“When we first started riding, we thought that a wheelie was just a wheelie, and a trick was just a trick. Then as we progressed we learned that a wheelie was more than just a wheelie, and a trick was more than just a trick. Upon mastering the sport, we now know that a wheelie is just a wheelie, and a trick is just a trick.” – K.Woods & M.Gorka
While I won’t be talking about very many different tricks in this little write-up, we will be talking extensively about wheelies. We will be going over almost every aspect, from the General setup of your quad, to the techniques used to help you go for miles on two wheels. I have read various “How to pull wheelies” articles and I hope that this one is much more in-depth, realistic, and helpful for you.
Before we get underway, I’d just like to start off by reminding you that wheelies can be dangerous, and should only be attempted by those who are extremely comfortable on an ATV. Please also remember to wear the proper safety gear every time you get on your Quad, regardless of the type of riding you will be doing.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get started.
For the most part, wheelies can be learned and performed on a completely stock Quad (depending on the model). This article will focus more towards your Average sport quad (I.E. 400ex, Z400, etc…). However, there are some small tips that can make wheelies easier and safer. I will go over a few general areas of the quad setup, and let you know what I have found through my experience doing wheelies.
Tire Pressure – If you talk to anyone into “Stunting” or Wheelies, they will tell you that a lower tire pressure is helpful in most cases. It actually is very true, and helps in a couple of different areas; Turning and Balance. When using a lower tire pressure it allows your tires to “squish” more when your weight is placed over them. That means when you lean over the left or right hand side of the quad, the rear tire on the side you are leaning towards compresses some, making the diameter smaller, which causes the quad to turn in that direction. Don’t forget that the pressure in each tire needs to be adjusted so that the quad tracks in a straight line on a flat surface. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have them equal; there can be a lot of factors that cause it to pull to one side or the other, so adjust accordingly.
As I mentioned, another benefit to lowering your tire pressure is increased balance. Your tires are round right? Of course they are. When you are up in a wheelie your tires compress slightly, causing a small “flat spot” where they come in contact with the ground. The more air pressure in your tires, the smaller that flat spot is. Ask yourself; Is it easier to stand something up with a rounded bottom, or with a flat bottom? The answer obviously is something with a flat bottom. Running your air pressure softer than stock will cause the “flat spot” on the ground to be larger, making it easier to keep the front end balanced in the air.
There really is no “ideal” pressure. It not only depends on the rider and the quad, but it also depends on the tires used. The higher ply tires are more rigid than the lower ply, and require more air to be taken out of them to get this affect. It is best to experiment and decide what works best for you. I typically run about 2-3psi
in my rear tires, sometimes less.
Other than the few “Do it yourself” mods or adjustments that I listed above, you really do not need any. Anything you can think of us purely optional. Whether its different handlebars to give you a better feel, Nerf bars for added security, or a custom titanium scrap bar so you can cause 4th of July-like fireworks, it’s all up to you. One mod that I have seen that is helpful on a variety of quads is an aftermarket pipe. The more low-end torque you have to lift the wheels quickly, the better off you are. It is not needed on the higher powered quads, but it can really make a difference on the lower HP machines.
There are a few different body positions for doing standard wheelies. I will do my best to point out the ups and downs for the ones that I can think of.