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Whether your motorcycle has keeled over on its kickstand or you’ve dropped it, this guide will help you pick your baby up in no time.
In this guide I’ll show you proven techniques on how to lift a motorcycle off the ground that are easy and any skill level rider can use.
The cool thing is this – Whether you’re a guy or gal, you’ll learn to pick up your motorcycle by yourself without help and you don’t have to be a super hero to do it.
I’ll also give you a couple of tips to help prevent you from dropping your motorcycle in the first place.
Here’s what we’ll talk about today:
Why I know what I know; The school of hard knocks
I’ve had motorcycles on an off over the years, and let me tell you…
All experienced motorcycle riders still make dumb mistakes, don’t let them fool you. We’re all human.
I still make some of the silly mistakes like I did when I first started riding, it happens.
Fortunately for me;
I haven’t managed to not injure myself too bad (except for one time while riding through Oregon, but that’s a story for another time)
Knowing how to pick up your motorcycle when it falls down or when you drop it is a fundamental skill that a lot of newer riders don’t have.
Why is that?
Too busy wanting to get out and ride. Understandable, that’s why we get motorcycles in the first place.
When I first started riding I resisted it, because nobody plans on dropping their motorcycle –
I figured “Meh… that’ll never happen to me”.
I was too busy staying in my motorcycle happy place to be bothered. As are most newbies.
Face up to it- It’s not ‘if’ but ‘when’ you drop your motorcycle
I hate to break it to you but…
It’s going to happen – your baby is probably going to hit the ground at some point in its life.
The thing that sucks is this;
You won’t even be moving, and you’ll probably embarrass yourself in the process! Both your bike and your ego will get bruised!
There will not be a fun cool story to tell.
Here’s what I’ve discovered over the years;
The incident that causes your motorcycle to hit the ground will generally fall under one of two categories:
- It fell over on its kickstand.
- You dropped it.
You will drop your motorbike at some point. What matters is being able to get it vertical again and minimizing any damage done. Then learning from what happened and having plan so that it doesn’t happen again.
Here’s the thing;
The first step in solving a problem is admitting that there’s a problem in the first place. Now that we’ve done that, let me share some stories and then we’ll get into how to remedy the problem.
The School Of Motorcycle Hard Knocks Is Now In Session
I don’t mind sharing stories of my mistakes if it will help someone else. So here are a couple war stories of learning experiences I’ve had that illustrate each of the scenarios I mentioned above.
Like a lot of things in life, it’s fun to look back and laugh… now.
Scenario 1: Sinking into the mire
Years ago, I was the proud owner of a 1993 Yamaha Venture Royale. I purchased the bike used back in the late 90’s. If you’re unfamiliar, this is a motorcycle that Yamaha produces that is their version of the Honda Goldwing.
I’ve never bought a brand-new motorcycle.
Not because I could never afford it, but because there are just too many good deals out there if you’re patient, look around and do your homework. There’s always someone out there that buys new and winds up not riding as much as they thought. This particular Yamaha Venture was purchased from a guy who just quit riding.
Was it brand new?
Nope. But it was mine, and I worked a lot of overtime to scrape up the cash to get it!
At the time I lived in northern Nevada, which is not the Sahara Desert contrary to what a lot of people think.
When you say you live in Nevada everyone thinks the entire state is Las Vegas, a vast desert covered in sand dunes (actually there are no sand dunes in Las Vegas either).
At certain times of the year it rains and snows… a lot.
Unfortunately for me at the time, the Venture had to be occasionally parked outside under cover in the elements.
On one particular afternoon I returned home from work to a horrifying discovery;
My Yamaha Venture was laying listlessly on its left side in my (dirt) driveway. At any other time, my dirt driveway was solid as a rock, I’d never had any problems.
