Are you even a biker if you don’t do sick wheelies? Flipping your front tire up looks awesome and is as exhilarating as it is difficult.
Are popping wheelies bad for your mountain bike? Should you avoid this stunt if you’re trying to maintain the longevity of your bike?
The good news is that you should be able to get away with doing a wheelie on a mountain bike.
Let’s go over what you should know about your bike before attempting a wheelie and what parts you might damage with a wheelie.
The Kind of Mountain Bike You Have
‘Mountain bike’ is a pretty general term. There are countless models and brands of mountain bikes so the quality and durability of mountain bikes vary greatly.
Buying a mountain bike from Target and buying a mountain bike from Haro is not the same thing. Both bikes serve their own purpose, but to expect a Target bike to take the same kind of wear and tear the Haro bike will is unrealistic.
Wheelies put strain on several parts of the bike. For better or worse, bicycles are not designed to be ridden on the back wheel, so they need to be strong enough to support this kind of stunt.
Generally, a good mountain bike will be able to take the stress of a wheelie because it’s been constructed to withstand rough terrains and bumpy trails. A cheaper bike will not be able to make very difficult trips and therefore should also not be used for wheelies.
Can wheelies damage your mountain bike derailleur?
The derailleur moves the chain at the rear sprockets. They help control how tight or loose the chain is, which determines how easy or difficult it is to pedal.
Derailleurs are quite sturdy. In fact, you shouldn’t ever have to replace your derailleur if you take care of your bike.
There are two reasons why your derailleur gets damaged after doing many wheelies:
- Fragile bike: It may not be the wheelies fault at all. You may not have a bike that’s able to withstand the stress and pressure of wheelies. If this is the case, you will want to repair your bike and not do any more wheelies in the future. Alternatively, it might be time to get a more solid mountain bike that’s designed to be tossed around more.
- Other Issues: It may just be a coincidence that you started having derailleur issues around the same time you began experimenting with wheelies. A wheelie should not hurt your derailleur, so you should look at how you’re treating your bike in general to diagnose the issue.
Are wheelies bad for your forks?
We’ve been pretty lax about doing wheelies with mountain bikes. However, when it comes to your forks, a wheelie is very damaging to them.
The bike fork is the section that holds the front wheel into place. There are several types of mountain bike forks that vary in suspension levels and what kind of dampening system they use.
Think of a bike fork as the shock absorber for when you’re riding down steep hills. Without a properly suspended bike fork, hitting or bumping into the ground would be a lot more painful and you’d have to brace yourself instead of enjoying the ride.
When you get out of a wheelie position, the front of your wheel eventually has to come back down to the floor. This landing can be quite intense if you don’t have very much wheelie practice.
Slamming your front wheel into the ground is bad for your forks. It puts unnecessary pressure on them and damages their damping system.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t do a wheelie while still maintaining the longevity of your forks. Coming down in a controlled and relatively slow manner is key. This takes practice though, so you may end up damaging your forks while learning how not to damage them.
Are mountain bikes good for wheelies?
If you’re going to do a wheelie on any bike, you’re better off going with a mountain bike. A good wheelie back has a heavy back and a light front that makes popping the front wheel up easy.
Mountain bikes are also incredibly sturdy and the adjustable seat ensures you’re able to stay safe and comfortable.
The wheels on a mountain bike also play an important role. The thickness and traction of wheels mean you don’t need to stick to one terrain for wheelies. It keeps them safely cemented to the ground and reduces the risk of slipping or becoming unbalanced while in the one-wheel position.
Bike Stunt Safety
Professionals make performing stunts look so easy. Popping a wheelie or riding off a ramp is child’s play to those who have trained on a bike for decades.
However, you should always exercise caution when performing stunts–even if they don’t feel or look very dangerous or difficult.
Wearing a helmet is essential when doing wheelies. This stunt requires a lot of balance which takes practice to acquire, so keeping the most important part of your body protected while attempting wheelies is not optional.
You should also do wheelies with flat pedals, since riding clipped in may make things even more difficult.
A mountain bike is a good option for doing wheelies. They are sturdy enough to deal with being pulled back onto their hind wheels and offer a good amount of stability.
While you won’t damage your derailleur with this stunt, you may inflict damage onto your fork. This can be avoided with practice and control, but don’t expect to master that on your first try.
A cheaper mountain bike will not offer the same durability and quality as a more expensive bike will so don’t be surprised if you damaged your bike after purchasing it from a department store and not a specialized brand.
Finally, safety should always be prioritized. No one is going to think you’re cool if you hurt yourself!