’s in the middle of the range of high and low. 

If the gear you select is too low, you’ll have difficulty getting the bike up to speed to maintain the wheelie. This will also cause you to tip backward easily and fall off the saddle.

On the other hand, if the gear is too high, it will be harder to lift the front wheel, and you’ll have an even harder time keeping it going. This happens when the gear is too high, and you risk running out of momentum before reaching full extension (the point in which your weight has been transferred off of the back wheel).

The idea is that you need to pick the right gear for the wheelie. If you have the right balance of power, you will be able to stay on your back wheels and keep going.

  • Wheelies can be done in any gear. However, you’ll want to switch between them and find the one that is easier for you to use to lift and maintain your speed. 

Choose Your Practice Ground Carefully

Choosing a safe place to practice your wheelie can help you avoid being hurt. You will need to find an area with open space that is clear of cars or other obstacles. If possible, it should be flat and without any bumps in the asphalt surface where you are practicing your wheelie technique.

The best places I recommend to practice doing a wheelie are at the park, on a bike path, or in an open field/parking lot. There are many other places that you could practice your wheelie technique, but not all of them will be safe for practicing, so it’s important to choose wisely.

Once you’ve found the perfect open area to practice, you can move on to the next step.

Getting into the Right Position to Lift the Bike

One of the key steps in wheelies is to find the right position that allows you to lift the front wheels and maintain it. The first thing you need to do is mastering the lifting motion.

Now here’s where it gets a little tricky…

While sitting on your saddle, you want to follow a little technique I’ve come to call lean and pop. To do this, you want to lean into the handlebar by making your elbows reach an almost 90-degree angle pointing out in either direction. Once you’ve leaned into the handlebar, you then need to pop your arms back into a straight position while leaning back.

Think of it like trying to lift your bike while being seated, and you should be able to master the lean and pop form.

Find the Correct Crank and Pedal Position

After you’ve gotten the hang of the lean and pop motion, you then need to pair it with the proper pedal position that allows you to complete the lift. This is important because the pedal position determines how high the wheelie will go.

The best pedal position to do a wheelie is the “heel down” position while having the crank arm right around the two o clock mark. This position should be done on your dominant leg so that you can exert the maximum force needed to lift the bike completely.

Once you’ve marked the correct position, start cycling and take note of when your dominant foot is in the proper position. Whenever it is at the right spot between 12 and 2, you can lean and pop your shoulders to lift the bike in a wheelie.

Pedal Through The Wheelie at the Right Speed

Another critical component of performing a wheelie stunt on a bike for beginners is speed. At this point, you’ll need to tie in the motions of lean and pop and timing your crank position. So before focusing on this step, I’d highly recommend practicing the prior steps of leaning in and lifting and also noting the exact point in which your dominant leg reaches the 2’o’clock point.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll next need to master the speed needed to maintain a wheelie. This process is difficult to explain in words and is more dependent on practice and the gear you selected for your bike. It’ll also require a little skill as you’ll need to use your brake in order to stop you from leaning back too far and controlling your speed.

  • Throughout this step, you’ll want to start off doing small wheelies first, as it will take some time to master how fast you should be going.
  • As you get more experienced, you can lift the front wheel higher and try to keep pedaling while applying brakes if you feel you’re going to fall off.
  • Remember that your brakes help you keep the front wheel from going too far back.

Find Your Point of Balance

The last step in doing the perfect wheelie is to find your balance. As mentioned earlier, you want to ensure that you are always seated throughout the wheelie. This way, you’ll be able to find the appropriate point of balance, which is usually when your torso is directly vertical over the rear wheel.

While you are seated with your torso in a vertical position with the wheel, make sure you keep your eyes forward and focus on where you are going instead of looking at the wheels or pedal. If you keep your eyes forward and focus on where you are going, you’ll find it easier to keep your balance. Whereas looking at the wheel or on the ground will make you lose balance.

A Word of Caution

Full Suspension Bikes are a little harder to wheelie if you can’t lock the rear suspension since they can prevent you from keeping your balance. 

Practice Makes Perfect

Once you’ve mastered all the previous steps up to this point, you’ll now need to combine all the steps. Again, as a beginner, practice as much as possible and remember that you need to use your brakes, pedals, and hips to keep you seated and balanced in the wheelie. It will take a few days to get the hang of it and then weeks to extend the distance of your wheelies. 

Can you do a wheelie on any bike?

Yes, you can; while there are a few exceptions, the vast majority of bikes can do wheelies. You just need to have your bike set up properly for it and make sure that you follow the steps above, and you’ll quickly learn how to do a wheelie on your bicycle.

What bikes are good for wheelies?

The best bikes for wheelies are:

  • BMX
  • Mountain bikes with or without a suspension fork and normal tires. (Fat tire bikes are hard to wheelie due to their weight)
  • Racer-style bikes are also good for wheelies because they’re so lightweight.
  • Hybrid Bikes

You can check out this article for a detailed buyer guide we wrote on the best bikes for wheelies.

What type of bike is easiest to wheelie?

The easiest type of bicycle to use for a wheelie is a mountain bike. Mountain bikes have more versatility in gears and frame design that makes them very easy to control. They are also lightweight and will allow you to lift them and keep the wheelie going easily. 

I would recommend that beginners try using this type of bike first as it is easier for them to stay balanced while they learn how the maneuver their way through a complete wheelie.

Are wheelies safe?

Wheelies are considered as safe as riding a bike. It just depends on where your ride the bike and how you ride it. They can be unsafe if the rider is not wearing a helmet or has any other safety gear on their body like elbow, knee, ankle pads, and gloves for protection in case of an accident.

Are bicycle wheelies illegal?

Wheelies are not considered to be illegal in the United States. However, some places may have laws against performing a wheelie on public roads and highways. You should always consult your local laws on riding to avoid any issues.

Can you wheelie on a bike without gears?

Yes, you can wheelie a bike without gears; however, it is much easier on bikes with gears. Gears provide a way to increase your pedaling speed and decrease the amount of work you have to do to pop a wheelie. This makes it possible for beginner bikers who are not used to doing wheelies.

How do you stop wheelies?

Stopping your wheelie is very simple and easy to do; all you need to do is straighten your front wheel while pulling your rear brakes. This action will cause the front wheels to fall back onto the ground, thus stopping the wheelie.