Almost Successful— An Ingenious Rise and Spectacular Fall

by Liz Jansen

Almost successfulIt was a bad idea from the start. Yet determination out-muscled my rationale and patience.

Trudy, my Triumph Tiger, is a fantastic motorcycle, and I love almost everything about her, except getting her onto the center stand. I can’t do it by myself. Her height, high center of gravity, and my reduced upper body strength work against doing it alone. It’s frustrating.

Every time she needs routine chain care, I have to find and ask for help to heft her onto the stand. The only other option is to clean and lube the chain, push her forward, and repeat until done. That would be an absolute last resort. I’ve installed an automatic oiler to reduce the frequency of lifts, but she still needs to be on the center stand to adjust the chain tension.

When my landlord, a retired auto mechanic, told me I could use the hydraulic pump lift parked under his workbench, it sounded perfect. Last Sunday afternoon I tried it.

A neighbor had cautioned to use a spotter, a wise idea. But there was no one around, the chain needed cleaning and tightening, and it seemed simple to try.

I removed the panniers and proceeded cautiously, putting a short piece of 2X4 under the side stand to get her as upright as possible, then positioning the lift beneath her undercarriage. I kicked myself for filling up the gas tank the day before. Slowly I pumped the handle with my left hand, keeping my right on the seat, feeling for movement and balance. All I needed was to get the rear wheel off the ground. It was so close to happening when I decided it was too precarious and stood back to assess the situation. I had to come up with another solution.

Using even more caution, I let her down in minute increments. Still, she lost her balance and tipped towards me, away from the sidestand. I couldn’t hold her up and she fell to the ground, scraping and bruising my legs on the way down. Her back end had fallen on the lift and I couldn’t pick her up alone. Now I had to ask for help, for more than I’d needed in the first place.

Reluctantly, I called a friend who happened to be home and lived not too far away. Since the rear wheel was now up in the air, rather than sit there and wait for him to arrive, I cleaned the chain and rear sprocket. With his help, we had her up in no time, a shattered turn signal lens the only damage.

Have I learned my lesson? Time will tell. In the meantime, we devised another option. I rolled the rear wheel  that piece of 2X4 and with him spotting, lifted her onto  the center stand, by myself. I still need to have the patience to find a spotter, but somehow, being able to do the lift makes all the difference to my independence.

Do you have similar stories, where your will got in the way of reason?  Share them in the comments. I’d love to hear them.

Photo credit: dingler1109 on VisualHunt / CC BY


Author, writer, student and motorcycle aficionado Liz Jansen combines her artistic mediums to create stories that inspire readers to embark on their own journey of self-discovery. No helmet or jacket required.

16 Comments on “Almost Successful— An Ingenious Rise and Spectacular Fall

  1. I can’t get my Honda CB500X up on its centre stand either, argh!

    My story – tried to be a helpful spouse and push my husband’s likewise top heavy Triumph Tiger 800XC into the garage when we got home from a ride and he went wuickly headed into the house to pee. The bike pinned me against our neighbour’s wall and it wasn’t until he finished in the bathroom and was heading back outside that he heard me desperately calling for help. So much for trying to be a helpful wife and riding partner!

    • Julie! Thanks for sharing that story. The attributes that contribute to success can work against us. Hope he was back to help soon!

  2. Was there any way to strap it down? I use a small Harbor Freight lift for these types of things, and I know they come with hooks to do that. I haven’t, because it’s crazy steady, but I know others have commented to me that I really, really should.

    Optionally, since you are not lifting it very far, maybe a couple of cinder blocks, on the ground, that you strap to, leaving just enough slack for the lift height that you’ll be using. (I don’t know your exact lift setup, obviously. Pics!)

    • Thanks Will! There was nowhere to strap, and realistically, the jack is great for a tire change on a car, but too precarious to lift a motorcycle. But worth a try. 🙂

  3. Liz we all drop our bikes for one reason or another however you are brave enough to write about it for the world to read. Love it thanks Mary

    • Worse than dropping it is asking for help every time I need to get it on the center stand Mary. Hopefully, others learn from my mistakes. 🙂

  4. Nice story Liz. I have trouble getting my bike (Honda CBF1000) on the center stand too. I find that if I lift the bike straight up (not backward) while stepping on the stand it is much easier

    • Don’t think I haven’t thought of that Carla! All I need is the rear wheel off the ground. 🙂

  5. Yep…I have exactly the same problem with my Triumph Tiger. I usually make sure the petrol is low, take off any luggage, then roll the back wheel onto a piece of old skirting board. Then I put it on the side stand to start with. Just getting the back tyre an inch off the floor, enables me to get the bike onto the centre stand for maintenance. They are big, heavy, beasts, if they fall, likely to hurt you and cause a lot of damage to the bike, so, be careful. I hope your bruises quickly fade?

    • Bruises almost gone Sue. 🙂 Rolling the rear wheel up onto the 2X4 made a huge difference and I could do it alone that time. Still prefer a spotter in case I lose my (Trudy’s) balance. If she goes over away from me, there’s no stopping her.

  6. You could consider the addition of a ScottOiler system to Trudy. It applies oil on the fly on a constant basis, and is a great way to avoid chain maintenance. I used one on my ’97 Triumph Trophy with great success. It kept the chain nice and clean, lubricated, and I got a lot of mileage out of the chain. The downside was a grease buildup in the area of the front sprocket that dripped onto the center-stand. If I may, a link is here:

    • Great minds think alike Larry. I installed a Scottoiler a few weeks ago and think I’ve got it adjusted close to right now. I did it to minimize my need to get Trudy on the center stand, and to prolong chain life. Loving it so far… Thanks!

  7. Gee whiz, Liz, you have hit the nail on the head with your story! I have a feeling that despite many male comments about correct technique that one must factor in body weightwhen “you just put all your weight on the foot of the centrestand and press down as IF you are going to force that centrestand foot through the concrete floor”! Yeah right. I can work with momentum AND stand there and bounce all day with nary any bike going up! Now if the gas tank is 1/2 full it will go up so doesn’t that prove my theory…there is a minimal weight needed?? Yes there is! I just hate even more taking the bike off the centrestand!! It can go wrong so easily and maybe it’s mental but even a slight weight move to the outside could spell disaster. Last night my top boot edge managed to make the bike unstable enough for adrenalin to flow. I am ever so nervous putting even a light 290 lb wet bike on a work lift to work on the bike …way too iffy support. So you have me for one who feels your pain for sure. The best thing I got for the bike’s chain oiling is BestRestProducts Nemo chain oiler and for basic cleaning is a roller thingy like they have in a beer store that you back your rear tire onto then it can spin around. The rest is done with a complaining helper spotting
    who voices..”if you can’t do this, the bike is too big for you”! Yeeesh!
    Thank you so much for posting this most timely and personal story!

    • You know what I’m talking about Sue! I sit on the bike and have someone give a slight push to get me off the center stand. It’s a lot more stable that way, and just about anyone can do it. I installed a Scottoiler recently and it’s working well. A “roller thingy” is on its way. Will report back on how that works.