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  1. #1
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    Am I too old to wheelie?

    I'm turning 33 and trying to learn to wheelie but can't seem to do it. I've watched a ton of videos online but can barely lift my wheel up to climb a curb and even when I do I feel like I'm going to dislocate my elbow and shoulder. I'm sure I must be doing something wrong or maybe I'm just too old to learn how to wheelie. Whatever the reason it's frustrating..

  2. #2
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    Some people are just better at some things. IMO I'm a skilled rider. Can bunny hoop far and wide. But when it came to wheelies it just wasn't there. Last summer, I made it a point to go into a grass feild, every few days and practice. Now I'm pretty good at em. The grass field is because the first day I made up my mind to practice was on the road. Fell on my ass and started thinkin' hmmm, maybe I'm too old for this. I'm 44.
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  3. #3
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    33? Too old? Ha!

    Just compress your arms down and then pull up, lean back, and pedal hard, making sure your bike is in a low gear. It's also important to know your balance point. Try to flip the bike over backwards, but at the same time, try to catch it with your rear brake. This gives you confidence so that you're less likely to fall back while wheeling. Also, try to keep your wheelie at a constant speed. If you are not at your balance point and try to catch your wheelie by speeding up, you won't hold it for too long.

  4. #4
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    When I compress my arms down and pull back I do it hard and barely get my wheel up and also feel like my whole upper body is going to break. Plus my wheel goes up for just a fraction of a second, 2 weeks back I landed in front of the curb as i was hitting it and nearly flew over the handle bar lol

    I also tried to push the pedal down as I pull back but its hit and miss.

    Actually I think I might record my self trying to do a wheelie and post the video here. maybe you guys can see what I might be doing wrong.

  5. #5
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    Surprising to me that you didn't learn to wheelie as a kid. Even more surprising is "feel like my whole upper body is going to break". It takes a little bit of coordination to do it (obviously because a little bit is all I have) and it sounds like you're not getting things in synch. Seems to me that you'd do better asking another rider to show you how to do it in person too.
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  6. #6
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    Are you on a hardtail or full suspension? Full suspension is much different / harder.

  7. #7
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    Position:

    Shift your weight back just a hair, strong foot forward on the pedals, arms bent, chest towards bars. Have the bike in a relatively high gear.

    Technique:
    Use your strong foot to "power" the rear wheel, unweighting the front. Simultaneously "snap" back to your normal seated position while bringing the bars up with you.

    It seems it is easier to do a wheelie while focusing more on the pedal movement than the bars. For example, if in the correct gear, you should be able to lift your wheel off the ground without even pulling up on the bars.

  8. #8
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    When I was a kid I had this scooter with chunky wheels, kinda like the one below just more cooler looking. I attempted to wheelie it twice and both times I ended up falling off and fracturing my wrist (left hand first, right hand second time). So there probably is some kind of psychological reasoning behind my lack of wheelie skills right now lol



    I'm currently on hard tail waiting for my full suspension to arrive. i guess i need to get this working before i sell off my hard tail. does my height make things more difficult? I'm 6'1 and kinda clumsy so not sure if that makes a difference or not. i should pass by the skate park near my house and ask one of the kids there to show me how to wheelie. some of those kids can bunny hop so high they depress me..

  9. #9
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    Worried about going over? Practice going up hills. You'll reach your balance point earlier and your front wheel is closer to the ground.

    52 here!
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssiegrist View Post
    Position:

    Shift your weight back just a hair, strong foot forward on the pedals, arms bent, chest towards bars. Have the bike in a relatively high gear.

    Technique:
    Use your strong foot to "power" the rear wheel, unweighting the front. Simultaneously "snap" back to your normal seated position while bringing the bars up with you.

    It seems it is easier to do a wheelie while focusing more on the pedal movement than the bars. For example, if in the correct gear, you should be able to lift your wheel off the ground without even pulling up on the bars.
    Interesting, maybe my gearing isn't low enough. right now since i ride on flat grounds (i'm in Kuwait it's all flat here) so I always leave the front gear on the biggest one, maybe i've got to shift it into even lower gear and try it that way.

  11. #11
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    I'm still learning as well but have been improving. The biggest thing for me was shifting my weight back more, a lot more. Now I can pull the wheel up easily. I just need to start learning to balance while pedaling.

  12. #12
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    Well i'm not looking to wheelie wheelie, i mean I just want to be able to lift the front wheel high enough so i could climb over obstacles and maybe learn how to bunny hop once i've got that sorted.

