Saturday, March 24, 2012

For the love of wheelies and how to practise them

I previously wrote about my lack of wheelie ability and as if in answer to cry this appeared in my inbox the other day. 'The Wheelie Training Real Bike Simulator'.
A 'Red Balloon' experience on the 'Super Moto Wheelie Training Real Bike Simulator'.

For $120 AUD you can do it on Suzuki GSXR 1000 or for $100 you can take the Super Moto for a 30min training session as well. Now I know there is an art to doing wheelies but I have never really been told in a practical sense what that is.

My brother who I idolised was always taking my bikes and tearing off down the road on the back wheel while I sat back awestruck at his ability to sit on the back wheel clicking through the gears. But do you think he'd help me learn it? No chance.

Most guys I know that can pull a good long power wheelie, or sit up on the back wheel in the balance point for kilometres down the road can't really explain it. Which I understand, clearly it is something you need to have a feel for, but surely there is a way to be able to learn that feel?

Then in my inbox this red balloon promo landed and I discovered that being able to wheelie is a skill that can be learnt, and it doesn't need to happen in a dangerous public road situation. I can get some more knowledge and learn the skills on a machine designed for the job and then translate that experience to real riding. In a 30 minute session with Red Balloon, you will come away from the session having covered;
  • Clutch control
  • Initiating lift
  • Finding balance point
  • Gear changing
  • Brake and throttle control
  • and maintaining balance point.
Sounds like good practical experience in a safe environment that must be close to the real thing. I'm super keen! Which lead me down an internet black hole searching for the background on these things and it turns out they are quite common, mostly in the states at fares and expos, but it would seem they have made their way down under. In the search for more knowledge I found something even more interesting.

A site called How To Wheelie, I couldn't believe it. But I should've - of course there is a website dedicated to learning to wheelie. I had just never found it before. If the internet isn't for porn, then it must be for 'How-To' videos on YouTube.

Stunt rider, who I have posted about before, Ernie "E-Dub" Vigil and Nick Apex have done a 2 part series 'how-to' video, offering practical walk throughs of the techniques of doing wheelies safely. From pro-stunt riders like these guys you can rest assured the information is good.

Stunter Sessions- How to Wheelie part 1


Stunter Sessions- How to Wheelie part 2


If you watch those two videos pretty carefully listening to the instruction, I think you can form a pretty good idea of what is required to wheelie safely on a road bike.

I agree with everything they say about the safety aspect, which is half the issue I have. Where do I get to practice?

Clearly this isn't the kind of thing you do on the way to work. I need an industrial estate and the permission of the owners to be able to go somewhere with decent bitumen and a nice open area where I can practise my new knowledge.

So in summary, what do you need to wheelie? You need two things.

You need the knowledge (got that from the video) and you need a safe place to practise, practise, practise.