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Ninja Mountain Bike Performance - Skills Clinics, MTB Jump Ramps and Bike Stands

The wheelie is really a useful riding skill, particularly for getting over trail obstacles, as well as a great way to practice balance and bike control. But maybe even more importantly than that (for all the attention-seekers out there) it looks cool.  Wanna be YouTube-famous?  You gotta learn to do a wheelie.

Instructors Jeremiah Stone and Phil Yates are wheelie fun guys

This skill is often confused with the manual which is similar in the fact that the front wheel is in the air in both skills. The primary difference is that in a wheelie the front end stays up from pedaling, and in a manual it stays up from just shifting your weight down and back.  Also, a manual is a standing maneuver and a wheelie is done seated.

Ok, so know you know what it is — here’s how to do it:

1. Drop that S…. Saddle

Lower your saddle, you’ll need to be seated for this skill and this will lower your center of mass to help keep you more stable. You still need some leverage through your pedal stroke, so don’t lower it all the way! 2-3 inches should do the trick.

2. Easy Now

Select an easy gear, but not the easiest gear. Usually 2 or 3 from the easiest is a good place to start. Begin your wheelie at about 5–10 mph. Using a gear that’s too easy will result in too fast of a cadence which will result in you losing your wheelie because of excessive pedaling.

3. Lock it Out

If you have rear suspension on your mountain bike, lock it out. A bouncing rear shock will negatively effect your balance.

4. Get Ready

While keeping your head up and looking forward, lower your torso and crouch down over the handlebars to prepare to initiate the wheelie.

5. Power Stroke

With your most powerful foot at the top of the pedal stroke, simultaneously pull up on the handlebars while pedaling down hard. You’ll have to start with a hard, steady pedal stroke to get the wheel up. Once it’s up, keep pedaling, but not quite as forcefully.

6. Weight Back

Quickly lean your weight back and allow your arms to straighten as the front wheel comes up.

7. Stay on the Gas

Keep pedaling and keep a finger over the rear brake lever. If the bike comes up too far, you can tap the brake to bring it back down.

8. Use Your Brake

Continue to feather your rear brake as needed in order to prevent the bike from flipping over backwards. (Some people drag their rear brake the entire time, just to have some resistance to pedal against.)

9. Stabilize

Manage the balance of the bike. If the front starts coming down, lean back more. If the bike leans right, stick your knee out, or turn the bars to regain balance.  Make these corrections as soon as needed, if you wait to long, your balance will be unrecoverable.

10. Bring ‘er Down

Make sure the front wheel is straight as you bring the front wheel back down to the ground.

PRO TIPS:

1. It’s easier to learn this skill with flat pedals vs. clipped in.

2. The wheelie is never really perfectly balanced, you need to constantly add balance corrections to keep the bike in the wheelie and going in the direction you are intending.

3. It’s easier to learn this skill on a slight slope, preferable on grass.

4. Practice dismounting off the back of the bike so you know what to do in the event you go over backwards.

This is another one of those skills where you’ve got to put the time in in order to really master it. Keep at it and over time, you’ll see your hang-time increase to the point where you can wheelie across, over down and up anything you choose.

Have fun!

5 Responses

  1. This past spring, at (a very athletic) 55 yrs old I gave it a try. I wheelied across a car park for about 80 ft when I leaned a bit far back.
    As I went to put my feet down I realized I WAS IN MY CLIPLESS pedals!
    I couldn’t escape and as I fell backwards I saw the blue sky. I landed with a very audible thud on my spine.
    My back slammed into the ground. I thought I’d broken my back.
    I still did my 20 km Fat Bike ride and in 3 days I’d recovered 🙂

    1. I did a 40 mile ride and at the end, I pulled a wheelie on my road bike while clipped in. I went too far and landed on my back. I fractured my T4 vertebrae. Had to sit out the entire summer. Fortunately no surgery was needed. Now I only do wheelies on my mountain bikes with flat pedals. I was 51 at the time, and in very good shape.

    2. I love hearing about people older than me (46) having fun on MTBs. I started riding MTB about 15-16 months ago as a way for me to spend time with my boys (12 & 10), stay in shape, and have a scary good time doing it. Strangely enough, I am finding myself far more daring and adventurous than my boys… for now. ?

