Why do some bikes wheelie better than others?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Why do some bikes wheelie better than others?

    I love doing really, really long wheelies. Especially going up a slight hill because you can modulate your speed easier. Anywho...

    I've ridden a few different bikes and some are just plain easier to wheelie than others. Some bikes stay up nice and straight, while others seem to always start leaning to one side or the other. What causes some bikes to lean like this, while others don't seem to lean at all?

    I would think that the lower the center of mass is during the wheelie, the more stable the bike would be. But I'm not sure.

  2. #2
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    you prob havent spent enough time on the bikes to find the balance point and you in general arent used to the bike itself. when i got my new bike it took me atleast 3-4 hours to find the right point. now i can wheelie for just about any distance i want. when i first got the hang of it on this bike it tended to drift to the right a bit but eventually i guess i just overcame that and position myself better.

    keep working on it and youll find the right spot.

  3. #3
    Rod
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    I believe it's as simple as you're not use to the bike. You are probably leaning left or right when you're pulling up on the bars, but not enough to notice it. Just for your info some bikes are so long it's virtually impossible to do a wheelie. I road my friend's 29er and it was impossible.

  4. #4
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    One of the determining factors is the length of the seat stays. Another the position of the saddle... Long seat stays and/or a saddle that is positioned forward move your mass center up and hence make balaning more difficult.

    This is pretty obvious when you try wheelies/manuals with a 20" trial bike versus a 29" race bike. Not as obvious - but still significant is the difference between a race oriented XC and a FR oriented bike,

    A long stem is a factor in getting the front wheel up.

    So: The ideal wheelie bike has short seat stays, a short stem and a reward oriented position of the seat.

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    ... and if we just ... the reasons why...

    like most things, its all physics...
    1. a bike with a shorter chainstay will wheelie easier because the center of gravity is closer to the rear axle- bike w/ shorter wheelbases wheelie easier to, but chainstay length makes a bigger difference...
    2. a smaller wheel (ie. 20",24") will also be easier to ride a wheelie on for the same reason as above- more stable center of gravity...
    3. other things that make a difference- stem length, bar rise and sweep, seat angle, hub bearing condition, rubbing rear brakes, and tire pressure.
    go do wheelies on your road bike.(the best practice)

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaba Klaus
    One of the determining factors is the length of the seat stays. Another the position of the saddle... Long seat stays and/or a saddle that is positioned forward move your mass center up and hence make balaning more difficult.

    This is pretty obvious when you try wheelies/manuals with a 20" trial bike versus a 29" race bike. Not as obvious - but still significant is the difference between a race oriented XC and a FR oriented bike,

    A long stem is a factor in getting the front wheel up.

    So: The ideal wheelie bike has short seat stays, a short stem and a reward oriented position of the seat.
    yeah...

  7. #7
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    Well, in my case at least, I don't think being used to a particular bike is a factor. I say this because the bike I own and am comfortable on simply is hard to wheelie without it leaning one way or the other. It's something I've noticed since the day I got it, and a problem I had never experienced before.

    The problem isn't finding that perfect balance point needed to keep the front end up in the air. It's the fact some bikes want to lean over sideways, while others don't.

    I always do the wheelie test when I'm riding a new bike. Some are incredibly easy to wheelie, even the first time out - nice, long wheelies up a city block with no leaning. But a few others always want to fall on their sides - again and again. I don't think it's my imagination or my technique.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rod
    I road my friend's 29er and it was impossible.
    impossible to wheelie a 29er, eh? take a look at this post: http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=198542

    anyway, the others are probably right, though I couldn't tell you for certain, as I can barely wheelie anything, my 29ers or 26ers (or even a BMX).
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    Thanks for the replies. That's what I kind of figured - the lower the center of gravity is in the wheelie position, the easier it should be to wheelie. From what you guys are saying, I would think that if a bike's front end comes up easier, then it should be a good wheelie bike.

    I've never ridden a full suspension bike. Can the rear suspension make a bike harder to wheelie?

  10. #10
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    Yup...you need to add in the fact that the rear suspension sags and moves as you load the rear tire and as you pedal. It adds a little more to the learning curve, but it is pretty easy to overcome.
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  11. #11
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    Actually I was surprised when I 1st got my full suspension and found that it wheelies way better than any of my hardtails (and I have 5 of them). I'm assuming it has something to do with the rear suspension compressing during the wheelie and changing the geometry to something more wheelie freindly???
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  12. #12

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    When I used to ride bmx bikes, I could wheelie indefinately. I used to stand while wheeling, using my body movement back & forth to adjust. I could stand nearly straight up and bring the bars nearly to my chest to make it very near vertical, or hang by posterior way back and make a very low wheelie. I could turn corners and ride around the neighborhood.

