WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

Mailbag: Picking up a big motorcycle

By James - 6/24/2007

Randy asked a question . . .

Thank you so much for your article “The Grit of Riding Gravel“. I wish I had read it before taking my new Harley into my gravel driveway. Do you have any tips on how a person can get a 650 lb. bike back on its wheels by yourself, after laying it down in this kind of situation? I had to get help.

Congratulations on your new bike and my condolences on your lay-down. I have been there twice and while both resulted in less than $250 worth of damage, your ego feels vulnerable and your bike looks like crap until you fix it. At least now you have a good reason to put on those mods you wanted.

Having picked up my bike by myself and having done it with help I will tell you which I would choose. Help is always preferable but you should always be ready and capable of picking up your motorcycle by yourself. There are a few tutorials on the web that tell you how to pick up a bike but here are the basics:

  1. Turn off the kill switch.
  2. Turn the gas valve to “off". Your carbs will flood and leak gasoline while on it’s side.
  3. If you can reach the shifter, make sure it is in gear. It will make sure the motorcycle does not run away from you once on it’s rubber.
  4. Extend the kickstand if you can access it. You will thank me later.
  5. Find a suitable place to grip the bike. Place one hand on the handlebars and the other towards the rear. Some have rear handles, if not look for an exposed bit of the frame. Do not use the fender, plastics or accessories like saddlebags. They are not designed to support that much weight.
  6. Some are big enough to face the bike and lift, but the most powerful way is to have your back to the bike and butt on the seat.
  7. Use your legs to push the bike off the ground. The hardest part is the initial lift. Once it is on it’s wheels it gets easier.

If a picture is worth a thousand words a video is worth a million.

Here are some other tutorials from around the web. They pretty much say the same thing but there are nuances to sport bikes, cruisers, or UJMs that make things easier or harder.
Pick up a fallen BMW
How to Pick Up Your Motorcycle

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