[blockquote align=”none” author=”Motorcycle Touring Tips”]My driveway wasn’t a standard ‘dirt’ the way most people think of it. I had layer of what’s called ‘road base’ and three-quarter inch rock over the top of the dirt. This combination gets very hard and stable over time and is used frequently in rural areas as a cheaper more stable alternative to concrete.[/blockquote]
So, what happened?
Due to the weeks on end of spring rain, the ground underneath my kickstand became soft and unable to support the weight of the motorcycle. The motorcycle sank gently into the dirt on it’s kickstand and had remained there all day while I was at work.
My heart sank – In my minds eye, I saw bent and broken parts that would take weeks to replace and would be expensive and a mental image of my wallet vomiting money.
The good only thing was this;
Because it just sank slowly, and there wasn’t a violent drop of any kind, there was no damage. The motorcycle just settled gently onto its crash bars (thank God for crash bars!) in the weakened dirt of my driveway.
But one fact remained –
I knew I had to muster up the strength to pick that beast up off of the ground by myself. I wasn’t going to have any help doing it.
The time had come- It was time to learn how to lift a motorcycle off the ground whether I wanted to learn or not.
In fact, this was when I learned my favorite go to motorcycle lifting technique that I use to this day.
Necessity is the mother of invention, except that I really didn’t invent anything.
The journey of self-discovery led me to a logical conclusion.
Scenario 2: Hey Mr. You Dropped Something
About two summers ago we went on an over nighter trip to Mount Zion National Park in Utah. We left early to beat the Vegas heat to get to the cooler weather at the park.
We rode a couple hours and did some ‘flower sniffin’ along the way checking out some other scenic areas then decided it was time to check into our room.
Upon arrival to our accommodations, there appeared to be good news and bad news.
The good news-
There was restaurant that was a part of the hotel, possibly a bar!
Beers taste that much better after spending the day on your motorcycle!
…and the bad?
The hotel parking lot was covered in dirt.
Let me rephrase that…
It was a dirt lot that had some concrete on it occasionally and that concrete had dirt on it.
If you’re an experienced rider you have an idea where this is going.
When you’re unsure – Parking Lot Recon
After seeing all the dirt and the pavement covered in dirt, I made an initial cruise through the park lot (at moderate to low speed) to find a good spot. I was of course, a little nervous about dealing with all the dirt over pavement. If you’re a wise rider, you would be to.
So finally, there it was –
The clearest piece of concrete that I could find right next to the entry to the registration desk.
I pulled the bike in and got it stopped and casually put my kickstand down, like I always do.
Except that I really didn’t get the kickstand down;
I thought that my kickstand was down, but it wasn’t. I started to lean the bike over to get it settled and a cold realization started to hit me –
The motorcycle starting to lean much farther to the left than it should have and it wasn’t slowing down or stopping!
A quick glance down and –
My fears were realized; The kickstand wasn’t down, and my motorcycle (the crash bar) was inches above the concrete.
So began the next five minutes of struggle of trying to get the bike re-oriented vertically so that I could get the kickstand down.
My panic caused enough of an adrenaline boost so that I could hold bike from hitting the ground just long enough for my passenger to get off and help me.
Nearly dropping your motorcycle right in front of the hotel registration desk will suck the coolness right out of you in a hurry!
We managed to recover the motorcycle (A Goldwing gl1800 by the way) and get it on its kickstand without it hitting the ground.
Getting Complacent With Your Motorcycle Can Cost You
It’s always important in life to learn from your dumb mistakes and of course the above incident wasn’t any different.
My incident was a ‘near miss’ due to being a little complacent and taking simple things (putting the motorcycle’s kickstand down) for granted.
After nearly dropping my Goldwing my immediate adjustments were:
- Actually look down and make sure that the kickstand is really down (wow, there’s a thought!). It seems like a ‘duh’ thing (and it is) but we all get too comfortable sometimes and that’s what I did. Being complacent with simple tasks can cause you a lot of headache. And embarrassment.
- Let your passenger off of the bike first before settling the motorcycle whenever possible. If there’s a problem they can help and you don’t have to hold the motorcycle and them up at the same time.
