How to Pop a Wheelie on a Mountain Bike

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

You just can’t get enough of mountain biking.

This is a reality that all mountain bikers know and can’t escape. Even if you’re already good at shredding the trails, you still feel something is lacking. One good example of that is doing a wheelie where you ride your bike while lifting your front wheels.

You need to learn more techniques to increase your skills and make you a better rider. Knowing how to wheelie also makes it easier for you to go through obstacles and maintaining balance even on gnarly trails.

But perfecting this skill requires a bit of effort and dedication as it will be a long process.

Here, we will give you a quick step-by-step guide on how to pop a wheelie with your mountain bike.

Steps to Doing a Wheelie

The Preparation

Step 1: Wear proper protection such as a helmet, gloves, and knee pads. This prevents you from getting injured and increases confidence when performing this technique.

Related: What’s the Best Mountain Bike Helmet for You?

Step 2: Find a flat area that’s safe to practice your wheelies on. Doing this on a grassland is a good option so you can be safe if you ever fall.

Step 3: Slam your saddle into the lowest position to lower the center of gravity and improve your balance on your mountain bike.

Step 4: Use flat pedals to push your pedal rather than pulling it. It also helps you easily eject your feet if anything goes wrong.

Step 5: Shift into a lower gear so it’ll be easier for you to perform a wheelie. This usually depends on how strong your legs are. Most people use the 3rd or 4th biggest cog.

The Approach

Step 6: Ride your mountain bike in a seated position and slightly bend your elbows.

Step 7: Lean your torso forward while lowering your shoulders. This transfers most of your weight into the handlebars. This also prepares your upper body to pop your front wheel up.

The Pop

Step 8: Place your strong foot at an 11 o’clock position and take a hard pedal stroke. The strong motion which happens until your pedal comes down causes the front wheel to go up.

Step 9: Put your weight to the rear by leaning back and straightening your arms.

Make sure you’re not relying on your arms to pop-up your mountain bike as it makes it difficult to maintain a proper wheelie through this method. All you need to do here is to lean your body to the back while lightly holding your bars.

Step 10: Find the balancing point of your bike to maintain your front wheel up in the air. This takes a bit of practice to perfect, so don’t worry if you’ve been doing it for a number of times already.

Step 11: Look forward when doing a wheelie. This puts your bike in the right direction and directs it to where you want it to go. Don’t stare at the front wheel so you won’t fall down

Step 12: Feather the rear brake in case you pedal too hard. It prevents you from falling to your back. You can also quickly put down your front wheel by pressing hard on your brakes.

Tips to Get You Better

  • Workout more. Doing wheelies requires you to have a lot of upper body strength. The stronger you are, the easier it is to pop-up your front wheel into the air.
  • It’s better to practice your wheelies on a hardtail bike because there’s no rear-suspension that absorbs the pressure when popping up your bike.
  • Slam the rear brake if you feel like the front wheel is too high and you’re falling back. This fully stops your rear wheel and lands your front wheel safely as the forward movement pushes your bike forward.

Common Mistakes When Doing a Wheelie

  • Most people don’t properly lift up their bars to pop-up their front wheel. Your arms need to do minimal work. You should instead rely on your pedaling motion and shifting your body weight to perform a wheelie.
  • Most riders are too afraid of falling on their backs. You don’t have to worry about this because you have a rear brake that will prevent you from falling back. This also lets you lean back as much as you want to.
  • It might make you feel safer to do a wheelie when your seat is slammed down. But it doesn’t mean it should be like that every time you’re doing a wheelie. Play with your seat settings and find a good saddle position that makes it comfortable for you to perform a wheelie in.


It’s now time to take this skill into the trails and see how easier it is to go through obstacles now that you’ve learned how to pop a wheelie on a mountain bike. You can also try to learn how to manual as it’s closely related to this new skill that you’ve acquired.

Sometimes, you just have to learn new skills not just to improve your riding, but also to impress your mates.

After all, that’s what biking is all about — bonding with your friends and having fun.