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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  1. That’s a great tutorial for picking up a bike. Thanks!–DBrent

    Comment by D. Brent Miller — 6/25/2007 @ 3:13 am

  2. Great tips. Two years ago I found the BMW tutorial and since then twice have had to use it. Doing it exactly as they said, I was able to lift my V-Star 650 custom all by myself. I have dropped it on the right coming out of my driveway and it died suddently as it hit the curb. I have dropped it on the the left coming too fast into said driveway, lol. Lucky for me it was only a few scratches, but very embarrassing on both occassions.

    So at 5′2″ (120 lbs), I was able to lift my 500 lb bike using the exact advice they gave.

    Great post and hope your getting a lot of summer riding in.

    Comment by Biker Betty — 7/8/2007 @ 8:18 am

  3. Will it work for a 450kg bike and 53kg girl? I dropped my GSX750 today and was only able to get it upright with the help of a kindly bloke. I didn’t know the technique and was trying to lift it facing it with only the handlebars… hmmmm I was so annoyed because I am very strong for my size and still had to get help. I’m going to try this technique asap, but I’ve only seen it for 300kg and less bikes so was just wondering. My husband says I can do it but admits its hard with such a heavy bike. Thanks

    Comment by Em — 8/22/2007 @ 4:04 am

  4. My views exactly. I’m a guy, but I guess I am not strong enough to lift up a fallen VFR-800. The bike weighs around 250kg, but on slippery grass, and because it goes down at a very low angle, it’s almost impossible to do the “turn around, and push it with your butt” maneuver - the bike is too low on the ground for that. The only way I found to lift up the bike was to get help and with two people facing the bike and LIFTING it up.

    Comment by tamer k — 9/20/2007 @ 2:02 am

  5. Picking a motorcycle up can be done by a woman too. That’s good tutorial anyway..

    Comment by motorcycle parts — 4/10/2009 @ 7:28 am

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