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ATV Wheelie How to Guide

“When we first started riding, we thought that a wheelie was just a wheelie, and a trick was just a trick. Then as we progressed we learned that a wheelie was more than just a wheelie, and a trick was more than just a trick. Upon mastering the sport, we now know that a wheelie is just a wheelie, and a trick is just a trick.” – K.Woods & M.Gorka

While I won’t be talking about very many different tricks in this little write-up, we will be talking extensively about wheelies. We will be going over almost every aspect, from the General setup of your quad, to the techniques used to help you go for miles on two wheels. I have read various “How to pull wheelies” articles and I hope that this one is much more in-depth, realistic, and helpful for you.

Before we get underway, I’d just like to start off by reminding you that wheelies can be dangerous, and should only be attempted by those who are extremely comfortable on an ATV. Please also remember to wear the proper safety gear every time you get on your Quad, regardless of the type of riding you will be doing.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get started.


For the most part, wheelies can be learned and performed on a completely stock Quad (depending on the model). This article will focus more towards your Average sport quad (I.E. 400ex, Z400, etc…). However, there are some small tips that can make wheelies easier and safer. I will go over a few general areas of the quad setup, and let you know what I have found through my experience doing wheelies.

Tire Pressure – If you talk to anyone into “Stunting” or Wheelies, they will tell you that a lower tire pressure is helpful in most cases. It actually is very true, and helps in a couple of different areas; Turning and Balance. When using a lower tire pressure it allows your tires to “squish” more when your weight is placed over them. That means when you lean over the left or right hand side of the quad, the rear tire on the side you are leaning towards compresses some, making the diameter smaller, which causes the quad to turn in that direction. Don’t forget that the pressure in each tire needs to be adjusted so that the quad tracks in a straight line on a flat surface. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have them equal; there can be a lot of factors that cause it to pull to one side or the other, so adjust accordingly.

As I mentioned, another benefit to lowering your tire pressure is increased balance. Your tires are round right? Of course they are. When you are up in a wheelie your tires compress slightly, causing a small “flat spot” where they come in contact with the ground. The more air pressure in your tires, the smaller that flat spot is. Ask yourself; Is it easier to stand something up with a rounded bottom, or with a flat bottom? The answer obviously is something with a flat bottom. Running your air pressure softer than stock will cause the “flat spot” on the ground to be larger, making it easier to keep the front end balanced in the air.

There really is no “ideal” pressure. It not only depends on the rider and the quad, but it also depends on the tires used. The higher ply tires are more rigid than the lower ply, and require more air to be taken out of them to get this affect. It is best to experiment and decide what works best for you. I typically run about 2-3psi

in my rear tires, sometimes less.

  • Sprockets – In my honest opinion, if you are running an average sport quad, there is no need to mess around with the changing of sprockets. Most stock 400cc quads are capable of being pulled up in 5th gear. Quads like the Honda & Yamaha 450’s seem to have a fairly tall 1st gear, but for standard wheelies they are perfectly fine. I’m sure even the slower, and more advanced tricks are fine on them with a little seat time.
  • Chain Adjustment – Nothing major here, just check your chain for slack and adjust to factory specifications. If your chain is loose, you may have to make throttle changes in your wheelie to compensate for the “slop” in your drivetrain.
  • Throttle – Much like that Chain, just double check your throttle to ensure that it works smoothly and does not stick. Also check for “free-play” and adjust as needed.
  • Clutch – Everyone is different, so adjust your clutch so that you are comfortable using it. I like a clutch that grabs and releases nice and close to the handlebars, where others like a clutch that barely needs to be pulled in to grab. It is personal preference. Also, despite what you may have heard, wheelies will not kill your clutch (at least if done properly). I have been riding wheelies on my quad for almost 5 years, and my stock clutch has never been touched.
  • Grab Bar / Wheelie Bar – Call it what you want, but I’m talking about the bar on the back of your quad that you probably use mostly for lifting up the back tires, or moving the quad back or forth. This bar is important when doing wheelies because it can save your “you know what” if you do happen to screw up. Nothing really needs to be done with it, but look it over for cracks or weak points that could cause it to snap or bend when hit. If you have previously bent the bar, it may be a good idea to just replace it, as everyone knows that it will bend even easier the 2nd time. Some people choose to run aftermarket, or home fabricated bars that are stronger or last longer when scraped on the ground. I do not use those types of bars for more advanced wheelies, and I surely do not think they are needed for learning standard wheelies. If anything, you can have someone put a bead of weld along the back of your bar which will make it take longer to wear through. Keep in mind though, the idea is not to have to use it, as it does not always save you from a crash, and in some cases can even cause one.
  • Modifications:

    Other than the few “Do it yourself” mods or adjustments that I listed above, you really do not need any. Anything you can think of us purely optional. Whether its different handlebars to give you a better feel, Nerf bars for added security, or a custom titanium scrap bar so you can cause 4th of July-like fireworks, it’s all up to you. One mod that I have seen that is helpful on a variety of quads is an aftermarket pipe. The more low-end torque you have to lift the wheels quickly, the better off you are. It is not needed on the higher powered quads, but it can really make a difference on the lower HP machines.


    There are a few different body positions for doing standard wheelies. I will do my best to point out the ups and downs for the ones that I can think of.

    Category: Forex

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