The macrocosm of automobiles consist of various pieces of engineering art, majorly populated by four-wheels and two-wheels. Often the two-wheelers are considered unsafe but if you can control the exhilaration provided by them, you are in for a treat. Out of their many breathtaking capabilities, today we focus on one. Wheelie!
We all have had plentiful exposures of watching someone go one wheel high, this time we will decipher the theory behind it.
Ask anyone how to do a wheelie, they will say rev, pop the clutch and whip it up. The most basic technique to get the job done, but there are diverse factors and levels beyond that. There are multitudinal types of Motorcycle Wheelies; mainly divided into two :
- Power Wheelies
- Clutch Wheelies
Then further comes the type of body positions, namely :
- Half Old School
- Old School
- Seat Stander
- No Hander
and so on. The freestyle riding scenario has come so far ahead that there are hordes and hordes of wheelie styles.
The basic way to pop a wheelie is :
- Get your bike in a low gear (first or second gear) and low rpm. Slow speed in case of CVT equipped two-wheelers.
- Cruise along, while maintaining a low rpm and a steady speed.
- Hold the clutch lever and rev the engine to the power band with maximum torque and release the clutch lever.
- Make sure you whip the bike upwards and back while you pop the clutch. In case of CVT equipped two-wheelers, you also need to carry your body behind when you whip while opening the throttle. The weight transference is crucial.
- Control the height/angle of your wheelie through throttle and brake application.
- To maintain the height/angle of your wheelie, throttle application helps. To decrease the height/angle of your wheelie, rear brakes help. All you need is a god-gifted butt with in-built sensors to detect the shift of center of gravity and you are good to go. But even if you don’t have it, there is nothing that cannot be achieved by practice and perseverance.
Moving further, we have three types of wheelie :
- Fast Wheelie
- Slow Wheelie
- Conventional Wheelie
Fast Wheelie :
A common misconception is that just letting your front wheel be air-borne at high-speed is fast. But that is not it and there are various factors which play along. Such as; in which high gear you are while jaunting your wheelie, how much rpm you are exploiting and also how much speed you are carrying. It majorly depends on how much engine potential you are able to squeeze on one wheel. A crucial factor here is to find that sweet spot, that perfect angle/height where you can freely churn out all the engine potential. If it is a little more, you have to brake and that reduces the speed. If it is little less, you have to pull it back up, causing imbalance in the rhythm. Although, this sweet spot differs from rider to rider and vehicle to vehicle, as weight of the rider and engine potential play a primary part in it.
Braking is used to not let your ride flip over and similarly pulling back is used to not let it fall down. Pulling back relies upon your strength of holding it up and how much tension your forearms and wrists can bear.
This type of wheelies are usually perfected for Fastest Wheelie Records. Drag Racing competitions consist of a category for fastest wheelie, over a distance of ¼ mile. Also riders upgrade their motorcycles with turbochargers or superchargers to make or break the Fastest Wheelie World Record. The current World Records and World Record Holders are :
Egbert van Popta – 1 km wheelie at 343.33 km/h
Gary Rothwell – Fastest Wheelie Pop at 349.8 km/h
Dazz Rose – Fastest ¼ mile covered on one wheel at 9.88 seconds
Slow Wheelie :
Just how the name suggests, slow wheelie is the stark opposite of fast wheelie. It is all about how high your angle/height of wheelie is, your throttle control and braking. In simpler terms, higher the front wheel, slower the wheelie can get as then it doesn’t need throttle application. It is very effective for mastering your throttle response and braking control as the window of operation for this wheelie is minuscule, a perfect height/angle where you can let your wheelie glide.
Slow wheelies do sound very simple but they are quite complex in their own way. Although not as breathtaking as fast wheelies, they are remarkably momentous in refining and polishing your skills. Also you can control your throttle response by releasing or holding your brakes, to the determine the exact amount required to let the wheelie glide.
By definition, an accelerator is nothing but a device which controls the engine speed by opening and closing the throttle. But, while practicing slow wheelie, you can effectively master the acceleration to more than 10 levels with numerous sub-levels in each. These techniques help in fixing your troubles when you are trying wheelies on new machines and new surfaces. Slow wheelies are majorly used for freestyle riding where one needs to perform various tricks.
Conventional Wheelie :
Conventional wheelies lie between slow wheelies and fast wheelies. They are neither very slow nor very fast. The purpose of these wheelies is to keep the front wheel up for as long as possible. Basically, used for doing long wheelies. After a while it becomes a task involving patience, endurance and focus. These days with Freestyle Riding being at the top, long wheelies are losing their sheen. The biggest proof of this lies in the fact, that the longest wheelie record made in 1991 still stands unbroken. Yasuyuki Kudo created that record at the Japan Auto Research Institute.
Wheelie Distance – 331 km on Honda TLM 220r
Stunt-Riding is a fledgling of Motorsports, still sprouting. These unconventional activities are a sport only, just like any other if done in the right way. Every sport has its own discipline and its own way of operation and if executed under those terms, Motorsports can also flourish in India like the others.