Skills – Wheelie Drops
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.