How To Do A Wheelie In An ATV: The Definitive Guide

In ATV Setups by Kevin

How To Do A Wheelie In An ATV: The Definitive Guide

Ohh the wheelie: once mostly known in two-wheeled vehicles, you can also do wheelies in my favorite ride under 500 pounds: the ATV. since my childhood, I have always tried to do wheelies on what I had available, which was a normal bike at the time. sadly, I used to be quite a pudgy and chubby kid so that didn’t go so well. I tried and tried with a pink bike that my father had bought for my sister (but I used it instead) but I simply wasn’t strong and light enough to do it. Also, one of the other reasons why I didn’t do the trick was because I wasn’t the bravest kid on the block. I was always afraid that I would fall from the bike or not balance it correctly and fall backwards.

But anyway, the moment I got a quad I knew that I would be able to do it. since we are talking about a 4 wheeled vehicle, it’s much easier to balance yourself, and in general, it’s easier since the ATV has an engine. plus I’m stronger now. heavier but stronger, which is useful in order to lift the quad up. doing wheelies is really easy, especially if you have an automatic transmission quad. ATVs with clutches are not that hard either, but it requires a bit of coordination so that you can do it smoothly. anyways, if hope the following guide helps you to learn how to do a wheelie!

How To Do A Wheelie

The first step is putting your quad in high gear. if possible, anything over 4th gear is good. this is because doing them in a higher gear provides a more controllable power band. it’s also something that is going to depend a lot on the torque of your quad. so anything over 400cc will warrant a higher gear.

The second step is to try to do the wheelie while moving forward your first time. that way its much easier. you are going to hit the throttle (make sure you take it easy your first time) and at the same time, yank the handlebars up.  do it slow the first time so that you don’t over lift the ATV. if your quad has good torque and not a lot of weight then you might be able to lift it up a little. if you couldn’t lift it, then give it more throttle and yank a bit stronger. again do it slowly, take your time. it always better to lift it a little bit from the ground than to over lift it and fall backwards.

If you successfully get the quad on the air, the next step is maintaining the balance with the throttle. you don’t need to shift the quad if you put it in a higher gear. just concentrate on the balance of the bike. The last step is simply landing back on the ground. you can either let off the throttle or you can stop balancing the quad if its low enough. after it’s down, you can go ahead and keep doing wheelies on a straight line.

Doing a wheelie is much easier than it seems especially if you got the right model but it’s important to follow all the directions in order to avoid an accident. it’s super easy to apply too much throttle the first time and accidentally falling off.

Successfully doing a wheelie depends on several factors, such as your weight, the weight of the ATV, the torque of the machine, if its an automatic or manual, if its 4WD or RWD, and also the suspension and tires that the quad has.

Now obviously, a heavier person will have a harder time lifting the quad up. it can depend on the individual sitting position of the quad, but most of the time, the heavier you are, the stronger you are going to be in order to lift the quad up. this, however, doesn’t mean that you cannot do it. I weight 240 pounds and it’s not rocket science. I have also seen people over 300 lbs do wheelies. sure, after several tries, but they do it.

Also, the heavier you are, the more of a risk it is since you might not be able to balance the quad as well or it might be more unstable. the last thing that you want is over lifting the quad and falling from it. I would recommend getting somebody that knows how to do it in real life so that you can have some guidance if you are having problems doing the wheelie.

The weight and the torque of the ATV in represent another big variable in the ATV wheelie equation. the best quads to do wheelies with are light and punchy. we are talking about sporty models like the Polaris Scrambler 850 or the Yamaha Raptor 700R. these have enough torque to provide that initial oomph needed to punch you forward, but they aren’t too heavy as if to make it hard to jerk it up. heavier quads generally are heavier in the front part of the quad, requiring considerable strength, combined with good timing on the throttle. not saying that you cannot perform wheelies on heavier quads at all, but obviously the lighter the better!

Doing a wheelie on an automatic quad can be quite easier than doing it in a manual, especially if you are new to quad riding. just like in cars, auto quads simplify the whole process and allows you to simply push the throttle when you want to move forward and the transmission does the shifting for you. for obvious reasons this makes the wheelie process a breeze.

Doing a wheelie in a manual quad is also easy, but you are going to have to operate the clutch constantly, especially if you are doing the wheelie over short distances. also, constantly engaging and disengaging the clutch will wear it more quickly! it might even create some problems in other internal parts if you are very rough with it.

