To me, learning to wheelie is an essential part of motorcycling. Riding around all day with both wheels on the ground seems like a sadly limited way to get from A to B, like going to a playground and spending your whole time on the swings even though there's a perfectly good slide right there.
I'm not very good at it, though. Many poorly executed attempts over the years have ended in mousetrap-style landings that have crushed and pummeled my man-portions into a lumpy, bedraggled mush that I can't take out at parties anymore.
NEW ATLAS NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT
Upgrade to a Plus subscription today, and read the site without ads.
It's just US$19 a year.UPGRADE NOW
The handful of times I've found that mystical balance point and held onto a wheelie for a kilometer or two, I've felt like a genuine riding god, a conquering cavalier prancing into town steely-eyed and unshaken as my steed rears up in heroic glory.
From the looks of it, that's not what the new Guinness World Record holder for longest wheelie felt like when he finally dropped the front wheel of his 125cc scooter to the ground after more than 13 straight hours on the back wheel.
Japanese "Wheelie King" Masaru Abe took aim at the previous record of 331.02 kilometers (205.69 mi), set some 26 years ago by his countryman Yasuyuki Kudo. And he absolutely destroyed it.
Riding a Yamaha Jog 125 (a flaccid 4-stroke scoot that strikes me as about one of the worst possible machines to attempt this sort of record on) Abe wheelied around a short oval track all day at a constant speed around 40 km/h (25 mph). Refueling, eating and drinking on the go, he kept that little scoot up on the back wheel until he clicked over the 500 kilometer (310 mi) mark.
At this point, he collapsed in pain and exhaustion, a broken god, barely able to hold the scooter upright. Lower back pain, he said, had kicked in just two hours into the attempt, and had become so bad by hour 13 that he was forced to stop some 100 kilometers (62 mi) shy of his 600 km (373 mi) goal, which is just shy of the distance from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
"I thought if I was going to try and break the record, then I would have to post unattainable numbers that would leave people totally speechless," Abe told the press afterward, "That was the most pain I've ever felt. Both of my arms were numb from the pain and I had lost feeling in them. My vision was blurred ... I was only partially conscious. I was completely dehydrated. I'd never experienced that before."
Keeping throttle, brake and balance controlled on that scoot for so long is a feat of skill, concentration and sheer physical endurance. Hats off to you, Abe, you've earned yourself a beer and I reckon you're ready to step up to something in the 400cc range now.
Here's a 2-minute condensed video of this epic stunt. Skip through to the 1 minute mark if you want to watch the emotional moment when he's forced to put it down.
And if this whets your appetite for world wheelie records, you might wanna check out the world's fastest wheelie, set last year at an eye-watering 213 miles per hour (343 km/h).
Source: Red BullView gallery - 10 images