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Fundamentals Trail Application - Women's Only

Here’s What We’ll Cover

The specific skills taught in this clinic will depend on available trail features and will vary between locations. Skills covered may include:

  • Rock / Log Step-Ups 
  • Pedal Assisted Front Wheel Lifts
  • Steep Transitions, Roll-Downs
  • Reading trail and line choice
  • Using trail features for maximum flow
  • Turning (Low Speed)
  • Navigating Trail Obstacles
  • Switchbacks – Optimal Line Choice
  • Ratcheting application – how & when 
  • Track stands
  • Braking for Speed 
  • Shifting – Timing + Technique on Technical Terrain
  • Skinnies
  • Off-Camber Trails 
  • Berms 
  • Water crossings 
  • Roots 

The Schedule*

  • 1:15-1:30pm Meet your instructor  | Arrival at course venue + equipment check
  • 1:30 – 1:45pm Fundamentals Skills | Rapid Review 
  • 1:45 – 3:45pm Coached Trail Ride | Sessioning & Skills Application
  • 3:45-4:00pm Review, questions & next steps | #Ridelikeaninja

*Clinic schedule and skills covered may vary according to location and terrain.

Fundamentals Trail Application

Here’s What We’ll Cover

The specific skills taught in this clinic will depend on available trail features and will vary between locations. Skills covered may include:

  • Rock / Log Step-Ups 
  • Pedal Assisted Front Wheel Lifts
  • Steep Transitions, Roll-Downs
  • Reading trail and line choice
  • Using trail features for maximum flow
  • Turning (Low Speed)
  • Navigating Trail Obstacles
  • Switchbacks – Optimal Line Choice
  • Ratcheting application – how & when 
  • Track stands
  • Braking for Speed 
  • Shifting – Timing + Technique on Technical Terrain
  • Skinnies
  • Off-Camber Trails 
  • Berms 
  • Water crossings 
  • Roots 

The Schedule*

  • 1:15-1:30pm Meet your instructor  | Arrival at course venue + equipment check
  • 1:30 – 1:45pm Fundamentals Skills | Rapid Review 
  • 1:45 – 3:45pm Coached Trail Ride | Sessioning & Skills Application
  • 3:45-4:00pm Review, questions & next steps | #Ridelikeaninja

*Clinic schedule and skills covered may vary according to location and terrain.

Ninja Kids clinics

Here’s What We’ll Cover

Some of the skills taught and practiced in the Kids Fundamentals Clinic may include:

  • Ninja (Ready) Position
  • The Riding Rainbow: Body Position
  • How to use your gears
  • Front + Rear Wheel Lifts
  • Safely getting on/off your bike
  • Getting over trail obstacles
  • Turning + Switchbacks
  • Reading the trail: Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light
  • When and how to brake
  • The 4 Climbing Positions
  • Descending in control
  • How to have fun and be safe!
  • Safety check, bike care

Clinic schedule, time and skills covered may vary according to location and terrain.

2-Day CAMPS

Sample Camp Schedule*

Day 1 (Saturday)

  • 8:45-9:00 Meet your instructor  | Arrival at course venue + equipment check
  • 9:00-9:15 Let’s get started | Introductions, camp overview, bike safety check, bike set-up review
  • 9:15-9:30 Warm-up ride | Head to skills area
  • 9:30-12:15 Mornings skills session | Ready position, bike-body separation, effective braking, fluid shifting, body positioning, wheel lifts
  • 12:15-1:30 Lunch break | BYO
  • 1:30 – 4:00 Intro to jumping | Manuals, bunny hops + how to safely jumping (and land) your mountain bike

Day 2 (Sunday)

  • 8:45-9:00 Meet at trailhead | Gear up for day 2!
  • 9:00-9:15 Review | Brief review of Day 1 skills
  • 9:15-12:00 Morning skills session | High-speed cornering, switchbacks, drops, rock dodge, technical climbing & descending
  • 12:00-1:00  Lunch break | BYO
  • 1:00-3:45 Trail ride + skills application | Put those skills to work!
  • 3:45-4:00 Review, questions & next steps | #Ridelikeaninja

 

*Clinic schedule and skills covered may vary according to location and terrain.

After camp, you will see an immediate improvement in your riding and a boost in confidence on technical trails. You will be able to tackle rougher terrain and corners with greater control and flow through singletrack, switchbacks, and berms with more speed and efficiency.