Some folks believe that its harder to perform a wheelie in a 4WD quad over a normal rear wheel drive model. they believe that since the front wheels move, they have more traction, so they are more “glued” to the ground. I have performed a wheelie in both 4WD and RWD models and haven’t felt much of a difference. maybe its because the 4WD models’ weight more because of more internal components making it harder to do the wheelie, but I’m not sure.

FWD ATVs are uncommon, but if you have one, then you, unfortunately, won’t be able to do wheelies. that’s because the front wheels are the ones moving, so they need to be on the ground at all times or else the quad won’t move. I haven’t seen anyone using an FWD quad yet, so I’m pretty sure they are pretty much nonexistent.

Another interesting thing to keep in mind is the suspension configuration. how firm is the suspension? does it have a lot of “give”? is it very forgiving? ideally, the suspension should be softer, so that you can kind of “bounce” the quad and make it easier for yourself. moving the quad up and down will make it bounce with a soft suspension and you will be able to wheelie much easier. the bouncing of the quad also depends on the tires and wheels that it has, which brings me to the next point:

Getting low-pressure tires for your quad can make it easier to wheelie. now, I’m not saying that you need to buy a whole new set of tires but having softish tires can help you a lot! combine that with a suspension with more give and wheelies become extremely easy. you just need to lower the air pressure of the tires a little bit. now
be careful while using the quad normally since the ride could be a bit less stable.

Safety concerns

Just like riding ATVs in general, doing a wheelie can be a hazard, especially if they are done by somebody who doesn’t have much experience. some of the possible things that might happen include lifting the quad too high, losing control, or falling off the ATV. this is commonly seen in people with torquey quads. we tell them to lift the handlebar up as you press the throttle, and they apply way too much throttle and then they bump the quad in the behind. most people are lucky and do not break anything in the quad, but some do. there are others that literally fall off the ATV because they go way too vertical.

Something that I would recommend before doing a wheelie is to do it on flat ground. doing this makes it much safer and easier because you will know exactly how much throttle you need to give. another important thing is to wear safety equipment, not only when doing a wheelie, but when riding in general.

Can You Damage Your Quad By Doing A Wheelie?

Can you break your ATV doing a wheelie? yes and no. it depends on several factors including how are you doing the wheelie and the ATV condition. if you are doing the wheelie the proper way, then no you won’t break anything, unless there’s a faulty part in the quad that would have broken sooner or later. there are some ATVs with loose mainframes that break as soon as you force them up. as long as you have a modern, well-maintained model with no rust, then you should be fine.

You should not do a wheelie if:

  1. Your quad has frame problems: yes, you should be careful if you have an oldie or if the chassis or frame has a lot of rust. as you may know, the rust weakens the iron and reduces structural rigidity. it’s important to check the whole quad, not just the frame for any frailty. the worst thing that could happen is tearing the weak iron when doing the wheelie and you might lose control. as always, do your due diligence.
  2. You cannot control the quad very well (younger people): doing a wheelie requires you to already know how to ride it rather well. if you haven’t really learned how to turn and pick up speed in a safe way, then I would recommend that you pass on learning the wheelie! most accidents are caused by inexperienced people doing things like quads if you don’t have that much experience with quads, you should get somebody to help you or mentor you. you can find these in many offroading places. don’t be afraid to ask for help!
  3. You have an oversized quad: if you have a quad that is heavier and bigger than what you can control it’s gonna be hard to do the wheelie. you will probably just tire yourself or burn gas lifting a big quad is something that is really hard and if you don’t have the necessary strength to do that then it might be better to go for a smaller model so you can do the wheelie.
  4. You are not on flat ground: not saying that you cannot do a wheelie on a slope but its gonna be less safe for you. remember that quads have a high rollover risk and its really easy to lose control of them, especially when you are not on flat ground. also, the traction might suffer because of uneven ground and that might be trouble!


Doing a wheelie is one of the most fun things that you can do in a quad. there’s nothing like moving it in 2 wheels showing off to your friends and family. it’s not the easiest trick in the world but I believe that anybody can do it as long as they follow the steps.

The first thing that I would recommend to you is to get a light quad with some power. its gonna be harder to wheelie in a full-size quad. then I would recommend lowering the pressure of the tires. doing that makes it much easier to do the wheelie. after that, you can just do the steps. yank the handlebar up and then apply the throttle. after the quad is up, just maintain the balance and a steady amount of throttle.