This is an excerpt from Mastering Mountain Bike Skills-3rd Edition by Brian Lopes & Lee McCormack.
Because you’re that kind of person, you’re riding back up the descent you just shredded down. Smooth, easy power is your style, and this climb is so easy. But there’s that boulder, and you don’t have enough speed to coast over it. No matter: You stay seated until the last moment, uncork a power wheelie up the face, then pump down the backside. Wait a second . . . did you actually gain speed over that boulder? Yep, you sure did.
- Gaze softly beyond The Thing With No Name. Let your peripheral vision do its job.
- Approach in the saddle, in a moderate gear. Lee prefers a 1:1 gear (e.g., 28 × 28 or 30 × 30) for this sort of thing.
- Right before you reach the thing, uncork a power stroke. Simultaneously:
- Drive your hips forward.
- Stand tall into the pedal.
- Anchor back with your arms.
- While staying perfectly balanced on your feet! Yeah it’s tricky. That’s why this is a Kung Fu Power Wheelie not a Schmucky Weak Wheelie.
Feel the opposition between your hands and feet. The more tension you create through your core, the more power you’ll have.
- As soon as your front wheel reaches the top of the thing, hinge back and push your front wheel over the other side. Your butt drives back. Hands drive forward. Bam! This pushes the bike down the other side while keeping you balanced.
This is an awesomely useful trick when climbing technical mountains and managing flat, convoluted swamps. When the thing is tall and vertical, you can get the rear wheel higher by popping with your legs at the end of your power stroke. Start simple and work your way up.
When Should You Start Your Kung Fu Power Wheelie?
When you hit the thing? Before you hit the thing? How far before the thing?
The simple answer:
- Do it way sooner than you’re doing it now. If your front tire smashes into the thing while you’re power stroking, that’s a clear sign of tardiness. Ideally, you’ll start your power stroke as your power pedal crosses 12 o’clock.
- If you’re in a 1:1 gear, your bike will travel about 2.5 feet (76 cm) in a quarter-stroke.
- You want your pedals to be level as your front wheel reaches the top of the thing. This reduces the chance of pedal strike, and it gives you more leg pop in case you want to get over something vertical.
- Start your Kung Fu Power Wheelie about 2.5 feet (76 cm) before you hit the thing. Yep, that soon.
Before you go to Moab, UT, get your kung fu power wheelie on lockdown. Brian demonstrates this move, which makes technical rock climbing kinda fun.
Learn more about Mastering Mountain Bike Skills, Third Edition.