I joined Nick at Stunt Asylum in July 2015 to learn how to stoppie (nose wheelie!) on their stoppie bike as they’ve built a crazy framework contraption which attaches to the bike and stops you from stacking it when you lock up the front (which you will do) or from going over the bars when you get it wrong. Ergo, a much better way to learn than on your own cherished superbike.
How’s it done then?
The technique is actually much less daunting than expected – you don’t really brake much harder or more aggressively than you’d usually do to stop quickly. It’s just about accelerating to extend the forks then smoothly rolling off the throttle and onto the brakes in one motion. Braking is done at the same, progressive pressure as you’d normally use to stop quickly. What makes you pull a stoppie is a combination of the braking, switching from forks fully extended to fully compressed and the way you thrust your hips forward and upwards (basically, hump the tank), throwing your body weight forward.
The stoppie bike has an adjustable bar at the rear which can be raised progressively throughout the day to allow higher stoppies as you improve throughout the day. By the early afternoon session, the 3 of us on the course were all happily rolling stoppies over 10m at the highest setting so we then had the choice of switching to our own bikes. Nick had a go on them first to see if our technique needed adjusting slightly (I had to be much more gentle on the brakes to start with as they’re way stronger on my bike than on the school’s 600) and it took everyone about 40 minutes to figure out how to turn off the ABS on Charlie’s (from Fast Bikes magazine) long-term 675R but got there in the end.
What’s the benefit?
I wanted to do this course to learn a new skill and fun stunt but this may not be everyone’s aim. Even if you have no intention of ever pulling a stoppie again, it’s a great learning curve to practice better and smoother braking as well as reacting to locking up the front under braking so that you don’t panic if it happens in the real world. I probably locked the front a dozen or so times during the day; the first I knew was hearing the tyre squeal, so you simply release the pressure on the brake lever, it grips again and off you go. Of course, that’s best case scenario when locking it up on a smooth dry runway riding in a straight line; all sorts of horribleness can happen in the real world on slimy roads so it’s great to experience it in a safe environment.
Is it worth doing?
All in all, I can’t recommend this day enough. The instructors are great and clearly love what they do, even putting on a show during the lunch break. It’s a really relaxed and fun environment and you learn at your own pace with loads of one-to-one help and encouragement. I came away being able to confidently pull a stoppie and roll it for a good 15m. I’m not yet getting the back wheel as high off the ground as I’d like but this will come with more practice.
The biggest problem I’ve had since doing this course is probably finding somewhere safe to practice; there’s a great business park near me which is completely empty at the weekends but I keep getting chased away by an over-zealous security guard with nothing better to do. I’m sure this is a common problem for people new to stunting so maybe I need to find a stunting group with a secret location…
Sign me up!
To book a day at stoppie school, please visit http://www.stuntasylum.com/
As a final note to add to this, I recently found myself in a situation requiring an emergency stop from a pretty high speed. I had to brake so hard that my rear wheel must have been about a foot off the ground at well over 100mph and I’m pretty sure that my experience (limited though it is) of controlling the bike on the front wheel was a massive factor in me not panicking and having a serious crash.