Let’s Begin With The End – Your Motorcycle Is Down
We’ll assume at this point that somehow, some way your motorcycle has fallen. How and why it happened at this point doesn’t matter, we gotta lift that bike!
You need to do a quick self-assessment and make sure that you didn’t injure yourself at some point.
We’ll start there.
Were You Injured When The Motorcycle Fell Over?
As angry and panic stricken as you might be, make sure that before you attempt to lift the motorcycle that you’re not injured at all.
If you’re injured and lift your motorcycle, you’re potentially going to exacerbate any injury you may have suffered. This means more doctor bills on top of possibly having to repair your motorbike.
These injuries include:
- Injuries that happened when the motorcycle fell over in the first place. Cuts, burns (from the exhaust pipe) and abrasions.
- Any previous injuries you’ve had in the past. Be especially mindful of previous back injuries.
- Be aware of any physical limitations you have from any previous injuries so that you don’t re-injure yourself.
[blockquote align=”none” author=”Motorycle Touring Tips”]I have back issues from a car accident a few years ago so I have to be VERY careful about how I do heavy lifting. I pick my lifting technique carefully and make sure that I execute it as flawless as possible.[/blockquote]
A Quick Self-Assessment For Injury
If you lift too suddenly, with the wrong technique or struggled to prevent the motorcycle from falling, pay attention to a few common symptoms.
Think back to when you dropped your motorcycle – Did any of these symptoms occur?
- Pain in your left arm
- Abdominal stinging or sharp thrusting pain
- Lack of movement or circulation in lets or stiff tightening with legs unable to move; Sudden cramping.
- Lack of feeling of any arms, fingers, hands or legs in upper or lower extremities.
- Sudden rush of dizziness to the head and/or rapid loss of short term vision or fading with blackout.
- Snapping, popping or crackling sound heard
- Numbness or tingling in any areas
If you’ve suffered any of these injuries during or after the motorcycle has fallen you should seek help.
These injuries are potentially serious enough that you may have bigger problems than whether or not you pick the bike up. The bike is secondary, get help.
This is especially true of pain in the left arm, which can be a precursor to a stroke or heart attack. Getting in a wrestling match with your motorcycle is a strenuous activity that could trigger a serious medical condition, don’t take it lightly.
Asses Your Surroundings Before You Lift
Ok, so you’ve checked yourself over (and you’re ok) but let’s take a quick look at your motorcycle and the situation you find yourself in.
Before you lift the motorbike up, reassess your surroundings and give consideration to the following things;
Do you have vehicles next to you?
I was witness to a rider and his buddy picking up their motorcycle and it went “too good”. They picked up the motorcycle off the ground (from the left side) and they used to much heft and the motorcycle flipped over onto it’s right side and into a parked vehicle next to them.
Here’s what they failed to realize;
They didn’t pay attention to the parked vehicle immediately to their right. The motorbike slammed into the parked car next to them. Oops.
Assess the area where your motorcycle is laying and potential hazards (like parked cars) you may have to deal with. It’s one thing to damage your stuff but try not damage someone else’s.
Pro Tip: If your motorcycle falls on it’s right side put the kickstand down before you lift the motorcycle up. This will prevent it from falling completely over onto its left side.
Did you drop your motorcycle in a travel lane?
You pull up to a stop light at an intersection and didn’t see the oil on the pavement. Of course, when you put foot down when stopped, your feet go out from under you and down you go.
You’re in the travel lane and this is no place to screw around.
In a world where people speed everywhere they go while using their cell phones, and a myriad of other distractions, the travel lane is no place to be.
If you have a passenger have them do some traffic control while you take care of business.
This scenario hasn’t happened to me (it’s been close!) but I helped a rider that it did happen to.
Pro tip: Always look ahead as far as possible and pay attention to pavement conditions when coming to a stop in traffic. This can be anything from oil, sand, potholes and other debris.
