Author Topic: Wheelie School  (Read 587 times)

Offline Radar

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Wheelie School
« on: October 09, 2006, 10:44:53 PM »
A couple of mates attended this wheelie school as they turned 40. I wrote a review to try and get published in a magazine or two (I failed!).

I have posted it elswhere too, but thought you might appreciate it on here as well

The Course
We have all been there. You are at one of the many pubs around the country that welcome bikers by the hundred on summer evenings, like The Waterman near Warwick, or Bassetts Pole on the outskirts of sunny Birmingham, Willy Woods in Lincolnshire, hundreds of people are milling around and bikes of all shapes and sizes fill every available slot. Then, suddenly the attention of the crowd is grabbed by a howling exhaust and everybody spins around to see a bike disappearing into the distance pulling a perfectly executed wheelie, the rider looking ice cool on a trick sports bike, supermoto or maybe a fighter. You turn to your mate and mutter "Pratt, I suppose he thinks that's cool". Your companion grunts in agreement, but deep down you both really want to be the one on the back wheel with everybody staring at them, getting the attention and leave in a blaze of glory, with your front wheel pawing the air as you casually slip from gear to gear!
Well now you can! Your prayers have been answered by a talented Lincolnshire lad, owner and chief instructor of Jimmy Fireblade'sBandit Wheelie School. His school has been running since 1999 and he has taught literally hundreds of people the joys of front wheel elevation. So it could well be that slick, cool performance you witnessed at your local meet was performed by one of Jimmy's former pupils.
Jimmy himself is an internationally known stunt rider who has performed all over the world performing his own stunt show, and he as also graced the silver screen as a stunt rider on a number of big name films. Basically the lad knows what he is doing and the school just seemed a natural extension of that work
The school itself is based in the wilds of Lincolnshire on the runway of a former air force bomber base last used in the 1960's. In fact the neighbouring Lincolnshire Aviation Centre is home to the famous WW2 Lancaster bomber ´Just Jane´. But rather than the glorious roar of four mighty V12 Rolls Royce Merlin engines, it was the scream of four tortured Suzuki 600 Bandits that we heard as each of the four novice wheelie wannabes (Hmm not sure where this is going - Imperial) honed their technique on these poor machines.
The course starts with the pupils signing the usual disclaimer, an unfortunate necessity in today's world where the claim culture is king. Jimmy introduces the group of four riders to one another and then he promptly hops aboard his Honda Quad bike to demonstrate his skills and the techniques that he will be showing to the group over the next six hours or so.


The Quad and Jimmy

I was struck by just how much he seems to be enjoying himself, and each wheelie he pulls is accompanied by a wide cheeky grin, like he had never done this before. Refreshing to see somebody enjoying what they do so much. This serves to both entertain the pupils and put them at ease and they are soon aboard their own Bandit and chugging up the edge of the runway practicing with Jimmy trailing them on the Quad observing their riding and checking they are OK.
The basic technique to wheelie a bike doesn't just involve a fistful of revs and dumping the clutch, as so many of us would imagine. No, to pull a cool, controlled and above all sustained wheelie, careful co-ordination of throttle and brake are needed. Initially the riders just trundle up and down the runway holding a steady 3,000 rpm in 1st gear, then they roll on to 6,000 rpm. This tells them the two main throttle positions they will need and how much to apply the throttle to go from one reading to the other. Hands up all those out there who thought you dialled in a fistful and pinged the clutch!? Yeah me too!

Jimmy calls this technique 'muscle memory' and means the pupil doesn't have to look at the clocks in order to judge revs, it will come naturally allowing the focus to be on controlling the bike. With this mastered the clutch is released sharply as the bike hits 3,000 rpm and as the revs climb to 6k a small wheelie should result. Not spectacular, but all the time the riders are learning their machine and how it feels.
As you can see progress is in layers, each one relatively straightforward to master, but once this stage is mastered Jimmy introduces the class to the secret of a good wheelie: the back brake. Yes, you did read that correctly, basically as the bike accelerates to 3,000 rpm to 6,000 rpm the back brake lever is depressed. This acts to compress the forks, then at 6k (guessed by dialling in more revs when the clutch is in) the rider releases the brake, the forks react back rapidly decompressing and that force brings the front wheel up. Easy on paper, looks great when you get it right, but much practice was need to get it right time after time.


Dave on one of the school Bandits, note the microswitch



As the morning blended into the afternoon the four pupils gradually built up their skill levels, pulling some excellent and some not so excellent wheelies in the process. Initially all were a little uncertain, but as co-ordination and, crucially, confidence climbed so did the front wheel!

By the end of the day all were popping wheelies at will and could make gear changes with the front wheel still airborne, and one lad in particular was regularly getting into 3rd gear and hanging in there, impressive stuff!



The school is not just for beginners and on the day of my visit another rider, who had been on the course a couple of times before, brought along his own rather trick YZF R1 Yamaha to learn how to wheelie while standing up (!) and come to halt with a rolling stoppie.
Under Jimmy's careful eye he progressed rapidly and was soon popping some sublime wheelies while standing proud upon his foot-pegs, and coming to halt with the R1s arse waggling in the air..... superb!





