How wor­ried should you be if you hook up a wheelie in front of cops?

Fast Bikes - - CONTENTS -

QI have switched from rid­ing sports bikes to rid­ing a Su­per­moto and I have not got quite used to its han­dling. I was pulling away from some lights, and I gave the throt­tle what I thought was a mod­est amount of twist when the front wheel lifted. It was not a huge wheelie by any de­scrip­tion. I sup­pose if I am be­ing hon­est I would call it a first gear minger. I was there­fore a bit con­cerned to see an un­marked po­lice four-wheel drive flash up blue lights un­der its ra­di­a­tor grill and pull me over. I ex­plained to the po­lice of­fi­cer that I had a very heavy lock and chain on the seat, and I had only rid­den the bike for about 120 miles, and I gen­uinely had not meant to wheelie and the po­lice of­fi­cer ac­cepted that the front wheel had mo­men­tar­ily lifted and that I had put the front wheel down back un­der con­trol af­ter a short dis­tance, per­haps 8-10ft. This was not a big hoist.

As it hap­pens, the po­lice of­fi­cer took a re­laxed view, told me that I might want to take it easy, asked me to pro­duce my doc­u­ments at the sta­tion and that was the end of it. How­ever, if he had de­cided to nick me, would I be fac­ing any charges? Name with­held

AS­trangely enough, you are not the first per­son who has had this prob­lem, par­tic­u­larly when com­ing off tech­no­log­i­cally advanced multi-cylin­der sports bikes onto ei­ther tuned En­duros or Su­per­moto bikes. The power de­liv­ery is very dif­fer­ent, and the rid­ing po­si­tion is such that with higher han­dle­bars, par­tic­u­larly if your weight is shifted back­wards then the front wheel can come up in­ad­ver­tently. If you have been used to giv­ing elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled bikes a big hand­ful off the lights then Su­per­mo­tos which do not have all that elec­trick­ery can be­have, well, like Su­per­mo­tos. I have to make the ad­mis­sion that I have done the self-same thing on my Huskie 701, and I re­ally can­not af­ford to be caught pop­ping wheel­ies on the high­way. The Law So­ci­ety take an ex­tremely dim view of this.

In an­swer to your ques­tion whether or not you could have been nicked I sus­pect you could have been, and there will be three charges I would think that a po­lice of­fi­cer could lay against you. If he was be­ing re­ally am­bi­tious he could say “dan­ger­ous driv­ing” but for a very short wheelie which was brought back un­der con­trol I think this prose­cu­tion would fail. A 20 me­tre wheelie, with the front wheel point­ing at the sky is cer­tainly go­ing to be dan­ger­ous driv­ing. A short wheelie per­haps at 30 de­grees, with a front wheel shortly there­after touch­ing the ground with­out caus­ing any prob­lem prob­a­bly would not be dan­ger­ous driv­ing, but it could be.

The next op­tion that the po­lice of­fi­cer has to nick you would be driv­ing with­out due care and at­ten­tion and I think in that re­gard you would al­most cer­tainly be con­victed. It was a mo­men­tary lapse of rid­ing skill on your part, when you were caught out by a ma­chine with un­usual han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics, and prob­a­bly a big lock di­rectly over the rear wheel made a bike which is prone to monowheel mis­be­haviour even more prone to hoist­ing up its front wheel. As you say, you learnt your les­son and when you pull away you are go­ing to have your groin pressed into the petrol tank, which is per­haps slightly more in­for­ma­tion than I needed.

The third, and I think the most likely charge, if the po­lice of­fi­cer had de­cided not to give you a few friendly words of warn­ing would have been rid­ing oth­er­wise than in con­trol, and I think on that one you would al­most cer­tainly have gone down.

So in brief, a short ac­ci­den­tal wheelie is an of­fence, but it is of a dif­fer­ent scale to a de­lib­er­ate and elon­gated wheelie. I think you are lucky to have got a real road traf­fic of­fi­cer, and you clearly passed the at­ti­tude test and gave a rea­son­able and ra­tio­nal ex­pla­na­tion as to why your front wheel was up. Luck­ily the po­lice of­fi­cer un­der­stood it, and no harm was done, apart from you hav­ing the mild ir­ri­ta­tion of pro­duc­ing your doc­u­ments at the po­lice sta­tion. I think the po­lice of­fi­cer had de­cided to eat away some of your time, be­cause all of the in­for­ma­tion that you are pro­duc­ing by your doc­u­men­ta­tion is in­for­ma­tion which he would have sim­ply by plug­ging your regis­tra­tion num­ber and name into the po­lice na­tional com­puter, which would have brought up your driv­ing li­cence and in­surance de­tails. I think your pun­ish­ment, which seemed pro­por­tion­ate, is you turn­ing up at the po­lice sta­tion with all of your doc­u­ments and some friendly words of ad­vice.

Do this on the roads and you’ll have a life­time of por­ridge to look for­ward to.

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