In vehicle acrobatics, a wheelie, or wheelstand is a vehicle maneuver in which the front wheel or wheels come off the ground due to extreme torque being applied to the rear wheel or wheels. Wheelies are usually associated with bicycles and motorcycles, but can be done with other vehicles such as cars, especially in drag racing and tractor pulling.
Wheelies appear in popular culture as early as 1943, as U.S Army motorized cavalry are pictured in Life magazine performing high speed wheelies. Daredevil Evel Knievel performed motorcycle acrobatics including wheelies in his shows. Doug "The Wheelie King" Domokos has accomplished such feats as a 145-mile (233 km) wheelie.
Types of wheelie
Types of wheelies include:
- Clutch wheelies are performed by disengaging the clutch and opening the throttle to let the engine race and then engaging the clutch abruptly.
- Power wheelies are performed by simply opening the throttle. If the engine has sufficient power, it will be able to lift the front wheel.
- Bounce wheelies are performed by opening and closing the throttle in time with rocking the rider's weight back and forth, thus pre-loading the front suspension so that the throttle is opening at the same time as the front suspension is unloading.
A wheelie is also a common motorcycle stunt. The principle is the same as the bicycle wheelie, but the throttle and rear-brakes are used to control the wheelie while a rider uses body weight and the steering to control the direction the inertia of the spinning front wheel acting as a balance.
The world's fastest motorcycle wheelie record is 307.86 km/h (191.30 mph) by Patrick Furstenhoff. April 18, 1999. The world record for the fast wheelie over 1 km (0.6 mi) is 172.9 mph (278.3 km/h), set in September 2006 by Terry Calcott at Elvington airfield in Yorkshire, England.
In some countries, such as the United Kingdom and USA, motorcyclists performing a wheelie on a public road may be prosecuted for dangerous driving, an offense which can carry a large fine and a ban of a year or more. In Pakistan, India, and some other countries its illegal to perform these kinds of stunts. If someone is caught performing these acts, they can have their motorcycle impounded and potentially face jail time.
Wheelies are a common stunt in artistic cycling and freestyle BMX. A variation of the wheelie is the manual. This is similar to a wheelie but no pedalling is involved. The bike is balanced by the rider's weight and sometimes use of the rear brake. A style of bicycle, the wheelie bike, has a seating position, and thus center of mass, nearly over the rear wheel that facilitates performing wheelies.
A wheelie is imminent, when the acceleration is sufficient to reduce the load borne by the front axle to zero. The conditions for this can be calculated with the so-called "weight transfer equation":
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