Saturday 24 July 2010

How to pick up a motorcycle

Iowa Harley Girl just posted an excellent video on how to pick up a motorcycle when it’s down on it’s side, which it will inevitably be at some point. It’s worth a look, so hop over there and check it out. Later.
That video reminded me of the time my wife took her license test here in Ontario. It was quite a few years ago now, so the testing regime may have changed, but at the time the test specifications stipulated that the prospective rider had to be able to safely put his/her motorcycle up on the centre stand in order to pass. Since some bikes didn’t have a centre stand (particularly Harley-Davidson’s, which were the only really big motorcycles around at the time), the law also allowed for the testee to demonstrate an ability to lift the motorcycle off its side on the ground as an alternative. But in truth they wouldn’t dare ask a Harley owner to lay his bike down to prove a point, and so most license testers weren’t even aware of the option.
75 Honda CB550FThe bike she used for the test was mine, a Honda 550F, which weighed a ton and was nearly impossible to get on the centre stand for anyone slightly less well constructed than Hulk Hogan.  So there was no way Miz Liz, at all of 100 pounds, was going to be able to do it. But knowing the regulations I made sure she could lift it using the same technique detailed in the video, and in fact she made it look just about as easy.
Come test day she goes through the written part and all the riding skills components with flying colours, and then the female tester (all the women we licensed hated the female testers; they were really tough on the ladies) told her to put it on the centre stand. Of course she said she couldn’t, at which point she was told by the tester that she was going on break for 10 minutes and to use that time to “figure it out” . So the missus says to her, “Well while you’re on break, check and you’ll see that all I have to do is show I can lift it. I don’t have to put it on the centre stand.”
When the tester returned 10 minutes later it was to my motorcycle lying on its side in the testing area and my wife sitting on the side of the seat. She then lifted the bike as if it weighed nothing and left it on the side stand to the obvious enjoyment of all the male license candidates who had been watching the interchange with some amusement.
The tester didn’t say a single word, just signed the form with a pass mark and handed it over. I guess she must have checked.


  1. I only discovered this technique a few years ago and I had to use it a couple of years ago for the first time. Fully laden CBR1100XX, lost my footing at walking pace on some gravel miles from anywhere so help wasn't an option. It came up pretty easily and we're talking about a bike which is close to 260 kg laden with a high C of G.

    Important post for everyone - thank you.

  2. Geoff - You're welcome. Dropping a bike is always a challenge. On the one hand you'd like some help to lift it up, but then again, you don't want anyone to see you drop it in the first place.

  3. I tried this technique with my Silverwing Scooter, and it didn't work... when I dropped my bike (I slipped on on something in the parkade and had to let her go down ever so slowly), I needed a second pair of hands to get her up on her feet, uhm, wheels again.

  4. We all go down sometime. A forgotten kickstand, the curve of a dirt road, the parking lot of Steak and Shake when it's 100F, your blood sugar is tanking and your partner suddenly pulls into a space without warning. Ok that was me. Embarrassing, yes. But using the technique I had the bike (a 850 lb Heritage with 100 lb of gear) upright before my hubby even knew that I went down.

    Great story about your wife. I'm really surprised at how many riders don't know this simple technique for getting their bike upright.

  5. Sonja - Don't know what a Silverwing Scooter looks like, but I bet the technique would work just fine with your BMW. You could always practice just to be sure when you have a second pair of hands to help - and when you can pick your spot, like a nice soft lawn.

  6. Kathy - The situation you describe where you get surprised by a riding partner, or cager, and grab too much brake or just simply lose balance at slow speed is all too common. If you ride and you haven't done it yet, you will.
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


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