File this one under Lies My Biker Buddies Tell
One of the great many myths about motorcycling that get perpetuated, primarily through internet motorcycling discussions, either on mailing lists or on usenet.
This particular lie is a favourite among the rec.moto crowd.
The explanations for this one start simple (like a shaft drive isn't as efficient for transferring power and therefore can't wheelie; or the shaft drive is heavier; or bikes that are typically made as shafties
aren't the performance machines
one needs in order to pull a good wheelie
) to the more outlandish (the counterforce generated by the spinning drive shaft relative (and generally opposite; to the forces from the flywheel will prohibit the rider from lofting the front end).
As an experienced Beemer-Guy let me clear this on up for you here and now. Shafties CAN TO Wheelie. My '00 r1150gs is a Wheelie Machine.