Originally printed in the December issue of TransWorld Motocross. Subscribe for more monthly tips!
Skills | Wheelies With Dean Wilson
For most of us “average” riders, the thought of being able to do a wheelie for as long we want sounds like a pipe dream. Sure, a little raise of the front-end happens now and again while on the power, but you aren’t going to find too many people who can say, “Oh, for sure, I can wheelie for days!” Being enthusiasts of all disciplines of dirt-bike riding, we’ll be the first to admit that this edition of Skills certainly won’t help you win races, but it might help land a date with that special someone you’ve been trying to impress trackside. The point is wheelies are pretty cool, and there was a certain rider by the name of Dean Wilson who came to mind when the discussion of whom to reach out to on the matter—specifically on stand-up wheelies.
If you’ve ever seen any of Dean’s Instagram videos (@deanwilson15) that he’s posted where he wheelies entire sections of a track—rollers and all—you’ll agree that he’s more than qualified to give us all some tips. When we asked whom he’s looked up to in the wheelie world he immediately answered, “Doug Domokos! That guy could wheelie around a full Supercross track, down the backsides of the jumps and all—that’s gnarly. He’s a legend!” Dean seemed a little disappointed when we told him that we’re only touching on flat-ground wheelies and not his Mad Skills Motocross-style wheelies, but he was still happy to give some tips for those of you who want to ride into the sunset with your front tire in the air.
Raising It Up: On my 450 I like to start off a wheelie in second gear, going slow, and right around idle speed. I kind of give it a little blip of throttle to bring it up but then chop the throttle to let the front-end dive back down a little. I then usually want to feed the clutch to get the wheelie right into the proper balance point. From there I keep a finger on the clutch and keep the throttle right where it needs to be to keep the wheelie going.
Finding The Balance Point: Going uphill is definitely a good starting point to learn, just because it’s really easy to get your front-end up and you’re less likely to gain as much speed. It’s also a good way to develop your skills and find that balance point easier. For people who ride dirt bikes a fair amount, they’ll kind of know what the balance point feels like when they get there—it’s really just something you have to feel.
Body Position: You can see in the photo that I’m on the balls of my feet. You generally want to stay on the balls of your feet—almost on your toes—and that’s a riding position I always like to be in. It gives you what’s almost like suspension for your ankles and also more control through your feet. You want to keep your chest pretty neutral, arms tight on the bars, eyes focused ahead of you, and you also want to squeeze your knees when you’re doing a wheelie so you don’t fall off the bike!
On Gaining Speed And Loop-Outs: The more you bring the wheelie up, the slower you’ll go, but you’re pretty much always going to gain speed in a stand-up wheelie. You can click into third and keep the wheelie going, but you’ll be picking up quite a lot of speed at that point! There’s definitely been a few times back in the day that I’ve looped out. I can’t remember the last time it’s happened, but if you’re going to loop out, the best thing you can do is prepare for the hit because you’re going to land flat on your bum!
Follow Dean on Instagram: @deanwilson15