Sooner or later it happens to the best of us: we’re on the ground and so it the motorcycle or adventure bike we’re riding. Maybe you crashed your motorcycle, or maybe you had to abandon ship, who knows—but it’ll happen to you, too. The problem is that it’s not the easiest thing in the world to pick up a motorcycle, and even a dirt bike can be a chore. Use the right techniques to ensure that the only thing that gets hurt after your fall is your pride.
Take stock of the situation first
When you’ve fallen or jumped off a moving motorcycle, your first thought it often just to pick it right back up again—but don’t. You risk injuries (maybe additional injuries, depending on the way you fell), and you also risk damage to your motorcycle. The very first thing to do is stop and take stock of the situation.
Are you in more danger? Ensure you’re not in the path of oncoming traffic or other hazards. If you are, move—without your motorcycle if you have to.
Are you hurt? If you’re full of adrenaline, you might not be able to feel injuries. If you’re in shock, that can also make it hard to tell that you’re injured. Being “in shock” really just means your organs aren’t getting sufficient oxygen. Signs of being in shock include pale or clammy skin, fast pulse and breathing, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, weakness, and fainting.
If you’re okay and out of danger, it’s time to make a plan for getting the bike up.
Get the motorcycle ready
Kill the ignition first. If you don’t, your tire may be spinning, which is dangerous. Your engine might also be running without fluids, causing damage. Next, make sure the bike is in gear—unless you’d like to get it standing again and see it roll away and fall again. Move the handlebar now; If your motorcycle is on its left side, move the bar to the left, and vice versa. If the motorcycle fell on its right side, put the kickstand down before you lift. Finally, get any extra weight off the motorcycle that you can, even though it might mean packing it back on later.
Get help if you can
There is no gold medal for dudes who can lift motorcycles without help. If anyone is around, ask for help. This is doubly important, because you’ve already been in a crash, and you’re about to ride home again.
The right lifting methods will save your body, and they can also help you avoid further damage to your motorcycle. This is an especially salient concern when you’ve fallen or crashed, because you can enter into a neverending battle of picking your motorcycle up only to drop it again, and then pick it up with less strength, and so on. There are two basic techniques to try (pro tip: practice before you need to do it)
Squat press lift
With your back to the motorcycle and your butt on the center of the seat, lower yourself as if you were going to do a squat. Get a solid grip on the back half of the bike with one hand under the seat. Use the other hand to grasp the handlebar towards its middle so it’s close to the bike’s core.
Now, put your feet together and look up. This will align your back correctly so you won’t be injured. Now walk your legs out using small steps until you and the bike are vertical. Don’t go too far, though, or you’ll knock it over the other way.
Remember, this works best (for obvious reasons) on level ground. If you’re on an incline or loose dirt or other unsteady terrain this may not work.
Start out facing the motorcycle and squat down like before. Put your hands in the same places as they were for the squat lift. Now, raise yourself up carefully, lifting with your legs and pushing forward into the motorcycle. Your back should stay straight this whole time.
This technique demands a lot of strength and carries more risk of injury. Don’t do it unless you have to—if you can’t make a squat press lift work, for example.
It never hurts to have picked up your bike before you need to on the road. If you’re worried about hurting it practicing, lay down some blankets or cardboard to ensure you don’t scratch it up as you try to lift it. And remember, if you’re injured and need help, it’s never worth making it worse! Ask for help, or wait until you can come back.