    Now I struggle & I don't know why.

  13. #13
    Rod
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jwiffle
    impossible to wheelie a 29er, eh? take a look at this post: http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=198542

    anyway, the others are probably right, though I couldn't tell you for certain, as I can barely wheelie anything, my 29ers or 26ers (or even a BMX).
    His 29er had a much longer wheel base and it was a single speed. I could barely lift the front tire off the ground the bike was so long. .

  14. #14
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    It depends on the bike's geometry as well. My FS Fisher has short chainstays and will wheelie quite readily but I know people with longer stays on FS bikes that have a bugger of a time just getting the nose up.
    As if four times wasn't enough-> Psycho Mike's 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer Page

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  15. #15
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    Bikes don't tip over, you make them do it.

    Things than affect the wheelie skills of a bike in my experience:
    Chainstay lenght
    Wheel size
    Seat height
    bb height
    weight
    bar rise and sweep
    stem length
    saddle placement
    gear combination used
    brakes(lack of modulation sucks for wheelies)
    Tires(skinnier in the back makes it easier)

  16. #16
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    so can I ask what would be the best way to set your bike up for wheelies? seat angle, height, bar angle and height etc

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jwiffle
    impossible to wheelie a 29er, eh? take a look at this post: http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=198542

    anyway, the others are probably right, though I couldn't tell you for certain, as I can barely wheelie anything, my 29ers or 26ers (or even a BMX).
    Yeah, I like watching that because the guy just seems so happy doing it.

    I ridden plenty of 26" bikes and have one 29er (Karate Monkey, like the guy in the video) it's the hardest mountain bike to wheelie I've owed, and the KM is probably one of the easier ones to wheelie because it has a pretty short chainstay for a 29er.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rod
    Just for your info some bikes are so long it's virtually impossible to do a wheelie. I road my friend's 29er and it was impossible.
    Must have been the bike! Gosh! My 08 GF Paragon is so easy to loft the front wheel and hold it there. It's easier than a lot of 26's that I've had. Trust me, it's gotta be the bike.

  19. #19

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    So are you just going to be doing wheelies on it and thats it?

    Youve got what you got so you cant really adjust the length of the chainstay, weight, or height and the other changes would be fairly minimal. If you want to do decent wheelies look at the urban mtn bikes. The best way is to find your center of gravity, use what you have and practice.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuckie
    so can I ask what would be the best way to set your bike up for wheelies? seat angle, height, bar angle and height etc
    You don't need to do all of that to wheelie. The basics are as follows. First I suggest you be on flats, no clipless as you will want to bail out when you can trying to learn to wheelie. You have to pull the bars up while pedaling, find the balance point and use your breaks to control this point if you begin to fall backwards, pedal faster if your front tire begins to fall down. It becomes a balancing point that you are either using your rear brake or pedaling to control.

  21. #21
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    I had my first mountain bike stolen...and that thing went up easily.
    The chainstay lenght is the main point... the distance between the rear hub and the crank, needs to be as short as possible.
    You also need to have upright bars eg a 40mm stem rather than one of them long things..

    I got a second mountain bike and the chainstay was longer and the stem was like 120mm but adjustable.
    This bike just would not wheelie like my other bike.

    I adjusted the stem to upright position which put the bars higher and the distance equivalent of a 40mm stem.. and the bike wheelies a lot better

    You also need a decent back brake, mine are V brakes.

    After doing all this, the main thing to do is to get practicing, ( A LOT)
    No matter how long or heavy the bike it can be wheelied for long distances.
    you just have to practice a lot, to pull this off..

    If the bike is not weighless when up, then you are not far enough back..
    when going too far back you have to use the back brake ...feather the brake.

    eventually when you pull up you kind of settle right into the balance point with no thought at all.
    this reflects that you now know the bike, and you can now focus on distance, and later tricks like swerving and manuals.

    i like my seat low as you can get it, as the mountain bike is already quite high, but you need that lowness for tricks..

    i would say you need a couple hundred hours practice to get good,and if you get really good..you will then be able to pull a reasonable wheelie on ANY BIKE.

    STICK WITH IT. get your 200 hours practice in .
    some guys say you can wheelie for a km after 2 hours practice...but that is utter nonsense...dont fall for it...
    some guys who are brave pick it up quicker, but nobody on planet earth can wheelie 1 km after just 2 hours practice...dont believe those muppets...and get practicing...
    more more and then some more.

  22. #22
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    It's your first post and you decided to revive a 12 year old zombie thread?
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  23. #23
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    Since it's revived, I'll throw in seatpost stiffness. It's always easier to control a bike with your body when your seatpost isn't flexy or twisting.

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