Make sure the motorcycle is safe before lifting
Give your motorcycle a quick look and make sure that it’s safe. You’ll want to do the following:
- If it’s running, shut it off.
- Keep the motorcycle in gear if you can. This keeps the motorbike from rolling away from you when you lift it. However, there may be situations where taking the motorbike out of gear might be advantageous (although I can’t think of one). Make sure you think things through and remember the bike is in gear before you start it.
- Be mindful of the stability of the motorcycle while it’s on the ground. It may be resting on one of it’s parts (like a foot peg for example) that’s creating an axis of rotation which makes the motorcycle unstable. You don’t want the motorcycle to shift from a stable position and injure you.
- Pay attention to the exhaust pipe location and position yourself accordingly before lifting.
- Remove gear bags and luggage. You may want to consider removing any extra motorcycle luggage or gear bags that you have on your sissy back or luggage rack. This lightens your load a bit – every little bit helps!
How to lift anything without hurting yourself
You know and I know it;
When your motorcycle hits the ground, you’re going to be pissed and have a tendency to be a bit irrational.
The thing is this;
Lifting impulsively or doing the first thing that pops into your head can be damaging to you and the motorcycle, for all the reason we’ve discussed previously.
Whether your lifting a 900lb motorcycle off the ground or moving heavy objects around your house, you want to use good lifting technique.
We’ll start with the most common mistake that everyone makes when they lift any kind of heavy object.
The one Common Mistake That Will Destroy Your Back NOW
“I want to lift heavy objects and hurt myself”
Said no one ever.
If you use this one wrong common everyday lifting technique you will hurt yourself.
The wrong lifting technique is simply this;
Bending forward at the waist and lifting with your back.
That’s it. No mystery.
If you attempt to lift something (anything) heavy by bending forward and using your back muscles to do the work you’re asking for back trouble.
Let’s take a quick look at why.
The Force Is Not With You; Understanding body leverage
It’s surprising how much force is placed on our backs when we lift stuff.
Think about this;
When you lift things, your body becomes a lever system. Your back is like a lever and your waist like a fulcrum.
If the fulcrum is the center of a lever setup, it takes about 10lbs of force (or pressure) to lift a 10lb object. Nice and even.
If the fulcrum in the lever system is shifted to one side (away from the object being lifted), then it takes more pressure to lift an object.
This is how our bodies are – our waist is the fulcrum in an off-center lever system that operates on about a 10:1 ratio.
For example, if you lift a 10-pound object you’re putting 100 pounds of pressure on your lower back.
That’s just the basics and doesn’t take into consideration that most people are overweight and trying to lift an object.
15 pounds overweight?
Add 150 pounds into that equation.
You’re unknowingly putting hundreds (maybe even thousands) of pounds of pressure on your back without realizing it.
Start throwing actions in there like pulling, pushing, lowering, lifting and carrying with task repetition and your setting yourself up for failure.
What is the proper stance when lifting?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of actually lifting a motorcycle, let’s review some heavy lifting fundamentals.
We’ve talked about what wrong looks like, now let’s talk about the right way to lift. Not just when lifting a motorcycle, but any heavy object you encounter whether at home or work.
Here are the steps you should use when lifting any heavy object, not just motorcycles:
Wider is better
Some of you will remember the old ad slogan for the Pontiac Grand Prix “Wider is better”. We’ll take that old ad slogan and put it to good use here.
Before you lift, get yourself a wide base of support about shoulder width apart. One foot should be a little more forward (or in front) of the other.
Kind of like a karate stance Daniel-san.
Time To Pop a Squat
Next, you need to squat down making sure that you are bending at your hips and knees ONLY.
If you think you need to do it, you can place one of your knees to the floor with other in front of you. Make sure the knee that’s out front is bent at a right angle (half kneeling).
Watch Your Posture
To get your posture where you need it to be before your lift, look straight ahead.
