Tagged with Bikes

Full throttle

I've been learning to wheelie for 6 months now. I always wanted to do it but never took it too seriously before.

I started with my bicycle. It's a nice trek 7.3 with a massive frame, very easy to pull up the front in the first gear. After a few weeks I could do 4-5 meters so it felt the right time to switch to the motorbike.

I have a quite used KTM 640 LC4 used by an experienced supermoto biker before.

KTM

I bought it in this state on purpose because I didn't have the heart to hurt my previous shiny DRZ 400. Having it for two years now I have to say it is far superior to the DRZ in every aspect IMHO.

I watched a few videos on youtube about wheelieing and decided to start practicing on an uphill.

The best uphill around Szeged with a decent surface is in the Oil Fields of Algyő, Hungary's biggest and only oil field with a lot of service roads, it's a paradise for cyclist and bikers in the summer. There are a few overpasses over the M40 highway, the one with the less traffic is the closest one to the Tisza Bridge.

So I started there in May. It is super frightening. Your body is prepared to fall back and jump off and it's pretty hard at the beginning to force your hands to throw the clutch out. ( after a few near-fallback experiences ).

I pulled too small throttle at the beginning and the engine always stopped. Then I pulled too much and had to jump off the bike. Surprisingly the motorbike never fell over, I could always keep it standing ( I have quite long hands ) but it stayed standing on it's tail a lot of times ( thanks to the genius of the KTM frame engineers, they prepared the bike for clowns like me :) ). The rear lamp immediately broke off and also the frame for the license plate.

After a month and hitting the first wheel a lot of times to the road ( which kills the wheel and the steering bearing quite quickly ) I realized that I have to use much more throttle and I have to fine tune the whole process with the clutch so I can control the wheel height much easier.

So from month to month pulling up the first wheel became more and more controlled. The first milestone came after three months. I was still in the same fear every time I started to practice and I got fed up with it, I decided to force calmness to myself, don't think about anything and to stay in the moment. And it worked. I could do 4-5 meters in balance position and I realized what did I do wrong before : my head was moving together with the bike, I was staring at the handlebars and didn't have a fix balancing point. The solution is to watch the horizon all the time so the head stays in a fix horizontal position and your balancing improves big time.

After I carved the horizon staring in my brain things went much-much smoother, after a month I mastered the clutch and gas handling, I could pull up the wheel in any height I wanted. But I couldn't go more than 4-5 meters, so the balancing/balance position is the next step.

The next milestone came last weekend when I felt that I can finally put my legs up on the footpegs and keep the right on the brakes for safety, because in the previous five months I did it with the legs down on the road and helping balancing by pushing up myself and the bike with me. It went quite easy, it wasn't frightening any more, from the previous experiences I could handle the balance point quite well and emergency braking with the right leg works quite well. But the wheeling distance was the same, I couldn't keep the balance point. And then I calmed myself again, stayed in the moment and realized that while I'm looking at the horizon I can improve balancing by pushing my upper body closer to and farther from the steering bars so I can keep the bike vertical much longer. Sometimes I do 8-10 meters with this technique, it's very exciting.

So that's where I am now and I won't leave the path to a succesful infinite wheelie! :)

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