  13. #13
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    If you call it a wheelie, instead of a manual, you're too old to be doing them.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbense View Post
    If you call it a wheelie, instead of a manual, you're too old to be doing them.
    He's not trying to manual, just lift the front wheel enough to clear obstacles.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbense View Post
    If you call it a wheelie, instead of a manual, you're too old to be doing them.
    lol had to google manual. I kinda remember the term from Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX on the Dreamcast.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by interdigitate View Post
    I always leave the front gear on the biggest one, maybe i've got to shift it into even lower gear and try it that way.
    Ding ding ding!

    It's way harder to get enough torque with the chain in the big ring, use the middle ring and you'll have an easier time pedaling into the wheelie.

    If you can't get your bike to a position where you can fall over the back of it, then you won't be able to wheelie. Keep practicing until you can pull the wheel so far off the ground that you actually fall backwards (I don't recommend doing this with clipless pedals, I've turtled myself a couple times that way). Wheelies and manuals are not about pulling your bike up to you or pedaling the wheel off the ground, they're more about using your weight shifting to bring the wheel up. I would suggest that you also work on manuals which will teach you the body position you need to maintain your balance over the back wheel.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbense View Post
    If you call it a wheelie, instead of a manual, you're too old to be doing them.
    There IS a difference between wheelies and manuals, btw. You pedal a wheelie, but you don't pedal a manual.

  18. #18
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    I think a maual and a wheelie are two different things. A manual you really dont pedal. Im 40 and I ride "wheelies". edit, Nightman beat me to it and i think he is exactly right.

  19. #19
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    I thought learning a wheelie was the first thing you learned as a kid??

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    36 and I wheelie as much as possible.

  21. #21
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    Put it in 1st gear.... Put your power for at the top of the stroke. While stopped with your weak foot planted an the ground. pedal as hard as you can and pull back hard. The bike should come out from under you but you still have your weak foot to fall onto. Do that then shift up a few gears and do the same thing but moving a little bit. If it goes all the way over be ready to catch yourself. If you can't get it out from under you from that you can try peddling more and more during the wheelie. That's how I learned. I can't ride them for a long time but I can get 10-15 cranks. I hope that was understandable.

  22. #22
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    Try different gears. What works for me is right about in the middle of all the gears (second ring on the front, about the middle on the back). I'm 36 and only bought a bike a few months ago.

  23. #23
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    36 and my kids think it's cool that I can do a wheelie! It helps me to sit far back on the seat so my weight and balance are over the rear tire.

  24. #24
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    You are not too old. I'm 37 and can wheelie and manual with the BMX park kids.

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    its a 120 degrees outside right now so will wait till nightfall and try to get the front wheel up just by dropping down a few gears. I think i'd be a bit more confident to lean further back if I had elbow pads since i'm prone to breaking pretty easily.

  26. #26
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    Keep a finger on the rear brake, feather the brake when you start to feel that you are going too far back.

  27. #27
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    I cannot sustain a wheelie or manual, but getting the front up a little for an obstacle doesn't seem all that hard. Mostly, I try to do it without pedal power = manual. But how do I do it? ... Just pulling up on the bar won't do it. There must also be a weight shift towards the rear going on. Sometimes I start by pushing down on the bar quickly: a bit like hitting a basket ball to make it start bouncing.

    Clipless pedals may be detrimental for getting started because people worry about falling on their backs. One trick for learning to get the front way up is to use flat pedals and exaggerate the movement so that you are actually falling on your back but simply step off the bike towards the rear instead.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  28. #28
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    You're never to old to wheelie! They make you smile. Just do what the others have told you. Go middle or even small ring up front, get in a rhythm pedaling in grass or somewhere that if you go over backwards you won't get hurt, compress your arms towards the bars, pull up and crank on the pedals at the same time. Keep a finger on the rear brake to keep from going over backwards.

    Even better yet, a great link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSqkKtnMM_U

    Good luck and have fun!
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by interdigitate View Post
    its a 120 degrees outside right now so will wait till nightfall and try to get the front wheel up just by dropping down a few gears. I think i'd be a bit more confident to lean further back if I had elbow pads since i'm prone to breaking pretty easily.
    Put your helmet on, drop your seat down an inch or two and don't use any sort of toe clip pedal or clipless pedal and you should be able to get your feet on the ground before you go over backwards.

    Practice by pedaling up too far (called "looping out" it's when you need to bail off the back of the bike) and gradually ease up the force until you can find your balance. Your issue right now is that you aren't getting your weight far enough back to get your wheel off the ground so you need to break through that barrier before you can even think about a sustained wheelie or a big wheelie up an obstacle.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  30. #30
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    A few have covered these in different posts. This is what's making it work for me. I'm 40 BTW, and had to relearn the wheelie and manual after not riding a bike for 20+ years. I noticed on the trails that It was really hard to even get over a small root when I was hitting it with the front tire. Much better now that I can either manual over it, or bunny hop if needed.

