The embarrassment is immediate. Then there’s that sickening feeling when you see your bike lying over on its side. It’s even more painful when it’s new. But that’s not the worst. Assuming no major damage to bike or body, shattered confidence can be the most disabling outcome from a dropped motorcycle.
While no one wants or expects their bike to tip over, it will happen to even the most experienced riders, usually while stopped or during slow speed maneuvers. Ironically, it happens very quickly. Once you’ve passed the tipping point, you don’t stand a chance of keeping it up. The good news is that other than the damage to pride, there is usually very little injury.
With the first 10,000 km under my belt, I was proud that there was nary a scrape on my beautiful new bike. And then we were over. My drop happened because of improper slow speed control. After stopping to let the driveway clear, I proceeded with a slow right angle turn on a bit of a grade. Overly cautious, I held back on the throttle and ended up stalling it during the turn. We were over before I could say damn! I relate this story not because I’m particularly proud of it. Rather, it’s to encourage new riders for whom dropping their bike can be devastating.
There’s a saying the best offense is a good defense. By far the best defense is to know how to manage your bike during those situations most likely to result in a spill. It’s also wise to be prepared for the inevitable so that when it happens, you know how to react. Rather than letting it get the best of you, here’s what to do:
- Shake yourself off and get up – unless you’ve managed to jump clear. Then you’re already up and just need to shake yourself off.
- Turn off the engine using the kill switch. Follow up by turning off the ignition as soon as it is safe to do so.
- Make sure there are no fluids leaking, especially gasoline.
- Take charge of the situation. You got yourself into this pickle; now get yourself out! This helps restore confidence too.
- Engage help if it’s available. Fortunately, my friend was right there and lent a hand – and manpower. And he took direction well.
- Make sure the bike is in gear. The last thing you want as it gets upright is for it to start rolling.
- Since my bike was on its right side, I put the side stand down before lifting it – just in case we “over” lifted.
- Clear the ground so you have good foot traction, make sure no fluids have spilled and use one of two methods to upright the bike.
- Back into it using your legs to provide strength, or
- Cock the wheel in the direction of the lift and then complete a two stage lift. Surprisingly easy and the method we used.
- Make sure the bike is stable and assess it carefully for damage.
- After taking a few deep breaths, get back on and continue your ride. Learn from what happened and avoid a repeat.
Be prepared. Practice your skills in a parking lot, free from distraction. If you drop your bike in traffic, you’ll be able to react quickly, minimize the embarrassment and be on your way before too many people notice.
Since posting this article, I’ve become more familiar with the method shown by Clinton Smout from SMART Adventures in the video below and prefer it to the one I described above