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5 Great Ways To Drop Your Motorcycle (so you can avoid it in the future)

Low or no-speed parking lot tip-overs; learn what NOT to do to stay upright

By Tricia Szulewski, Assistant Editor and MSF RiderCoach

The other day I was preparing to ride to the motorcycle training range where I teach the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic RiderCourse (MSF BRC). My 16-year-old daughter, Kaia, often comes with me to help, and on this day she was geared up and ready to leave before I was. That’s when I made the mistake of telling her to go ahead and mount our BMW R 1200 RS while I finished gathering my stuff.

The next thing I knew I heard, “Mom!” I looked over and there Kaia was, on the ground with the motorcycle laying on its side next to her. Luckily, she wasn’t hurt, and I learned a very valuable lesson.

I was used to all the other bikes we’ve ridden leaning a lot more on their sidestands (or kickstand) when parked. Kaia has gotten on dozens of other bikes without me there to hold the bike steady, but my "Beemer" has a long sidestand making the motorcycle stand almost straight up, even with the bars turned fully to the left. It didn’t take much for the bike to tip over when she climbed on, upsetting its balance.

5 great ways to drop your motorcycle crashed suzuki tu250
While I don't have a photo of my BMW laying on its side, it's as shocking as seeing this Suzuki TU250X on its side. This beginner bike takes a beating at my MSF range. Its 30.3-inch seat height is a bit too high for many new riders making it hard for them to "catch" the bike when starts to tip over. Fortunately, the bike is lightweight making it easy to upright using the proper technique to lift a bike.

This gave me the idea to create a list of almost guaranteed ways to drop a motorcycle, many of which I’ve done myself, and many I’ve seen during my classes. The intention, of course, is to share some of the ways to drop a motorcycle so that you understand what NOT to do. In other words, learn from these mistakes.

When you’re through reading my list, please share in the comments section below some ways you've experienced that almost guarantee a motorcycle will fall over, and what you learned from it.

1. Ride a bigger motorcycle than you can handle

New riders who are still developing basic skills should choose a motorcycle that is small and light enough that they can hold it up if it starts to tip over. Most bike drops by newbies happen in parking lot and slow-speed situations, so being able to catch the bike before it hits the “tipping point” is very beneficial for new riders. More experienced riders should have developed the skills necessary to ride and hold up a tall bike even if they can’t get both feet on the ground.

5 great ways to drop your motorcycle bmw r 1200 rt revved up women
We spotted this rider comfortably controlling BMW's touring model, the R 1200 RT at the Revved Up Women Motorcycle Expo. She is an experienced rider who rode several different smaller motorcycles for some time before working her way up to riding a big bike like this.

2. Ride extremely slowly

Motorcycles are like bicycles; as they gain speed, momentum helps them stay up. There’s nothing more difficult than trying to balance a bike that’s several hundreds of pounds while barely moving.

5 great ways to drop your motorcycle u-turn counterweight
Slow-speed maneuvers like making U-turns are easier when using the counterweight technique that is taught in MSF’s BRC. Learn and practice these techniques so you minimize your chances of dropping your bike while making slow, tight turns.

3. Stop with the handlebars turned

As soon as you turn the handlebars, all two-wheeled vehicles naturally want to fall over. So make it a habit to come to a stop with the handlebars squared off each and every time you come to a stop.

5 great ways to drop your motorcycle msf brc turned handlebars
Stopping suddenly or riding slowly with the handlebars turned sharply makes a motorcycle start to fall over. You will need enough strength to hold it up if you do stop like this.

4. Forget to put your sidestand down

Almost every rider we know has done this at least once. It happens. It’s embarrassing, but not lethal. Remember to make sure the sidestand is not only down, but that it is all the way forward before leaning the motorcycle. I’ve seen a number of bike drops because a stand wasn’t down all the way when the rider went to dismount.

5 great ways to drop your motorcycle harley road king special sidestand
Harley-Davidson sidestands, like the one shown here on a Road King Special, are designed to move a little when it's fully engaged. It always freaks me out a little, and I take extra care to ensure that it is all the way forward before leaning the bike onto it.

5. Stop on a sloped or slippery surface

Even if your motorcycle fits you to a “T,” when you stop on a hill, a slope, a divot in the road, or an oil slick, your feet may not be able to get a firm foothold. Always be looking ahead to where you will be stopping the motorcycle and where you'll be placing your feet. Avoid uneven and slippery surfaces as much as you can.

5 great ways to drop your motorcycle babes ride out bmw r ninet
Leaving your motorcycle parked on a non-paved surface like this BMW R nineT we spotted at the Babes Ride Out East event may be trouble. If the ground beneath the sidestand is soft, place a rock or something hard and flat underneath it to prevent the stand from sinking into the ground.

Now it’s your turn. Share your ideas in the comments section below on ways you know of, or have experience with, dropping a motorcycle (even though we know you don’t want too).

Related Articles
Beginner's Guide: Motorcycle Training Classes for New Riders
Technique for Lifting a Dropped Motorcycle
5 Tips for Short Riders Handling Tall and Big Motorcycles
Riding Right: Making the Perfect U-Turn, with Video

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