Make sure that you keep your back straight, push your chest out and keep your shoulders back. Those of your who are gym rats do this all the time while doing the squat exercise.
When all is said done, you should have a slight arch (forward) in your back.
Start Your Lift
Start lifting slowly by straitening your hips and your knees. Do not use your back!
Push (or imagine pushing) down through your heels. This will help you focus your strength.
As you lift, keep your back straight and make sure that you don’t twist your lower back.
You also should refrain from moving your head from side to side as that can not only tweak your neck, but throw your body out of alignment while you lift which may result in a back injury.
Hold me close tiny dancer
Hold the load that your lifting as close to your body as you reasonably can at about the level of your belly button area.
Keeping the load close to your body keeps the weight of the object where you can manage it. If the load is too far away from your body, you may fall over and injure yourself.
The pitter patter of little feet
If you need to change your direction of travel while lifting, use your feet. Make sure you take small methodical steps.
Let your hips take the lead
While your changing direction make sure that you lead with your hips, keeping your shoulders in line with them as you move.
Taking a load off
Make sure you set your load down carefully, and Do everything in reverse.
Once you’ve arrived at where the you want the object, check your posture again and slowly lower the object to the ground by squatting with your knees and hips only.
Set the load down on the ground gently and don’t crush your fingers!
How to lift a motorcycle off the ground– The 2 Common Methods
It’s all been leading up to this-
Lifting your motorcycle off the ground.
We’ve done all of the preparation stuff for this moment, but now it’s time to get down to the business of taking care of your baby.
There are a number of ways you can pick your bike up, but we’ll stick to two common methods motorcycle riders use to lift their motorcycles. If you’ve been a rider for awhile you’ll recognize these methods.
- Cycle Squat Leg Press (the most common method)
- The handle bar lift
Most of the time your motorcycle will probably fall on its left side. No worries, the techniques I’m going to talk about work the same whether your bike falls on the left or right side.
Their may be extra steps or less steps, depending on what side the motorcycle falls on.
If you feel that the bike is starting to go over, you should let it drop. Riders have injured themselves while trying to stop the motorcycle from falling.
The Cycle Squat Leg Press
I’m sure that there are a lot of different names for the technique, but doing a squatting leg press is what it looks like to me, hence the name.
This is a technique originally developed by Harley Davidson that they recommend (as I understand the history of it) and is probably the most widely used method to pick up a motorcycle.
The big advantage to this technique is that just about anyone can do it male or female.
The advantages of this motorcycle pickup method
This is a great technique for anyone including ladies, because it uses leg strength. In fact, this technique works well enough that ladies can pick up their fully dressed Harleys and teenage girls can pick up a downed Goldwing.
It’s a great all-around method for picking up a motorcycle.
Things to be aware of using this lifting method
While this is a ‘go to’ method for riders of both large and smaller touring motorcycles, it’s important to adhere to good technique to have success with it. If you do it wrong, you may injure yourself.
If you’re using this method with the motorcycle down on it’s left side, you’ll want to be careful and only push the bike just high enough to get the kickstand down and not get over zealous.
How to lift a fallen motorcycle; Cycle Squat Leg Press (step by step)
Here is a step by step breakdown of how of how to execute this method of picking up a motorcycle. Remember, you’ll be using your legs to do the work here.
Put the motorcycle in gear.
If the motorcycle has fallen on it’s right side, go around to the left side. Grab the shifter is and put the motorcycle in gear. This keeps the motorcycle from rolling away from you as you lift it.
If the bike has fallen on its left side, you may not be able to get to the shifter to put the motorcycle in gear.
If you can’t get to the shifter here are a couple of options.
- Keep a small strap with you to lash the front brake. Tie wraps or zip ties work well for this purpose also and you can just cut it off when you’re done.
- Hold or squeeze the front brake while you lift but This is not the best practice and not advisable (use if this is ONLY option available to you). It takes a lot of coordination to manipulate the brake while you lift and you could damage the brake lever while lifting.
