Pulsar Mania Thrill of Stunting | How to pop a wheelie
Pucca sportsbike. That’s how the editor of this magazine had described the Bajaj Pulsar back in 2001 at the time of the launch of the first generation of the bike. Much has changed since but what hasn’t changed is its association with all things enthusiastic, among them – motorcycle stunts. Breathtaking stunts have been the mainstay of Pulsar commercials for decades, depicting the irreverence of the brand. A television show and a series of on-ground activations titled ‘pulsar mania’ further cemented the Pulsar’s reputation as a motorcycle that brought bike stunting to the masses.
Taking that very aspect to new heights Bajaj Auto and Fast Bikes India have come together to teach bike enthusiasts how to stunt properly, safely and without endangering themselves or others. In the process, we will also show that stunting isn’t irresponsible hooliganism but a fine sport that tests man and machine equally.
Our stunt-expert-on-call Hrishikesh Mandke, a professional whose skills have provided us visual thrills in movies like Dhoom 3, will take you through a step by step guide into the thrilling world of bike stunts. And it all starts with that rite of passage called the wheelie.
Step 1 | Choosing a spot
Performing motorcycle stunts on a public road continues to be a punishable offence in our country. And for good reason too, like all forms of motorsport – and stunting is indeed a form of sport, it is dangerous. Dangerous to both the stunt artist as well as those around him. Therefore, it stands to reason that if you want to practise this art then you’ll need a safe place. Always, always, select a secluded and open spot to practise any kind of stunting. We chose the controlled environment of the Indi Karting go kart track in Pune but you can also use an aban - doned open parking lot. Just make sure that it is completely secluded and you have the requisite permissions. And no, a public road with low traffic doesn’t qualify. For starters, it is still a public road. So the cops can put you behind bars. And we can’t stress enough the need for a safe place to practise stunts.
Step 2 | Protective Gear
We have established the need for a safe location.But it is equally important that the rider shouldbe garbed in proper protective motorcycle cloth-ing that will help reduce the possibility of seriousinjury in the event of a crash. You can choose towear a riding jacket with CE approved armouron the elbows, shoulder and back. Matched withriding pants or jeans with similar protection forthe knees and the hip, your body is fairly wellprotected. A high quality helmet with at least an ISI certificate is a must. If you can get a DOT or a Snell or ECE approved one, even better. Do not forget proper riding boots that will protect the ankle, foot and shin and a good pair of gloves that will protect the fingers, palm and wrist. If you can afford a full leather suit then that would be perfect since there is nothing more protective.
Step 3 | Choosing the right bike
The correct motorcycle is as important as the right place and clothing. Hrishikesh and his friends use the Bajaj Pulsar NS 200 because of its long wheel - base. He says that it helps the bike remain stable while stunting. At the same time there’s plenty of low-end grunt to get the bike to wheelie easily. Combined with the high quality components and superb stopping power, not to mention a well-balanced chassis, the Pulsar is a perfect stunt tool.
Step 4 | Drop rear tyre pressure
Dropping the pressure of the rear tyre by 20psi will increase the contact patch and keep the bike stable when you decide to ride your motorcycle like a monocycle. This is one of those pro tips that you’re unlikely to find on Google and it had us as zapped as you are right now. But it makes perfect sense, as long as you remember to refill your tyre after your fun session
Step 5 | Pulling the clutch in
It’s a no brainier that you need to pull in the clutch. But there is a trick to it. Hrishi says that it's best to use just one finger to pull in the clutch instead of grabbing the clutch lever with all your fingers. This helps you pop the clutch easily and ensures a smooth transition of power to the rear wheel as the front wheel lifts off.
Step 6 | Rev it up
To get the wheel to lift requires a good amount of power at the rear wheel. Keep the engine of your Pulsar revving at around 4000 revs. This will keep the engine in its sweet spot and ready for you to pop that clutch.
Step 7 | Use your shoulders
Hrishi says that people often think that the game is about power. It isn’t he insists. Rather, he uses the strength of his shoulders to yank the bike up as he simultaneously pops the clutch. The jerk at the handlebars acts as a boost to the power being released by the engine.
Step 8 | Mantaining centre of gravity
Stunting is all about balancing. In this particular case, the act of balancing on one wheel. Obviously you want the bike to stay in the centre, onthe vertical axis, without leaning left or right. Hrishi says he uses the left and right footpegs to keep the bike in the centre. Weigh the left peg ifthe bike is leaning right and vice versa and you should be able to keep the bike on the vertical axis with some practice.
Step 9 | Keeping it up
Just keep the throttle open once the wheel is up. It really is that simple. Use whatever revs you want, redline it if you think, says Hrishi. Once the front wheel is in the air it will stay there as long as you keep the throttle wound open. Here too the NS 200’s low end grunt comes in handy.
Step 10 | Back down to earth
You can of course choose to shut the throttle. In which case the bike will come back down with a thud but Hrishi uses the rear brake to get backdown. He even uses it to control the height of the bike. He says that if you’ve scared yourself by pulling a wheelie that is too high for your comfort, a simple tap on the rear brake will bring things down.