However all was eclipsed on the day by Jimmy's GSXR1000 riding friend Neville. He called in to see how the day was going and took the opportunity in a break to hammer up and down the 1km of runway several times with front wheel high in the air the whole way at what must have been 100+mph. AWESOME.

In summary this is an excellent way to hone your biking skills and Jimmy´┐Żs easy going style and sprinkling of great anecdotes just add to the enjoyment of an excellent day, and each one of the pupils headed home eagerly awaiting the next big meet in their area!

The PupilsDave, a self employed sparky and IT Wiz from Birmingham. He came along because it looked a different way to enjoy his riding, currently riding a GPz900R. He thoroughly enjoyed the day and was pulling excellent wheelies by the close of play, despite sporting some great blisters on his hands. Hard work looking cool you know!

Andy an Engineering Manager also from Brum. He was bought the day as a gift from a group of mates for his 40th birthday present. After initially struggling for an hour or so, he quickly got into his stride and was soon confidently pulling superb wheelies. He is keen to expand on his new found skills and his VTR1000 Firestorm will be a superb partner in crime!

Barry, a Window Fitter made the long journey down from Cumbria for the course. He wanted to improve his bike control and use his '98 Fireblade with more confidence. Like the others he progressed rapidly during the day and thought the ´┐Ż200 cost well worth it.

Steve, another Window Fitter made the trip with his friend Barry. He rides a 2005 Fireblade and was already enjoying the bike's ability to pull power wheelies prior to the course. He was very happy with the day and was perhaps the star pupil pulling several sustained wheelies.

Steve from London brought along his own bike to build on the skills he had picked up on previous courses on the Bandits. He went home with a huge smile on his face and new skills in his riding locker.

The Bikes - Suzuki GSF600 Bandits
The school uses four essentially standard Bandits. Different bars and a locally braced frame are the only significant variations from a standard machine. Each had started life as a road-bike and the engines are in standard state of tune.
The other, unique modification involves a nylon strip and a micro-switch attached to the rear mudguard. When the rider overcooks a wheelie the strip contacts the ground first and engages the micro-switch. This is connected to the side stand cut out and the engine dies for a moment. The front wheel drops the switch dis-engages and the engine restarts. Neat and safe!
The bikes take this 100+ a day wheelie pounding with surprising aplomb and maintenance is nothing like as intense as you might imagine. Tough bikes these Bandits!

The CostsIt is ú200 for a full day on the school Bandits, but group discounts are available, full details can be found on the web at http://www.jimmyfireblade.co.uk

This isn't an advert for the course, quite a few people run similar things around the country, but all five attending that day seemed to think it was great

Offline Andre4230

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« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2006, 12:28:11 AM »
Nice write up Radar thumbs thumbs Godd day had by all wink
Brake drums now they were the day\'s
Beware spotties just let the old boys past.

Offline Betablocker

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« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2006, 10:16:48 AM »
Quote from: Andre4230;117524
Nice write up Radar thumbs thumbs Godd day had by all wink


What he said thumbs

Seems lika good day out and hopefully you get to learn something.
Diplomacy is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.

Offline "M"

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« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2006, 10:28:18 AM »
Aye, an excellent write up thumbs

Just wish they did that kind of thing over here.
Incompetant!

Offline redlinecacerr

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« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2006, 11:46:46 AM »
or they can buy a 600 cc enduro and try it on that.
thats the way i learned in my 30ies.
but its always better if u can learn it on somebody else his bike big grin

Offline "M"

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« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2006, 11:53:00 AM »
Quote from: redlinecacerr;117535
or they can buy a 600 cc enduro and try it on that.
thats the way i learned in my 30ies.
but its always better if u can learn it on somebody else his bike big grin

thats my plan Redline, your new Husaberg vfunny
Incompetant!

Offline Mike

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« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2006, 01:26:34 PM »
Fancy doing one myself next and that brill write-up has only fueled the interest...glad you had a good day mate...have only heard good things about Jimmy's school thumbs

Offline redlinecacerr

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« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2006, 02:09:00 PM »
Quote
thats my plan Redline, your new Husaberg

air shock  more air :rolleyes:  hospital nodyes

Offline "M"

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« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2006, 03:33:49 PM »
Quote from: redlinecacerr;117538
air shock  more air :rolleyes:  hospital nodyes


You first big grin
Incompetant!

Offline fireblade

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« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2006, 08:20:47 AM »
Been thinking about going to one of these for a while now, and you've just re-sparked the interest.

I'm bloody useless at wheelies, and the only good on I ever did was an accident on my old RGV250 vfunny was a blinder though, and scared the crap outta the boy race sat next to me at a red light, oh and me too :rolleyes:
Sometimes it seems to me as if I\'m just being used:fightsmile:

Offline Radar

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« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2006, 04:57:58 PM »
Quote from: fireblade;117583
Been thinking about going to one of these for a while now, and you've just re-sparked the interest.

I'm bloody useless at wheelies, and the only good on I ever did was an accident on my old RGV250 vfunny was a blinder though, and scared the crap outta the boy race sat next to me at a red light, oh and me too :rolleyes:


LOL