How to Wheelie a Motorcycle: A Beginner’s Guide

So you want to learn how to wheelie a motorcycle? Well, you’re certainly not alone. Motorcycle wheelies, a thrilling skill that combines balance, control, and technique, are on many riders’ bucket lists.

Before attempting motorcycle wheelies, it’s crucial to wear proper gear for safety. This includes a motorcycle helmet, leather gloves, jeans or leather pants, a strong leather jacket, and strong boots, along with recommended elbow, ankle, or knee guards, especially for beginners.

Mastering the wheelie takes commitment, practice and a whole heap of skill. Safely controlling your motorcycle when the front wheel rises off the ground will not only make you a better rider, but you’ll receive plenty of style points in the process.

motorcyclist pulling a wheelie

What Are The Different Ways to Wheelie a Motorcycle?

The Power Wheelie

In a power wheelie, the throttle provides all the “oomph” needed to get the front wheel off the ground. This is achieved by rolling off the throttle briefly, snapping it back open, allowing the front wheel to rise, then maintaining your balance and throttle input.

Power wheelies tend to be easier to learn because you don’t have to deal with the clutch, bringing us nicely onto the next type of wheelie.

The Clutch-Up Wheelie

As the name suggests, the clutch-up uses a combination of clutch and throttle to bring the front wheel up. It’s trickier to pull off and master than the power wheelie, but they’re generally much smoother and easier to ride out.

Now that you’re familiar with the different methods of pulling a wheelie, let’s go through the basics of executing each one.

How to Power Wheelie

Step 1: Select The Correct Gear

Power wheelies are all about using sheer acceleration to get the front wheel of your bike into the air. Depending on the size of your machine, it doesn’t have to be first, but starting slow using first gear is highly recommended.

Step 2: Get Up To Speed

You’ll want to start with a speed of around 10-15mph when learning to pull a wheelie. Too slow, and you risk looping the bike when you crank open the throttle; too fast, and you risk losing control, sending your bike cartwheeling down the road.

Step 3: Let Off The Throttle, Then Crack It Back Open

Once you’ve reached your target speed, roll off the throttle momentarily. This will allow the forks to compress, shifting the weight forward over the front wheel. Then snap the throttle back open and pull up!

The combination of hard acceleration and rebound of the forks should work together to lift the front wheel into the air.

Step 4: Find and Maintain Balance Point

To ride out the wheelie in style, you’ll need to find and maintain balance point. To bring the front wheel up further, you’ll need to apply more throttle. To bring the front wheel down, you’ll need to roll off the throttle.

That said, rather than alternating between the throttle and rear brake, the goal is to find the point where the bike is balanced while applying a constant throttle.

Step 5: Set The Front Wheel Down

Once you’re ready to set the front wheel back down, gently roll off the throttle, and slightly apply the rear brake if needed. Make sure you’re sat centrally and ensure your front wheel is pointing straight ahead to avoid coming down at an angle.

motorcyclist doing a wheelie

How to Perform a Clutch-Up Wheelie

Step 1: Select The Right Gear

Regardless of how powerful your motorcycle is, you’ll want to learn to clutch up in first gear. 

On smaller machines, it’s often difficult to pull this off in anything other than first or second gear, whereas litre bikes should come right up in first, second and beyond if you try hard enough!

Step 2: Get Up To Speed

Similar to the power wheelie, you’ll want to start with a speed of around 15mph. When you’re confident popping the clutch and getting the front wheel in the air, then you can begin to increase your speed gradually.

Step 3: Pop The Clutch

Once you’re cruising at ~15mph, start by rolling off the throttle. Now, in one swift motion, pull in the clutch, apply a small amount of throttle, then quickly release (pop) the clutch.

Depending on how much throttle you apply (and how quickly you pop the clutch), you’re either going to lurch forwards slightly OR lift the front wheel.

Keep practising this motion until you can consistently bring the front wheel up.

Step 4: Find and Maintain Balance Point

Once the front wheel is in the air, the process is identical to a power wheelie.

Apply more throttle to bring the front wheel up further and reduce your throttle input to bring it down.

The goal is to keep the bike at balance point while applying a constant throttle.

Try to avoid bouncing the front-end up and down in the air in an effort to keep it off the ground. Not only is this terrible form, but the chance of losing control is much greater.

Step 5: Set The Front Wheel Down

Ensuring your front wheel is facing forwards, gently roll off the throttle, and the front-end should come down. You can also apply a small amount of rear brake if needed.

To avoid slamming the front wheel down, which will inevitably lead to premature component wear, practise using the throttle to make the transition smoother. The goal is to gradually reduce the power being fed to the rear wheel rather than switching the throttle off entirely!

Final Thoughts

When performed in a safe and controlled manner, wheelies are a lot of fun! They also happen to be illegal on UK roads, so choose your location wisely.

Wearing the right gear should be a priority any time you’re on two wheels and even more so when you’re learning to wheelie. Crash protection for your bike could also be a great investment and a lot cheaper than a new set of OEM fairings.

With all of that said, we hope you’ve learned something from this guide and ultimately feel less intimidated by the thought of pulling a wheelie.