Wheelies are super fun, and we all know that wheelies are one of the purest forms of joy known to humanity, but they can be dangerous.
Wheelies are bad for your motorcycle, especially those bad wheelies. I’m talking about sloppy jerky wheelies where you’re revving the engine out and dropping the clutch to get the front end up, and then either chopping the throttle or, worse yet, riding it after the rev limiter and slamming the front end down.
If that’s how you’re doing wheelies, do yourself and your bike a favor and stop.
Are Wheelies Bad For Your Clutch?
Doing bad wheelies like that is torture on your clutch, and it’s putting excess wear on your clutch plates in your clutch basket. It’s shock loading your chain and sprocket, and it’s hammering your fork.
If you slam the front end down hard enough or often enough, you can blow a fork seal.
If that happens, you’re going to barf oil all over your brakes, and you’re going to have to deal with a costly or time-consuming fork rebuild.
Blowing a fork seal is a bummer, but obviously, the worst scenario for a wheelie is if you loop it over backward and send your bike cartwheeling down the road.
Not only is that bad for you and your motorcycle, but in the modern YouTube era, that sort of mistake is liable to embarrass you for years to come.
Clearly, those wheelies fail guys you see on Youtube would have been much better off if both wheels had just stayed on the ground
So are there non-harmful wheelies? Absolutely. Smooth-controlled wheelies where you lift the front end with clutch finesse or pure horsepower and then set it down gently are not going to do any harm to your motorcycle.
You see 600, 1000s, and MotoGP bikes doing this kind of para Wheelies all the time in racing.
It’s just a function of accelerating hard enough that the bike begins to rotate up on the back tire.
Can Wheelies Damage Your Engine?
Even if you’re as smooth as can be and have perfect technique, and can ride wheelies for miles, it is possible that cruising with the front wheel 4 feet off the ground could damage your engine due to oil starvation.
With most models, that is not a problem, but some bikes like the Suzuki SV650 are famous for seized cylinders due to oil starvation.
Are Wheelies Dangerous?
As we said previously, you only have to look at some of the wheelies fails on Youtube to see that it can be dangerous, especially for inexperienced riders. Not only do you need special skills to keep the front wheel off the ground, but it also makes it difficult to see ahead, which is especially dangerous if you attempt a wheelie in a built-up area.
Are Wheelies Illegal In The US
While it may not be illegal to do a wheelie, most states in the US have laws that cover dangerous driving that could prosecute a rider doing a Wheelie. For example, Florida does not have a law explicitly forbidding wheelies but does have a law that requires two wheels to stay on the ground.