Wheelies Are Wheelie Fun 

The History of Wheelies and an Overview of BMX Bikes


Christian Waterman, personal photo

Abington High School freshman Christian Waterman doing a wheelie on his black, orange, and blue color schemed 2018 Big Flyer.

Christian Waterman, Contributor

The first person to do a wheelie was a former telegraph carrier named Daniel Canary back in 1890. Canary excelled at finding new tricks to do on a relatively new form of transportation, the bicycle, including  flips, riding with no hands, and in 1884, riding down the steps of the US Capitol building. 

The longest bicycle wheelie ever accomplished was 8 miles by UK stuntman Aaron Stannage, also the son of a stuntman. In 2010, Stannage circled an indoor tack roughly 90 times while listening to his iPod at John Charles Stadium in Leeds, United Kingdom. That record still stands. 

Now I’m no Aaron Stannage, but I can ride a wheelie for more than a quarter of a mile at a time. I began riding BMX (bicycle motorcross) bikes when I was four years old.  At the time, my favorite was the classic BMX bike with the 20-inch wheels, so I was happy with that.  It’s all I knew. 

Pullquote Photo

Now I’m no Aaron Stannage, but I can ride a wheelie for more than a quarter of a mile at a time”

— Christian Waterman

As I grew into riding, I was exposed to different bike types, including the now iconic SE bike. I won’t say that my ability to wheelie improved with my SE bike because it’s a different learning curve.  But the challenge of the new bike type, which like my mountain bike has 29-inch wheels, motivated me to try harder. 

Wheelie bikes are generally BMX bikes with 29-inch wheels, but any type of bike can wheelie. There are also different types of wheelies, there are regular wheelies where you pedal to keep the wheel up, and there are manuals where you use balance to keep the wheel up. 

My personal bike is the 2018 Big Flyer. I have the black, orange, and blue color scheme. The hand grips are blue. The seat is black, orange, and blue. The brake line is orange. The tires are blue and the rims are black. And it is truly a piece of art. 

The founding father of SE Bikes Scot Breithaupt also helped start BMX in 1970 when he was only 7 years old, and started SE bikes in 1977. SE Bikes originally stood for Scot Enterprises, but was changed to Sports Engineering. In 2008, the first-ever Big Ripper bikes were made specifically for Rob Dyrdek and Big Black to ride in an episode the hit MTV show “Rob & Big.”

While SE has been making bikes for more than 40 years, they made the first wheelie bike in 2008. The SE bikes brand now has the most iconic line of wheelie bikes. They have all kinds of different colors and features. The Big Ripper, Fast Ripper, Big Flyer, and the Fat Ripper are some of the many bikes they sell. 

The Big Ripper is the original big wheel BMX wheelie bike from SE bikes. The Fast Ripper has different gears. The Big Flyer is the same as the Big Ripper but with different colorsAnd the Fat Ripper bike has wider tires. All the bikes have most of the same features, but each bike has different colors to chose from, and depending  on the year of being manufactured, the colors vary even more. 

Nowadays there are rideouts that are set up by companies or by people to get a big group of people to come and show off their skills. You can occasionally find scheduled rideouts for those who own wheelie bikes. And while it is not at all a requirement, most of the bikes being ridden during these rideouts are in fact SE Bikes. 

From the first wheelie by Daniel Canary, to the 8-mile wheelie by Aaron Stannage, to the wheelies people are doing today, we can safely say that wheelies have come a long way. And they wheelie are a boatload of fun as well!   

Print Friendly, PDF & Email