Okay, I admit it. I’m a wheelie-holic. I’d practice wheelies on my bicycle, but I’ve been absolutely addicted to them since discovering an engine’s anti-gravity effects on a dirt bike’s front tire when I was 12 and abusing my amazingly durable Suzuki DS80 on the Canadian prairie.
I became fascinated by wheelies – the delicate art of lofting the front wheel and carrying it as far as possible. And I believe most riders are captivated by a long, well-controlled wheelie, no matter if they want to do them or not.
But, like many addictive things, trouble sometimes follows. It turns out the police generally aren’t as impressed with wheelies as you are. I first learned that after lofting the front end of my two-stroke Yamaha RZ500 while a cop watched from the shadows. A decade later I annoyed the po-po with a wheelie on a BMW R1200S press bike. A few miles later, I was surrounded by three patrol cars and a motor cop, had my arm twisted behind my back and threatened to be tossed in jail.
Flipping over backward is the greatest fear of those wanting to attempt wheelies. The distress you feel is absolutely justified. Flipping backward past the 12-o’clock position will cause inevitable pain to both your body and your wallet. If you’re foolish enough to attempt a wheelie, make sure to cover your rear brake, which can save your butt by instantly bringing down the front end given a strong toe tap.
Wheelie tip: Using an uphill section will make it easier to pull up a front wheel.
I must’ve logged tens of thousands of wheelies during my decades of riding, but only once have I ever flipped during mono-wheeling exploits. I was enjoying my second post-ride beer when my Honda CR125 silently asked me to practice more wheelies. The CR’s bent handlebar and my abraded chest taught a valuable lesson: Never involve alcohol with wheelies!
So, you’re brave and imprudent enough to challenge your moto skills with wheelies. But which motorcycle should you choose? What follows are 10 of my favorites.