Skills – Wheelie Drops

Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - WORDS: JARED RANDO IM­AGES: NICK WAYGOOD

The good old wheelie drop re­minds me of the evo­lu­tion of freeride in the early 2000s. Back then, wheelie drop­ping off skinny logs down ridicu­lously big drops was a com­mon theme. As far as prac­ti­cal­ity goes, it’s a skill which is valu­able to have but in the days of well built trails, it’s likely to be some­thing you won’t re­ally need to use all that of­ten. Where it comes in handy is when you might be ap­proach­ing a drop at slow speed and don’t have enough mo­men­tum to safely get the front wheel up and over the edge of the drop or for drops off skinny bridges or logs. Used right it can be a re­ally use­ful, although not all that grace­ful tool to keep go­ing over drops which might oth­er­wise stop you in your tracks. It can cer­tainly go wrong though, so it’s some­thing you want to prac­tice off small, safe drops at first like a gut­ter or some­thing sim­i­lar un­til you can con­fi­dently get it right ev­ery time. You def­i­nitely need to be pro­fi­cient in wheel­ies and nor­mal drops be­fore you tie the two to­gether so don’t at­tempt it un­til you can do those two things well. Here’s how to go about it.

STEP 1 Line up your ap­proach

Whether it’s a skinny drop or you have just lost speed, you want to make sure you are well bal­anced and up­right be­fore you be­gin to lift the front wheel. Look ahead at the end of the drop and slow down to an ab­so­lute min­i­mum un­til you have your bal­ance and are lined up for the drop.

STEP 2 Pull up just be­fore the edge

You want to pull up ear­lier rather than later and ab­so­lutely min­imise the time you are do­ing a wheelie. Make sure you are in the right gear as well – I pre­fer a harder gear as it gives a bit more con­trol and means you can give a lit­tle ex­tra pedal to get the front wheel up and over the edge if your front wheel be­gins to drop. Make sure your feet are in the right po­si­tion to get your front wheel up rather than level as you would nor­mally do for a drop.

STEP 3 Wheelie up and over

To be safe, I al­ways look to land slightly rear wheel first. The worst thing you can do is not get your wheel up high enough and have it drop over the edge and send you over the bars. Higher is bet­ter than lower so ex­ag­ger­ate the wheelie a lit­tle bit to make sure you get it right. Look to wheelie over the edge and then level out your bike for land­ing – don’t stop your wheelie too soon.

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