Put the kickstand down.
This keeps the bike from completely falling over onto its left side after you pick it up, like those guys in my story previously.
Again, this is if the motorcycle has fallen on its right side.
Place your butt in the seat with your legs out in front of you.
Put you butt either in the seat or slightly below it. This gives you a platform that you’ll push against as you start to lift.
Refrain from sitting on top of the motorcycle seat or you’ll be working against yourself and the motorcycle.
Find stable places to put your hands hang on to the motorcycle.
Next, we’re going to find some places to hang on to as we lift the bike. Remember that you’re not lifting, just maintaining control. That being said, find stable areas that are not made of plastic.
Use the hand that’s closest to the front of the bike to grip the handlebar. For example, If the motorcycle is lying on its right side your left hand with grip the handlebar.
Turn the handle bar all the way to right while you grip it.
If the motorcycle is on it’s left side, then do the opposite.
With your other hand find a stable area on your frame (foot peg ect) or other heavy bike part to hang on to. If there isn’t anything within your reach, you may consider carrying a small strap you hook to the bike and use that as a grip.
Lift the motorcycle!
Make sure you have your butt in the seat and your legs out in front in a bit of a squat position and start pushing back. Don’t try and lift the motorcycle with your arms, use your leverage.
Keep your back straight!
As you push, take baby steps backward and keep pushing until you ease the bike on to it’s kick stand (if the motorcycle was laying on it’s right side).
If the motorcycle was laying on it’s left side you’ll do exact same thing except when the bike clears the kickstand, put the kickstand down. Be careful to not over exert and push the motorcycle onto the right side.
Picking up the motorcycle is on its right side (video).
Lifting the motorcycle when its on the left side (video)
My Go To Method For Lifting A Heavy Motorcycle – Handle Bar Lift
This technique is used quite a bit by law enforcement in addition to the previous method.
I like this method more than the cycle squat because it’s easier (for me) to pick the bike right up.
The overall advantages to using this technique is that it is simpler to execute than the cycle squat and you can have the bike vertical pretty quick.
Ladies can also use this method, as everything is once again focused on using your legs and manipulating the handle bars to give you leverage.
Disadvantages to using this method
Although you can lift the bike much quicker and the method itself is simple, lifting the motorcycle with this way is more physical and requires that you be a more disciplined with how you lift.
Make sure you follow good the lifting practices I discussed previously, there is more of a potential for injury if this is not done correct.
Place the motorcycle in gear.
Again, this is to keep the motorcycle from rolling away on you and you having to chase it as you lift.
If the motorcycle is laying on it’s left side, you may need to lash the front brake down with a strap or use a zip tie.
My preference is a zip tie, they go on quick and can be cut off in a matter of seconds. I always keep a bunch of these with me along with heavy duty office style rubber bands.
Make sure the kick stand is down.
If the motorcycle is laying on its right side, go over and put the kickstand down. Just like before, we don’t want the bike to fall over to the other side.
If the motorcycle is on its left side, once you lift the bike to the point where you can handle or balance it as you normally would, put the kickstand down.
Turn the handle bars away from you.
If the motorcycle is laying on its left side, turn the handle bars to the right. Same with the bike laying on the right, turn them to the left.
This is key because the direction your handle bars are facing is where your leverage comes from. Doing this one action when you pick the motorcycle up makes it much easier, and give you leverage.
Position the handle bars.
Start by turning the handle bars away from the side the motorcycle is laying on.
For example, if it’s laying on the right side, turn the handle bars to bikes left side.
If the bike is laying on its left, turn the handle bars to the right. I also think of this as turning the handle bars to the ‘up’ position, since the motorcycle is laying down.
Position Your hands.
To perform this lift, we’re going to be using the handle bar or grip that’s closest to the ground, regardless of what side the motorcycle is laying on.
