Before we even get to figuring whether a wheelie destroys a motorcycle's clutch, we need to figure wheelies first. Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of wheelies: a power wheelie and a clutch wheelie.
Power wheelies are those wheelies that use the sheer torque of the engine in the lower gears to lift the front wheel up. Power wheelies apply only to those motorcycles that have a very good power to weight ratios, or say motorcycles engines that displace 500cc or more. Smaller engine motorcycles that make less than say 25 BHP can't really lift their front wheel by the sheer power of the engine in the lower gears.
Let's now move to the next kind of wheelie: the clutch wheelie. The clutch wheelie involves revving the engine to a high rpm and popping or releasing the clutch quite suddenly so that the sheer jerk of this action lifts up the front wheel of the motorcycle. On lower powered motorcycles that have displacements of say 400cc and below, clutch wheelies are usually the only way to lift the front wheel.
Now, the clutch is a device that is designed to allow the gradual transfer of torque from the engine to the wheels. A clutch wheelie requires exactly the opposite — a sudden burst of torque from the engine to wheels. This takes a tremendous toll on the life of the clutch. To sum it up, clutch wheelies destroy the motorcycle's clutch whereas power wheelies have minimal impact on the life of the clutch.
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