Jimmy Fireblade’s Wheelie School

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    Well, I went and did it.  One word – FANTASTIC!

    Me and fellow TBF member Thumper arrived early, itching to get started.  We were driven there by TBF moderator and damn good journo Radar (see his full report below). Nice day for learning the finer art of the clutch wheelie.  2 other guys turned up and that made up the group.  Jimmy Fireblade is a professional stunt rider and he teaches the clutch wheelie as opposed to the power wheelie which most of us can do.  A quick demo of his skills as he warms up the bikes (and himself) and you get the tuition you need to pull a damn good wheelie.  Jimmy prefers to teach by using a quad (Honda 400EX) to demonstrate.  It’s like a slow-motion video clip when he pops the quad onto its rear wheels, great for learning.  He is a very humble and likeable guy until he gets on a bike and then you think “Flash showoff git” as he comes past you on the rear wheels as though he’s on a skateboard.  Look at this for pose factor then:


    I guess we were all pretty slow to start with, not getting the bikes up in the air for more than a fraction of a second.  Different bikes need respect!  They were all Suzuki 600 Bandits with no huge mods, just a set of Renthal bars, heavier fork oil and better rear pads.

    Oh and a limit switch hovering over the back wheel to kill the engine before that wheelie turns into a head injury…..

    Medium height wheelies were the order of the day until a tip from Jimmy about using the rear brake to rebound the forks lifted the veil and we were all popping good’uns with decent height.  Occasionally I got over-zealous and revved a bit too high, hitting the cut-out switch on the back (bloody good idea that Jim!).  Here’s a few of my better ones [:D]:


    And Thumper hitting the grin factor:


    Only injury on the day were blisters from wearing my summer gloves and them rubbing on my thumbs (ah diddums I hear you cry).  Jim’s advice 20 minutes before the end was to go easy as “This is when you try too hard”.  Damn right as I needed another warning to keep the revs down to remind me that it was the wrong time to pose for the camera.  Got some good shots mind!

    All in all, a great day and something worth every penny.  Even better when you get to do it on someone else’s bike.



    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 leaving 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’s Bandit 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 the world today 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.

    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.

    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.
    Take a peek at this:


    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�s 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 Pupils
    Dave (Imperial Data), 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 (Thumper), 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 £200 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 Bike – Suzuki GSF600 Bandit
    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 Costs[/u]
    It is £200 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


    Aaawwww your blisters not healed yet?
    Looks like you had a great day![:D]


    Sounds brill,if you use your own bike do they fit the kill switch limit at the back wheel?

    Take it easy out there


    Wah Hey……That looks brill ID and Thumper….looks loads of fun you lucky Bas……er hum persons!

    I’m not riding fast, I’m just flying low. and please DONATE to this website


    Not sure if they would rig up a switch on your own bike Digger, but it wouldn’t take much to do this. It’s a necessity in my mind, certainly at beginner level.

    There’s no place like

    GSF K1

    Looks like some real fun!!!

    Go out with a BANG… Light a fart!


    New R1 pics added today!

    There’s no place like
    There are only 10 types of people in the world; those who understand binary and those who don’t


    What a fantastic day out with ID & Radar!
    Great too when you get it right, and ping a sweet wheelie!

    Who ever believed that getting in up is just in the wrist action have got it all wrong!![:I]

    Use of throttle, brake & clutch in timed steps was a new chapter for me.
    There is some timing and co-ordination to it, and some patience required from me in the morning as I struggled with this new technique. But after the lunch break, and a chance for my aching arms to recover, I asked for the cut out sensor to be raised a few times in short succession as the height of the wheelies improved, and the ‘launch’ became more capable.

    Apart from lower arms a wrists that were completely worn out after all the practise, I found the annoying thing was that I was just starting to make real progress as the day drew to a close. It had us wanting more, and maybe a return visit!

    Hey Radar can I borrow your bike tomorrow afternoon?!!!


    If you do a return visit….give me plenty of notice….I wanna see the action as well![:D][;)]


    can i see more of the guy doing standing wheelies

    speedy claire

    looks like a great day out and well done to you both….. some great pics

    Don`t ride faster than your guardian angel can fly!….

    Deep down inside me there`s a skinny girl trying to come out, but normally I can shut that b*tch up with some chocolate!…..


    Hiya Chino, Welcome Lol! Introduce yourself to this friendly bunch. What do ya ride? got any pics? Look forward to hearing from ya Lol!

    I’m not riding fast, I’m just flying low. and please DONATE to this website


    Hi Chino
    Think a friend has got some video footage of him. Will try to get hold of it soon.

    There are only 10 types of people in the world; those who understand binary and those who don’t


    Just thought I’d drop the current link in to Jimmy’s school:


    (in case you couldn’t guess!)

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