    Lower seat. This let's you get a lower center of gravity and allows you to "push" your weight back as you go into the move. I put mine most of the way down when I'm practicing or playing around. Just like my old BMX seat.

    Cover the rear break with a finger. This let's you grab it in an instant if you are going over the back, and in light use let's you moderate while you're up.

    Power stroke on the pedals was covered great. Read those posts.

    Try a few manuals hitting small bumps in the road, reflectors, small sticks, etc.

    I also shortened the distance between the seat and handlebars. My stem length caused me to be stretched out.

    I shortened my stem and with the rest of those things as practice I'm back in action and able to ride the trails much better.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbense View Post
    If you call it a wheelie, instead of a manual, you're too old to be doing them.


  32. #32
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    Low gear....
    Dominant leg pedal up and towards the front of the bike a tad, looking from the side, about the 1 o clock posistion for the right foot and the 11 o clock posisition if you use the left foot.....
    Steady weight, move your butt rearward of the bikes center of gravity.....
    Pull, dont yank, up on the handlebars WHILE pushing down with your dominant foot....
    Keep your finger on the rear brake, if you start to go over you can tap it and bring the front end back down, if you keep going over just jump off the back of the bike and walk out of it.....


    If youre having trouble picking up the front end enough to go over a curb it sounds like you have your weight to far forward.

  33. #33
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    mmmmmm wheelie.....never too old for a good wheelie. I couldn't give a rat's ass about this manual thing y'all keep talking about but other than that I wheelie damn near everything I touch. My MTB, my dirt bike, my ATV, my street bike. I'm 32 and been at it since I was a little kid.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haligan78 View Post
    mmmmmm wheelie.....never too old for a good wheelie. I couldn't give a rat's ass about this manual thing y'all keep talking about
    Sometimes it is handy to be able to get the front up a bit without having to use pedal power.

    I mainly ride singlespeed, so I don't have the torque to lift the front wheel at much speed. Getting to a small manual also disturbs my balance less than powering into a wheelie and I am more immediately ready for the next thing, such as unweghing the rear to get it over that same obstacle.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    Sometimes it is handy to be able to get the front up a bit without having to use pedal power.

    I mainly ride singlespeed, so I don't have the torque to lift the front wheel at much speed. Getting to a small manual also disturbs my balance less than powering into a wheelie and I am more immediately ready for the next thing, such as unweghing the rear to get it over that same obstacle.
    You have to crawl before you can walk. Doing wheelies teachs you the balance it will take to do manuals making it ifninately easier to do manuals down the road. Personally I can only manual 10-12 feet, but thats normally more than enough to clear most trail osbtacles.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperSlow35th View Post
    You have to crawl before you can walk. Doing wheelies teachs you the balance it will take to do manuals making it ifninately easier to do manuals down the road. Personally I can only manual 10-12 feet, but thats normally more than enough to clear most trail osbtacles.
    The two skills go hand-in-hand. Better at one = better at the other. It's good advice to practice both, maybe one will click faster than the other.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  37. #37
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    About 1 foot is often quite sufficient to clear most trail obstacles.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  38. #38
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    33 isnt to old. You have to be wheelie wheelie old before you give it up!


    P.S. I crack myself up

  39. #39
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    if i remember correctly from 15 years ago, just pull the handlebars up on the bike whilst pushing real hard in a lower gear and you'll lift the front up, trick is to then keep it up.

  40. #40
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    I haven't tried a wheelie since I was about 12. Started riding seriously 6 years ago
    I'm 48 now and going outside to try. my wife has 91 already dialed just waiting to hit the last 1

  41. #41
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    If I can do it, you can do it.

    I'm 31 and could couldn't ride bikes AT ALL until the last couple years. I was pretty sure wheelies were out of the question until I went to a BetterRide clinic a few weeks ago, and now I can do pedal wheelies and coaster wheelies without too much fuss. So if you ever have the extra time and cash, maybe think about signing up for one of those clinics.

  42. #42
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    I'm 16, and I suck at wheelies. One of my good friends who is 19 can wheelie literally all day. I mean like do a ride in a wheelie.

    It's wheelie just a matter of practice... but having it in your genes seems to help.
    Quote Originally Posted by anthonys
    Its still just the push of a button away...
    I am no longer a hardtailkid. 2012 Trek Remedy 9!

