Originally Posted by TimberlineAdventure
I must be inept at pulling wheelies, even with you are saying is the best Wheelie machine around... What is your method, I have ridden for twenty years, have a modified bike, but certainly suck at the wheelies...
Well, I learned on a Hodaka Ace 100B, which was very light and very slow. I did wheelies in 2nd gear and every time I flipped over backwards I just ran along behind until I could get the front wheel back down. 2nd gear on an XT500 will rev out to 45mph and you don't want to loop at that speed.
Rusty Rocket is right -- the easiest way to learn to wheelie is going up a hill. The advantage is that the balance point is the same regardless of the slope, so when you are going up hill you don't need to lift the wheel very far to hit it, you're part way there already just because you're going up hill.
My technique in the beginning was to ride up a nice smooth hill in second gear, throw your weight forward to compress the forks, open the throttle and throw your weight backwards as the forks rebound. I never ever used the clutch. It took me hundreds of tries before I could even consistently get the front wheel off the ground, and many hours before I had any control of how high the wheel was going up. It helps if you have a bump to launch the front wheel off.
One glorious day I punched down the forks, opened the throttle, rocked back, and found myself riding along on the back wheel. It was only a few feet, but I was balancing on the back wheel. Once I knew what that felt like I was addicted. From the first time I felt the balance point to my first 100 yard wheelie was only a couple of weeks.
Learning to balance a motorcycle on the back wheel is probably easier than learning to ride a unicycle, but what they have in common is that the earliest tries are so discouraging that it's hard to stay with it long enough to get that first feeling of success.
I would never try to pass myself off as some kind of wheelie master. I never learned to use the rear brake while doing wheelies, and I never learned to shift gears while doing wheelies, and I never felt safe wheelying my XL500 because the engine kept making more power the higher it revved and I always feared going over backwards.
I would suggest learning on something really light and really slow. The XT is way too tall, heavy, fast, and easy to flip to be a safe rig for learning.