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How to Wheelie on a Mountain Bike? – 3 Ways & Safety Tips

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

how to wheelie on a mountain bike

The wheelie is one of the popular bike techniques. However, it’s a flashy trick that takes lots of practice to execute successfully. When using mountain bikes for wheelies, a cyclist can also utilize the trick to travel through rugged terrains, as the stunt is best for avoiding obstacles.

There are a few steps and tips for beginners and experienced cyclists to learn how to wheelie on a Mountain bike.

What to Prepare

Before performing or practicing the wheelie on a bike, it’s essential to wear the appropriate gear:

  1. Knee and elbow pads
  2. Reflective gear and headlights, in case of riding at night.
  3. Bike kits for repairs.

Instructions to Wheelie on a Mountain Bike

There are a few techniques to perform the wheelie, given that the trick has different variations. Below are the three common techniques that you should master to pull off the wheelie successfully:

  1. Popping – A move best for beginners, it requires the cyclist to lean their weight forward and pull the handlebars up while riding at a moderate speed.
  2. Pumping – This requires more balance and control. While riding, the cyclist must lift the front wheel into the air and steadily “pump” the handlebars up and down. During this process, the rider must keep their weight leaning towards the front wheel.
  3. Balancing – An essential technique for any trick on the bike. It’s important to shift your weight carefully, keep your grip strength, and balance yourself in the air while looking forward.

With that out of the way, here are three methods to wheelie on a mountain bike.

1. Pedal Wheelie


This method uses pedal power to lift the front wheel off the ground; it’s one of the most popular versions of the wheelie. These are the steps to follow when you ride a wheelie on a mountain bike:

  1. Put both feet on your pedals, and start riding your bike in high gear with your elbows partly bent.
  2. Crouch slightly so that your upper body is over the handlebars and weigh down over your rear wheel.
  3. Tug the handlebars with your arms while weighing down on the pedals until the wheel is off the ground. Keep practicing until you can comfortably bring the wheel one foot off the ground.
  4. Maintain your balance; use your rear brake to keep the back wheel in place. Note that your center of gravity should be positioned toward the back wheel.

2. Manual Wheelie


The manual wheelie is another technique similar to the pedal wheelie. However, this version doesn’t require you to pedal in the air. Rather, you use your weight to hold yourself up in the air and to touch back down by leaning back against the seat.

  1. Ride at a moderate speed with your weight at the bike’s center.
  2. Push your weight down, leaning towards your bike’s rear wheel.
  3. Push down on your pedals and shift your weight over the bike’s bottom bracket until you find your balance point. While doing so, use your arms and upper body strength to pull the handlebar upward.
  4. Use your hips to keep the bikes balanced. For example, if the bike moves to the right, lightly swing your hips to the left and vice versa.
  5. Touch back down on the ground; lower your wheel and carefully lean forward to control your weight and land safely.

3. Endo Wheelie


Endo wheelies are different from the other two. Rather than the front wheel, it requires the cyclist to lift the rear, making it an advanced technique for most cyclists.

  1. While riding at a moderate speed on a flat surface, pull the front brake, stand up with your knees still slightly bent, and push your body weight forward.
  2. Shift your weight to the handlebars so that the front wheel digs into the flat surface—remember to continue pulling the front brake as you do so.
  3. To land the bike, release the front brake—the rear wheel should slowly descend back onto the ground.

Safety Tips to Remember!

safety-tips-for-wheeling on-a-mountain-bike

Aside from safety gear, it’s essential to remember these when riding or learning to do the wheelie.

  • Road rules

Keep to designated areas and roads when biking or practicing tricks, preferably away from heavy traffic and pedestrians. Don’t forget to put on protective gear to minimize the chances of injuries should you fall.

  • Practice on smooth terrain

Whether it’s on a BMX, a normal road bike, or a Mountain bike, it’s better to practice new tricks on a smooth, bump-free road. This helps minimize accidents, opt for rougher terrains when you feel and acquire more skill.

  • Limits are important!

Doing any tricks outside your skill and knowledge can lead to accidents. Wheelies may be a common bike trick, but whether you wheelie a dirt bike or wheelie a heavy bike like the MTB, remember to put your safety first and know how much you can perform.

  • Warm-up

It’s also important to warm up and stretch your muscles, especially when doing the wheelie on any bike, whether a 26er mountain bike or a BMX SE bike.

Warm-ups can help prepare the muscles for any extraneous activity. In particular, it’ll help you avoid any risks of contracting injuries while learning or practicing the wheelie.


Is it hard to do a wheelie on a mountain bike?

Naturally, yes. The wheelie may be a challenging bike trick, but it’s not that difficult to execute. With proper training, warm-ups, and safety precautions, you can safely and easily master popping the wheelie in no time.

What gear should I wheelie in MTB?

You should set your bicycle wheelie on the first, second, or third easiest gear. Starting off slow with low-to-medium gear can build up your momentum and balance for a wheelie MTB.

That said, expect that it’ll take a few adjustments to determine the best gear to wheelie in. Once you’ve mastered the technique, you’ll be able to pull off the stunt on any gear.

Where should I start practicing?

Smooth and flat surfaces are often the best option for practicing bike tricks. Try practicing on fire roads or even parking lots to amp it up on your mountain bike.

These will help build momentum and safely allow you to practice in an environment suited for mountain bikes.


Wheelies are an amazing trick; they’re used for trekking on rough roads, avoiding obstacles, and impressing your friends and fellow cyclists. It takes time for a cyclist to learn to wheelie and a lot of practice to perfect it.

To learn how to wheelie on a Mountain bike, you’ll need to not only master these techniques but also keep your safety in mind. Ultimately, all these practices will be worth it and help you perfectly pop a wheelie on a mountain bike.

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