  43. #43
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    Just came in from trying some wheelie. Not great over the back few times Was able to hold it for about 10 feet. Tried on my 29er singlespeed

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by trufflepig View Post
    Just came in from trying some wheelie. Not great over the back few times Was able to hold it for about 10 feet. Tried on my 29er singlespeed
    Not bad, keep your finger over the rear brake and work on feathering it to bring yourself back from falling backwards.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  45. #45
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    You'll get it. I'm 47 but learned to wheelie at 8. Still got it and , don't tell anyone, I still like to ride with "no hands."

  46. #46
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    Tried the rear brake and obviously need to work on the touch cuz the front came crashing down Started laughin like a freakin lunatic.I'll keep playin

  47. #47
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    nope.

  48. #48
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    Just an update, I got my full suspension bike a few days ago and I noticed I can lift the front wheel up easier than with my previous hard tail. Not sure why, the bike is heavier but I guess the seating angle/position is slightly different which makes it easier for me to lift up the front wheel?

  49. #49
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    Probably just your head angle being slacker, so in effect it wants to pop up easier anyways.
    Quote Originally Posted by anthonys
    Its still just the push of a button away...
    I am no longer a hardtailkid. 2012 Trek Remedy 9!

  50. #50
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    ... it's never too old to have fun and learn new things. thats' why we ride

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    Practice, but take off those clipless pedals if you have them. It's easier to catch yourself w/o trying to unclip on the way down.

  52. #52
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    I'm also 33. As a kid I would wheelie my BMX all the time. Got into MTB earlier this year. Tried a couple times and thought wow, I can't do this. I could get the front wheel up to go over stuff but couldn't keep it up. I stopped trying and kept riding. Started trying again a few weeks ago, and dang I'm better. Still need practice.
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  53. #53
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    I started practicing in earnest about three days ago. Watching a proficient person get into a manual looks so effortless. When I try it, I commit to shifting the weight back so it feels like I am hanging off the back of the bike with the pedals under my toes and heels pushing down, but the front tire is still rolling solidly on the ground. The first thing I want to do, instead of blame myself, is to blame something else because that would make me feel better and boost my self esteem . But seriously, I am working with frame that has a more XC geometry (Santa Cruz Superlight) but with a short stem. Could I blame the geometry of the frame, or do I have to go back to blaming myself? Any input would be appreciated.

  54. #54
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    You cannot blame the frame

    You need some sort of an impulse during the weight shift towards the rear. Don't just hang back there. I see it like a whip movement: my back side moves and comes to a stop, my shoulders are still moving and come to a stop, my arms are still moving and come to a stop. Somewhere there, the bike moves too.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  55. #55
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    Dont blame the bike, stick a 15 yr old kid and he will wheelie down the street. Adults are afraid of banging their heads into the concrete. Normal. Pass the dumb kid on the outside during an gnar DH.

  56. #56
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    Howdy

    Nope, you are never to old to wheelie. I am 44 and am getting better at it all the time.
    To get the front wheel in the air quickly (loads of others have already said this) you need to ''explode'' with your stronger leg from 12 o clock position to 6 o clock.
    Practice this at a speed equal to a brisk walk -initially slower is better.
    It's as if you are sprinting out of the blocks. Your 1st pedal stroke must be an almighty one.
    Keep your arms as straight as possible once you have the front wheel in the air and close to your balance point. Bent arms are NO GOOD.
    The balancing part and not falling over to my left or right is what i battle with.
    But to get the front wheel in the air:
    1) one MASSIVE explosive pedal stroke from 12 to 6 o clock
    2) keep arms as straight as possible as much as possible
    3) practice with cheap flat clipless pedal -coming down with your front wheel skew and feet clipped in is not pretty.
    4) I'm a sissy so i practiced this on grass initially

    i hope that helps

    The manual is brick hard to learn, i dream about it every night, but i currently suck at it.

  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    You cannot blame the frame

    You need some sort of an impulse during the weight shift towards the rear. Don't just hang back there. I see it like a whip movement: my back side moves and comes to a stop, my shoulders are still moving and come to a stop, my arms are still moving and come to a stop. Somewhere there, the bike moves too.
    You mean it takes diligent practice and development of skill ? I guess if it was as easy as falling off a log no would really talk about it, make videos showing it, or "how to" videos on Youtube.

    Thanks for the tips on the movement sequence. Skills that require weight shift are difficult pick up on videos at full speed and the analysis of how it should be and impulse with a whiplike sequence is helpful. Thanks for the information. I can't wait to go practice some more.