Place the palm of one hand (the hand of your choice, whatever is comfortable) on the end of the handle bar or grip. Put other hand over the top to reinforce your grip.
You should end up with one hand over the top the other.
Get into lifting position.
Position your body with the lower handle bar grip (the one closest to the ground) directly in front of you. Roughly waist or groin level, depending on your height. Be careful!
Position your body to get ready to lift like I talked about previously (feet shoulder width apart, back straight etc) you’ll be squatting a bit.
Keep your hands and motorcycle close to your body. Remember, your legs not arms and back are doing the work!
Push up with your legs and either settle the motorcycle on its kick stand or to a manageable point to put the kick stand down.
Another way to mentally focus your energy is to ‘drive your heels down’.
Remember good lifting technique as you lift!
I can’t emphasize enough when using the handle bar lift that you use good lifting technique!
The lady in the video below does an excellent job of picking up her motorcycle, but she does risk injuring herself.
Lifting a fallen motorcycle using the handle bar lift (starts at 2:55 in the video)
[blockquote align=”none” author=”Motorcycle Touring Tips”]Although the lady in the video does an absolutely fantastic job of picking the Harley Davidson motorcycle up, her lifting posture isn’t the best. Having good lifting technique along with leverage will give you more power for the lift without getting you injured. Be Careful![/blockquote]
Dropped motorcycle what to check (safety check)
The worst part is over…
You dropped your motorcycle, you’re not injured and you recovered the bike to its kickstand. Before you head back down the road, you want to do a quick assessment of your bike for damage and make sure its safe.
Here is a quick list of items that you’ll need to check, depending on what side the drop happened on.
Once you get the bike vertical and back up and under control, do a quick safety check. Here’s a quick list of items you should check at a minimum.
- Cosmetic damage (that’s always the first thing we looked for right?)
- Clutch or front brake lever damaged or broken. Look close at either one of these levers, everything may look good, but the metal is cracked. You don’t want to be in situation where you take off to ride and then grab for a clutch or brake lever only to have it snap off in your hand. (left and right side)
- Foot brake pedal/lever (right side)
- Throttle (right side)
- Gear shift lever (left side)
- Foot pegs (right or left side)
- Mirrors (right or left side)
- Bent front fork. Although this is rare for a ‘simple drop’ you’ll want to be sure.
- Frame bent or damaged. Same as above, rare but possible.
- Exhaust pipe (right or left side)
- Shaft drive if you’re motorcycle is equipped with a shaft driver vs a chain.
- Check rear brake linkage (right or left)
One last thing to consider once the motorcycle is on its wheels –
If you start the bike and it’s a bit rough running or shifting a little hard keep in mind that fluids are going to be displaced.
Traffic conditions and other safety hazards notwithstanding, you may want to let the motorcycle sit for a minute or two so that all the fluid in the engine can get re oriented back to where they need to be.
Be sure to keep your ears tuned to any new noises that your motorcycle may start making as a result of the drop. If you hear something you don’t like, take the motorbike to a trusted mechanic or dealer and have them give a complete safety check.
Dropped motorcycle won’t start?
You’ve picked the motorcycle up off of the ground and it won’t start. Now what?
Here are a few basic items that you can check to some quick trouble shooting to see if it’s something simple.
Put the motorcycle back in neutral.
Many motorcycles won’t start unless the bike is in neutral as a safety feature. If you leave the bike in gear, you’ll need to pull the clutch in.
Check the kill switch on the handle bar to see if it was engaged.
This is a big one that gets people a lot of the time, even myself occasionally. As riders, we tend to forget that it’s there.
Double check your battery.
Check to make sure that the wires are in good shape and that there’s good contact with the battery terminal. If it’s NOT a maintenance free battery, remove the battery and check the electrolyte levels and service the battery accordingly.
Check the tip over switch (If your bike has one)
If the motorcycle won’t start because of the tip over switch, stand the motorbike up, turn off the ignition an then turn it back on. This should start the motorcycle.
