~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Letting It Go

Over at Nigel Benson's blog, A Dented Mind And A Harley-Davidson, he writes about dropping his new-to-him Triumph Sprint.  Nigel is recovering from a traumatic head injury and despite his situation and desire to use a motorcycle to gain some peace, the universe showed him no mercy and he tipped over his Triumph.   I commented to  Nigel not to sweat it, it happens to every rider at one time or another.

It got me to thinking about the whole matter of tipping over your own bike.  Not crashing it, but having it get away from you when moving it around the garage, driveway, or a parking space.  The reality is that if you ride motorcycles for very long you're going to drop your bike for one dumb reason or another.  They are heavy and awkward and do not have to get too far from vertical when stopped for them to flop over.  This is especially true for the really big machines like my new Gold Wing.  When 900lbs starts to keel over it's best to step away and plan your next move because the current one the bike will complete with or without you.

Oh yeah, it was fine in '79
Way back about 1979 or so I was traveling 2-up through the back roads of San Joaquin valley of California and stopped by the side of straight road in the middle of nowhere to check my map.  I'd have used my GPS but they had not been invented yet.  As I stood there unfolding the map my decked out Suzuki 850 proceed to start to fall AWAY from me and into a turgid field irrigation canal that paralleled the road.   It couldn't just fall towards me and merely crush me, oh no, it had to try and destroy itself.  I lunged for the porky Suzuki and made a herculean effort to keep it from tumbling into a muddy farm canal.  Success!  Sort of.

I did save the 850 from a green slime bath but in the process severely wrenched my back.  It was late in the afternoon and I was still 150 miles from home.  I managed to get on the bike and could lift my arms just high enough to take hold of the handlebars.  And it hurt. A lot.  I gritted my teeth and started for home.  It was a very, very long 150 miles.  Stopping for gas had me wincing just to get on and off the bike.

Arriving home I put the bike away and called my friend Terry who was a chiropractor.  "Terry!  Halp!!"  He was kind enough to let me come to his house at 9:00 at night for a quick chiropractic fix up which would become the first of several normal visits to his office over the next several weeks to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

Back about '04 my Aprilia Caponord got tired and took a rest in front of a roadside chapel near Amado, AZ.  Combine the 500lb weight of the Capo with damp ground and stuff happens.  The Caponord is a rather top heavy machine when stopped and has a propensity for tipping over, The first owner of mine had tipped over it in a gas station once, pinning him against a gas pump.  He had to be rescued by other customers at the station.

A few years ago my friend Jim was pulling into a parking lot, 2-up, on his new-to-him Yamaha Venture Royale.  A little bobble at a stop sign and over it went dumping he and his wife unharmed on the ground.  He was mad and embarrassed as I helped him pick up his machine.  There may have been some bad language on his part.   I reminded him that it happens to everyone eventually.   About two weeks later I rolled my '02 Gold Wing out of the garage, got myself into an awkward position with the 850lb beast, and over it went right there in my own driveway.  Sitting next door in his own driveway Jim shouted to me "Hey, you were right!"

The only real takeaway from all this is 1. You will drop your bike eventually.  2.  Don't fight it unless you must.   Even a small bike is heavier than you are and the combo of hundreds of pounds of dead wait and bad angles can hurt you bad.  Let it go.

A small addendum, three excellent videos on how to pick up a heavy motorcycle:

and for those who don't ride a land yacht:

and the reality of it all:


Trobairitz said...

Good post.

Years ago when I started riding I too was told I'd drop it one day. Not me I admonished. Ummm yeah - they were right.

So far I've dropped Max twice. Once on each side, both at a stand still. Once with no witnesses and once at the IMBC last summer in front of 6 other bikes at a stop sign when it stalled as I went to roll around the corner.

Crap happens. Hopefully the only thing that gets hurt is your pride. If it starts to falter and I know I can't save it I let it go since it is easier to pick up off the ground using that technique than hurt myself in the process. Of course Max is only 446 lbs wet.

Thanks again for the reminder - all bikes take a nap eventually.

OddBike said...

I learned to ride on a BMW K100RS. Very tall and top heavy - drops and recoveries became routine, and taught me how to handle a heavy machine the hard way. Since then I've had comparatively light and more manageable stuff that is easy to deal with in comparison.

However, I did knock over my prized Ducati 916 in about the dumbest way possible. I was helping my father bleed the brakes on his Infiniti in the driveway. The garage door was open, my bike parked inside. We were having trouble getting the last bit of air out of the system... You had to pump them for them to work.

We needed to roll the car forward a bit, so I got in, put the foot on the brake and shifted into drive... And the brakes did nothing. I forgot to pump them. The car lurched forward as soon as it was in gear, giving the Duc a solid bump on the back tire. I watched helplessly from inside the car as the bike rolled slowly forward about a foot, retracted the sidestand, and lazily flopped over onto the snowblower that was parked next to it.

I still have a 6 inch dent in the gas tank from where it landed on the snowblower.

Doug Klassen said...

Jason, your painful story brings to mind a similar one from a friend of mine who dropped his Ducati SuperMotard in his driveway. Between the clutch lever and a few smaller pieces that got damage the simple tip over cost him over $500. No doubt that 916 tank would dent your wallet even more if you decide to replace or repair it.

Unknown said...


It's not IF you drop your bike, but WHEN.

I used to have a Suzuki SV650 and I was moving it around in my carport. It got away from me and I tried to catch it but then let it fall gently onto the frame sliders. No damage luckily.

My Vstrom has been down on its left side and only a month from new. Lucky for the side cases but there are scrapes on the gas tank to remind me and I had to manually bend the crash bars back into position. Recently my Vstrom was knocked over and dragged a few feet by a work truck

I think that everyone has a bike take a nap on them, eventually, even though they don't admit it

Riding the Wet Coast

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