  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bungholio View Post
    You mean it takes diligent practice and development of skill ? I guess if it was as easy as falling off a log no would really talk about it, make videos showing it, or "how to" videos on Youtube.

    Thanks for the tips on the movement sequence. Skills that require weight shift are difficult pick up on videos at full speed and the analysis of how it should be and impulse with a whiplike sequence is helpful. Thanks for the information. I can't wait to go practice some more.
    If you can, set up a video camera to capture your attempts and try and compare your video to some good ones online.

    Here's another video I just found that explains the weight shift backward really well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQGHXEPfMcQ

    Make sure you have your seat as low as it goes and practice over-doing the weight shift until you can consistantly loop out (go over the back of the bike). Once you get the weight shift movement you can dial it back a bit until you stay on the balance point but it's really hard to hit the balance point unless you learn how far is too far back. You'll just keep timidly not pulling back hard enough and never get to the balance point which is much farther back than you think.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  59. #59
    local trails rider
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    ... that was just one interpretation on what could be going on when lifting the front wheel. It is hard to break down the movement into a sequence.

    It could also be helpful to just ride over some small ramp shaped root or rock, relax, and "allow" the wheel to come up and maybe stay up a second. Just looking for a feel that you'd then try to duplicate without the ramp.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  60. #60
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    Thanks for all the tips, could wheelie on a motorbike but a noob on MTB. I am riding a hardtail and have attempt wheelie with the high front/low rear gearing with no success and ended looking like a fool, till I chanced upon this post took the advises here, switched to a middle front/rear gear, lower my seat post to the lowest and magically, I am now able to wheelie for about three crank rotation.

    Thanks guys...

  61. #61
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    hmm wheelies, gotta love umm yet you gotta hate eating it while doing them

  62. #62
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    I'm 39. At the beginning of 2008, I vowed to learn how to wheelie by the end of the year. I've given it some good practice. I can pull off a few rotations of the crank while the front wheel is up, but that's it. I don't think its just because I'm old. I've never had good balance and am kinda klutzy, which is probably what limits me with wheelies. I can track stand just a little bit. However, it doesn't stop me from having fun on the trails, and fortunately I don't take a lot of spills.

  63. #63
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    Im 44 and "wheelie" all the time. My kid makes fun of me and asks why i always do that. My reply? Because i can..lol. I have found it easier with my full suspension to find the balancing point. I can actually ride one for 20 feet now instead of 2..
    2008 Specialized Stumpjumper fsr comp
    1998 Specialized Stumpjumper S2(Metal Matrix)

  64. #64
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    Low gear, push down on the pedal as you pull up on the bars. I rip my front tire off the ground each and every time. Sometimes I get carried away and fall off backwards. HAHAHA.
    Better to be a rider for a moment than a spectator for a lifetime.

  65. #65
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    If I do wheelies, I always lean over before the wheel comes back down!!

  66. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by onedayatatimetoday View Post
    If I do wheelies, I always lean over before the wheel comes back down!!
    HAHAHAH! What can I say, I get carried away.
    Better to be a rider for a moment than a spectator for a lifetime.

  67. #67
    PNW DH
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    Quote Originally Posted by spartacus001 View Post
    ... it's never too old to have fun and learn new things. thats' why we ride
    Exactly. In my home town theres a guy who's 57 and he rides he bike everyday around town its a full suspension. He has fun with it, he wheelies farther than I can! I see him all the time doin wheelies and balancing on edge of curbs and jumping off banks, loading docks whatever, just watching him have so much fun on flat ground inspires me to ride more.

    Good luck with the wheelies you'll get em!

  68. #68
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    For me it's more of a question; am I too old to fall down doing a wheelie!!!

  69. #69
    Nickel Havr
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    I am amazed that there are people out there that don't wheelie!

    I'm 30 and have been riding a bike since I was 3... Everytime I get on something with two wheels I just have to wheelie it!

    That also goes for wheelchairs! I spent 6mo in one after surgery on both my knees at the same time and was wheelieing the first day...
    The orthopedic surgeon was not impressed though! Haha...

    If you can find a wheelchair... Try doing a wheelie in it! It really shows you where that balance point is... Just wear a helmet!
    Quote Originally Posted by William Blake
    Great things are done when men and mountains meet. This is not done by jostling in the street .

  70. #70
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    The more practice the better!

  71. #71
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    Practice, and don't care how long it takes: it looks cooler the older you get

  72. #72
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    The hardest thing about it is the ground.
    2010 Giant Yukon FX
    Pure XCR Wheelset/Geax Saguaro Tires/Tubeless
    Bike Weight Lost: 2.48lbs (1124g)

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