If you’ve gone through this basic list and the motorcycle still won’t start, you’re going to have to get some professional help. A simple drop shouldn’t cause the motorcycle to not start.
A few things you can do to minimize motorcycle tip over damage
Start by outfitting your motorcycle properly.
Your motorcycle is an investment. You spent hard earned money to buy it and you want to keep it as nice as possible.
There are tons of aftermarket accessories you can buy to attach to your motorcycle. But before you spend money on all those goodies, look at your motorcycle and see what it needs.
Here’s a short list of accessories you may want on your motorcycle to help protect you and your bike. Might be best to out fit you motorcycle with these items before you buy all the chrome sparkly stuff.
Engine bars or crash bars.
Number 1 for a reason; Crash bars attach to the front frame area of motorcycle and prevent it from laying completely flat on the pavement. Crash bars also help prevent your legs from being injured if you go down with your motorcycle.
In addition to the crash bars on the front, you’ll want to install rear highway bars or crash bars. Rear frame bars have the same function as the front crash bars in keeping the motorcycle from going all the way to the ground.
Front and rear crash bars will also give you the added benefit of having a good stable place to tie the motorcycle down with if you have to transport it.
Saddle bag bar kit or guard rails
For Harleys and other motorcycles consider purchasing a side bag guard kit, which will help protect your side bags (in addition to the rear crash bar).
For the sport bike people who can’t put crash bars on their bikes, you can use frame sliders. Frame sliders do the same job – they attach to the frame of the motorcycle (at the point where its strongest) and help support the motorbike in the event either dropping it or crashing the motorcycle.
Covers for your engine case
Engine case covers help shield your engine from scraping, abrasion and other effects of impact if your drop your motorcycle.
Watch where your feet are; Pay attention to pavement conditions
Before you put your feet down, you need to pay attention and look for a few things on the pavement that can cause your feet to go out from under you.
Here’s a quick list:
Oil or fluid.
Loose dirt or gravel.
Debris, garbage on the road.
Grooves in the roadway. These are the large grooves created by heavy trucks.
Lastly, watch your foot placement in relation to your motorcycle. If you come to a stop and your feet are placed to wide they may slip out from under you.
Help your kickstand
If you have a particularly heavy motorcycle, you may want to either purchase a motorcycle kickstand puck, kickstand pad or piece of wood underneath it.
The purpose behind using a kickstand puck is simple;
It helps distribute the weight over a wider area.
You’ll need either one if you have to park in an area where the dirt isn’t stable or hot weather conditions where the asphalt gets hot and becomes soft.
Practice picking up your motorcycle before you ride
If set yourself up an area of soft ground with a soft blanket or surface you can practice these methods by gently laying your motorcycle on the ground and giving each one a try.
The other option is this;
Do you know someone who has a yard full of old motorcycles in various states of disrepair?
Chances are your friend may let you practice on one their old ‘part bikes’ so you can get the hang of these techniques.
The important thing is practice these techniques so you’ll be proficient in dealing with your motorcycle should make the mistake in dropping it. It will take a lot of the ‘fear of the unknown’ out of the equation, because you’ll know 100% that you can pick your bike up should drop it accidentally.
You can ride with that much more confidence!
Now it’s your turn
I don’t have to tell you –
Dropping your motorcycle is a stressful experience and has the potential to not only physically injure you, but embarrass the hell out of you.
After it’s all said and done (injury potential and ego aside) the important thing is do you know how to lift a motorcycle, and do you have a plan after you drop your motorcycle?
Now I want to turn it all over to you:
Which method will you use to lift your motorcycle off of the ground when it counts?
Will you use the ‘cycle squat or the ‘handle bar lift’?
The important thing is to have a plan and use the lifting techniques that I’ve outline in this guide to show you how to lift a motorcycle off of the ground with the least amount of damage to it and yourself.
Let me know your go to methods, tips and tricks in the comments below.